Keytree and SAP S/4HANA Cloud: Transforming global business in the digital age

Established in 2016, pladis Global is a biscuit, chocolate and confectionery company that comprises longstanding, pedigree brands including McVities, Flipz and Turtles in the USA and Ülker (Turkey). pladis is also proud to distribute a carefully curated, GODIVA Everyday Luxury chocolate range exclusively for consumer packaged goods channels around the world. The organisation boasts annual revenues £2.3bn and operates in over 130 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

As a young organisation with some 20,000 employees and 34 manufacturing facilities and distribution centres spread across the globe, pladis made the strategic decision in 2017 to drive a new consumer-centric operating model, streamline operations and enable profitable growth by implementing a new digital technology platform. A platform that would allow the organisation to harmonise data, remove complexity and accelerate innovation and speed-to-market in a constantly changing, competitive environment.

The goal for pladis is to become the global leader in confectionery by driving a truly consumer-centric business model, enabled by agile execution capabilities as the foundation for growth and continual innovation. The S/4HANA Cloud based solution will provide a standard business model across geographies while allowing localised flexibility and ease of adopting new functionality. It will also enable collaboration with customers, partners and consumers to accelerate innovation.

To realise this vision, pladis has embarked on a Digital Transformation journey to create new business capabilities, relevant to the digital world, including being more agile with customers and consumers and adapt quickly to changing market and consumer needs and preferences.

The first step on the journey was S/4HANA Cloud – SAP’s Digital Core. Keytree was selected as the SAP partner of choice to handle the implementation and rollout, following in-depth discussions and explorations from both parties as to define the organisational and project objectives. The pladis team were eager to maximise Keytree’s extensive knowledge of the digital landscape and strong innovation credentials. Keytree’s wide-ranging expertise in ERP and global recognition for SAP Cloud Platform apps was a perfect match for the Digital Transformation voyage on which pladis was embarking. The relationship has proved very successful with the first stage of the implementation for pladis North America live in May 2018 – with Australia and China next in line.

“One of the main reasons pladis selected Keytree was the culture but also the experience they would bring to the project. We had a great working relationship with Keytree – the consultants were very competent and collaborative, so we had great confidence in them, which is essential when trying to do something quickly.”

Anthoula Madden – Chief Digital Officer at pladis Group

“When we began discussions with the pladis team last year we were thrilled. The project was going to involve a huge amount of innovation and was filled with challenges we knew Keytree was ideally placed to tackle. As S/4HANA Cloud is a relatively new and evolving innovation, together with pladis Global we were at the forefront of Digital Transformation, exactly where Keytree has been since the very beginning.”

Anthony Aughterson – Director of SAP Consulting at Keytree & Executive Sponsor of the pladis project

A platform for growth and innovation

The key objective of the business was to create a digital platform for growth in our developing markets, where the opportunity to scale the business through standardisation and automation of processes and ability to drive profitable growth through increased visibility, transparency and single version of the truth.

Given the diversity of legacy systems and processes, an accelerated approach was required to implement the ‘Digital Core’ as the foundation of the digital strategy and to prove the solution in North America. The S/4HANA Cloud based solution will provide a standard business model across geographies while allowing localised flexibility and ease of adopting new functionality. It will also enable collaboration with customers, partners and consumers.

A fundamental objective is also to create a digital ecosystem for growth and collaboration and the Cloud is the right platform for pladis to focus on managing brands and channels through a more integrated ecosystem of partners across the value chain, engaging consumers etc. Finally, the business is looking for a platform to accelerate innovation and speed to market.

What is different about implementing SAP S/4HANA public cloud is the ‘fit-to-standard’ approach adopted as the underpinning methodology for implementation. It essentially takes for granted that the core ERP solution has the required capabilities and therefore the focus is on ‘adapting the business to drive the standard business process model’ rather than having a long blueprint to figure out what the business needs.

This approach requires a mindset shift in the business, however once that leap of faith is taken the focus is on driving value out of the solution, adapting the ways of working and gearing up to take on the new capabilities. The core solution is not modified which in turn means the TCO is low and the quarterly technical innovations (e.g. machine learning updates), new features and APIs can then be readily adopted as they become available (or when the business is ready) – delivering further value and avoiding costly upgrades or falling out of sync with the latest thinking.

An additional value element are the embedded analytics, which have made key metrics and KPI’s readily available to the users to start to manage the business more proactively.

Project delivery

The project had an aggressive timeline, delivering the solution to the North American business in 22 weeks. The project team was split between London, New York and Pennsylvania and delivery followed the ‘SAP Activate’ methodology, aligned with Keytree’s method and delivery toolkit. The use of Jira was fundamental in creating a highly collaborative and agile approach to delivering the software rapidly – used for issue and delivery management plus project and status reporting. Keytree provided the expertise for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) integration into pladis’ third-party logistics provider (3PL) as well as to their customers using standard API’s that ship with S/4HANA Cloud.

“Keytree were very good at finding innovative solutions to challenges such as missing functionality and what I loved most about the Keytree team was their can-do attitude and the wealth of experience they brought to the project.”

Anthoula Madden – Chief Digital Officer at pladis Global

During delivery, there was a significant functionality requirement for warehouse management. pladis used an app to manage ‘bin level’ stock, but the new SAP product did not feature ‘bin level’ stock management. Following implementation philosophy for Cloud ERP, Keytree built a new improved mobile app on SAP Cloud Platform. The new warehouse management app provided full bin-level stock management function, scanning, printing and reporting – all delivered in less than ten weeks.

Business Benefits

pladis now operates with vastly improved business processes in North America which have delivered faster month-end close, including 3-way matching, workflow approvals and a clearer view of debtors -providing timely and accurate business reporting, enforcing better business practices and ensuring accurate financial and operational management. Warehouse management has more functionality than ever before, due to the Keytree WMS app and pladis now has a ‘latest’ solution rather than one which relies on regular, significant and costly upgrades to keep pace with modern requirements.

The main business benefits are end-to-end visibility and integration as well as automation of processes; elimination of non-value adding tasks while standardising processes across the company. Single version of truth, standardised data and timely and accurate brand-product-customer profitability analysis enabled better decision making and improved demand and supply planning.

Keytree has delivered a solution which is easily scalable to support the organisation’s ambitions to grow within both existing and emerging markets. Roll-out to future regions is underway in Asia Pacific with Australia and China top of the list – delivered by the core Keytree delivery team and Keytree APJ and China.

“This is an important step on our Digital Transformation journey as we now have the core business processes live and automated on the latest cloud platform. This project has put in place the ‘digital core’ infrastructure for our North American business, delivering harmonised data, consistent reporting and automation of the end-to-end core business processes. It will enable us to build advanced business capabilities, delivering increased transparency and a single version of the truth as well as remove complexity. More importantly, this is a platform for growth, and it will enable our business to accelerate innovation, execute more effectively across channels and have real-time information on demand, profitability and timely and accurate business reporting. It should enable us to increase collaboration and efficiencies across the organisation as well as with partners.”

Anthoula Madden – Chief Digital Officer at pladis Global