NTT DATA Business Solutions
NTT DATA Business Solutions | August 17, 2021

How SAP Software Ensures a Shorter Time-to-Market of COVID-19 Vaccines

Injection with flu vaccine.

(3 min read)

The fight against COVID-19 is depending on digital supply chains for a seamless vaccine production. Therefore, a leading life sciences company in the US engaged us to optimize their supply chain planning. We supported them with best practices from SAP’s life sciences applications for inventory management, production and reports in a single IT solution.

In difficult times, you can easily see which supply chains are well planned and dependable. This is especially true for companies that develop, package and distribute vaccines for pandemics. Time is the crucial factor – which is why the US government launched “Operation Warp Speed” to break down barriers in the approval process and get life-saving biopharmaceuticals faster to the market. But without digital solutions, the high requirements of reliability and efficiency are unmanageable for life sciences companies.

Warp Speed in Supply Chain Planning

This also applies to one of our US clients – a life sciences company, which, as part of Operation Warp Speed, had to optimize planning and execution of its supply chains. They develop vaccines and antibody therapeutics with offices around the world and offer Contract Development and Manufacturing (CDMO) services, which have received a massive boost from COVID-19. Due to the massive organic growth in this area and related M&A activities, the company needed a digitized, scalable solution for their supply chains. This provides the capability to analyze capacity requirements before committing to CDMO contracts which might not be as profitable in a highly constrained environment. The customer wanted to make sure he was not overcommitting resources to life-saving vaccines where timing was critical.

SAP Scored with a Lower TCO

This is when MSCG came into play – NTT DATA Business Solutions had acquired the company in early 2021. Our scope was to implement best practices from SAP’s life sciences applications for inventory management, production and reports in a digitized supply chain planning tool. SAP was chosen because of the standardized integration into an existing execution system and a lower TCO. The project’s goal was to systematically standardize processes and solutions to integrate past and future acquisitions more quickly, both financially and operationally. A broad trend in the US market: Today a lot of life sciences companies are moving towards a single platform to consolidate heterogeneous systems. Technical cornerstone in this project was SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP), a cloud solution for forecasting, production, network and inventory planning along the entire supply chain.

Small Start, Big Growth

The cooperation began in summer 2020, with rapid implementation in an existing drug division of the client. Their inventory system was only financially integrated, but not in the supply chain. Later this year, our team switched to the CDMO division to develop a fundamental supply chain model. It was rolled out at one initial facility in January 2021, followed by a warehouse and three production lines. In total, eight experts from MSCG were supporting the client with documentation, development, functional tests, user training and project management.

Simulations Show Financial Impact

Supply chain execution and planning were standardized in the project, all existing product lines were documented and capacity was systematically prepared in the tool. Simulations also help them to estimate the financial impact of strategic investments, which can take 18 months before they become operational. In addition to standardization, it is also necessary to handle new requirements as flexible as possible. Companies must identify conflicting priorities, assign component requirements and let suppliers know about specifications immediately – this is only possible with a systematic approach to supply chain planning.

Key Take-aways

  1. Keep it simple: As a Digital SCM Solutions Architect and SAP APO expert for more than 20 years, I’m gathering customer requirements to bring them in line with SAP standard solutions. To bridge the gaps and make necessary adjustments it’s essential to keep things as simple and standardized as possible. This also enables scalability for growth, and by using flexible alerts and exception management you can focus on efficiency as well as rapid response capabilities.
  2. Precise focus: Our recipe for success is that we concentrate on supply chain planning and execution, both from business processes and the technology automation perspective. Years of experience, expertise in state-of-the-art tools and a solid understanding of the sector is what count most in optimizing supply chains.
  3. Know your customer: The project outcome depends on the quality of work and deep understanding of what a customer really needs. A new dashboard alone isn’t enough – we need to know how we can best handle their business requirements in this rapidly changing markets. If you really want your customer to benefit and be successful, the goal has to be a broad usage of new applications to run their business efficiently rather than just launching new tools.

written by Odell Smith, Digital SCM Solutions Architect, My Supply Chain Group


You’ll find more information about our new US acquisition My Supply Chain Group in our Annual Report 2020 or directly on the MSCG website. For more information on supply chain planning please feel free to get in touch with us.

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