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Mars Africa invests in SAP to manage processes


In the competitive food manufacturing industry, Mars Africa, formerly
Masterfoods South Africa, needed to manage its data and business processes
as efficiently as possible, and an investment in a complete SAP solution was
the first step towards achieving this goal.

The challenge that ensued was to ensure that the system remained current and
updated with new developments, and that the solution was used to its full
potential.  It is with this in mind that the manufacturing giant turned to
Bytes Systems Integration (Bytes SI) and its Business Value Realisation
(BVR) offering, to assist the company to increase the ROI of its SAP
"Realising that the investment in a SAP ERP system is substantial, we need
to ensure that we achieve the full benefit of the solution," says Neil Long,
commercial and logistics manager for Mars Africa.
"In our business the focus is on fast moving consumer goods and to remain on
top of our game means using every resource to its full potential. Investing
in the SAP solution was only the start of our business strategy, it is more
about how we use the solution that will really make a difference to our
"Bytes SI, as the only company that offers a holistic approach to improve
return on assets managed through education of users, and so became our
preferred technology partner, as it was essential to ensure we used our SAP
system to its full potential."

Business and technology goals
Bytes SI spent three months, mid July 2007, educating users at Mars Africa
on how to improve their use of the SAP system. By equipping users with a
wealth of knowledge, training and education, and then creating a climate
where ownership and accountability are embraced, Mars is now better equipped
to use their ERP system to a fuller extent.
As part of the BVR process, the users at Mars were introduced to tools and
functionality that they were unfamiliar with, were up until then
uncomfortable using, or for which they just did not have the skills in place
to use.
The training extended to integration, inventory optimisation and efficient
sourcing of materials and services.  The goal of adopting the BVR approach
was to ensure that the MARS SAP users would start utilising the system a lot
more extensively. Secondly was to migrate the MRP processes and
functionality, still being run in Excel, into the SAP system, ensuring
proper integration and real time information.

The solution
Bytes SI developed its BVR best practices to assist clients with an existing
SAP installation, to effectively use and understand their SAP system, and in
turn unlock real value.  The initial BVR project was implemented on site at
the Mars Africa plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria and involved the upskilling and
educating of approximately 50 users.
As a result of the success of this initiative, Mars Africa has taken a
strategic business decision to extend the roll out of the BVR best
practices, by offering further internal training.  Additionally, Mars are
aligning a second factory to match the work initiated in the principle
plant, and will continue to take counsel from Bytes SI in the new project.
Mars Africa plans to emulate the lessons learnt at its Cape Town plant at
the additional plant, resulting in a further improved ROI and in turn
optimising the  existing system without investing further in software and
Benefits have included:
* Improved education and knowledge of SAP tools and capabilities;
* Empowerment of users;
* Increased efficiency and use of overall system;
* Improved customer service;
* Optimised inventory value;
* More efficient sourcing and collaboration with vendors;
* Improved management information;
* Improved business processes; and
* Improved ROTA (Return on Total Assets).

"Bytes SI exceeded all expectations and helped us realise the importance of
achieving genuine return on our SAP investment. The additional education and
training has meant that we utilise our solution beyond what other companies
are capable of, and we have noticed a significant difference in the improved
running of operations and greater return on asset management," says Long.
Vaughan Watt-Pringle, BVR Business Stream Manager: SAP at Bytes SI, adds:
"Historical events and lack of education were restraining the company's
progress. These challenges were not unique to Mars Africa and are shared by
the vast majority of SAP installations across the globe. As long as business
behaviour and business rules are misaligned companies will struggle with any
ERP system."
In Watt-Pringle's opinion the most important aspects of the project was
establishing ownership and accountability.  "If we cannot get the people of
an organisation to embrace this, the project has failed before it has even
begun.  Mars Africa's commitment to the process was absolutely incredible
and this was a major factor contributing to the success of the initiative."