Centrient optimizes supply chain planning: 5 lessons learned from a successful implementation

What major challenges is your organization currently facing? Ask any business, in any sector, and chances are high that they’ll point to the supply chain.

Centrient SAP IBP high

Supply chain challenges have never been more prominent than today. The way out? Centrient Pharmaceuticals (Centrient) turned from planning in Excel to Sales and Operations (S&OP) planning in SAP IBP.

Centrient has been on a mission ‘to improve lives through innovative and sustainable manufacturing of medicines’ since 1869. To deliver on that promise, the company ensures that quality, reliability and sustainability underpin everything they do. That’s no easy feat in today’s challenging market, where customers are super demanding, and disruption is the new normal.

Moving to SAP Integrated Business Planning: 5 key takeaways

Moving to SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain has helped Centrient align their supply chain planning with customer demand and manufacturing capacity. In this way, the pharmaceutical company can more easily meet customer expectations, lower inventories and, ultimately, boost sales. Here are five lessons learned from Centrient’s award-winning* journey:

The main insight: swap complexity for simplicity

Centrient has seven manufacturing units, eight sales offices and works with contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) around the globe. No wonder its production planning, and the resulting supply chain processes, have always been a challenge.

“Our manufacturing process involves multiple phases. After one step in the process, let’s say in Delft, for example, the material may be shipped to a facility in India to complete the process, after which it’s transported to China for sales,” explains Philippe Caby, CIO of Centrient Pharmaceuticals. What’s more, two key ingredients of Centrient’s medicines are produced in just one factory, meaning that all other production units are dependent on a smooth production cycle there.

To manage all this complexity, Centrient used Excel files, which were sent to sites around the world to make sure that everyone involved in the S&OP process was on the same page. That all changed when they decided to simplify their master data model and implement SAP IBP. Centrient can now rely on a single source of truth for their S&OP process: an integrated system that provides a quick overview of production, stock and sales demand for each location.

Philippe Caby

SAP IBP has made our global production planning more reliable, and it has become much easier to share insights.

Philippe Caby - CIO of Centrient Pharmaceuticals

Choose a user-friendly tool that matches your needs

As a long-term SAP user, Centrient chose to integrate SAP IBP into its existing SAP landscape. That was, however, not the only reason for selecting the SAP module. They believed that a user-friendly Excel-like interface would boost user adoption. And that’s key, as the quality of the planning is just as good – or bad – as the input.

Go ‘agile’ and team up with the right partner

The move from Excel to SAP IBP is a stepwise difference for the users. An agile project approach with sprints helped ease with that transition. "We started with a limited scope so that the users could quickly see functionality and their own data and could influence the solution with suggestions for improvements while it was being built," says Philippe.

Flexso professionally guided Centrient in the transition. We helped them redesign their business processes to then configure, test and implement SAP IBP – and we’ll continue to support them going forward.

Make your supply chain optimization journey a C-Suite priority

Centrient chose to roll out SAP IBP in a global big bang for all six factories and all contract manufacturing organizations. The time needed? Just six months, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, without the members of the project team meeting physically even once. One of the reasons for that success was the strong drive and sponsorship from the global Supply Chain Management leadership team.

Never stop moving

Although the S&OP process at Centrient is now more reliable, there’s still no time to sit back and relax. Today’s volatile times require an exceptionally agile supply chain. That is why Centrient is now investing in forecasting and simulation to better predict demand and customer deliveries, and to have resulting plans in place for any changes that crop up.

About Centrient


Centrient Pharmaceuticals is the global business-to-business leader in sustainable, enzymatic antibiotics, next-generation statins and anti-fungals. They produce and sell intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), as well as our own tablets, capsules and other finished dosage forms (FDFs). Headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Centrient has accredited manufacturing sites in six locations and sales offices in eight locations around the globe. They employ 2,200 people.

*Impressed? So was SAP. The project yielded Centrient an ‘2021 SAP Best of Customer Success’ award in the Netherlands!

Want to do just like Centrient and navigate supply chain disruptions in today’s turbulent times? Get in touch to hear how our experts can help you optimize supply chain processes.


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