Change Management Unlocks Data-Driven Supply Chain for Fertilizer Company
Meet the Authors
⇨ Ballance Agri Nutrients, a farmer-owned fertilizer co-operative in New Zealand, struggled with manual processes and lack of data transparency.
⇨ By leveraging SAP Analytics Cloud, the company built its own solution to consolidate all relevant data.
⇨ The company saw a 60% increase in automated stock replenishment and achieved a stock service level of 99.8% against a target of 99%.
Ballance Agri Nutrients, a farmer-owned fertilizer co-operative in New Zealand, has been on a journey leveraging SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) and SAP Cloud Platform Integration to uncover insights into real-time inventory, demand, and logistics visibility, enable predictive analytics for better decision-making, and establish seamless integration with other systems.
At the Mastering SAP Gold Coast conference, Jonny Reay, National Distribution Manager at Ballance, shared the evolution of the company’s end-to-end supply chain, from sourcing to customer delivery, ensuring quality, safety, and efficiency. Chief among the insights gained by conference attendees were the lessons learned by Ballance regarding the criticality of careful change management in achieving transformational objectives.
Ballance built its supply chain around a service promise to customers: to deliver fertilizer reliably and safely. The company also aspired to maximize self-service and automation in the storage and distribution of fertilizer to its network of partners and customers. And like most supply chains around the world, sustainability was a consistent business driver for Ballance.
To address manual processes and lack of data transparency, Reay’s team built a solution they called MyStore using SAC. MyStore consolidated all relevant data for service centers and the consignment store network. It provided a centralized dashboard with KPIs updated in real-time for data-driven decision-making. Included in the dashboard were metrics like inbound material, stock position, outbound material, open requisitions, critical stock, inventory levels, open sales orders, and production orders. It enabled consignment stores to control and manage inventory, including managing available to promise (ATP), handling inventory allocations in short supply situations, and supply chain planning.
The MyStore solution also provided the capability to manage production mixing and bagging, which essentially covered customer requirements for unique fertilizer formulations. It also provided the ability to manage the scheduling of carriers and spreaders and to make stock transfer recommendations. MyStore was conceived as a robust supply chain command-and-control solution tailor-made for Ballance’s consignment store partners.
Reay’s first attempt to drive adoption of MyStore among the consignment store partners failed. Ballance simply declared that the stores must use the solution. The result was a lack of engagement among the stores, some stores hiding performance and even masking master data so they could get a hold of supply in short situations.
“We were not properly managing our master data. The upkeep of our master data was the most important factor in the success of MyStore and making sure end-to-end supply chain planning would actually succeed,” said Reay.
After the initial roll-out missteps, Ballance took a step back and anchored the call to action around a clear vision that collectively they were feeding the world. The company established a clear charter and made sure the overarching “why” was understood by the consignment stores.
With this as a foundation, Reay established some pillars of change management including a clear program of activity, a stakeholders’ forum, clear communication and lines of support, and publicity around the achievement of milestones. Most importantly, Ballance leadership was completely bought in, engaging peers and external partners, aligning performance objectives and metrics, and establishing an operating rhythm that leaned on MyStore as the backbone. Part of this operating rhythm included what the company called “green rooms,” which were physical meeting spaces where MyStore was actively and transparently used in collaboration with consignment store partners to measure and manage the business.
The results of Ballance’s second attempt at rolling out MyStore far exceeded expectations. The company saw a 60% increase in automated stock replenishment, avoiding critical stocks. It saved 400 minutes per week across all service centers, reducing administrative burden. The company achieved a stock service level of 99.8% against a target of 99%. And there was a reduction in slow-moving and obsolete inventory (SLOB) stock by over 50% in four months.