Casa Luker, a Colombian manufacturer of fine chocolate couvertures, is one of the largest consumer companies in the country. With the opening of Casa Luker Europe in Belgium in 2009, the company became a more consolidated group with strong international projection.
This growth — both locally and into international markets — propelled the manufacturer to upgrade its SAP ERP system and add a business intelligence (BI) platform that could handle the influx of data. An SAP customer since 1999, Casa Luker needed to update its processes to meet new business requirements. This meant the company needed an integrated process across the enterprise, from logistics and purchasing to manufacturing and quality management, as well as a more efficient system for meeting international standards.
Casa Luker’s SAP reimplementation project, which was the first project in Colombia to implement SAP HANA, took place in 2014. According to Gerson Granados, Director of IT at Casa Luker, it was a standard reimplementation. While the business was the owner of the project, the IT team, headed by Granados, was heavily involved in the process, interacting with its implementation partner, Deloitte, and other consultants in the US, India, and Mexico. “Part of the process was to ensure knowledge and IT support was transferred to the entire Casa Luker team during the implementation,” he says. (For more information about Deloitte’s involvement and role in the project, refer to the sidebar at the end of the article.)
The SAP reimplementation was executed as a three-phased project; in addition to the SAP HANA rollout, Casa Luker also implemented SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) powered by SAP HANA and the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (BI) suite in 2015. This included the deployment of a new distribution channel and supplier portal, as well as the introduction of dashboarding, analytics, and a control center. The third phase, kicking off this year and projected to pick up steam in 2017, is to implement SAP Business Planning and Consolidation and SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII) for advanced planning, simulation, and optimization of its supply chain.
A Time-Saving System
The biggest benefit the company has seen from this project, according to Granados, is the reduction in time it takes for reports to be generated. With the reimplementation, Casa Luker installed SAP HANA studio, which is a simplified development and modeling environment that improves the monitoring of the system database and administration of the SAP HANA system.
All ERP and reporting systems are now consolidated in SAP BW powered by SAP HANA, which has led to improved system performance as well as the increased speed and flexibility provided by in-memory computing for big data and analytics. The updated system has also accelerated report execution. Previously, to create a report, data had to be downloaded from the ERP system to the data warehouse.
But with SAP BW powered by SAP HANA, coupled with SAP HANA Live, users can connect directly to the database to obtain information online much more quickly. SAP HANA Live, which provides the technical infrastructure that enables SAP HANA to use data from SAP applications for analytics processing, has reduced the time it takes to generate sales reports from three hours to three minutes, Granados explains. When it comes specifically to Customer Open Balance Aging reports, which are critical accounts receivable reports for the company, execution has gone from 15 minutes down to 15 seconds.
The ability to have real-time data also helps Casa Luker with its decision-making processes. With timely access to production information, managers can quickly evaluate planned costs, target costs, and actual costs of production orders and process orders.
Casa Luker has also saved time in its supply chain processes with inventory optimization. Inventory accuracy is now over 99% for storage locations. The warehouse management system has reduced picking time from roughly one day to less than two hours.
Additionally, development time has decreased dramatically. Before the SAP reimplementation, there were 1,000 instances of custom code in the SAP landscape. As a result of the project, the customization has been reduced by 80%, with only 200 instances of customized code currently in existence.
International Standards and Quality Management
Compliance was also a project goal due to the company’s international growth. The upgrade has ensured compliance with international standards and improved quality management processes using English and Spanish certificates with digital signatures as a result of standardization and best-practice methodology.
“You have all the processes in one system in order to guarantee that you have the completed business cycle,” says Cesar Martin Rodriguez, Principal and SAP Practice Leader at Deloitte Colombia, adding that this is especially useful for the company’s sales processes and, specifically, for the salespeople. “We have the possibility to seamlessly integrate people who are in the field performing the sales activities with the SAP ERP system at Casa Luker.”
Along with a better connection between the sales force and the back-end system, Casa Luker has also gained control of the supply chain. A batch where-used list analysis system connects the supply chain from end to end, which ensures high-quality control across the company, from raw materials to customer deliveries.
The biggest benefit the company has seen from this project is the reduction in time it takes for reports to be generated.
— Gerson Granados, Director of IT, Casa Luker
The implementation also included SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) — specifically SAP Access Control — to ensure data integrity. Now that more data is accessible to more people, Granados says that it is critical only the right people have access to the right data.
Collaborating for Success
The success of this project was fostered by the collaboration between all parties involved. “When a company like Casa Luker decides to implement a new technology, it’s always a challenge to present it to the board of the company because, in Colombia, we often have reservations about deploying new technologies,” Granados says.
In the beginning, a steering committee was formed to assess the risks and benefits of the new technology and to plan the various aspects of the three-step implementation. “When you present a project with this kind of transparency, people are generally more engaged with the project,” says Rodriguez. “This was a lesson learned. It’s not common in our projects in this country to find this kind of customer — one with a phased implementation project that has all elements controlled from the beginning.”
Granados adds that it was through the support of SAP, IBM as its infrastructure partner, and Deloitte as its implementation partner that Casa Luker was able to successfully execute the project. Due to the international nature of the implementation, it was important for all parties to be at the same table when challenges arose. He says that this guaranteed the end solution was fit for the users.