AWS for Industries

[In the News] Bristol Myers Squibb’s Flawless Migration from SAP ECC to S/4HANA on AWS

This article originally appeared on Accenture.


Digital technologies are transforming the life sciences industry as much as advanced science.

The ability to extract, analyze and visualize data quickly from across the company can help biopharmaceutical companies become intelligent enterprises and better serve patients. Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), a global leading biopharma company, is intent on using digital innovation to accelerate drug discovery and development, improve manufacturing, enhance business capabilities, and ultimately advance patient care. By consolidating more applications and tools into enterprise platforms, and moving those systems to a cloud environment, the company can collaborate more efficiently and effectively across the enterprise. Additionally, it can benefit from these platforms’ rapid cycles of external innovation to continuously evolve and improve its technological capabilities.BMS’ previous SAP ERP system was nearing end of life, giving BMS an opportunity to upgrade to the new S/4HANA core. This creates the potential for the company to bring more non-SAP applications into the SAP platform, creating the foundation to drive future innovations and new capabilities.

What Accenture did

BMS already utilized the SAP ERP platform for its complex enterprise resource planning capabilities and had maintained an extremely well-managed environment with quality data.This factored into its decision to select SAP S/4HANA ® on Amazon Web Services (AWS). As one of the system’s earliest adopters, BMS now has one of the world’s largest, most modern and simplified conversions of SAP S/4HANA on the  cloud, supporting critical functions in manufacturing, supply chain, finance, order-to-cash and procurement. The upgrade involved 44 global markets, 12 manufacturing plants and 13,000 users — all done with zero business disruption.

“Our partnership with Accenture, SAP and AWS was crucial for a project of this size and scale, and their combined expertise ensured there was no business disruption.”

MICHAEL DI NOVI, Executive Director, Digital Capability Manager – Enterprise Resource Planning (SAP)

BMS teamed with Accenture to define the upgrade path and flawlessly execute the approach. Given the initiative’s complexity, and the potential for business disruption, BMS decided to divide the program into two phases. Phase One focused on a technical upgrade, delivering “like for like” capability to manage scope and risk of disruption. Phase Two will focus on leveraging SAP S/4HANA capabilities to enable business process transformation. After building a S/4HANA proof of concept, the team spent 8 months in careful planning to ensure conversion readiness of system functionality and infrastructure. These efforts minimized risk by ensuring compatibility of third-party vendors and reports, data quality assurance through archiving inactive data and removing custom code, and optimal performance through a scalable infrastructure.

Together with Accenture and Amazon Web Services (AWS), BMS executed many firsts that innovatively solved for execution complexity. For instance, Accenture worked with AWS to scale BMS’ ability to support 12 terabytes (TB) in a single system, converting 23TB of database to 4.5TB. In addition, IT accelerators, such as Accenture’s S/4HANA profiler tool, helped produce quality work quickly with minimal downtime. Originally estimated to be six days, go-live downtime ended up being just 65 hours. To accomplish this, the team utilized SAP’s Zero Downtime technology to support its detailed cutover plan. The system was stabilized and fully effective at go-live.

People and culture

BMS leveraged Accenture’s Talent & Organization/Human Potential group to shape the change management journey.Partnering with the BMS change lead, Accenture worked on understanding the solution’s impact, capabilities and knowledge that workers would need to adopt based on required changes and inherent enhancements. The technical structure of the new platform is quite different, requiring BMS to update select processes and deliver training for users.New workflows and tools like the Fiori visualization dashboards helped to create an enhanced user experience where users can generate reports with real-time information at the click of a button. Obsolescence reports (showing how long an asset is still usable) which previously took eight hours now run in under a minute.Collaboration and decision making have also improved thanks to enhanced data visibility and transparency. BMS can now easily generate group reporting, slicing data to see management and financial information at the brand level and according to product hierarchies. This gives leadership the insights and predictive capabilities to adjust activities to improve financial performance, including payment processing. In addition, there is a “universal journal” as the single source of truth for all financials from across the company.

Value delivered

The increased capabilities offered through the new S/4 platform have helped to lay a foundation for BMS to take advantage of opportunities to apply artificial intelligence, machine learning, and real-time predictive analytics to achieve efficiency gains, reduction in total cost of ownership, enhanced security, a better user experience and just-in-time inventory, to name a few.The intelligent enterprise capabilities give BMS unprecedented agility, analytics and insights in a single instance across multiple functions.According to Michael Di Novi, Executive Director, Digital Capability Manager, Enterprise Resource Planning (SAP), “SAP S/4HANA allows us to leverage advanced capabilities to unlock business benefits from modernized finance, procurement and supply chain. This planned strategic investment helped to lay a foundation of operational efficiencies and improved processes, which, ultimately, may lead to other exciting enhancements and improvements for BMS.”
Kelli Jonakin, Ph.D.

Kelli Jonakin, Ph.D.

Kelli Jonakin is the Worldwide Head of Marketing for Healthcare, Life Sciences, and Genomics Industry verticals at AWS. She comes with a background in pharmaceutical research, with a special focus on development and commercialization of biologics. Kelli received her Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Systems Biology from the University of Colorado, and received an NIH post-doctoral fellowship grant to study Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.