KSA-based Pharma Pharmaceutical Industries has deployed Epicor ERP and has benefitted from an ability to link and integrate transactions across all departments; a significant reduction in time for archiving and searching of historical data; and robust inventory control resulting in improved quality and on-time-delivery (OTD).
Pharma Pharmaceutical Industries (Pharma) is a group of companies based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) that brings together business leaders, seasoned healthcare professionals, marketing and sales specialists, pharmacists and other industry veterans.
Between them, Pharma’s companies leverage their rich spectrum of expertise to provide a wide range of services to the Saudi pharmaceutical industry. Services offered by Pharma include: branding, marketing and sales; warehousing and logistics; facilities management; and regulatory compliance consultancy.
Lack of linkage and trackability restricted plans for growth
Pharma has already established itself as the partner of choice for pharmaceutical companies, both international and within its native Saudi Arabia. Recognising that its clients – and the healthcare system they serve – are now enmeshed in a digital world, Pharma resolved to address the gaps in its ICT infrastructure. It was decided that Digital Transformation would provide the optimal path to growth.
However, as the company plotted its next growth cycle, it realised that the absence of an effective ERP platform would be the main obstacle to such plans. Tariq Kayyali is Quality Unit Director and ERP Project Manager for Pharma. With his team of stakeholders, he focused on linking and integrating department transactions and reducing the time to locate vital archived data, from days to seconds.
“We didn’t have any ERP in place and relied on a paper system to manage each department’s activity. This resulted in inconsistencies across manually prepared documents and reports, and meant several wasted man-hours spent archiving and locating historical data,” Kayyali said.
In addition to finding an ERP solution that could mitigate these challenges, Pharma needed to control purchasing cycles and streamline incoming inventory management.
“We required a system that would allow us to minimise the effort and cost of affixing labels – sometimes four different labels need to be on each incoming part container,” said Kayyali. He added that errors in the starting material and resulting mix-ups and delays in order deliveries, were also risks faced by Pharma’s employees, prior to digitisation.
Fit, support and ease-the deciding factors
Over a 12 to 15-month period, Kayyali’s team assessed many globally recognised vendors. Epicor partner, Full Insight Technology Solutions (FITS), introduced the best solution for Pharma’s growth ambitions – Epicor ERP – a platform that was easy to install, easy to use and with functionality that had a tight fit with the group’s requirements.
A key element of Epicor ERP that impressed Pharma’s procurement team was the audit trail. Each critical transaction could be traceable, detailing the name of the user, the date and time of action and its impact on the business. Pharma’s labelling problem was also addressed by the Epicor solution, adding more control for purchased and manufactured parts.
“The new system requires a single label containing a 2D barcode, which saves and reflects the container status as ‘approved’, ‘rejected’, ‘booked for job’, etc.,” he said. “Quantity of parts at any moment is also stored in the ERP system. In addition, the solution helps to eliminate the risk of a mix-up.”
Pharma’s decision makers were also drawn to the ease of use of Epicor ERP, both technically and from an end-user point of view, citing its user-friendly interface as a particular boon to operational efficiency.
They were further impressed by the support offered by Epicor partner, FITS. “As a pharmaceutical company, we were looking for a partner who could understand our needs and industry, provide thorough documentation and professional technical and functional training and support,” Kayyali explained. “FITS was the only candidate that offered documentation that met our expectations. It was looking to build a success case, rather than just make money.”
Implementing strong inventory and monitoring capabilities
Implementation took 10 months and Epicor ERP was rolled out to 15 users. Pharma began to see benefits immediately on going live. The linking of department transactions via a single database, the introduction of 2D barcoding in the group’s inventory system and the ability to track everything easily, were considered the most important value-adds.
“We ended up saving about 30% of unnecessary warehouse-team transactions,” said Kayyali. “We managed to reduce the time taken to find or track an historical data record or transaction, from hours or days to seconds or minutes. We reduced the risk of mix-up, which is critical in the pharma industry. We eliminated the risk of using an invalid or expired part as a starting material. Having a validated ERP system helps us also meet the expectations of medicinal product agencies, both in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and around the world.”
Kayyali fully expects Epicor ERP to serve Pharma as a platform for growth. He hinted at plans in the pipeline, to launch new services for the group’s sales function and introduce other Epicor ERP modules, including budgeting.
“Partnering with a vendor that strives to deliver a successful implementation and offers whatever is needed to sustain the ERP platform is sometimes more important than the application itself. I couldn’t be happier with our selection of Epicor and look forward to a fruitful partnership as we embark on our ambitious growth journey,” concluded Kayyali.