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Growth demands can put tremendous strains on a legacy infrastructure, forcing companies to explore new solutions and new paths to expansion. That’s what Emmerson Packaging said about its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system a few years ago, as it examined its growth objectives and projections.
Started by PG Emmerson in 1956 with six employees and one printing press, Nova Scotia-based Emmerson Packaging is now one of the premier packaging solutions companies in North America. The family owned firm enables clients to build their brands in highly competitive consumer markets. Through distinct and sophisticated packaging, Emmerson Packaging’s clients can strengthen their own market positioning.
But Emmerson Packaging would need a more scalable and sophisticated IT solution to rise to the next level in its field. With over 400 employees with 300,000 square feet combined in its Amherst, Nova Scotia and Belleville, Ontario facilities the company’s on premise ERP system was proving to be a bottleneck. The 60-year-old company, which was had significant yearover-year growth plans, needed to consider new ERP options.
CONFRONTING THE LIMITS OF A LEGACY INFRASTRUCTURE
Not only was its industry-specific and highly customized legacy system incapable of supporting new capabilities, it required on-site expertise and management services that were difficult to find. Moreover, the burden of managing the system and associated infrastructure was preventing the Emmerson Packaging’s IT team from devoting attention to more strategic initiatives.
Now under the third-generation leadership of President and CEO Stephen Emmerson, the firm was poised to expand in targeted sectors. But it wouldn’t be able to meet these ambitious goals without supporting forward-looking analytics, more agile operations and high-end client solutions.
“We continue to grow into the higher end of the packaging market,” says Emmerson. “We needed to ensure our production, logistic, and customer support capabilities would continually improve and remain world-class as we expanded.”
Having formed a committee to explore new ERP solutions, business and IT stakeholders sought more advanced capabilities that could address finance and controls, production planning and execution, plant management, product data management and business intelligence.
There were also reasons to move the system off premise and into the cloud. First, the server room in a manufacturing facility would be susceptible to heat- and cooling-related risks. Secondly, there were issues around IT focus and priorities. “We are a manufacturing company,” says Andrew Dickinson, Information Technology Manager. “Managing a data center on-site is not a core competency.”
ROLLING OUT ADVANCED SYSTEMS IN THE CLOUD
After selecting an SAP ERP solution, Emmerson Packaging began a complete overhaul of its existing ERP environment — covering finance, manufacturing, logistics and human resources. Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) became the company’s cloud hosting partner for SAP.
Having toured one of Sungard AS’ data centers in Canada, the Emmerson team came away impressed by the expertise, capabilities and breadth of services that would be available to them going forward. “I’ve seen several data centers over the years,” says Dickinson. “This meeting left us with an impression of tremendous professionalism.”
Sungard AS’ certification as an SAP Hosting Partner and an SAP-Certified Cloud Provider also demonstrated that the right expertise and experience was in place to support the new software. With expertise in Adobe design software, Sungard AS would also host and support that solution.
Emmerson Packaging also valued Sungard AS’ fast and flexible options for capacity expansion. For example, the company could add more computing power and storage space quickly and easily — providing a sense of confidence and comfort in the face of unpredictable demands.
KEEPING THE ENTERPRISE ON ITS GROWTH TRAJECTORY
With the rollout of its cloud-based ERP system, Emmerson Packaging experienced a number of business and operational benefits. A scalable infrastructure positions the company for future expansion. Whether through organic growth or new acquisitions along the way, it has a platform that can readily accommodate change.
Sungard AS enables Emmerson Packaging to delegate highly demanding infrastructure support to a proven expert in SAP hosting. The cloud provides new levels of flexibility and visibility, eliminating the risks and expenses of managing an on-site infrastructure. But it also brings new levels of accountability. Emmerson Packaging now expects certain service levels and commitments to be met — and has assurance they will be based on the contract with Sungard AS.
What’s more, hosting the SAP solution (and others) off-site in a secure Sungard AS cloud environment lets Emmerson Packaging redirect its in-house team to more strategic objectives. “We no longer face the stress of standing up our ERP infrastructure,” says Dickinson of his IT team. “That means we can focus on higher order pursuits and providing exceptional service levels to our business stakeholders.”
“We no longer face the stress of standing up our ERP infrastructure. That means we can focus on higher order pursuits and providing exceptional service levels to our business stakeholders.” Andrew Dickinson, Information Technology Manager, Emmerson Packaging.