Blackmores plans major ERP cloud shift

Blackmores plans major ERP cloud shift

Microsoft sweetens the pill of legacy system move, while new tools cure cultural challenges

Vitamin and supplement maker Blackmores is planning to move its 15-year-old on-premise ERP to the cloud by the end of the year.

Blackmores adopted its JDE Enterprise One solution in 2002, and is now seeking to shift it up to Microsoft Azure and potentially expand it across the business.

“We are undertaking a proof of concept and to date we are seeing very positive results,” said Brett Winn, Blackmores’ chief information officer. “The vision is to move around 90 per cent of all our workloads to Azure over time. The team are moving at a sensible pace and proving our workloads are suitable for cloud deployment. The key outcome we are focusing on is the ability to provide flexibility to Blackmores as we seek to expand our technology reach across a global organisation."

Blackmores migrated to its current JD Edwards ERP solution in 2002, following an overhaul of its 20-year-old Qantel legacy system. The project to decommission the system, proposed as far back as 1999, was codenamed BBQ: bye-bye Qantel.

The company is also planning a review of its CRM and are considering Microsoft Dynamics. A proof of concept is underway for Microsoft's interactive data visualisation and analysis tool PowerBI "as we seek to create a data capability to enable improved business insights and to further inform decision making," said Winn.

Winn and his team are taking a "sensible approach to design and proving our approach" before diving in to any major overhauls, including a rigorous user acceptance testing process.

"We’re also engaging with quality partners to ensure we are designing for the future," he added.

Global reach

Blackmores has found a trusted partner in Microsoft – even becoming an early-adopter of the new Teams collaboration workspace – and follows a ‘one system, one cloud, one company’ mantra, Winn said.

After joining the company from Medibank last year, Winn rolled out Office 365 to the Blackmores’ 1,000 staff, half of whom are based in Asia, within nine weeks.

“We have evolved rapidly over the past few years and we’ve had to adapt our IT systems to keep up with the current size and growth of the business,” he explained.

“We’re more focused than ever on supporting the whole business in a consistent and timely manner. Getting Asia on the same platform has delivered a huge win, it’s built momentum for change and built the credibility of what can be achieved with the right team, the right platform and the right strategy.”

Cultural cure-all

The cloud approach will also have an effect on the company culture, Winn said.

“It’s positioned the company for flexible working, and potentially activity-based working in the future. As we remove technology barriers across the business, people won’t be tied to their desks – instead IT becomes an enabler for more productive ways of working, and supports anywhere, anytime communications and collaboration,” Winn explained.

“With all of Blackmores now on one cloud platform we’re seeing servicing benefits from within the IT function. But our businesses are also experiencing the benefit of greater collaboration that it affords. Executives can communicate more freely across regions; have access to calendars and messaging options. It’s breaking down technical barriers and freeing everyone to just get on with the business of doing business,” he added.

Having been an early adopter of Microsoft Teams, its new enterprise collaboration workspace, Winn is considering its wider use in the business.

Initially trialled within the Australia-based IT department, it could be rolled out at Blackmore’s overseas operations.

“Right now we’re running most of the projects out of Australia – but as we bring people into those groups from Asia we will become more distributed – and that’s where Teams will really be able to stretch its legs,” he said.

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Tags MicrosoftERPazureJDEBlackmoresOffice 365TEAMS

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