The company that makes Jack Link’s beef jerky may encourage its consumers to “feed your wild side,” but when it comes to implementing an ERP system, Link Snacks Inc. keeps things tame.
The Wisconsin-based beef and protein snacks manufacturer had been using a limited SAP implementation for about five years when the company decided to extend its ERP functionality with SAP HANA. While that decision was relatively straightforward, everything that came afterward threw up more problems.
First was whether to keep the system on site or move it into the cloud. Keeping the data inside the company’s walls was appealing – until Jack Link’s small IT department figured out what a long and expensive process it would be to recruit implementation staff, acquire the software and hardware, and then build the entire system.
“Hosting quickly became the preferred option. We did cost-benefit analysis and hosting was more cost effective, which made that decision the wiser one,” said Jackie Hartman, Jack Link’s vice president of IT.
Deciding which hosting provider to use came down to simplifying the chain of responsibility, she said. They chose to deploy on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (SAP HEC) because “we felt more comfortable with the adage of ‘one throat to choke’ instead of trying to figure out what was SAP’s responsibility versus the hosting provider’s responsibility,” Hartman said.
From start to finish, the deployment took four months. But that wasn’t the end of Jack Link’s learning curve.
Getting employees to take advantage of the new functions was a challenge. Because the earlier ERP implementation was so limited, workers were using separate spreadsheets to manage issues outside the old system like inventory and the supply chain. And that’s not to mention the inconsistent naming conventions in the old system.
Now that employees have been retrained to take advantage of the new system, the company’s improved visibility into demand and manufacturing capacity allows them to make better business decisions faster than ever before, Hartman notes.
• Implementing ERP in the cloud can be faster and cheaper than keeping things on premises.
• When picking an ERP hosting provider, consider the value of narrowing down who’s responsible for fixing things when they inevitably go wrong.
• Be sure to build-in sufficient training to ensure that everyone takes full advantage of the new ERP system.
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ERP; ERP functionality; ERP implementation