It was mission impossible.
Contract manufacturer TriRx Pharmaceutical Services had three months to ramp up its first production facility. The company had started in March, 2019, and by May it had taken over a dormant manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama from its first client. This site had the needed manufacturing equipment, but no employees or backend systems. To go live by November, TriRx had to move fast.
Scott Harris, tasked with getting the company up and running as the firm’s vice president and site director, knew he needed a shortcut. As an experienced hand who had rolled out several ERP systems in the past, he understood that the typical year or more it took to put an ERP system in place was too long. So he looked to the new breed of cloud-based, prepackaged ERP solutions tailored to specific industry verticals.
The advantage of a prepackaged industry solution is that it can dramatically cut implementation time by coming preconfigured with processes and best practices for a given industry. Instead of starting from scratch and configuring all the modules and processes needed for a given business, prepackaged industry solutions can provide an off-the-shelf alternative that dramatically cuts the time and expense typically associated with ERP rollout.
“We had to move aggressively fast,” says Harris, “so we told Navigator that we wanted their out-of-the-box, best practices for pharmaceutical companies.”
TriRx went with Navigator’s SAP Business ByDesign prepackaged solution for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
One of the reasons that ERP implementations typically take so long and cost so much is customization. Businesses build the system around custom processes, which require extra configuration, custom code, and a lot more man hours. There’s the issue of ensuring that these custom processes work and nothing is missed or configured poorly, too.
Most business processes are not truly unique, however. Instead of investing the extra time developing something custom and reinventing the wheel, businesses often are better served when they work from best practices for their industry and just tweak the few elements that actually are unique.
This reliance on best practices reduces the burden on staff during implementation, too, since there is less need for subject matter expert input during setup. That helped TriRx with its fast-paced rollout.
Although TriRx would grow to 100 employees and 120 temps by the end of its first year in business, during ERP implementation the company had just 12 employees.
“I did not even have a finance person when we started implementing SAP Business ByDesign,” laughs Harris. “Navigator did an outstanding job of being able to fill in the gaps so we still hit our timeline.”
Helps with Validation
A prepackaged industry solution is especially valuable for life sciences firms such as TriRx, because there’s the extra burden of FDA system validation (Busting the Myths of FDA Validation and Business Systems [video]) . Nobody wants a manufacturing glitch that sources the wrong ingredients for a drug, for instance, or mislabels a pharmaceutical. ERP systems for life sciences firms must be validated, and starting from a preconfigured system helps.
“With our prepackaged SAP Business ByDesign solution for pharmaceutical companies, they’re getting a product that is FDA validation ready, which is important,” notes Ralph Hess, an ERP veteran and vice president of sales at Navigator. “With ByDesign plus some of the add-on product enhancements that we add, we provide a ready-to-validate platform for those young life sciences companies that are ready to go big.”
This was exactly what TriRx needed. The company rolled out the system in just 12 weeks, sailed through FDA validation, and had all systems running in time for its November start date.
“We did a very, very good job,” says Harris. “I think we're going to use this as the template for the additional sites we purchased.”
Focus on Growth, Not IT Project Management
TriRx continued its rapid growth after going live with its first manufacturing facility.
The company has expanded quickly since the launch, picking up contract work from 15 clients in its first year, expanding worker headcount rapidly, and scaling up to manufacture 16 products across 60 SKUs. It now makes roughly 50 pharmaceutical batches per month at its Huntsville location, and should have another site in North American and one in Europe by the end of the year.
For TriRx and other firms, prepackaged industry solutions streamline ERP rollout significantly. This enables companies to avoid getting bogged down in system setup and IT project management hell. Instead, businesses that use prepackaged industry solutions for their backend processes can focus the majority of their time and resources on what really matters most: business growth.
Read more about how TriRX used a prepacked industry solution to scale fast in our case study about the firm, From Nothing to Production in 12 Weeks.