While legions of Stericycle employees rigorously cleared COVID-19-infected and vaccine-related materials from worldwide healthcare facilities in recent years, equally diligent behind-the-scenes IT teams advanced the organization of digital transformation.

During a session at the recent ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Utilities conference, Peter Chen, Stericycle Director of Enterprise Architecture, briefed attendees on the transformation and the company’s progress toward its “future target operating model.”

Before delving into detail on that operating model and the SAP solutions at its foundation, Chen mentioned the increased need for process automation, integration, and standardization at Stericycle, a global leader in medical and hazardous waste, became clear pre-pandemic.

Growth By Acquisition and Pandemic Services

The 30-year-old company, including the Shred It businesses, grew by acquisition and now operates more than 50 medical waste treatment facilities, managing nearly 28 lbs. of medical waste yearly in 22 countries. The operation responded and continues to adapt to ongoing and pandemic-related waste management challenges, Chen said.

“You’ve all seen the bins that handle the needles from the COVID vaccine?” Chen asked. “That’s us. We played a very active role in supporting the healthcare industry on the front lines of the pandemic, including the safe disposal of PPE…and rapidly responding to changing CDC guidelines here.”

Robust, Modernized, Scalable Future

On the IT front lines, Chen leads a multi-year effort to “align on standard, global processes and systems, architecting and building a new technology platform that is robust, modernized, and scalable for future growth.”

He listed the historic/current IT landscape characteristics, including:

  • More than 500 systems
  • Customer invoicing in days/weeks/months
  • Over 28-day financial period close
  • Excessive manual controls
  • Paper-based processes
  • Incorrect, incomplete, stale data

In contrast, the modernized environment will achieve:

  • More than 50 systems
  • Customer invoicing in seconds/minutes/hours
  • Over five-day financial period close
  • Automated, integrated, systematic controls
  • Digital, automated processes
  • Real-time analytics

Compelling Digital Boardroom

Building the business case to move to SAP S/4HANA, an envisioned cloud-first architecture and the “ability to have innovative applications on the edge,” Chen said Stericycle and SAP extensively collaborated. He said the persuasive case included the SAP team highlighting the “digital boardroom that SAP uses, and the C-level thought the S/4HANA-enabled digital boardroom was powerful.”

Among SAP solutions, Chen said Stericycle’s current, in-development or target landscape includes:

  • Core financials and logistics applications are supported by S/4HANA
  • HR services and capabilities, including payroll, benefits, and expense management are on SAP SuccessFactors
  • SAP Solution Manager for process monitoring, system performance
  • SAP Analytics Cloud, for tracking, analysis, insights
  • Concur for travel
  • OpenText for document management

Chen said Stericycle is “now talking” to people in the SAP Business Technology Platform to improve cross-SAP as well as non-SAP service integrations. For instance, Stericycle uses Salesforce for customer care, among other services, he said.

SAP Signavio in the Future

In addition, he said Stericycle was “just about to sign for SAP Signavio to improve visuals and optimize our processes” in September.

An AWS-based cloud architecture is the base to connect Stericycle’s primary operations in Ohio and Oregon, as well as its distributed facilities.

Chen said the company is making progress toward its future state high-level goals: a highly reliable “resilient” enterprise with “built-in redundancy, disaster recovery, proactive process and performance monitoring” and improved security and threat detections as well as essential business improvements.

For example, the financial close is already a more-efficient two-week period and Stericycle visibility, measurement, and management processes are becoming more effective.

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