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Case Study


SABMiller Celebrates Globalization, Quality Data, and Improved Management Reporting

by Lauren Bonneau, Senior Editor, SAPinsider | insiderPROFILES, Volume 6, Issue 1

January 1, 2015

insiderPROFILES SABMiller case study

SABMiller, an international beer manufacturer and distributor that operates in more than 80 countries, wanted to gain efficiencies by shifting from region- and country-based processes, systems, and vendors to begin planning, developing, and operating on a global basis. Explore how SABMiller achieved consistent and accurate master data across the enterprise through a global efficiency program that included an SAP ERP rollout and an implementation of two data governance solutions from BackOffice Associates.


SABMiller plc, which manufactures and distributes around 200 beer brands — from local beers steeped in tradition to well-recognized international names, including Miller Genuine Draft and Pilsner Urquell — has a history of strong growth and a portfolio of products spread throughout mature and developing markets. To support this continued growth, the business has launched an efficiency program aimed at improving its already effective brewing, manufacturing, and distribution operations, with a focus on optimizing business processes, reducing costs, and allowing local management teams to concentrate more closely on their specific markets (thinking globally; acting locally).
Underpinning this efficiency program was a shift from region- and country-based processes, systems, and vendors to planning, developing, and operating its services on a global basis. One piece of the strategy was to create a global business services function to consolidate back-office and specialist activities.

Another focus was to optimize its procurement processes and supply chain, and the final element was to improve distribution processes. To enable this strategy, and to support processes and functions in a consistent and seamless way, SABMiller set out to unify its technology platforms across the business with a global SAP ERP deployment.
“Our business is globalizing in an effort to leverage our size and scale as the second largest beer manufacturer in the world, and the data and analytics that help drive that corporate perspective are fundamental enablers,” says Cindy Hoots, Vice President of Global ERP Information at SABMiller. “Putting in a common ERP system will provide that foundation, so we can then wholly operate as a global company.”
SABMiller kicked off its efficiency program with a phased SAP ERP project. The first phase included successful deployments in the corporate headquarters in the UK, South Africa, Ecuador, and Poland. Currently, in the deployment phase, the global template of the efficiency program was rolled out in Australia earlier this year, and Romania recently cut over successfully onto the global system. Deployments are also in progress for the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Netherlands, with future deployments scheduled throughout Europe and South America. The full rollout of the global template will be complete in October 2017.

Cindy Hoots

Cindy Hoots
Vice President of Global ERP Information

For the business to operate optimally, we count on reliable customer data to ensure we can take orders and distribute based on those orders.

Cindy Hoots, Vice President of Global ERP Information, SABMiller

The Importance of Data Management

Early on in the global SAP ERP deployment, SABMiller identified master data management as a critical focus area. “For the business to operate optimally, we are dependent on trusted and accurate master data; for example, we need reliable customer data to ensure we can take orders and distribute based on those orders,” says Hoots, who is responsible for business process management, development, and deployment of the company’s overall global template. “We also rely on accurate material master data to ensure we have the information we need to manufacture the right product to the right specifications.”
Managing the quality of SABMiller’s data is fundamental to its efficiency program, according to Hoots. “As we look to globalize the business, the harmonization of data becomes an underlying prerequisite for success. Having the right processes, tools, technology, and access to information makes all the difference,” she says. “Data management is an area that can make operational processes more efficient and effective,” adds Will Hiley, Global Data Management Lead for SABMiller. “It is crucial for providing the information, supporting management decision making, and allowing for both internal and external benchmarking.”
As important as having accurate master data is having standard, processes and systems. “Standardization allows us the organizational flexibility to set up new facilities and get people from different parts of the world up and running more rapidly,” says Hoots. “It allows us to leverage best practices that work well in one part of the world, so we can replicate and take advantage of those practices in our other businesses. It also provides for harmonized analytics; because we’re using the same key performance indicators (KPIs), processes, and data points, we can consolidate that information and look for trends and compare our business performance around the world.”

Will Hiley

Will Hiley
Global Data Management Lead

Data management is an area that can make operational processes more efficient and effective. It is crucial for providing the information, supporting management decision making, and allowing for benchmarking, both internally and externally.

Will Hiley, Global Data Management Lead, SABMiller

Enter Data Governance Applications

To ensure the accuracy and integrity of the company’s data, to maximize its value to the organization, and to create more efficient business processes and management reporting, SABMiller chose to manage its master data quality through data governance solutions. According to Hiley, who is responsible for the overall management of global data design, data maintenance processes, and data quality within both SAP and non-SAP applications under the umbrella of the global template, the business wanted a combination of active and passive data governance applications that would align with the data design of the SAP ERP deployment, and ensure a solid foundation for adding functionality and bringing new countries onto the new system.
After careful consideration, SABMiller chose BackOffice Associates to provide the data management applications and to design, build, and deploy the solutions. “BackOffice was chosen because of its comprehensive range of applications in the data management space and the specific capabilities provided through its data governance applications,” says Hiley. (For more details about BackOffice Associates’ involvement in the project, please refer to the sidebar at the end of the article.)
SABMiller is deploying BackOffice solutions for active data governance and passive data governance as part of the overall global template. The BackOffice Active Data Governance solution provides a single, globalized, and harmonized view of master data records. It ensures that data is validated, aligned with data design rules, and follows the proper workflow for provisioning and approval before the data is automatically posted to SAP ERP, which ensures compliance with internal financial controls requirements. This solution allows users to perform all master data maintenance activities, such as creating, copying, updating, blocking, and deleting a master record for
financial, material, vendor, and customer data.
The BackOffice Passive Data Governance solution checks data quality once it is posted to SAP ERP, which ensures that data integrity is maintained in the production environments. This solution enables users to monitor service-level agreements to identify violations or check data error reports.

