Bringing an implementation back from the brink to deliver the promised returns for a multi-national chemicals company



One of the world’s biggest chemicals suppliers decided to deploy a global SAP template, to help deliver the benefits offered by improving sales and operational planning, consolidating their supplier base and moving to shared services.

This was an ambitious programme as the functionality required covered all the critical business processes and it was to be applied across a complex global organisation, including acquisitions, many of which had their own legacy systems.

Consequently they chose a long established global systems integrator to support them. However the project soon ran into difficulties and the client soon realised that the unrealistic programme design posed a serious risk to business as usual. On top of the over ambitious timescales with so much running in parallel, technical issues quickly snowballed to overwhelm the support team.

“We had a hyper-care phase where all of the technical issues had to be resolved in just a four week period as each country went live,” reported the client’s team leader.

The client recognised their urgent need to resolve the technical issues but more importantly, to get the whole programme onto a more realistic basis and timeframe.

The Solution

On the strength of a third party recommendation, the client engaged Pivot to undertake an immediate technical review/audit of the programme.

The Pivot consultants quickly identified a number of basic flaws in the set up. In particular they highlighted problems with the client’s three tier system, accentuated by a lack of management accountability and the quality control of the system integrator’s offshore development team.

The client asked Pivot to take over technical ownership of the programme and address the issues identified.

The first thing the Pivot consultants did, was to implement a five tier landscape. This enabled the team to move, transport and configure through each project, whilst maintaining separate systems for each to ensure ‘business as usual.’ This stopped the business disruption which had been part each new roll out.

Next the Pivot consultants addressed some of the project elements which fell somewhat short of best practice, including;

  • removing poor transports which should never have been allowed in the first place
  • implementing a professional change control process to ensure nothing was released into the test environment without appropriate management approval.

“We could see the methodologies introduced by Pivot’s consultants were getting results straight away. The hyper care period immediately after each go live, was a lot more stable. They highlighted concerns about certain development approaches and offered alternatives. This added immense value,” reported the client’s team leader.

They also re-engineered some developments to improve performance and fix bugs. In particular;

  • they addressed an issue with vendor invoicing which was causing critical cash flow challenges
  • they cleared the backlog of unpaid invoices and developed a dispute management system which won in internal award for making a significant process improvement
  • they addressed the problem of warehouse teams continuing to allow goods to come and go without traceability (as they had done with their legacy system). This had resulted in chaos with unfulfilled orders, unhappy customers and little visibility of anything. Stock takes were carried out to get the base line correct again. The importance of following the proper process was emphasized and system changes were made to make this as easy for the users as possible.
  • they addressed a problem in despatching Health and Safety documents, a critical requirement in the industry. The lead time was reduced to 2 hours from 24.

Overall this was another example of the importance of getting a solid and well-designed technical foundation to support the business processes. Users new to SAP often sign off functionality, if it appears to work in one scenario. However beneath the surface poor design and coding can, and in this case did, make it difficult to adapt to future changes as the solution is expanded into other geographies.

All in all, Pivot helped the client get back on track to deliver their ambitious transformation programme.

“Pivot’s technical and functional knowledge is very good. They bring ideas with them to the table and add value to problem solving. There is a strong sense of ownership. They have been personally involved in what is a long term, difficult project. And it’s all about understanding our business. They haven’t tried to enforce a methodology. They’ve got to know us as a business, and then made the necessary recommendations. The best accolade I can say is we simply see Pivot as an extension of our team.”

Team leader