Interviews Carbogen Amcis
Pirmin Bercher, Jessica Huang and Amy Xue
Pirmin Bercher, Head of Business & IT Alignment
Jessica Huang, Finance Manager
Amy Xue, Commercial Manager
“I was sure that with AX 2012, our AX 2012 internal knowledge and our business partner AlfaPeople Switzerland and China, this would be nothing other than a success.”
Can you please shortly describe Carbogen Amcis?
Pirmin Bercher: Carbogen Amcis is a leading service provider in the field of product and process development and the commercial production of active ingredients for the pharmaceutical and bio-pharmaceutical industries. Carbogen Amcis has been part of the Dishman group since 2006.
Jessica Huang: In combination with the wider Dishman group, the company can offer its services to the global market. In Europe, the group has manufacturing sites in Switzerland (Bubendorf, Aarau, Hunzenschwil and Vionnaz), in the UK in Manchester, and in France in Riom.
In Asia, Carbogen Amcis runs a subsidiary in Shanghai, China. The parent company Dishman Carbogen Amcis Limited. operates two large sites near Ahmedabad in India and another site in Veenendaal, Netherlands.
Quality and operational excellence are central to the Carbogen Amcis business. State-of-the-art facilities operate under current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). Carbogen Amcis is inspected by SwissMedic, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the French Health Authority (ANSM) on a regular basis.
How many employees does Carbogen Amcis have?
Today Carbogen Amcis has approximately 650 employees, of which about 300 are chemists by training; ca. 40 percent of whom hold a PhD in Chemistry.
It is also very important for the company that the staff regularly attend internal and external training sessions to keep abreast of the latest GMP, safety requirements and technology enhancements.
Can you please also mention few details about your organization in China?
Jessica Huang: Approx. 100 employees work in our sub-organization in China. Carbogen Amcis China consists of three companies, and those 100 employees are spread over those three different locations. All three companies are located in Shanghai.
In your organization in China, you have implemented Dynamics AX with success. Can you provide more details?
Carbogen Amcis has been working with Dynamics AX for many years. The first version we implemented was Dynamics AX 3.0. This was followed by several upgrades. Today, we have Dynamics AX 2012, and we can proudly say that this ERP-Solution fulfills our high requirements for a modern ERP system.
Since recently, we now also have implemented Dynamics AX Solution also in our Chinese organization with success. This was possible thanks to the close collaboration between all stakeholders. This includes Carbogen Amcis Switzerland, Carbogen Amcis China and also our business partner AlfaPeople with their teams from Switzerland and China.
What were expectations you had?
Pirmin Bercher: From previous AX projects, I thought that implementation and coordination over such a large distance and time gap would be very complicated and we might not achieve it within in the time frame. I am very glad that this was not the case.
Jessica Huang: Having a system that strongly integrates operation and supports business, it is the bridge between Shanghai and CGAM group, both for business practice and financial information systems.
What were the biggest problems / challenges from your point of view?
Pirmin Bercher: New processes for the Swiss AX team (“std. production module”, “purchase requisitions”), which required a new way of thinking (During the Implementation I was asked: “Pirmin, do you remember, we said ‘We will set up this project as in CH’, but now we do things completely differently and better”).
- • Not looking back on the known Swiss solution, being open for the best fit for Shanghai
- • Language + cultural background
- • Time difference (6/7 hours ahead for China)
- • Understanding Chinese special needs
- • A very good experience was the strong commitment of the whole ERP-Team from CGAM
- • Switzerland and CGAM-Shanghai and also from AlfaPeople as a business partner who also has a subsidiary in Switzerland and in China
- • Compliance with Chinese regulations
Amy Xue: Some parts of system functions could be better connected: from purchasing requisition to PO, PO and SO etc. Some artificial reference has to set up in order to link related parts together.
Sometimes I feel the lack of general cost setting behind serrano makes it more difficult to judge the consequence of commercial system procedures: i.e. What is the possible root reason that error messages pop up in the system? How to proactively seek corrections should there be any system input mistakes?
