Leading medical technology company boosts global operations with IBM and SAP

Published on 13-Jun-2012

Validated on 06 Dec 2013

"SAP NetWeaver BW is a very useful solution for combining data from various systems, and provides us with the opportunity to use the business intelligence platform more effectively than before. With limited resources at our disposal, the IBM Global Business Services team provided the essential project guidance, methodology and pre-built templates to deliver a cost-effective deployment of this powerful solution." - Company spokesperson

Customer:
Leading medical technology company

Industry:
Life Sciences

Deployment country:
Japan

Solution:
Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Integration, Information Management Foundation, Small & Medium Business, Supply Chain Management

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

This leading Japanese medical technology company contributes significantly to the medical field by developing and manufacturing products with long-term therapeutic benefits to patients. The company specializes in blood-related medical fields, and continues to dispatch outstanding medical technology from Japan to the world.

Business need:
Under the terms of a medium-term management plan developed by its parent company, the medical company needed to aim for further globalization. With SAP ERP deployed ten years earlier, the company found that the system was not working effectively and that important business information was not made fully visible.

Solution:
In order to quickly achieve a global approach to business management, the company focused on a quick turnaround using pre-built templates. The company extended its existing business intelligence solution, comprising SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator, introducing SAP Business Analytics Cockpit, based on a template designed by IBM Global Business Services.

Benefits:
Utilizing the pre-built templates developed by IBM Global Business Services and an established IBM implementation methodology, the company was able to significantly accelerate the project delivery. Increasing end-to-end transparency of business processes offers an enhanced, real-time view on global operations, helping to drive smarter management at all company locations. Providing an integrated, centralized source of information from across all areas of the business supports better decision-making, and helps to streamline processes for maximum efficiency.

Case Study

This leading Japanese medical technology company contributes significantly to the medical field by developing and manufacturing products with long-term therapeutic benefits to patients. The company specializes in blood-related medical fields, and continues to dispatch outstanding medical technology from Japan to the world.

One of the key goals outlined in a medium-term management plan developed by the company’s parent group was the creation of a global enterprise. Based on this plan, the medical technology company undertook a series of strategic mergers and acquisitions, building capacity and global reach. Alongside the corporate strategy, the company embarked on transformation of its production and sales systems, both inside and outside Japan.

Maximizing SAP ERP
The company had been using SAP® ERP® applications for more than ten years, adding SAP NetWeaver® Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) and SAP NetWeaver Portal to encourage information flow within the company. However, these technologies did not solve the underlying challenges, where data was held in multiple systems, and an integrated overview was hard to obtain.

“Many people said that they had no idea where the information they were looking for was located, and that it was hard for them to use it due to the fact that many systems coexisted. We were not using the available information to its full potential,” says a company spokesperson. “On the other hand, the introduction had been a significant investment for us, and our senior management team was frustrated at the lack of progress, essentially saying: ‘We expect management information to be visible: when will it happen?’”

The spokesperson adds, “For users, data was hard to read and terminology was difficult to understand, which made it challenging for them to use the systems effectively. In addition, aggregating and analyzing data was too slow, and in many cases queries were simply dropped because they could not be completed within a reasonable timescale.”

It was clear that the full benefits of the integrated SAP ERP applications were not being exploited. Since the company was being steered towards global management, it was vital to fix this in order to understand management information across all company locations in real-time.

Without such functionality, management itself could not work effectively or respond rapidly to changes in the environment. This meant that facing future competition on a global scale was impossible. Consequently, the company embarked on a project to achieve overall optimization of data management and the strategic use of business intelligence.

Identifying the solution
The company envisioned a system that would make information on product inventory immediately visible regardless of location. The aim was to integrate supply chain data and optimize and reduce inventory levels. To make this plan a reality, it was vital to find a solution that could be delivered quickly and at low cost.

