Curing confusion

When a major pharmaceutical manufacturer in Jordan tried to remedy inefficiencies in its processes, it ended up developing a new ERP module in partnership with its integrator. Daniel Stanton spoke to them.

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By  Daniel Stanton Published  May 1, 2006

|~|rees-pullman200.jpg|~|Rees-Pullman: SSA has spent in excess of US$100m to update its Baan product.|~|The Jordan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company (JPM), one of the leading pharmaceuticals companies in the country, faced a problem common to many expanding businesses. As the business grew larger, it became difficult for different sections to know what others were doing, and as a result JPM was not running at full efficiency. Ata Shebli, IT manager at JPM, says: "We had a problem in finance, we had no integration between our departments or our systems." JPM had been using an in-house system to manage its inventory, sales, and its 90 employees, but had outgrown it and it was becoming clear that it was not up to the expanding demands of the business. It was apparent that an integrated solution was needed, and the IT team began to evaluate the different ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) products available on the market. The company decided to implement SSA ERP, which is based on Baan technology that SSA acquired when it took over the giant Dutch ERP vendor. Jordanian systems integrator, Electronic Resources Planning Co (ERP Co.), handled the implementation, which took a year to finalise. Dr Adnan Badwan, general manager of JPM, says: "The SSA ERP system and the partnership we now have with ERP Co. combine to provide the basis for successful and fully integrated control of manufacturing and distribution. By integrating all aspects of our pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution business into a single solution, our organisation will gain greater visibility and control over its whole operations." Shebli agrees: "We have more control on production, quality control, planning and inventory. We also have a good costing system." JPM has not yet implemented all of the modules of the ERP solution. "We still have production and planning to implement," he says, but adds that they will be in place by the end of June. So far, Shebli has not experienced many problems in using the ERP system to manage the business. "We have problems in training users because they don't have any experience," he says. "The system and ERP Co., we don't have a problem with." The cost of the solution also compared favourably with competitors, and has resulted in a quicker return on investment. JPM has already identified areas for improvement that could make the business even more efficient. "We have more things we need, like a research and development system," Shebli says. A new R&D system is already in the planning stages. "It will be a whole development for a new module because it's not part of Baan," says Ala Hamdan, general manager of ERP Co., which is in the early stages of designing the module. "After we finish the development we will integrate it with Baan and it will also be ready to be integrated with any other software." ERP Co. has called upon JPM's industry knowledge in establishing the requirements for the new module. "They are the experts, they know this business well and I believe that they will be able to give us the proper knowledge to develop such a module for them," says Hamdan. In addition to calling on JPM's expert knowledge, ERP Co. has recruited technical experts to advise the company on the specific requirements and demands of the pharmaceutical industry.||**|||~||~||~|"We have some technical persons, even pharmacists, working for our company as consultants," he says. "They are coordinating with JPM to understand and to be able to carry out the systems analysis for the development to be able to start. The expectation is that this project will take around one year. As the general manager of JPM, Dr Adnan Badwan stated, this is a lifetime project, so it's worth taking that time." Once the R&D module is complete, the two companies will go into partnership to sell it to other companies, not just in the pharmaceutical sector. "We intend both of us, JPM and ERP Co., to market this module integrated with SSA ERP to be sold to other companies and organisations worldwide," says Hamdan. ERP Co. is learning a lot from the project along the way, says Hamdan. "Up to this point we have not made a major customisation for the pharmaceutical field, all that we have done is to deliver the standard offering," he says. "Each industry or sector has its own features and specialities, and we are trying to develop the settings to fit this industry best." As far as the current installation goes, JPM is satisfied with what it has, and has not found any problems. There was only one area that it felt could be improved, but it was not specific to Baan. "On the reporting side, they had higher expectations," explains Hamdan. "It's an all ERP application, so it has some standard built-in reports, but each company and each country will have different reporting needs. We have provided them with Business Objects and we will train them very soon on it so they can meet any reporting requirements from SSA ERP and its database." Steven Rees-Pullman, vice president channel and alliances for SSA Global, was in the region recently to announce the launch of the Arabised version of SSA ERP LN. This was produced in conjunction with Arabic Computer Systems, a partner in Saudi Arabia. "Localisation is very important for us and our markets," he says. "We have made a significant investment in Arabisation, but we see that as being very worthwhile." He is anxious to stress that, although Baan in its heyday has been extremely popular in the Middle East, SSA's new products have moved on. "One of the problems we have in this region perhaps is that people still remember the day when it was a Baan product, and they have to understand that we've come a significant way since then," Rees-Pullman says. "We've invested in excess of US$100m in developing it further, we've added hundreds of additional enhancements to that product," he says. "That makes it the product it is today, specifically designed to fit various parts of the manufacturing industry, among others." SSA Global has acquired eight to 10 new customers in the Middle East in the last year, and Rees-Pullman believes it is probably the market leader in the mid-size manufacturing space. ERP Co. is clear about why they chose to become a partner of SSA. "We believe in its ERP. It is a top tier ERP with a reasonable price," says Hamdan.||**||

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