LAGOS, Nigeria – When a 138 year-old business operating across multiple industries in the competitive Nigerian economy made the strategic decision to modernize its technology, it turned to SAP to provide the technology and strategic insights needed to make the project a success.
UACN Plc was established in 1879 and is today a leading diversified company operating in the foods and beverage, real estate, paints, and logistics sectors.
Tunde Adenekan, Program Manager of the project at UACN Plc, said that the implementation was part of a rigorous business transformation project aimed at achieving several business values and modernizing a century-old company. “We wanted to standardize our business processes across the business units to reposition the business for greater efficiency, and benchmark our processes against global best practice. The SAP team’s knowledge of our organizational objectives and learnings from global best practice proved invaluable in ensuring a successful implementation across our business units. In addition, by running a solution that links the entire process chain, we were able to eradicate manual processes and provide better visibility on operational performance.”
The project team set out several key objectives at the outset of the project to ensure it delivered to broader organizational goals. “We wanted to integrate our planning, purchasing and manufacturing processes, and minimize manual processes for approvals to secure shorter order processing times. It was also key that we establish IFRS-compliant financial performance reporting and speed up the end of month closure. This was key to support our organizational objective of earning our investors’ confidence by providing financial performance data through trusted business solutions.”
Ruke Awaritefe, Director at C2G Consulting, the SAP partner that managed the implementation, said that due to the size and scope of UACN’s operations, several SAP solutions were required to meet the objectives of the project and deliver optimum value to the broader business. “We used SAP Best Practices with SAP Rapid Deployment to ensure speedy and efficient implementation of the chosen solutions, which included SAP Real Estate Management, SAP Enterprise Asset Management for Power Plants, and SAP Solution Manager.”
For the implementation to deliver optimum value to the business, it was critical to align IT services with the current and future needs of the business, improve the quality of IT services delivered, and to reduce the long-term cost of service provision. “A Centre of Excellence was established to provide operational and user support, optimise the use of the SAP solutions implemented, and manage complexities with the project. This was particularly important in light of the large quantity of data from all nine business entities that needed to be managed. Critically, all major stakeholders participated in off-site SAP training in Dubai to ensure proper understanding and review of the requirements, which also guided the development of project KPIs,” added Awaritefe.
The project delivered business benefits beyond the initial goals. “Following the project implementation, we capture 100% of our costs on SAP technology, which we leverage to generate accurate profitability reports while ensuring compliance with IFRS with relation to our financial reporting. This provides a seamless consolidation of our budget and financial reports at a group level, enabling better financial decision making across the various business units. We also have a 100% paperless procurement process, as well as 0% manual approvals, and our entire HR performance management process is now online,” said Adenekan.
The project team faced several key challenges during the project implementation. “We had to efficiently manage the scope of deliverables and changes to the best-practice solution, which meant strict change management procedures that enabled the team to quickly reject frivolous changes without disruption to the implementation timeline. The roll-out of the different SAP solutions to each of the nine business units – which ranged from manufacturing to logistics to real estate and more – required a phased implementation that allowed our partners sufficient resources to ensure quality control at all times,” explained Adenekan.
“For us, this was never an IT software project, but a business transformation one. As such, we enjoyed the benefit of C-level buy-in: the group CFO was the project sponsor, and subsidiary managing directors were active steering committee members. This ensured the project received the necessary management backing to ensure its success.”
Pedro Gurreiro, Managing Director: SAP West Africa, said: “With an engaged senior management team supporting the project, clear project objectives linked to broader organizational goals and an expert team driving the project implementation, UACN has modernized a century-old business and set it up for a new era of success. As companies continue to seek competitive advantages by leveraging the latest SAP technology, we will provide support by matching global best practice with expert project management to ensure each project unlocks the benefits of digital transformation for their business.”
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