Dole Packaged Foods reduces Material Master management costs by 30 percent using Pillir and AWS

Executive Summary

Dole Packaged Foods, a subsidiary of Dole International Holdings, is a leader in producing, processing, sourcing, distributing, and marketing fruit products and healthy snacks around the globe. Dole Packaged Foods markets a full line of canned, jarred, cup, frozen, and dried fruit products. Dole Packaged Foods is committed to delivering healthy, nutritional, high-quality products and reducing food inequality globally.

In order to bring new products to market, Dole Packaged Foods required a collaboration platform with built-in workflows and automations to enable the collection of technology platforms and business processes to seamlessly integrate time saving automations to bring these products to life and to market. With the help of Pillir and its low-code rapid application development platform, EdgeReady Cloud powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dole Packaged Foods rapidly launched customized, user-centric web and mobile apps across a variety of processes. Now employees can use the apps from their offices to the field to introduce new products, review and approve procurement approvals, and enter, review, and create material master data, which helps reduce errors and improves the efficiency of bringing products to market. By modernizing and streamlining these crucial procurement and supply chain process, Dole Packaged Foods has improved productivity, cut costs, and set the stage for future digital transformation efforts.

Leveraging the power of low-code, cloud-native solutions

Since its humble, yet mission-driven beginnings almost 170 years ago, Dole has believed that good, healthy food should be more like sunshine—available to all. Time to market and accessibility to crucial data directly affect Dole Packaged Foods’ ability to deliver quality products to customers.

To support enterprise resource planning efforts, Dole Packaged Foods standardized on SAP in 2011. Soon after, the company realized it needed an agile, reliable, and cost-effective mobile platform to support purchase requisitions, purchase orders, and contract approvals. Following a market search, Dole Packaged Foods chose to work with AWS Partner Pillir, a low-code, cloud-native platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider offering a platform that enables the fast development of resilient, always-available, self-managing applications that work in any connectivity landscape. “At the time, when you looked at most mobility models, you were looking at a few hundred thousand dollars minimum just for implementation, without development or licensing costs,” recalled Gabe Dellevigne, Head of Digital Technologies, World Wide Packaged Foods at Dole Packaged Foods. “Pillir already had an existing platform, which meant we could have our product in less than 60 days at a much more competitive price.”

Based on the success of the procurement mobile app project, Dole Packaged Foods turned to Pillir again when it needed to quickly create an application that will improve its material master creation process. “Pillir is a trusted partner,” said Dellevigne. “Their cost to benefit is always better than the alternatives, and they know us as a customer. There’s an honesty there.”

“Pillir is a trusted partner. Their cost to benefit is always better than the alternatives, and they know us as a customer.”

- Gabe Dellevigne, Head of Digital Technologies, Worldwide Packaged Foods, Dole Packaged Foods

Building a sustainable, reliable material master

Dole Packaged Foods’ IT landscape was initially based on SAP ECC 6.0 and later upgraded to SAP S/4HANA. It relies on this IT landscape to support its business functions in a highly automated and seamless manner. The company had previously struggled with the master data management and governance associated with SAP material master data and the associated collaborative approval processes. Because the material master data is a central component of all business functions, the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively manage this key data is paramount to the delivery of high-quality products to customers.

Until 2014, Dole Packaged Foods’ material master data processes remained manually managed and non-systematized, resulting in inefficiencies and critical errors, many of which were difficult to resolve. In particular, time-consuming manual processes—paper, e-mail, Excel, or some combination depending on the team—led to higher-than-expected operational costs, a lack of real-time visibility, and a loss of confidence in the data’s accuracy and integrity.

Dole Packaged Foods initially considered various master data management (MDM) and master data governance (MDG) solutions; however, the cost associated with purchasing and implementing these solutions proved impractical. The company also considered building a custom solution using readily available SAP development tools like ABAP but determined that approach would be too cumbersome to scale and sustain. “Our key requirements centered around user experience, workflow capabilities, integration to SAP, and system performance,” said Dellevigne. “We needed a solution that would be quick to build and deploy as well as sustainable and modifiable as new requirements surfaced.” Additionally, Dole Packaged Foods was an early adopter of SAP’s S/4HANA platform in 2017, and the Pillir solutions have been proven to be easily upgradable even with a substantial shift in database technology of the core OLTP. Dole Packaged Foods even considered switching from the Pillir mobile procurement app to SAP's native Fiori app but test marketing with the user base identified the Pillir app as much better from a usability perspective and thus it continues as the company procurement approval app of choice.

Balancing best practices with customized work processes

To meet Dole Packaged Foods’ supply chain requirements, the IT team used the EdgeReady Cloud platform built on AWS and supported by the Pillir team. EdgeReady is a low-code, rapid application development platform that transforms legacy SAP custom business processes into AWS-based, cloud-native modern applications that still tightly integrate with a customer’s existing SAP systems, no matter where they run. It also allows enterprises to build new mobile-friendly applications in the complex ERP landscape using little to no code.

This means there was no change management for the master data management team, and the experience of moving from SAP ECC to S/4HANA was seamless to the master data management users.

Now, Dole Packaged Foods employees enter material master data directly through the app’s user-friendly interface, where it can then be reviewed by teams throughout the organization. Once the data is reviewed and approved, users simply press submit and the data automatically flows into SAP. Because SAP is maintained as the core system of record—but is not actually accessed as part of the data creation and management process— Dole Packaged Foods can be confident it is following best practices for data integrity while still enjoying the benefits of a customized user-centric experience for its specific processes.

“Since the app was deployed, we’ve improved our process and productivity efficiency, including reducing the amount of manual labor involved by 30 percent,” said Dellevigne. “We also have more visibility across our teams and better reporting capability thanks to near real-time updates in SAP.”

“From kick-off to go live, the entire project took 60 days and involved only one or two people,” said Vaidya Aiyer, CEO and Founder at Pillir. “That’s generally five to six times faster than would typically be expected for this kind of project, which usually takes a team of at least six or seven up to 15 months. Pillir’s low-code platform eliminates 50 to 60 percent of the integration and application creation work.”

“From kick-off to go live, the entire project took 60 days and involved only one or two people. That’s generally five to six times faster than would typically be expected for this kind of project, which usually takes a team of at least six or seven up to 15 months to complete. Pillir’s low-code platform eliminates 50 to 60 percent of the integration and application development work.”

- Vaidya Aiyer, CEO and Founder, Pillir

Using digital technologies to drive a more food-secure future

Going forward, Dellevigne and Dole Packaged Foods plan to build on their successful relationship with both Pillir and AWS. “We have a very strong mission as a company: we would like to solve the problem of food inequality, and that's pretty ingrained throughout our organization. We have several initiatives going in that regard, and as we find more use cases for digital technologies, our applications based on the Pillir platform will grow. And since Pillir’s been on AWS since day one, that means our work with AWS will grow too.”

Dole Packaged Foods

About the Customer

Dole Packaged Foods, LLC, is a world leader in growing, sourcing, manufacturing, distributing, and marketing fruit and healthy snacks. Dole Packaged Foods has the largest brand presence and market share in canned pineapple, fruit cups, and pineapple juice throughout the world.

About the Partner

Pillir is the developer of a low-code/no-code, cloud-native platform that enables organizations to develop ERP-optimized mission-critical and automatically modernize legacy apps 20 times faster.

Published December 2021