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Legacy systems within the IT landscape could become a vulnerability and a risk to an organization. It could also hamper business development and growth. These factors were among the key drivers as Norwegian company Orkla embarked on its SAP S/4HANA journey with Cognizant.

Replacing a legacy ERP system within a large organization is far from an easy task. But even if the existing system still meets the needs it was originally designed for, it normally doesn't allow for growth because it has become ineffective and obsolete, making a change necessary. Anette Borge, SVP of Digital supply chain at Orkla IT AS, knows. As a leading supplier of branded consumer goods operating in the Nordics, Eastern Europe, Asia and the US, Orkla consists of a large number of brands and portfolio companies, resulting in a complex IT landscape and challenges with keeping a centralized control.

On its journey to becoming “one Orkla”, Anette Borge and her team saw an opportunity to build common processes, increase flexibility and gain abilities to govern and manage from the top. As the maintenance and support for the existing ERP solution was to end by 2027, the decision to implement a new solution had an obvious deadline. In parallel, cyber security and risk awareness were on the rise within Orkla, creating further urgency.

Get the best people around the table

The choice stood between running standalone separate projects within each Orkla company or to implement one solution that all companies could utilize. Anette Borge and her team chose the latter, to achieve improved efficiency and optimum cost. After some preparation, the team went to management and asked for the whole business group to move to SAP S/4HANA. Stakeholders were positive as the decision was backed up by both the IT and business side of the company.

Any key learnings along the way? Yes, the important insight that a large implementation it’s not an IT project as much as a change journey which makes it important to get all the internal stakeholders around the same table early in the process. And you need to work as one team.

Also make sure you have the best people on board – like project managers, change managers and master data managers – to build confidence and continuity into the project. Try to keep customization and development down to keep costs down. Internal demands on functions and capabilities tend to increase as the project goes on, and it’s important to limit the wish list. Strive for an agreement on the strategic approach and processes on a higher level with global process owners.

Leaner, transparent processes

A change project like the SAP S/4HANA journey empowers the whole organization, according to Anette Borge. As individuals across functions get together to redesign processes, it leverages new potential and creates efficiency.

All in all, even if not every single business unit within Orkla is up and running on SAP S/4HANA yet, the group experiences many advantages. The whole context of master data and data quality has improved together with the transparency. While getting the right information from the legacy system could be cumbersome, it’s now leaner, quicker and has a higher accuracy. The platform also offers seamless integration down to the shop floor with an automatic flow of information, as well as built-in analytics.

Any final advice from Anette Borge? Entering the platform is point zero; this is actually where you start the journey. After that you live with the solution and work to develop it – that’s where magic happens.

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA or not? This is my view as an SAP specialist.


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