Keytree injects new life into iSupply – the Brakes vendor portal

Brakes Group is one of the leading foodservice companies in the UK and to ensure the smooth supply of food, drinks and catering products to a wide variety of food providers, Brakes works alongside a supplier base of almost 1,000 vendors. This extensive network features a broad spectrum of vendors ranging from the likes of Coca-Cola and Nestle through to independent traders and farmers.

Brakes regularly buy goods from its supplier base, sending out 100’s of Purchase Orders (PO’s) every day. To maintain this intricate and complex infrastructure, Brakes uses iSupply – an online portal for managing all purchasing needs. The solution had been in place for many years but over time it was unable to keep pace with the growing business and was not performing to the expected standard or maintaining direct communication with the vendor network.

Brakes selected long-standing partner Keytree to refresh and enhance iSupply to embed the solution as a one-stop-shop for placing, reviewing and accepting PO’s and provide users with a range of downstream supply chain activities including goods receipting, inventory and consignment stock management. To improve communication between Brakes and its supplier base, iSupply also needed to be embedded as the single point of interaction.

Keytree delivers the dream solution

As part of its overall IT strategy, Brakes wanted to decommission the existing platforms and hardware underpinning iSupply and as the solution was based on SAP technology, Brakes decided that SAP experts Keytree was perfectly positioned to upgrade the iSupply portal. A full review of iSupply was undertaken by Keytree starting with the user experience, which needed an overhaul.

Brakes also wanted to move away from using emails or having to resort to phone calls when dealing with vendors so to make this happen, the performance of the solution needed to be greatly improved to ensure iSupply could become the primary communication tool between Brakes and its vendors. The Keytree UX team discussed needs and requirements with Brakes, assessed iSupply and designed a dream solution to meet all current and future needs – instantly approved by Brakes.

Keytree delivered the frontend build and integration with data coming directly out of the Brakes ECC and BW systems, which included data cleansing (as part of the project). To improve performance, Keytree implemented a solution based on the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) as the primary platform on which the iSupply application would be deployed.

AKS provides Kubernetes (K8S) as a managed service in Azure, which removes much of the heavy lifting involved with implementing, installing, maintaining and securing Kubernetes in Azure. Keytree were able to focus on the development of the containerised business services that would be deployed to AKS knowing that the management of the containers, scalability of the application and resilience of these services would be properly managed.

Keytree delivers new functionality

The endless stream of PO’s created daily at Brakes cover next day and next week deliveries plus items booked to be delivered at future dates but iSupply was not providing a complete end to end service to support this mission-critical process. Users needed to send separate emails for each PO and in some cases contact vendors directly by phone to confirm and process an order. Keytree enhanced iSupply so that once the PO is raised, SAP ECC will automatically send a notification to the vendor informing them that they have a new PO to review. The vendor then logs into iSupply to review and assess the PO and process accordingly with each PO listing all items requested including cost, purchase and delivery details allowing the vendor to accept, decline or adjust the order.

Keytree replicated the existing solution and upgraded iSupply to include full tracking and monitoring capabilities for receipts and returns including full analysis and KPI tracking – detailing what was fulfilled and PO’s not fulfilled. Sales & Forecasting enhancements allow Brakes to access a real-time inventory of all products in stock, supporting the management of warehouse inventory plus the added ability to notify relevant vendors if Brakes are short on particular items – all available to vendors for the first time.

iSupply on Azure Cloud

Keytree set up an Azure tenant moving iSupply from on-premise to the cloud – fully managed by Keytree. By moving to cloud technology, with all components of iSupply now running in the cloud, all underlying data sits in the Brakes on-premise SAP ECC environment. This generates real-time information for POs with the remaining data coming from the BW system, deployed previously by Keytree.

Azure managed VPNs were also created to key counterparties to provide data encryption during transit and secure access to source data systems that require direct connection via legacy interfaces. Connectivity via VPN connections can often be troublesome to manage, but the Azure VPN services provide resilient connectivity to a variety of counterparty systems with minimal configuration and customisation requirements.

Business Benefits

Keytree delivered a solution that now means users of iSupply no longer need to work outside the process and can avoid facing the challenge of having to raise and email PO’s to vendors – freeing up valuable time and enabling the channel to work the way it was expected to work. iSupply now provides Brakes with a reliable way to review stock levels and instantly notify suppliers when there is a shortfall via Sales & Forecasting data.

This new enhancement features high-level reporting, displaying data that can be shared directly with suppliers. The new version of iSupply replaces a solution that was becoming hard to work with and difficult to use and will expand and grow with the business but the real game-changer is that Brakes now has access to a true, real-time communications platform acting as a single point of contact for vendors delivering real value to the business.