With demand for its facilities taking on unprecedented growth, pharmaceutical contract manufacturer Peppina was fast outgrowing both its legacy infrastructure and current method of managing its operations. This prompted a strategic decision to implement SAP Business One to achieve increased efficiencies, smoother operations and access to real-time data and reporting.
“Our legacy system was largely responsible for the sales portion of our business,” says Peppina Operations Manager Liesl Groenewald. “Everything else was captured by hand and on Excel, predominantly by just one individual. Not only was this incredibly time consuming, but the scope for mistakes and human error was fast becoming an unnecessary challenge, potentially hindering what could otherwise be a far more streamlined, smoother and efficient way of doing business.”
Founded in 1956 as a mail order business, Peppina is one of approximately two dozen contract manufacturers specialising in the pharmaceutical industry today. Headquartered in Johannesburg, Peppina enjoys a national and global presence with all products manufactured at its facility available on both the local and international market, complete with an online shopping facility.
“Thirty years ago, we made the move from mail order to producing our own products. However, it was only about eight years ago that we began the manufacturing side of our business, never once predicting the success that has it accounting for the largest part of what we now do,” says Groenewald.
Growth = challenges + opportunity
With its growth trajectory showing no signs of abating, coupled with strict industry regulations and processes needing to be adhered to in the manufacturing and production of pharmaceutical products, Peppina began to review potential technology solutions capable of enabling it to meet current requirements together with continued future growth.
Peppina were clear that they required a fully integrated system, capable of customisation where necessary in order to meet its unique industry related requirements. “We weren’t interested in developing anything from the ground up or running separate packages,” stresses Groenewald. “Our requirements included automatic stock reconciliation, real-time access to information, the ability to capture batch numbers and expiry dates, and full integration, automation and absolute traceability.”
Biting the bullet
Peppina was contacted by a representative from 4most Systems, a leading supplier and implementer of SAP Business One and ERP software technology. Groenewald believed they had potentially found the answer to their day to day requirements as well as the more unique areas specific to the pharmaceutical industry and its stringent requirements.
“I had not realised the amount of customisation possible and afforded by SAP Business One,” says Groenewald. “It is as if we were able to take the best off-the-shelf package suitable to our needs and then tweak and customise to create a solution best suited to our environment, our requirements and the industry in which we operate.”
Some market research conducted on 4most as a vendor, yielded positive feedback and recommendations. “4most’s reputation as one of the leading vendors for SAP Business One in the local market cemented our commitment to move forward not only with implementing SAP Business One, but also with 4most as our chosen vendor.”
Peppina went live with its new installation of SAP Business One on March 1st 2019. Between change management and getting used to a whole new set of processes and an entirely different system, the first few months proved challenging. “No matter how much training one has, it is only in the actual ‘doing’ that one can really learn, thereby making a new system one’s own,” says Groenewald.
“There were also things we didn’t know we didn’t know. For example, customising customer statements and invoices to suit a business’s corporate identify (CI) and financial regulations as opposed to simply running SAP Business One’s generic templates. But, as we learned, we got better.”
Sound business decision
Yet despite the challenges, with only a few months since implementation earlier this year, Groenewald is quick to point out two very significant benefits already yielding advantages for Peppina.
Transparency: No hiding. Once information is captured onto the SAP Business One system, it is there. This allows for complete accountability.
The sharing of information: A lot more people have access to information, faster and better than ever before. The days of one person owning all the information are no longer.
Smoother operations, reduced errors and hands on efficiencies
The pharmaceutical industry and its accompanying regulations make for very time-consuming processes, irrespective of the underlying technology infrastructure. A set of paper copies, physically signed off, need to be kept as part of industry compliance. However, the beauty of a fully automated and integrated system means that any human errors are now immediately spotted. “If something is captured incorrectly by hand, it will be immediately evident upon attempting to enter it into the system,” says Groenewald.
“I am now able to simply login to SAP Business One to find all the information I could possibly need so much quicker than what was previously possible. The customised reporting is also a great tool to have. Literally, at the press of a button, I can access a report on whatever I need to report on, with the costing of products now also possible in real-time.”
The management of Peppina’s stock levels has also benefited exponentially with SAP Business One providing the functionality to not only immediately realise any potential errors but most importantly to allow for the fixing of them, immediately, removing any potential knock on effect. Peppina now knows exactly what is coming in, from where, and how much, all of which has a huge impact on improving daily efficiencies. Industry compliance also requires that the company runs a mock recall every year.
Whilst the procurement process has benefitted from the new technology infrastructure, there are some final tweaks Groenewald would like to look at together with a few smaller issues pertaining to the display of currencies within its financial reporting.
“Realistically, it probably takes about a year from initial implementation to completely iron out all chinks,” says Groenewald. “But we are so much further down the road than we have ever been and look forward to continuing both our investment in SAP Business One and our relationship with 4most into the future.”