SAP Business One: Solution of Choice Across Botswana’s FMCG Sector

PST Sales & Distribution chooses SAP Business One, from 4most, to meet current operational requirements whilst facilitating future growth.

Originally a family business, today PST Sales & Distribution is a dominant player in Botswana’s FMCG sector.

Having begun as PULA Sales 25 years ago, 2010 saw the retirement of its founding couple and change of ownership. “I recognised the enormous opportunity for PULA in the Botswana market,” says Imraan Makda, now co-owner together with Autash Arora, son of the original proprietor. This saw Makda investing in the business, followed by a series of strategic acquisitions together with a name change.

“PULA was primarily involved in the warehouse and distribution of cold chain and frozen goods,” continues Makda. Its acquisitions, including that of Imperial owned Global Holdings, has enabled PST to expand its offering to include dry and other goods together with providing a full warehousing, sales and merchandising solution. With customers including the likes of Danon, Red Bull, BidVest, Dairy Maid and Nature’s Garden, the success of the last few years is clearly evident.

However, with growth comes challenges. An increased service offering and expanding customer base, together with additional operational demands, resulted in PST’s existing legacy infrastructure not quite meeting requirements.

“As we began to grow and evolve, the lack of certain essential functionality became increasingly apparent,” says Makda. “We needed a solution capable of meeting today’s requirements, but also able to continue growing with us, seamlessly, as we mature.” A thorough review of Botswana’s FMCG players, together with PST’s own customers and suppliers, quickly highlighted the use of SAP Business One as solution of choice, and the way forward for PST.

With local support critical, PST turned to 4most, a leading supplier and implementer of SAP Business One and ERP software technology, with an extensive African footprint and presence, as its vendor of choice. Says Marius Fabian, MD, 4most: “It was clear that PST needed a solid, robust and disciplined solution. We believe our reputation for outcomes based delivery together with our local presence in Botswana, and other African countries, provided PST with the confidence it needed when it came to vendor selection.”

However, Fabian goes on to caution that the selection of any new infrastructure, and vendor, needs to be about more than just technology. “We are in the business of providing solutions,” says Fabian. “Companies need to be clear on the exact value any technology, be it a new installation or upgrade, will provide the organisation.” Similarly, vendor engagement should be based on more than initial purchase and installation. “At 4most, our culture is centred on delivering a true consultative service, partnering with customers for the long term.”

With ‘go live’ scheduled for August this year, Makda is optimistic and excited by its expected outcome. “One of PST’s biggest challenges is multicurrency.” Although able to buy and sell in different currencies, PST needs to reflect its revenue in local Pulas, whilst reporting in rands to its South African customers. SAP Business One will allow for the seamless processing of multi-currencies, replacing what to date has been a tedious and often manually time-consuming process.

Further, the nature of its business sees PST dealing with many different agents. “The ability to produce a profit and loss statement, by principal, capable of reflecting revenue highs and lows will not only streamline efficiencies but also provide us with key insights for future growth.” And, with most agents working on different commission structures, across multiple discount factors (bulk, promotional, instore, amongst countless others), SAP Business One’s ability to cater for multiple commission and discount structures within its general ledger will be a key win for PST.

“We also represent 30+ agencies, each requiring its own set of accounts by principal and store, resulting in as many as 8 000 accounts on our database,” continues Makda. Functionality provided by SAP Business One will allow for one account per principal, drilling into relevant detail on each statement. This will enable improved customer reporting together with the automatic allocation of payment against invoices resulting in both cost and time savings.

“Add to that detailed real time reporting (removing the need for spreadsheets and manual intervention), coupled with its seamless scalability and ease of remote accessibility, and life is about to get a whole lot easier,” enthuses Makda. In addition, all PST customers and suppliers utilising SAP will enjoy full integration into PST’s system bringing with it increased efficiencies and improved service delivery.

With an aggressive implementation process currently underway, Fabian stresses the need for a holistic approach. “One has to cater for the human element. Technically, a project can be brilliant. However, if the user is resistant, or lacks the necessary understanding, it is doomed to fail.” This has seen 4most take the best of SAP’s ASAP technical implementation methodology, evolving it to include a focus on slightly more intangible elements vital to change management.

Yet, over and above increased efficiencies and seamless change management, Makda believes the highlight of August’s implementation will be the holistic picture it provides moving forward, from accounts to operations and logistics, with as much detail as needed. “Most organisations would need multiple systems for the same functionality,” says Makda. “I believe, together with 4most, SAP Business One is going to give us a single system capable of providing everything.”

Fabian concurs. “Yes, SAP Business One brings transparency, visibility, traceability and accuracy. But, it also empowers! Access to the right information, at the right time, allows senior staff to shift gears, moving from a transactional approach to one that is more strategic.” And it is this that facilitates sustainability and growth.