Morgan Foods Inc., a Midwest private-label food maker, has now survived—and thrived—amid not just one, but two pandemics. The company makes canned soups, sauces, fruits, and vegetables, competing with the likes of Campbell’s and Heinz.

But according to CFO Steve Hankins, 2020 might have been disastrous for Morgan Foods Inc. if it hadn’t moved ahead with SAP S/4HANA.

“With the pandemic [and] the private-label canned foods market, 2020 demand went through the roof,” Hankins recounted. “Had we not done the SAP projects, we would have collapsed under the weight of 2020.”

Multiple Projects over Several Years

The S/4HANA cutover in July 2020 meant eliminating custom objects, custom code, long-held processes, and legacy ways of doing business. Morgan Foods’ S/4 milestone extended a multi-project partnership that began in 2017 with a phone conversation between Hankins and Hitachi Vantara.

Hankins, freshly arrived at the Austin, IN-based food company, said he was asked to “assess the company and position it for growth, but in my 2018 assessment I said we were not ready for growth. … I saw problems from the customer out to the infrastructure, and from purchasing and receiving up to the business operations.”

For Hitachi Vantara, the initial phone call, followed by a day-long facility tour, resulted in the initial project: a five-week, food processing–focused effort. The goal was to make the best use of the company’s SAP ECC platform to improve Morgan Foods’ soup and sauce production, according to Kimberley Reid, Hitachi Vantara vice president.

“Bite-Sized Chunks”

“And from there, in 2018, we went on to work on 12 different projects,” Reid said. “From that initial relationship with Steve, he really liked what we would do.” She characterized the tasks as “bite-sized chunks” of work, appropriate for a food business.

Hankins said the first project, a “plant floor remediation,” improved the plant layout and production lines, resolved quality issues, and reduced Morgan Foods’ dependency on “masses of Excel spreadsheets.”

“I used to joke that we have SAP, but we run the company on Excel,” Hankins said.

Morgan Foods was able to improve overall operations, streamlining internal and third-party warehouse operations and integration, supply chain management, and product development. The company used the SAP Extended Warehouse Management and Product Lifecycle Management solutions, among other tools.

Enable Now and Fiori in the Mix

In addition to major projects, Reid said that she and the Hitachi Vantara team are involved in spot consulting efforts. These include Spanish language translations, Enable Now user adoption sessions, and recent lunch and learns to discuss how SAP Fiori can be used to improve/replace existing SAP user experiences and interfaces.

Among the next major steps for Morgan Foods, Reid said that the company is exploring SAP Analytics Cloud to improve tracking, analytics, and reporting. Morgan Foods plans to “keep current with S/4 upgrades.”

Whether those projects fill Morgan Foods’ plate or are managed in bite-sized chunks is still to be determined, but without doubt, Hankins seeks the go-live experience of last year’s S/4HANA upgrade in the business.

“We didn’t miss a trick,” he said.