Creating a better, more mobile SAP user experience while streamlining the supply chain
CHALLENGE: Streamlining SAP, enhancing UX, reducing costs
Managing the supply chain for one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies – more than 125,000 employees across 60 countries, is a monumental effort, to say the least.
That’s why the company set out to simplify its SAP environment, which included 30 platforms, 550 instances, and 2,000 services. The goal of the company’s “Back to Basics” program was to reconcile its large SAP instances into one platform while ensuring the solutions aligned to business unit requirements.
“Ninety percent of our supply chain operations flow through SAP. It’s the backbone of our business,” said Aravinda Boyapati, supply chain manager at the consumer goods company. “We needed to streamline our SAP infrastructure so we could reduce costs within our consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and medical device divisions.”
Since mobility and a strong user experience (UX) were also important, the team set out to rebuild its SAP portal. Because the effort pre-dated the advent of SAP Fiori, the team began creating mobile apps from scratch; over time, they integrated Fiori-based applications into their platform, to good success. Still, the team needed to accelerate the pace of app delivery across the organization.
“As a UX architect, I’m constantly challenged to build things cheaper and faster. Once we realized we also needed to scale our effort across all of the manufacturing floors and warehouses for our warehouse management and plant maintenance solutions, we knew we needed to speed our process and run at a lower cost,” Boyapati continued.
APPROACH: Scaling mobility projects to global teams
Enter Neptune Software. “It was clear that Neptune was a good choice for our custom Fiori apps, in part because it doesn’t require any additional hardware or middleware. It truly simplifies the development and the IT environment, while delivering a better UX, which is exactly what our Back to Basics program is about,” said Boyapati. “Developer training was included in our contract, making an easy learning curve for ABAP and UX developers alike.”
The company began with a proof of concept (POC) to mobilize inventory management. The effort included switching from existing equipment to iPhone 7 devices to meet facility requirements for electronic shock-sensitive equipment, meeting D1B1 compliance, and employing Siri-based voice commands to enhance the user experience.
Switching from a 4-digit to a 6-digit PIN proved puzzling. “Fortunately, Neptune Software experts were there to provide content and development insight on demand so our project stayed on track,” said Boyapati.
The pilot project was then rolled out to a small group of users within one plant. Business units were engaged and enthusiastic, providing good feedback and working back and forth with the development team to identify the functionality they needed to be productive. Once employees were happy with the solution and it passed their rigorous testing process, developers were able to scale it across users and locations.
A chance meeting with European developers for the company led to the expansion of plant maintenance projects using Neptune Software. “At a business partner conference, I presented a simple POC showing Neptune capabilities, and our European coworkers quickly realized a project they had spent six months on could be created faster and cheaper using our approach, ” said Boyapati.
A bar code scanning project for inventory and warehouse management was also much simpler using Neptune Software. Developers were able to create a single plug-in to meet the company standards for days sales of inventory (DSI), keyback, and code-128, among other requirements.
RESULTS: Forty percent less time for supply chain process, and now users want more
Efforts have paid off as solutions are implemented one plant at a time. It now takes 40 percent less time to manage the high-volume supply chain process, which includes picking, transfers, and shipping and takes more than 2,000 scans per day.
“We’ve also been able to achieve a cost savings of $70,000 (USD) by eliminating the need to print documents,” mentioned Boyapati. “That’s an annual saving of 1.12MM (USD) we expect to realize across each of our 16 sites as we continue to roll out the Neptune solution.”
Users are impressed by how quickly the team can release a working solution. They also appreciate how easy it is to use the new apps and how fast they run. Users are so happy, that they’re requesting the same great UX in non-SAP workflow and solutions, too.
The work continues. The team has already completed seven projects and has three more underway. Individual projects can be developed and implemented in just five weeks.
With continued success, these apps and more will be implemented across all 16 sites by 2018, giving users the easy, mobile functionality they need to work efficiently while delivering a more streamlined, less costly SAP environment overall. And that’s the way to get “Back to Basics.”
Customer Industry: Consumer goods, pharmaceutical, medical devices
Geographic Reach: 60 countries
Neptune Functionality Scope: Mobile and desktop
Number of Users: 125,000
SAP Version: SAP Warehouse Management, Plant Maintenance, and more
Devices: Phone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Implementation Timeline: 5 weeks per project, part of a multi-year streamlining effort
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