With more than 2,800 employees in five continents, Guerbet is a global leader in medical imaging. The company’s solutions are used in both diagnostic and interventional imaging to improve the prognosis and quality of life for patients. In recent years, Guerbet doubled in size by taking over its principal competitor in the U.S., and the company continues to grow both organically and through corporate acquisitions. Guerbet is headquartered in France and generated annual revenues of 790 million euros in 2018.
As it expanded rapidly around the world through organic growth and acquisition, Guerbet recognized an opportunity to enhance its operational efficiency, reduce its costs and gain deeper insight into its global supply chain. To achieve its goals, Guerbet has consolidated 21 separate ERP systems to create a future-ready platform based on SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for SAP Applications.
Guerbet’s employees are committed to delivering solutions that empower medical professionals around the world to diagnose and treat their patients quickly. With operations in over 80 countries—and long, complex supply chains—the company knew that rationalizing its business processes would be vital to operate efficiently and cost-effectively as its growth gathered pace.
Because Guerbet works in a highly regulated pharmaceutical-products industry, the availability and efficiency of the manufacturing and distribution systems are extremely important. In the past, 21 of the 44 sites and subsidiaries worldwide relied on different processes and business systems to drive their operations. As well as increasing the cost and complexity of managing and maintaining the applications and their underlying IT infrastructure, this approach made it difficult for Guerbet to bring together their business data for analytics and reporting tasks.
Rationalizing the business processes and consolidating the systems would enable Guerbet to achieve a substantial reduction in operational costs—making it easier to integrate future acquisitions into the business. Additionally, embracing a centralized and standardized way of working across all operating units would empower the business to build new synergies between the corporate entities, greatly enhancing supply-chain visibility.
Subsequently, Guerbet set out on a major business transformation initiative, named G-ONE. Through this multistage program, the company aimed to migrate the business systems that supported its business units across the world to a central platform located at the company’s primary data center in France. To make its target operating model a reality, the company decided to standardize on SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA, including SAP BusinessObjects and applications for Process Integration, Financial Consolidation, Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals, B2B Integration and Workforce Performance Builder. To reduce the training required to migrate its business users to the new platform, the company also selected SAP Fiori to deliver streamlined user experiences for the SAP applications.
The main goal of G-ONE was to create a foundation for the future for Guerbet. By replacing their decentralized ways of working with a single platform that includes near-real-time analytics capabilities, they could ensure that their continued growth doesn’t reduce their ability to drive lean, compliant and cost-effective operations around the world. They needed to achieve the first phase of their migration to the new SAP platform within a 24-month window, after which the technical service agreement with one of their key managed services vendors was set to expire. To set G-ONE in motion, they looked for a secure, scalable and high-performance server platform for SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA.
“Our relationship with SUSE continues to be close and productive, and we have been very satisfied with the quality and clarity of their support, documentation and training. When the opportunity presents itself, we will advocate strongly for migrating our other line-of-business applications running on Linux to the SUSE Enterprise platform.”
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications
To achieve the high levels of performance, scalability and availability it targeted for the new SAP business systems, Guerbet selected SLES for SAP Applications. The leading Linux platform for SAP HANA solutions, SLES for SAP Applications combines optimized performance and reduced downtime with accelerated SAP landscape deployments.
At the time, they were only the second company in France to embark on a SAP HANA project, so they ran a number of deep-dive technical workshops with the SAP and SUSE teams to ensure that the platform was going to meet their long-term requirements. This thorough evaluation gave them confidence that the combination of SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and SLES for SAP Applications would enable them to achieve the goals of G-ONE.
Partnering with PwC for project management resources and with Capgemini for solution integration services, Guerbet deployed SLES for SAP Applications to support the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA platform.
Laurent Londais, CTO at Guerbet, says, “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications has a thriving community of users all-around the world, which gave us the confidence that we could easily access the skills we needed to maintain the platform. SUSE also has an excellent reputation for the quality of its support—and for all of these reasons, we felt that SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications was the natural choice for our new server platform.”
