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Faced with an aging systems infrastructure that threatened the company's ability to achieve high performance, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies decided it was time for an upgrade.
The challenge the company faced was how to do this while minimizing business disruption and ensuring optimal performance from day one by employees in the critical business functions of purchasing, finance, order fulfillment, manufacturing and facilities management. The company chose to partner with Accenture to meet this challenge.
Accenture led the efforts during planning, design and implementation. A comprehensive "business readiness" program, which included change management, training, communications and executive sponsorship and alignment, was put in place. The months of hard work by the technical and business readiness teams paid off, as the business operated smoothly with minimal disruption to operations, to users or to customers.
As business-critical ERP systems age, they can eventually threaten the ability of companies to achieve high performance. That was the challenge faced by one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies. Its financial, operations and commercial technology infrastructure—running SAP version R/2—had aged to the point where it was impeding the company in a number of areas.
The company had grown through a series of recent acquisitions, yet the mix of systems was making post-merger integration difficult. As the date approached when SAP would cease technical support for the older R/2 applications, the prospect of supporting these systems "solo" was of increasing concern. The company also faced regulatory issues: complying with FDA "computer system validation" procedures for pharmaceutical companies would be difficult, given the age and complexity of the technology environment. Finally, there were also data quality problems.
To make it all happen, the company turned to Accenture, a close partner for more than 10 years on a series of strategic and technology initiatives. Accenture was awarded the project in a competitive bid.
Accenture first worked with the company to outline the benefits from the project:
Accenture led the efforts during planning, design and implementation. Workforce enablement was one important key to the project's success. For the system upgrade to have maximum business impact, company executives needed to sponsor and encourage the changes resulting from the program; the business users had to be able to perform the new processes; and workers needed to be adept at using the new tools at their disposal. Accordingly, Accenture instituted a comprehensive "business readiness" program, led by experienced resources from Accenture's Human Performance practice and Accenture Learning BPO Services.
The program included change management, training, communications and executive sponsorship and alignment. Thanks to these efforts focused on the human performance dimensions of the project, users understood their new roles and were able to use the system with minimal disruption. The project team also saw a steady increase in buy-in from executive sponsors, who eventually held regular meetings to track progress and contribute to the project's success.
For the training aspects of the business readiness program, the team leveraged the deep instructional design expertise of Accenture Learning BPO Services, delivered through the Accenture Delivery Center network. By capitalizing on the content development center—and its proven infrastructure, techniques and track record—the company could deliver training with a greater impact on performance, with less risk and cost. The training program included computer-based training modules for aspects of the SAP and Ariba capabilities. The classroom-based training delivered by Accenture for a disparate group of users received some of the highest satisfaction scores that the client had experienced.
Pharmaceutical company executives and the joint client/Accenture team looked eagerly to the cutover date—when the company locations implementing the systems would switch to the new SAP R/3 system and Ariba applications. Thanks to a rigorous testing phase, and to a test run of the cutover phase—which went off with great success—the team was confident they were ready.
In October 2004 the new system went live. The months of hard work by the technical and business readiness teams paid off, as the business operated smoothly with minimal disruption to operations, to users or to customers. Thanks to programs in change management, learning and communications, the company experienced high levels of performance from users on day one.
Working together, the experienced Accenture and client team created for this company the means to excel immediately, and then to achieve high performance in the long run: a package of targeted quantifiable benefits totaling nearly $200 million over five years.
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