Implementation of SAP BI at Astellas Pharma
Read how De Villiers Walton, helped a pharmaceutical manufacturer, Astellas Pharma on its journey towards pain-free business intelligence.
In the highly complex manufacturing environment of the pharmaceutical industry, an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is essential for the everyday smooth-running and co-ordination of material supplies, production and distribution.
Data held within ERP systems such as SAP can be extracted using Business Intelligence tools to both identify efficiency savings and control costs within manufacturing sites. The accurate and easily-accessible information that advanced BI can generate is based on pre-defined key performance indicators that give businesses a clearer picture of current business activity and, crucially, can be used to create strategies that improve margins and increase market share.
Astellas Pharma Inc., a global company that researches, manufactures, trials and distributes medical supplies, is well aware of the benefits that good business intelligence can bring. The firm is amongst the top pharmaceutical companies in the world and employs over 16,000 people globally.
Like many large manufacturers operating in the sector, Astellas Pharma Inc. uses the ERP system SAP at four geographical locations across the group, including its Irish organisation, operated by Astellas Ireland Co., Ltd. which uses SAP to conduct the majority of its daily activities.
Astellas Ireland Co., Ltd.(“Astellas Ireland”), a subsidiary of the world-wide Astellas Pharma Inc., comprises primarily of manufacturing and secondary manufacturing facilities in Damastown in west Dublin and Killorglin, Co Kerry. The firm runs classic SAP modules on SAP ECC 6 including Finance and Controlling (FICO), Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Sales and Distribution (SD), all of which are fully-integrated across both plants.
“Our SAP (ERP) system runs our end-to-end business process,” explains Gearoid Walsh, vice president of Finance and IT at Astellas Ireland. “This includes market forecasting and the planning we run against that in terms of sourcing raw materials and key ingredients.
“SAP is also used for planning and online tracking on the production line, quality standards, management of incoming materials and production as the product goes through to the point where it is warehoused and shipped to customers through the SD module.”
“All the processes that are done outside SAP are fully interfaced into SAP. For instance, we have a separate Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that has a heavy interface into SAP. Our system is also integrated with Astellas Europe so that our purchase ordering on the front end and shipping on the back end is directly interfaced with our European SAP systems.”
More Intelligent BI systems
Astellas Ireland began working with De Villiers Walton in 2009. The company wanted to implement SAP’s integrated Business Intelligence (BI) solution, and knew that De Villiers Walton had extensive experience in the SAP arena.
“Astellas Ireland had an executive-level need for a consolidated reporting platform that would operate across both of its sites and enhance visibility of costs,” says De Villiers Walton managing director, Daneel de Villiers. “The organisation’s existing reporting processes were largely reliant on the SAP ECC 6 platform with its inherent limitations, resulting in a significant amount of SAP reporting being exported to Excel for further rework before being issued to the business.”
De Villiers Walton was engaged by Astellas Ireland to build a BI application layer and import data from the SAP system and offline sources to create a single reporting platform. The firm, which specialises in evolving SAP solutions, also worked to enhance the objects delivered by SAP as standard within process streams and reporting capabilities, and then designed and built relevant queries and data cubes which would enable consolidated reporting.
“We chose DVW for our SAP BI project because it has a strong reputation in enhancing BI systems and a dedicated BI team,” says Gearoid Walsh. “The benefit of good SAP BI is that it extracts succinct information through data cubes that can be pre-configured.
“Additionally, you can have a cube for each functional area, such as finance, and so on. You can pre-define required information sets across a wide range of parameters and it is manipulated and refreshed in SAP BI.”
The final part of the project involved delivering an Executive Dashboard that would ease the burden of management reporting. In all, the work undertaken by the De Villiers Walton team was targeted at increasing user productivity, enhancing data quality, compliance and customer insight as well as increasing user motivation and adherence to protocols.
“De Villiers Walton devoted a lot of time and effort into creating a custom-built solution and was extremely flexible in terms of time and resource,” says Walsh. “The team was always upfront about any potential issues, risks or budget concerns and put in a huge effort to ensure that the project was delivered within the project timeline.”
Smarter planning, faster reporting
According to Walsh, within Astellas Ireland, the Finance and Planning departments had the biggest requirement for SAP BI as both undertake a lot of data analysis within their day-to-day activities. The Planning department, for instance, uses data to forecast purchases and conduct line planning as well as other activities.
“There was a real need within the organisation for a dynamic, real-time data set that could be readily manipulated and tracked and reported against,” says Walsh. “The alternative was to extract data from the base SAP system and processing it through Excel models and present using PowerPoint.
“In the Planning department, for instance, one of the more mundane reports that must be compiled used to take two days. Now that BI has been implemented and optimised by De Villiers Walton, the data can be extracted in just ten minutes. From an efficiency point of view, the improvements have given us significant savings.”
Within its Finance operations, Astellas Ireland wanted to create a solid reporting platform. “The Finance department has to deliver multiple reports at customer-level, departmental-level, for senior management and so on and SAP BI gives them a powerful reporting platform,” explains Walsh.
More responsive business
“For me, a vision of going paperless was one of the biggest potential benefits of optimising SAP BI,” says Gearoid Walsh. “As opposed to sending out Excel files as email attachments every month, we can now tell all the necessary parties within the business that their month-end reports are available in SAP BI. The Excel files that they would have previously received would have been very flat, whereas now the data can be self-interrogated according to business need and department.
“Reporting can be very time-consuming. By reducing the amount of time spent compiling reports we are now able to focus on more value-added activities. Additionally, the ability to analyse resources means that we are able to respond to and capitalise on spikes in demand or additional requirements much quicker, rather than feeling the pinch when the purchase order is actually on the production line.”
In all, Walsh believes the work carried out by the De Villiers Walton team was highly effective: “De Villiers Walton did all that it could to get the project across the line,” he says. “It proved that it has a very strong technical team and a good understanding of business needs.”