From farmer to consumer, the food supply chain is one that requires extremely careful logistics and a watchful eye on inventory. Success for a grocer depends on being acutely attuned to the commodities available in a given season, as well as consumer demand. If a product sits for just a bit too long in the warehouse, the grocer risks not only losing the sale, but also losing the food to spoilage.
For DAPSA, a family-owned grocery wholesaler based in central Mexico, maintaining that balance between farmer and consumer requires real-time financial information and inventory insight. Founded in 1985 as a father and son enterprise, DAPSA has grown to 210 employees, supplying consumer commodities like beans, rice, corn, and groceries to 360 retail outlets within a 250 kilometer radius of its headquarters in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
New solution: financial and operational focus on the inventory
With a stock list of more than 5,000 SKUs, DAPSA had outgrown its legacy software and began looking for a faster and more powerful software solution. “We needed to focus on the financial segment of the business and on the controls,” recalls José Clemente Guerrero Gámez, general director, DAPSA, who explains that with the previous software, there were problems with the inventory and it was often quite difficult to get to the origin of the problem. “For example, the main asset is the inventory. So, we needed to focus on the controls of that inventory, both financially and operationally. That was the main purpose for why we looked for new software.”
Next page: DAPSA consults SAP partner CompuSoluciones
Working with a local technology provider, DAPSA decided for an SAP solution because SAP is commonly used in its industry, where the processes are complex and often not supported by other solutions. It first implemented SAP Business One, but decided that it needed to optimize its new system for greater efficiency and to gain the benefits of real-time analysis for reporting. As Gámez says, “We wanted to be at the top of the technology.”
DAPSA then consulted SAP partner CompuSoluciones, who recommended SAP HANA as the next step to manage DAPSA’s growing database. “We decided to have SAP Business One analytics powered by SAP HANA, as it is a tool that helps us see our real-time information, so we can make more accurate decisions in our business,” says Moises Mora, IT manager, DAPSA.
No loss in sales thanks to parallel implementation
One of the constraints of the implementation was its timing, so as not to interrupt regular business operations. As Gámez explains, they made the decision to do the implementation in parallel with regular operations on their existing SAP Business One solution. “It’s difficult to stop working in this business, because if you stop, you lose sales. So, we needed to do the SAP HANA (project) with SAP working at the same time.”
Next page: Preparation: SAP e-learning and workshops
With the knowledge that the timeline would be tight with little room for error, the team at CompuSoluciones prepared accordingly. It was to be their first implementation project using SAP HANA. Team members prepared by taking e-learning courses available from SAP, familiarizing themselves with the project roadmap, and attending an SAP HANA workshop. The team also included an expert on SAP HANA, who had recently trained with SAP on the new technology.
Following careful planning with DAPSA IT manager Mora, the CompuSoluciones team was able to complete the most critical aspects of the implementation within two days. “They were really accommodating with the time,” says Mora of CompuSoluciones. “They were working outside of regular hours and in one weekend they did the installation. So, on Monday when we came to work, everything was under control and working correctly.”
SAP Business One analytics goes live
On March 6, 2013, DAPSA was live with its new SAP Business One analytics powered by SAP HANA solution. As lessons learned from the project, team members recall that they needed some extra time to get the server configured and ready. Also, the difference between the technical language of SAP HANA and SQL meant that while most reports functioned perfectly well, others required additional attention before they were available for use.
Following the success of the implementation, the management team at DAPSA says that reports are now much faster and easier to obtain, giving them better control of their business processes. The user experience is also greatly improved because the system is more responsive. “With SAP Business One analytics powered by SAP HANA, we make the processes more efficient, can develop strategies, and now we can make better decisions,” says Gámez.
Sales process efficiency at DAPSA has improved by 60% because of the expanded reporting capabilities. DAPSA’s main office is now able to track the flow of documents from order to payment, and monitor how each transaction affects the inventory as well as see the employee responsible for the transaction. As a result, DAPSA is able to offer its customers new services, such as supplying their orders in less than 24 hours.
SAP HANA to benefit sales, finance, and warehouse departments
Even so, Gámez says the work is not done in integrating SAP HANA into the company’s business processes. “At this time, we are starting by helping the people at the top of the company with their reports. But we have to make sure that HANA helps all the people in the company – the operational people, the people in sales, the people in financials, and people in the warehouse. All the people in the company have to benefit from SAP HANA. At this time, we are just at the top of the pyramid, but we have to spread it through all of the company.”