To reduce the complexity of managing the server platform, Guerbet uses SUSE Manager. The SUSE Manager solution automates Linux server provisioning, patching and configuration, enabling faster, more consistent and repeatable server deployment. SUSE Manager also delivers automated monitoring, tracking, auditing and reporting for systems and virtual machines, helping Guerbet optimize operations and contain costs.
In the pharmaceuticals space, compliance with stringent regulatory requirements is a must. With SUSE Manager, Guerbet can automatically generate detailed, timely and granular reports that help them quickly demonstrate to their regulators that they are compliant with industry best practices. In France, where their consolidated business systems are based, audits are a frequent occurrence—and having a solution like SUSE Manager enables Guerbet to monitor, patch and report on a rich SAP application landscape with a wide range of modules and virtual machines.
Londais comments, “Without a doubt, SUSE Manager is a compliance tool par excellence. Maintaining a strong security posture and ensuring regulatory compliance requires full visibility of our server environment, and that’s exactly what SUSE Manager is delivering for the business today.
“SUSE Manager enables us to automate repetitive (but essential) tasks, such as deploying updates and patches to our server environment. Because we know that experts at SUSE are constantly improving, optimizing and increasing the security of their software, we place a great deal of trust in the best practices embedded in SUSE Manager. As well as reducing the time and manual effort required to complete these tasks, automated patching significantly reduces the possibility for human error, which helps us to harden our systems and avoid the risk of vulnerabilities.”
Working with oXya, an SAP-certified provider of hosting and cloud services, and TeamWork’s expert SAP consultants, Guerbet architected and deployed the SAP business systems. The new applications cover business processes (including order-to-cash, demand-to-supply, maintain-to-settle and procure-to-pay), while running on SLES for SAP Applications virtual machines on VMware, with replication at the VMware level to provide high availability.
To date, Guerbet has successfully migrated 21 ERP systems that support 34 of its entities to the new SAP platform. Today, the company has cut down its number of ERP platforms to just two: the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA platform that supports its users in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific; and an Oracle platform for business users in North America and Latin America.
As it moves into the second phase of the GONE program, Guerbet is already realizing many of the benefits of a unified approach to managing its global business. By embracing global standards across the business, powered by an in-memory analytics database, it is now far easier and faster for senior managers to compare performance between different geographies. For the company’s finance teams, closing the books at the end of each month, quarter and financial year requires substantially less manual work. And with deeper insight into complex data flows inside the business, Guerbet can identify opportunities to enhance the efficiency of its global supply chain.
Shortly after they began the G-ONE initiative, Guerbet completed a major acquisition in the USA that added $300 million to their annual revenue. By using SAP business systems running on SLES for SAP Applications, they can support this kind of fast-paced growth without sending their operational costs soaring.
After completing the first phase of its migration project, the company unlocked more than 3.5 million euros in cost-savings by ending its technical service agreement six months before its expiry date—an achievement for which Guerbet received a silver award from SAP France for the best business transformation of the year during an annual SAP user convention.
Over the next four years, Guerbet aims to complete its migration by decommissioning the Oracle ERP systems and data centers that support its business in North America and Latin America. When completed, this project has the potential to deliver operational cost-savings of up to $1.5 million.
The efficiencies they’re now delivering for the business are about more than technology. By rationalizing their processes, they can achieve powerful economies of scale in areas such as supplier management. For example, because they will be able to quickly identify if they are using the same supplier to support multiple different geographies, they will have the opportunity to negotiate volume discounts to reduce operational costs. This kind of business integration is also extremely valuable from an inventory management perspective. By gaining a 360-degree view of the position of inventory around the world, they can optimize their logistics to fulfil orders faster and more efficiently.
With the SAP HANA database at the heart of its new analytics platform, Guerbet has boosted the performance of some of its key reports by a factor of 30. With the stability and availability of SLES for SAP Applications supporting its business, the company has the confidence its mission-critical systems will be online 24/7.
“Since we went live with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications, we’ve never experienced unplanned downtime—the platform is extremely stable,” says Londais. “Our relationship with SUSE continues to be close and productive, and we have been very satisfied with the quality and clarity of their support, documentation and training. When the opportunity presents itself, we will advocate strongly for migrating our other line-of-business applications running on Linux to the SUSE Enterprise platform.”