Multinational food company and American icon Campbell Soup Company recently completed a data migration project that moved its main SAP ECC ERP system from Oracle to SAP HANA 2.0.

Since 1869, the company has been driven by the motto of connecting food that matters for life’s moments—for anyone, anywhere. As the company has continued to grow through acquisitions, understanding all the data it collects has become that much more important in making these connections.s Real-time analytics and a single source of truth will not only help in integrating its data, but it will also help in improving processes and better understanding customers and their needs.

ASUG spoke to Francisco Fraga, CIO of Campbell Soup, to understand the company’s digital transformation journey and how this project has pushed it further along. Francisco is responsible for defining and ultimately executing the company’s IT strategy, as well as taking the lead in its digitization.

Sharon: How would you describe Campbell Soup’s digital transformation project?

Francisco: To start, I’d say that more than a project, digital transformation is actually a journey for Campbell Soup, where we focus on four key areas. The first part of the transformation for us is around the optimization of our internal operations via automation and analytics-driven decision-making. It is ultimately about making our internal operations more effective and efficient.

The second transformation is about integrating our ecosystem of suppliers and customers, which for us are our retail partners. The focus is on integrating that ecosystem end-to-end so that we have seamless information flows with those key partners.

The third area is around consumer engagement. We want to understand consumers better so that we can leverage those insights for brand communications, product and package designs, and much more.

And finally, the last area of transformation is around our employees. We want to empower our employees so that they can work anywhere, anytime and collaborate in a frictionless way with each other.

When we combine these four objectives, we begin to see this as more of a program rather than a project. There are projects that we do to advance the objectives that I described, but our digital transformation is a program that will continue as we evolve.

Sharon: Let’s talk about one of those specific projects, which in this case is the SAP HANA 2.0 project. What was your data landscape before the move and what changes were you looking to make?

Francisco: We used the Oracle database management system across all our SAP landscapes. As part of our digital transformation journey, we had a companywide effort to replace Oracle with SAP HANA. The final step was to move our main SAP ECC environment to SAP HANA 2.0.

Campbell Soup recently acquired Snyder's-Lance. As we were integrating the business, we realized that we needed to first optimize our system’s performance to absorb the large incremental, transactional workload that came from that business. We saw the migration to SAP HANA 2.0 as a way to get the performance we needed to integrate the Snyder's-Lance business in our SAP ECC environment.

That was a key objective, but in addition to doing that, we also enabled real-time analytics without needing to extract the data out of the SAP system.

Sharon: How did you prepare your data for the move and what, if any, challenges did you encounter?

Francisco: I have to say the SAP migration utility that we used to enable the migration of the environments made the data movements uneventful. The one thing that we definitely had to manage was around the size of the tables where we store the data. We needed to make sure that we had the right partition structure to ensure that future data growth will not yield any need for further maintenance requirements. Other than that, the migration utility that we got from SAP made things fairly simple.

Sharon: Were there any roadblocks as you worked on this project? Did the pandemic cause delays? 

Francisco: The entire project took about six months, and we did go live during the pandemic. That’s largely due to the fact that both Campbell Soup’s IT team and our SAP partners are used to working in a virtual model. We are very familiar with collaboration technology, such as Microsoft Teams, that enable us to work well together, despite not being co-located.

That said, we knew that we really needed to have a flawless execution. One way that we were able to achieve that is by executing multiple dry runs to firm up the end-to-end process that we ultimately executed in the production environments. The goal was to optimize the transition process so that we reduced the amount of downtime required, but also to develop the muscle memory of our team to ensure a flawless execution. In the end, we reduced the migration downtime window by 77% and helped convert 22TB of Oracle data to the SAP HANA database in just nine hours.

Sharon: How did you address change management and business continuity?

Francisco: For the most part, this project was a technical change, so we managed it through extensive testing prior to the migration. Our goal was to make sure that we reached a point where the process happened without any adjustments. When we felt that we had reached that point and we knew we were ready, we executed a comprehensive regression testing to ensure that the transition was not going to have any negative side effects on our operations. We also completed thorough performance testing, which enabled us to fine-tune SAP HANA for optimum system performance.

Sharon: What are the ROI measures going forward? What else are you focusing on in your digital transformation?

Francisco: Our ROI has always been measured in business terms, which means we always focus on projects that help us with sales growth, cost savings, and cash improvements. That’s true for this project and any other IT projects that we embark on. As I mentioned earlier, our transformation is an ongoing journey, and the objective is enabling our company's strategic priorities of creating profitable growth and fueling investments with targeted cost savings.

Moving to SAP S/4HANA is definitely in our plans, but we haven't firmed up the timeline yet.

Sharon: What were the key lessons learned from this project? What would you tell other SAP customers getting ready to embark on a similar project?

Francisco: First and foremost, invest in testing. It is so critical. When you are upgrading your ERP ecosystem, there is no margin for error. So, have a plan for comprehensive testing that will ensure that your transition happens flawlessly.

Second, plan to phase your project out. We transitioned multiple systems as part of this project, and we did it in three phases. As expected, each migration yielded new insights that helped us make the next one better.

And the third lesson learned is probably going to sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Build a strong team of experts. Our partnership with SAP through this project was absolutely critical. The direct engagement of our public cloud service provider was also key. And then ultimately, we had the right Campbell Soup IT expertise assigned to these projects and all of that was critical for their success.

ASUG members can watch an on-demand webcast on the “Top 10 Ways to Squeeze More Out of Your SAP HANA Investment.”

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