Pernod Ricard USA is the premium spirits and wine supplier in the U.S. and the largest subsidiary of the France-based Pernod Ricard SA, a top player in the global spirits and wine industry. The company is focused on the high-margin segment and has a leading premium brand in virtually all key spirit and wine categories. Pernod Ricard USA is using LANSA Data Sync Direct to synchronize supply chain information with its customers using GS1 standards. Communication of GTIN and GLN data is via the 1SYNC data pool to the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).
Shirley Hagyard, Project Manager GDSN at Pernod Ricard USA, said, “We wanted to implement Data Synchronization on our timetable. Vendor solutions were measured against specified criteria and LANSA Data Sync Direct scored well above the others. There was really not a close second. LANSA’s solution allowed us to pull data directly from our ERP system, from our data warehouse or from multiple sources, without the need for duplicate data storage or maintenance. LANSA’s references were also widespread and extremely positive.”
We wanted to implement Data Synchronization on our timetable.
Up to 2010 Pernod Ricard USA (Pernod) was primarily using email and spreadsheets to provide its customers with price updates and other product information. Most of the information was sourced from Pernod’s UNIX and Oracle based data warehouse, which in turn was populated primarily by the company’s JD Edwards Enterprise One ERP system, also implemented in a UNIX and Oracle environment.
Pernod stores core item attributes that are beneficial to manufacturing and distribution in its JDE ERP system, while a number of attributes that are relevant to sales and marketing are available in the data warehouse. However, a number of item attributes, especially attributes at retail level, were not kept in either of these two systems. These attributes were historically not of interest to Pernod, as the company ships cases and pallets to its customers, not individual bottles.
Pernod wanted to streamline the process of collecting, storing and distributing product information for reasons of internal efficiency, but also because several of its customers were already participating in the GDSN and would soon require the same of Pernod.
Hagyard said, “We wanted to implement data synchronization on our timetable, before our customers came knocking on our door with their due dates.”
The search for a data synchronization solution began and Pernod invited several leading vendors to go through a fairly rigorous RFP (request for proposal) process. “Vendor solutions were measured against specified criteria and LANSA Data Sync Direct scored well above the others. There was really not a close second,” says Hagyard. “LANSA’s solution allowed us to pull data directly from our ERP system, from the data warehouse or from multiple sources, if we choose, without the need for duplicate data storage or maintenance. LANSA’s references were also widespread and extremely positive.”
LANSA Data Sync Direct scored well above the others.
Pernod started its GDSN project with a strong data foundation and well defined data structure in its ERP system and data warehouse. However, the lack of retail or consumer level attributes in those systems turned out to be a challenge, as consumer level attributes were required by the GDSN, even though Pernod ships only wholesale units to its customers.
Information at retail level was mostly kept in spreadsheets, PDF documents and other unstructured data formats and was scattered throughout the company, some internally and some at sister affiliate companies globally. “Our biggest challenge was to collect all that information and put it in a format that we could load into our systems,” explains Hagyard.
LANSA Data Sync Direct can pull data from multiple sources or it can be the master repository itself for attributes that are not stored anywhere else. Pernod saw advantages in storing the additional information in its core ERP JD Edwards Enterprise One system and have it flow through to the data warehouse and data sync solution.
“Having all the information in a central repository turned out to be a benefit in the end, but it was a hurdle to get over at the beginning. We also had some packaging configurations that didn’t necessarily fit the standard rules. It forced us to be more consistent in how we apply the rules to different levels of packaging, directly in our base ERP system,” says Hagyard.
“The big challenge was preparation, getting our processes and data in place. The actual implementation in terms of the LANSA software and the 1SYNC data pool was very fast and smooth and took about one month. The software was installed in November, training was in the second week of December and we synced our first item successfully in mid January.”
Dick Walker, IT Director Sales and Marketing at Pernod, says, “LANSA Professional Services were good to work with and very knowledgeable. A large part of what we looked to them for was educating us on the whole data synchronization process, because it was all brand new for us. In order to understand the software, we had to understand the process. LANSA provided very good co-project management and technical support and guided us through our first few dealings with our data pool provider 1SYNC. Especially at the beginning, it is essential to have someone who helps you co-ordinate all the pieces, not just the software.”
The actual implementation in terms of the LANSA and 1SYNC was very fast and smooth.
Pernod opted for a phased GDSN implementation and went live with the first three major customer groups within half a year of the initial training. The phased implementation included a retailer and two distributors, including Pernod’s largest distributor. Implementation with other customers will follow soon.
Although customers all require the same core attributes, every implementation is unique as there is always a requirement for some additional information. For this purpose and for other future integration projects, Pernod plans to make use of LANSA Composer’s BPI technology for ongoing data mapping, without ongoing consulting expense.
Asked about the benefits of the solution, Hagyard comments, “We have a more efficient business process in place now that all the information is in one place. You can change a product’s specifications just once and it automatically flows out to every customer who is subscribed to it. It allows us to get away from sending spreadsheets and email.”
The centralized product information will be leveraged for other uses as well. Terry Collins, Vice President Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Analysis and GDSN project sponsor at Pernod, explains, “The solution gives us a framework to communicate information with our customers both ways. Not only can we send product and price specifications to them, but because our SKUs (stock keeping units) are now aligned, we can also receive retail sales and other retail account information back. Previously it was difficult to interpret that information and it had to be sent to a third party for cleansing and SKU alignment, before it could be reported back to us. Now we can communicate retail information directly with our customers and put some other projects together.”
Collins also feels that Pernod will benefit from the fact that communication has been raised to a corporate and more professional level. “We do not have to rely on local representatives in the field to communicate information manually, with all associated accuracy issues. By putting the information in a centralized communication hub, Pernod Ricard and distributors are communicating at top level, with one data stream. It’s a huge improvement above local representatives trying to push out information in a variety of ways relying on manual communications. That is going to be the real benefit. We are not there yet, but with the Data Sync solution we have put the basic steps in place.”
Kathy Dandreano, Database Manager at Pernod, is pleased with the improved quality of data and the consistency between the ERP system, data warehouse and LANSA Data Sync Direct solution. “It is critical to pick a solution that pulls the information from the existing core system, eliminating the need for duplicate data maintenance. Centralizing the data allowed us to install quality checks that were not possible previously and pick up errors that may have gone unnoticed in the manual process.”
The solution gives us a framework to communicate information both ways.
Asked about lessons learned and tips for other companies embarking on the GDSN path, Hagyard comments, “It’s all about the data and about getting the right business processes in place. Don’t underestimate the time this preparation takes.”
Walker and Hagyard also feel that a GDSN project is more about the business than technology and that it is helpful to have a cross functional project team. Hagyard put a team together consisting of business users from a variety of areas, including supply chain, customer service, retailer analysts and account managers, commercial planning & analysis, the purchasing department, as well as those who actually assign UPCs (Universal Product Codes) and support the data warehouse and JD Edwards systems.
“Everyone added value and had something to contribute,” concludes Walker. “A lot of this project was about LANSA educating us on what the GDSN is and how to prepare for it. It was good to have the department representatives sitting in on that education as well. The business grabbed the whole of the process and made it work.”
It’s all about the data and about getting the right business processes in place.