In October 2020, Mindbox consultants continue to work on the upgrade of the iScala ERP solution to its most recent release 3.4 for the German based leading Science & Technology company Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (Merck). It covers 19 subsidiaries of the group in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. Mindbox’s offer was selected as the most advantageous in terms of the proposed timing, cost, and mode of performance, as well as the years-long successful business relationship and cooperation between Merck and Mindbox. Another important factor was Mindbox’s extensive experience in complex information technology projects of global reach. Mindbox specializes in supporting businesses using Epicor software, including the iScala system, among other products.
iScala 3.4 at Merck
Merck has used the iScala system for more than a decade. It is a solution for smaller subsidiaries within the organization (Tier II). Business process handling and system usage have been standardized. Support for 450 simultaneous remote users is provided by the Global Scala Team based in Darmstadt, Germany, and Singapore.
Project objectives and characteristics
Given that the implementation was required for pharmaceutical company, some specific industry requirements had to be considered, such as:
- legal restrictions,
- data security,
- and other potential threats.
The migration was from release 3.0 to the most recent release 3.4. The system is customized for Merck’s requirement by 120 modifications, hundreds of reports, OLAP cubes, and documents. Work efficiency is ensured by intensive communication and data exchange between iScala and other systems, both internal and business partners, via more than 100 interfaces. All these elements had to be transferred to the new release and then tested with maximum precision. The project’s primary objective is to change the technology platform with minimum disturbance to the business operations.
Key benefits of the migration to the iScala 3.4
From the business and technological points of view, migration was a significant step. Its benefits included:
- Ensuring the continuity and stability of business operations for the next five years;
- Reducing legal risk and related expenses;
- New supported technology;
- Increased system flexibility through an extended range of functionalities in the new release.
Risks involved in the project
The paramount objective is to complete the project with minimum disturbance to the business operations. Given the complexity and geographical reach of the system, the task requires detailed analysis and precise planning. Areas critical for successful project completion include:
- A high degree of system modification;
- Geographical dispersion and cultural differences, for both users and project team members;
- Procedures specific to the pharmaceutical industry;
- COVID related restrictions
Mindbox is running the migration project with the support of a dedicated team appointed by Merck. As a whole, the project is scheduled for 14 months. At the very outset, the timeframes for all successive stages are specified. One of the project’s greatest challenges is the geographical dispersion of the project team (over 20 people in 10 countries) and end-users (18 countries). Due to the COVID regime, a definite majority of the work is being done on a remote basis. The success of the project, in a great matter, relies on precise planning and rigorous project management.
The implementation process is planned to be completed in four major stages. During the first one, the Mindbox team completes the migration of all the system’s technical components. The phase will be concluded by a test migration and a one-month period of internal tests. The pilot migration will be carried out in Sweden. Then it will be rolled out in groups ranging from four to eight countries in three successive phases. Each includes a test migration, user acceptance tests, the final migration, and post-implementation support.
iScala 3.4 implemenation results
After completing all the scheduled activities, the system is expected to run without any perceptible changes to the user while its operation but should be faster, more effective, and safer, and more importantly, it will offer an array of new possibilities to improve the operating efficiency of the business.