“System requirements start becoming obsolete as soon as they are defined. In an age of rapid change, if you spend too much time on the building phase, the process of defining requirements itself may mean nothing. That is why the company emphasizes a quick delivery on all IT investments. Such a delivery can also naturally minimize the cost,” explains a spokesperson.

The company selected the SAP Business Analytics Cockpit to deliver easy-to-use visualizations of management information. To accelerate the deployment and provide the range of extended functionality required, the company used pre-built templates developed by IBM Global Business Services®. The existing SAP NetWeaver BW software was upgraded to the latest version, and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Accelerator was introduced to enable rapid searching and analysis of vast amounts of information. With the help of both technologies, an environment that would meet the globalization challenge started to emerge.

A company spokesperson says, “SAP NetWeaver BW is a very useful solution for combining data from various systems, and provides us with the opportunity to use the business intelligence platform more effectively than before.

“With limited resources at our disposal, the IBM Global Business Services team provided the essential project guidance, methodology and pre-built templates to deliver a cost-effective deployment of this powerful solution. IBM fully understood the issues to be considered and how best to proceed, which played a big role in our choice.”

Drawing on IBM expertise
The move towards developing a global inventory solution began with the support of IBM, representing the first step towards global management. IBM carried out fit-gap analyses, a phase which benefited from the deep expertise and experience of the IBM Global Business Services team.

Gaps were identified and tackled using proven templates, which enabled the subsequent build phase to go smoothly and quickly without requiring changes to the project scope or scheduling.

The company completed the project to define a global inventory, undertaken simultaneously with the introduction of SAP ERP applications to the firm’s overseas offices, enabling the business intelligence system to go live within a single year.

A spokesperson comments, “If you wait for each office to finish introducing SAP ERP, there is a chance of a different item code or a different point of view being introduced, and the required data integrity may not be attainable. This would lead to each overseas office having to implement conversion logic, prolonging the project. Simultaneous development was a hard task, but it was the most effective and shortest way to reach our goal, as we did not have to worry about the SAP ERP solution that each office was introducing or about the progress of its implementation.

“SAP Business Analytics Cockpit uses global master conversion functions provided by templates, regardless of what kind of mission-critical system is in use at the other end. It receives master code values that each office uses as-is and integrates them. At the same time, it makes it possible to enforce governance over overseas offices in terms of their adaptation to the Japanese coding scheme.

“Due to our flexible attitude towards the overseas offices, each of which experienced different rates of progress, simultaneous introduction was possible. It was an effective approach to minimize disruption.”

He continues, “A major priority for the company was to enable visibility of inventory while in transit. Previously, inventory in transit via the sea was not visible for almost 40 days, and we were experiencing issues around excess inventory in some cases, and inventory shortages in others. This caused a lot of wastage and problems with orders. With the new SAP applications, this kind of problem will be solved. Not only can global inventory be assessed on a daily basis, but domestic inventory has also become much more visible. Furthermore, when certain inventory items are not displayed as they should be, omissions or a lack of governance can be qucikly and easily pointed out.”

Looking to the future
Now that the first steps towards full visibility of its global inventory have been made, the company is able to consider developing the solution further.

More projects are already under way, such as working to improve the supply-demand management system and consolidating management with international financial reporting standards (IFRS) compliance in mind.

Once everything is completed, management information from production to sales to accounting will become visible. A global system will be established with the required on-site and management integration in place.

The spokesperson explains, “Operating this type of system after it is created is not simple; IBM worked with us right up to the skills transfer to our staff.”

With the SAP Business Analytics Cockpit in place, the company has gained the platform required to put its management plan into practice. Spreading real-time information across the board and enabling rapid response to change, the solution has positioned the company to make a significant leap forward to becoming a leader in the medical field throughout the world.

The spokesperson concludes, “Implementing the SAP Business Analytics Cockpit has brought us a range of benefits, from tried-and-tested methodology to functions such as managing inventory in transit and consolidating systems. The IBM Global Business Services templates have been a significant factor in moving us closer to global management.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance, IBM Global Business Services

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