Agropur Milks Its ERP Upgrade to the Last Drop
Still running on 4.7 Enterprise in the Fall of 2009, Agropur wanted to upgrade before standard SAP maintenance ended and only had a short window of opportunity to do it.
Using Panaya, Agropur saved 45% on outsourcing costs, 50% on unit testing, 30% on project duration, and went live on time, and under-budget.
Agropur is Canada's largest dairy cooperative. A network of more than 3,500 dairy farmers, Agropur prides itself on its customer responsiveness. 2.7 billion liters of milk are processed annually in plants across the United States, Canada, and Argentina. Each of Agropur's divisions is run autonomously and operates its own ERP system. The award-winning Fine Cheese division – the subject of this case study – is the smallest of Argopur's divisions with 450 employees. This division ﬁrst installed SAP 4.7 Enterprise in 2004. With the help of Panaya, the Fine Cheese Division upgraded to ERP 6.0 in the spring of 2010.
Marie-Claude Alary, Manager of Business Process Systems Improvement for Agropur's Fine Cheese Division, knew it was time for a change. Still running on 4.7 Enterprise in the Fall of 2009, the Fine Cheese Division wanted to upgrade before standard SAP maintenance ended and only had a short annual window of opportunity to do it – during the end of winter. Alary's team also wanted access to new functionality in ERP 6.0, such as Adobe Forms, which was not available to them in 4.7. The problem? Her SAP team was a small one – they needed an efﬁcient way to upgrade to ERP 6.0, which did not cause on over-reliance on outsourced support. Added pressure: the SAP system is the backbone of the Fine Cheese enterprise; no downtime beyond a weekend could be afforded.
As they were planning their ERP 6.0 upgrade, Alary got a timely email from Panaya, featuring a paper on SAP upgrades that spurred her interest. "It was just a few hours later," Alary recalls, "that I got a phone call from Panaya offering to do a demo. I thought to myself, 'they're quick!'" At ﬁrst, Alary's team was concerned that Panaya wasn't the best ﬁt for their project, due to their 130 person user base. "We often look at third party tools for our project and ask ourselves, 'Do we really need this?'" explains Alary. "On a smaller project like ours, there's really not that many tasks to organize, so we typically don't get as much beneﬁt from tools like these." Panaya's free trial, which included snapshots of Agropur's unresolved code issues, persuaded Alary to give Panaya a shot.
Getting the Agropur team up to speed posed no challenges. Panaya trained the ABAP team in two hours; Alary trained the super users in just ﬁfteen minutes. "We had a super user who was not very good with computers, but she found the tool very user friendly," recalls Alary. Agropur used Panaya to manage all the tasks during the testing process, something that came in handy after the upgrade when Panaya was used to show project auditors that the testing was completed to spec and all tasks assigned to the appropriate person.
The beneﬁts of Panaya as a project management tool were immediately obvious to Alary. Prior to the project, Alary had engaged a coach to help her with the upgrade and manage the ABAP team.
"For him, just doing the task assignments within Panaya took a lot less time than we expected, and that really saved on project management costs," says Alary.
"If we had to identify all the tasks and assign them manually or with a spreadsheet, it would have taken a lot more time. Project managers are the most expensive people in the upgrade, so I saved a lot there."
Alary was not sure if unit testing with Panaya would work out, but the ability to identify and assign tasks during unit testing won her over, signiﬁcantly reducing the anticipated testing time. When it came time for integration testing, there were no issues of importance to resolve - Panaya had already identiﬁed them during the unit testing phase. "We were able to improve our system and reduce the number of bugs," says Alary. "Now our live system is almost perfect."
All told, Panaya saved Alary's team almost six weeks of time – 30 percent of the total upgrade. In addition to the project management savings, outsourcing costs were reduced by 45 percent. Unit testing was reduced by 50 percent, and integration testing by 30 percent. Perhaps most importantly, Agropur's ERP 6.0 upgrade project was completed under-budget.
Alary believes one key to Panaya's success is its close partnership with its customers. "We're at the other end of the planet from one another, but it was all very transparent. The availability of the people from Panaya was amazing. I don't know when they sleep actually," jokes Alary.
The only problem with the project? It went so smoothly, everyone was worried that an unseen hammer was about to fall. "This project went extremely well, we just didn't believe it," recalls Alary. "We kept asking ourselves, 'What is going to come and hit us?' After we went live, we had no surprises either, it was like a perfect project." As planned, the Agropur Fine Cheese group took their ERP 6.0 system live over a long weekend in May 2010
Now live on ERP 6.0, Alary has a few lessons to share. One is to avoid over-reliance on outside consulting. Alary used her external ABAP partner judiciously, making sure that her internal team retained the most important know-how. Using internal team members reduced the knowledge transfer costs. The super users doing the testing already knew the transactions and how they were supposed to work, minimizing training time. "Don't be too reliant on external consultants," cautions Alary. "We took people from their normal jobs for four weeks; they were fully concentrated on SAP software. It may be a pain for the organization, but it really saved us time and money."
Of course, Alary has another piece of advice: use Panaya. "Panaya delivers!" says Alary. "Test, test, test and test, it's the best way to make sure you have a successful upgrade ... and Panaya is the right tool to support testing. At ﬁrst, it looks too good to be true, but it really is that good!"
Next up for Alary's team? With their technical upgrade complete, they're investigating in some functional enhancements in ERP 6.0, including extending their warehouse management tools and improving master data efﬁciency with Adobe Forms. They're also looking into their SAP support pack timetable and how Panaya can help there. One thing's for sure: whatever project the Fine Cheese Division undertakes next, their "perfect project" will be a hard act to follow.
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David Wascom, CIO, Summit Electric Supply
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Minneapolis Public Schools
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Carlos Gomez, SAP Manger
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Joan Waddell, ABAP Programmer
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Mike Kemp, SAP Operations Manager, Centrica
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Marie-Claude Alary, Manager of Business Process Systems Improvement
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Francisco Flores, SAP Project Manager
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The Foschini Group
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