ACCRA, Ghana — 21 November 2022 — How does a multinational family business that has grown and expanded over three generations enable its next phase of growth and innovation? For one of the leading consumer goods and manufacturing enterprises in Africa, the answer was an ambitious journey to the cloud and a complete transformation of its IT systems.
“As a business we have always believed that building new capabilities is integral to our success,” says Sandeep Parasramka, CFO – Consumer Goods (Africa) at Tolaram. “As we eye a period of expansion and growth in our key markets, we wanted to ensure we had the technology and systems in place that would enable us to scale while also bringing our business processes to global best practice standards.”
Tolaram is a private enterprise founded in 1948 in Singapore. Today, it operates several businesses and manufacturing facilities in South-East Asia and Africa, focusing on three key business verticals: Consumer Goods, Fintech, and Infrastructure & Industrials. Among Tolaram’s businesses are Dufil, a joint venture with Indofood and Kellogg Company; TG Arla, a joint venture with Danish dairy company Arla Foods; Kellogg Tolaram and Multipro, both joint ventures with Kellogg Company, and Colgate Palmolive Tolaram, a joint venture with Colgate Palmolive. Tolaram also has a strategic partnership with Kimberly-Clark in Nigeria.
These businesses have helped Tolaram build a pan-African footprint and become a leading consumer goods player in Africa. In fact, Tolaram is the largest manufacturer and distributor of Instant Noodles in Africa, and the largest packaged food company in Nigeria.
“Our business was dependent on an on-premise enterprise resource planning solution for the past 15 years, but it could no longer meet our future business needs,” says Parasramka. “We sought a solution that could enhance our analytics capabilities, generate insights across our various operations, and scale as our business grows. We chose SAP S/4HANA as the leading cloud ERP solution on the market, and opted for an Azure deployment to meet our cloud ambitions. We believe this is the first SAP S/4HANA go-live on Azure in Ghana.”
Ghana pilot a test for broader transformation effort
Tolaram operates 25 manufacturing facilities across Africa, producing consumer goods in line with established joint ventures with the likes of Kellogg’s, Colgate-Palmolive, Indofood from Indonesia and Danish dairy firm Arla in addition to other wholly owned businesses across Africa.
“We plan to move our businesses across all verticals to the new SAP system in a phased approach,” explains Parasramka. “However, we chose to first pilot the migration in Ghana before moving to the larger business units in Nigeria and elsewhere.”
Phase One of the implementation focused on the Dufil and Multipro market units in Ghana, with a project kick-off in December 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. “The lockdown restrictions created challenges, but we were ably supported by expert SAP implementation partners Infocus Technologies as well as pool of in-house resources that we have built over a period of time and continue to focus on,” says Parasramka.
Almost all SAP S/4HANA modules were deployed as part of the implementation, including financial planning and analysis, procurement and sourcing, HR and payroll, manufacturing, and enterprise asset management. “For us it’s a total transformation of our business processes,” says Parasramka. “By standardising our business processes across our markets and business units, we can generate more accurate and relevant insights into the performance of the entire business, make smarter decisions, and reduce reliance on Excel spreadsheets and other standalone applications for more accurate data capturing and analysis.”
Challenges and key learnings point the way
Parasramka cites challenges with getting people on the ground during the implementation, since a significant part of the project took place during the strict lockdowns imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.
“One key learning during this phase is that training and change management would be essential to the success of the broader digital transformation effort. Based on learnings from our initial project, we have increased training time by two to two-and-a-half times to ensure users are sufficiently comfortable with the new systems.”
Tolaram recognises the transformational impact of SAP S/4HANA and change management remains a core focus for the implementation team and will be a determining factor in how easily the business adopts new tools and processes. “Despite the business having used the same ERP for 15 years, users could pick up the new system pretty quickly, which is hugely encouraging for the next phases of our transformation project.”
Two more rollouts are planned for Phase One in 2023, including Dufil Nigeria and Multipro Nigeria following soon after. “We also have implementations planned for other Nigeria-based business units in 2024, and will then focus on our business units in other regions, specifically Egypt and South Africa, with a planned go-live in 2025.”
Commenting on the implementation, Titilayo Adewumi, Regional Sales Director for West Africa at SAP, says: “The best run companies have the technology and processes to produce real-time insights into every aspect of the business to guide decision-making and process efficiency. With a successful first phase now well underway and a comprehensive implementation plan for the next few years, Tolaram is perfectly positioned to build intelligent enterprise capabilities that will enhance its competitiveness, enable its growth and support its success for years to come.”