insiderPROFILES SABMiller case study

SABMiller plc

Headquarters: London, England

Industry: Food and beverage (beer and soft drinks)

Revenue: $22,311 million (2014)

Employees: 71,000 approximately

Company details:

  • Founded in 1895 in South Africa
  • Manufactures and markets around 200 beer brands, including international names such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft, Castle Lager, and Pilsner Urquell
  • Operates in over 80 countries
  • Uses 2 million tons of barley and buys 7,300 tons of hops annually
  • Brews the equivalent of over 430 million pints each year; every minute of every day, close to 140,000 bottles of its beer are sold around the world
  • Committed to a strong sustainability focus, including a reduction of water usage

SAP solutions:

  • SAP ERP 6.0
  • SAP Trade Promotions Management
  • SAP Solution Manager
Data and Process Improvements

As the global businesses migrate onto the SAP system, the implementation team is finding varying degrees of data quality throughout the business units. “Where we see varying degrees, we also are not finding standardized solutions, processes, or economies,” says Hiley. “And this is where the global template and the BackOffice Passive Data Governance solution come in, which provide the opportunity to standardize and get the economies gained from having a single, quality solution.”
As a result of the global template rollout, SABMiller has improved the output and accuracy of management reports, from corporate KPIs, quality checks, and benchmarks for management to see how the different areas of the company are performing, to customer profitability, on-time and in-full deliveries, legal and regulatory compliance, sales figures, and manufacturing details. “Even though the reports are across the board, they are all based on having standard definitions — on what is a case, what is a product, what is a stock-keeping unit — and making sure these definitions are all classified so the data can be consolidated at a local level all the way up to global reporting,” Hiley continues. “Having accurate data aligned with standardized data design supports the other operational processes and the improved reporting. If we have the standardized definitions of data across the world, then we can consolidate and benchmark across the different business units.”
All areas of the business are benefitting from operating off a global data design with standardized processes, which allows for consistent and accurate master data to support operational processes, benchmarking, and management information. For instance, in the sales area, salespeople now have faster access to and more control over creation of customer master data to increase sales opportunities. Employees in procurement have a single view of material master records and vendor master records, enabling the business to source materials more efficiently. Those working in plant maintenance can deduplicate materials and vendor data, which results in stock reductions and leveraging procurement opportunities, such as identifying the lowest purchase prices across plants and countries. For example, after a rollout in Latin America, the net savings due to these benefits is estimated at $15 million in working capital.

There have also been clear time savings resulting from the reduced effort involved in data maintenance. “Previously, it was an administrative activity of checking the data, pulling the reports, and manually checking the records to ensure that everything was authorized, approved, and accurate,” explains Hiley. “Now, the only way to create or maintain data is through the data governance solutions. As long as we do regular system checks to ensure the system has the right controls and is performing correctly, we don’t need to perform the manual activities because we have the automation guaranteeing those results. This involves far less overhead compared to the manual process of checking all the individual records, and represents significant time savings to the business users when operating in a Sarbanes-Oxley readiness environment.”
Because data administrators are no longer required to perform data maintenance activities, and source content owners have accountability and responsibility for the data, business users can spend more time on value-added activities. Service levels have also increased. When the business went live with the global template and BackOffice solutions in Poland, for example, the business unit had been operating at 75% within service-level agreements. Once users were familiar with the new software solution, and understood how it worked and how to monitor and follow up with the data, it led to an improved service level in the master data maintenance area — 98% of requests were approved within one day.

No Transition Is Truly Seamless

Resistance to change is always a challenge in any software deployment, and there are initial hurdles with the adoption of any new tools. However, according to Hiley, once the applications were embedded and the users became familiar with them, the business found users were recognizing the benefits of the tools and how the data governance applications in particular ease data maintenance activities for them.
“As the BackOffice Active Data Governance and Passive Data Governance solutions are new to business users, training has been critical to ensure a smooth transition from cutover to business as usual,” Hiley says. “And because data governance was not an activity that was fully recognized prior to the SAP ERP deployment, to successfully implement the data governance solutions, it was crucial to put in place an effective communication, change management, and training program. We have offered significant post-live support to ensure the solutions are as successful as possible in the initial month after the go-live.”

How BackOffice Associates Helped SABMiller Implement an Information Governance Solution That Enables
Business-Ready Data

For SABMiller, we implemented our BackOffice Associates Active and Passive Data Governance solutions to address its customer, vendor, material, and financial data. Collaborating closely with the SABMiller team members, we were able to capture their unique business rules around data and help them implement processes to ensure the data entered into their SAP ERP system was business-ready from the point of entry.
With BackOffice Associates’ Active Data Governance, SABMiller users could be confident of the data accuracy from the start. 
For SABMiller’s customer and vendor data, we enabled their global regions to capture and utilize their data in local languages including Spanish, Polish, German, and many others. A custom feature was implemented in the customer module to capture and feed data to SAP ERP to support Direct Store Delivery (DSD) through SAP’s visit plan process. 
When it came to financial data, BackOffice enabled SABMiller to capture and manage its general ledger accounts, manage cost and profit centers locally, and distribute through a global SAP instance to the transactional SAP ERP application.
Our BackOffice Associates’ Information Governance solutions are deployed as lightweight web applications, greatly simplifying access and adoption. We provide data governance solutions with advanced end-to-end workflow process capabilities and actionable reporting, which is automatically delivered to the responsible data owner for remediation.
If you have any questions, please contact us directly at or visit us at

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