Engaging with the business organisations within a leading dairy company, to re-work an APO solution to earn their buy in and commitment



One of the world’s leading dairy products suppliers decided to implement SAP with APO across each of its business units, starting with its operations in Australia.

The go-live in the consumer products (i.e. yoghurts, desserts and processed dairy products), went well after a new Supply Chain Director joined the group and instigated some configuration changes. He had the benefit of extensive experience in fast moving consumer goods.

However, the situation was not so straightforward in those businesses dealing with ingredients and cheeses. Whereas the supply chain cycle in consumer products extended over weeks and a few months, it could extend to months, even years, in cheese production. Here there was lots of dissension and resistance within the business organisations. Go-live failed on 3 separate occasions.

The Solution

The Global CIO called Pivot in to get to the bottom of the issue and recommend a solution.

The Pivot consultants quickly identified that the core problem was the lack of buy in from the business side. They felt that the needs of their businesses were not only different from consumer products division, but there were also key variations and complexities from country to country. Their perception was that SAP was too limited to cater for their special circumstances. Consequently, to attempt to meet the project deadlines, the IT group ended up doing the configuring themselves with the predictable consequence of even less co-operation from the business people.

The Pivot consultants immediately engaged with the business personnel, even siting themselves in their part of the office. Although sceptical at first, the business personnel responded well to the agile/iterative approach of the consultants. Starting with the standard business scenarios Pivot generated trial configurations for feedback and revision.

Then they moved onto the non-standard or special business scenarios, which tended to involve products with extended maturing cycles (e.g. specialty cheeses) and overseas manufacturing and shipping.

As the project progressed the business personnel became more and more positive, particularly when they could see the benefits of the end to end or horizontal business process as opposed to their traditional silo approach (i.e. demand planning separate from supply planning separate from production scheduling etc.). The Pivot consultants even extended the supply chain management process to include the distribution depots for the first time in the company with obvious advantages and benefits.

Pivot also identified the need to modify elements of the original consumer products solution to cater for instances of co-production, i.e. where specific manufacturing processes generate more than one product or by-products for other processes.

The finished solution catered for even the most complex of processes, all in standard SAP with the minimum of ‘workarounds.’  Go live went according to expectations, i.e. “(I) expect a very boring go live as the team have done an awesome job. The iterative methodology has made a huge difference – best approach I have seen. The Pivot people are consummate professionals who are unflappable and take time with the business to answer any question.” Global CIO.

What’s more, the solution provided a template which could be replicated with the minimum of exceptions for each of the other countries.

“The business organisation never believed we’d be able to design and build a global solution. They always thought it would be a country solution specific to Australia only. Now the other countries are telling us, they can use the solution and asking if they can be next to implement.”

Global CIO