Agropur is Canada’s largest dairy cooperative. A network of more than 3,500 dairy farmers, Agropur prides itself on its customer responsiveness. 2.7 billion liters of milk are processed annually in plants across the United States, Canada, and Argentina. Each of Agropur’s divisions is run autonomously and operates its own ERP system. The award-winning Fine Cheese division – the subject of this case study – is the smallest of Argopur’s divisions with 450 employees. This division first installed SAP 4.7 Enterprise in 2004.
Marie-Claude Alary, Manager of Business Process Systems Improvement for Agropur’s Fine Cheese Division, knew it was time for a change. Still running on 4.7 Enterprise in the fall of 2009, the Fine Cheese Division wanted to upgrade before standard SAP maintenance ended and only had a short annual window of opportunity to do it – during the end of winter. Alary’s team also wanted access to new functionality in ERP 6.0, such as Adobe Forms, which was not available to them in 4.7. The problem?
Her SAP team was a small one – they needed an efficient way to upgrade to ERP 6.0, which did not cause on over-reliance on outsourced support. Adding to Agropur’s SAP team’s challenge, is the fact that their SAP system is the backbone of the Fine Cheese enterprise; no downtime beyond a weekend could be afforded.
“This ERP change project went extremely well, we just didn’t believe it. After we went live, we had no surprises either.”
As they were planning their ERP 6.0 upgrade, Alary got a timely email from Panaya, featuring a paper on SAP upgrades that spurred her interest. “It was just a few hours later,” Alary recalls, “that I got a phone call from Panaya offering to do a demo. I thought to myself, ‘they’re quick!’”
At first, Alary’s team was concerned that Panaya wasn’t the best fit for their project, due to their 130 person user base. “We often look at third party tools for our project and ask ourselves, ‘Do we really need this?’” explains Alary. “On a smaller project like ours, there’s really not that many tasks to organize, so we typically don’t get as much benefit from tools like these.” Panaya’s free trial, which included snapshots of Agropur’s unresolved code issues, persuaded Alary to give Panaya a shot.
The only problem with the project? It went so smoothly, everyone was worried that an unseen hammer was about to fall. “This project went extremely well, we just didn’t believe it,” recalls Alary. “We kept asking ourselves, ‘What is going to come and hit us?’ After we went live, we had no surprises either, it was like a perfect project.” As planned, the Agropur Fine Cheese group took their ERP 6.0 system live over a long weekend.
All told, Panaya saved Alary’s team almost six weeks of time – 30 percent of the total upgrade. In addition to the project management savings, outsourcing costs were reduced by 45 percent. Unit testing was reduced by 50 percent, and integration testing by 30 percent. Perhaps most importantly, Agropur’s ERP 6.0 upgrade project was completed under-budget.
Alary believes one key to Panaya’s success is its close partnership with its customers. “We’re at the other end of the planet from one another, but it was all very transparent. The availability of the people from Panaya was amazing. I don’t know when they sleep actually,” jokes Alary.
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