For many companies looking at long-term growth, acquisitions are a part of the strategy. It’s a great way to create a bigger business while gaining entry to new markets and technology.
One of the biggest challenges, however, can be merging different work cultures.
Medical device manufacturer BioDerm experienced this particular growing pain after it acquired Wound Care Resources in 2019. BioDerm, which makes disposable urinary care products, added wound care products to its portfolio with the acquisition. This was an exciting addition.
Acquiring a smaller business sometimes comes with less sophisticated business operations, however.
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BioDerm was surprised when it learned how WCR’s small team of less than 30 people had been managing its records for about 1,100 or so active patients at any given time. The group had a couple of disparate systems for recordkeeping and accounting, and it relied heavily on a paper-based workflow to maintain records.
“They were printing up to 400 pieces of paper per patient,” recalled Matt Geary, BioDerm’s IT director in a recent case study “Their process was to print and then hand the paper to the next person, who would finish working with the document and then hand it to the next person. They had these big binders of paper for each patient.”
ERP for a More Efficient Workflow
BioDerm immediately saw an opportunity for digital transformation with the new acquisition, which still ran independently as a separate business.
Eight years earlier, BioDerm had implemented SAP Business ByDesign for its own business with great effect. Life sciences firms typically manage complex global supply chains on a daily basis, which means they can greatly benefit from real-time visibility and control. Cloud-based enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) can allow manufacturers to make faster decisions and facilitate stronger collaboration. In addition, ERP can help a company scale as it grows while meeting compliance mandates.
Since adding an ERP system, BioDerm has improved its sales generation process by up to 95 percent. The system also has helped BioDerm grow at a 32.5 percent CAGR since implementation, according to the company.
Given BioDerm’s own experience with the cloud-based ERP, it was a no-brainer to get WCR on a similar system—especially since the acquisition’s existing processes were so pre-digital.
The Road to Implementation
The initial work for the migration kicked off in August, 2020, but the project was sidelined several times due to other high-priority projects within the company. Ultimately, the implementation of SAP Business ByDesign was completed in February, 2021.
The changeover came with a couple of challenges, of course. Most notably, WCR’s team was not tech-savvy and had expressed trepidation about making the change. This led to some initial resistance. The team admittedly required some extra handholding and reassurance that the change to the new system would truly be an asset to their workflows.
A true cloud platform, however, presents benefits almost immediately. A simple-to-use dashboard provides real-time analytics and allows reports to be generated for all sorts of aspects of the business. Audits become much simpler and, most important in this particular industry, compliance is baked into the system.
Although many ERPs are available in off-the-shelf solutions, WCR’s business operations required some customization to the new ERP platform. Given WCR had spent over a decade previously managing its transactions with third party payers in a specific manner, BioDerm was concerned about interrupting established workflows and wanted to ensure that the modified system would be intuitive and not remove any prior functionality and clarity around how billing and collections were performed. By customizing the new system a bit more than normal, BioDerm was able to ensure that employees more easily adopted the new system since it wasn’t actually breaking the foundations of the old system.
As comfort with the ERP platform grew, employees at WCR started to see the value in the system. The ability to generate reports quickly and easily, and to automatically refresh data as needed, has been a true time-saver for WCR staff.
Now, when WCR enters a sales order, the system automatically generates a purchase order. The prices and valuations are already set up in the system, including pricing for insurers, so when it comes time to send an invoice, the system automatically inputs the correct cost amounts.
With the migration to SAP Business ByDesign achieving the goal of streamlining the accounting and inventory aspects of the newly acquired business, BioDerm is eyeing a plan to integrating even more workflows for greater efficiency. ERP can be integrated with quality management systems, providing end-to-end traceability. The platform also comes with embedded project management functionality that BioDerm is considering using.
With its recent acquisition now running smoothly, BioDerm also is now eying its next acquisition.
Read more about BioDerm’s ERP journey in the success story, Integrating an Acquisition with Cloud ERP