Compared with other ERP system, AX to some extent lacks flexibility for special purposes: some functions do not provide obvious free text comments; deleting or adding non-standard information is relatively more restricted.
- • Learn from your old experience and give up your old experience
- • Adapt local Chinese procedure, regulations, and policy to implement in AX, keeping in mind the need to work on a better solution, although the best one may not fit with China
How do you think this project can contribute to making the business of Carbogen Amcis Shanghai better supported? And what do you think this will contribute to the future of the whole Carbogen Amcis family?
Pirmin Bercher: From a group perspective, the integration of the new member of the re of the whole Carbogen Amcis family into a common ERP system with the challenge of IFRS account makes good sense.
Learning from the Shanghai solution and producing synergies with the group (which was achieved by the purchase requisitions not yet used in Europe, but which will be implemented in 2017 in Europe).
Amy Xue: Actually, the whole training provides my team a chance to rethink current process and where to improve. Apart from the technical part, it is also a very good opportunity to let myself conduct a thorough review and brainstorm together with my team for new ideas.
It makes different departments work together towards the same goal. I see better connections among colleagues.
Being a department head, this project is a good way to test our team members’ dedication level, learning ability, communication skills etc. I am very proud of my team for their dedication, hard work, creativity, organization and communication skills, as well as the coaching skills they demonstrated during this project. It is a very positive experience for myself as well as for further improvement on various aspects of my professional skills. The link within my team is much stronger. It also expands my knowledge in some areas in which I am generally interested: GMP control, production, finance, and compliance etc. I never see my department as an isolated island. All department functions are connected with each other in different ways. AX helps me to have better an overview and deeper understanding on this.
Jessica Huang: Implementing purchase requisition to replace Shanghai office paper approval procedure, which makes information flow clearer, more concentrated and transparent, the accounts, dimensions together with objects (M & S item), setting behind to release finance team from GL posting.
Key success factors:
Pirmin Bercher: The 3 x 2 week onsite meetings with the whole team in Switzerland and China brought a huge benefit in understanding the processes & helping build up a personal relationship (which is maybe even more important in a project like this than the technical details); these meetings allowed us to hold easy and open telecons / Skype discussions for business meetings afterwards.
- • Know AX and adopt procedure
- • Fault-tolerant, no mistake is not analyzable
AX solution & module
Pirmin Bercher: In China, we implemented Dynamics AX 2012 according to the CGAM-Switzerland solution.
This contains the following modules: accounts payable, receivable, general ledger, HR, inventory and warehouse, production, project management(CDR), cash and bank management, procurement and sourcing, sales and marketing and the well-proven solution by AlfaPeople Switzerland named AXFire.
You also implement AXFire in China. What is the benefit for CGAM?
Pirmin Bercher: We implemented the AXFire solution in our Swiss organization approximately one year ago. We recognized very fast the potential and the benefits of this solution. We are now able to create and customize our existing reports from Dynamics AX by ourselves. We do not need to have a developer who can do this in the Dynamics AX SSRS Reports. With AXFire, we can do it very easy using Microsoft Word template.
Thanks to AXFire we can increase our productivity and reduce costs at the same time. This is a really good tool to generate additional value.
Jessica Huang: The whole project was completed within 6 months! We started to implement the ERP Solution at the beginning of July 2016 and could finish the process on the 31st of December 2016.
Starting the new year 2017, we could initiate our Go-Live with our new ERP Solution Dynamics AX 2012.
We are very proud on this performance, and I want to use the opportunity to thank all involved parties.
Reviewing the project and analyzing the achieved performance, what would say in generaly?
Pirmin Bercher: I was sure that with AX 2012, our AX 2012 internal knowledge and our business partner AlfaPeople Switzerland and China, this would be nothing other than a success.
Any Xue: Again, thank you very much for all the support we received from Switzerland. Without your effortless input I would never have enjoyed this journey. You have been there no matter how many small issues have popped up so far.