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Smurfit Kappa

Smurfit Kappa explains why they came to choose oXya as their new outsourcing partner and how the change of partner has worked out for them

Interview with Tewfik Noumri, CTO of Smurfit Kappa

Can you describe the Smurfit Kappa Group?

Smurfit Kappa is the world leader in paper-based packaging. We employ approximately 41,000 people across 32 countries and achieved a turnover of €7.4 billion in 2012. We are an integrated packaging manufacturer. Our packaging manufacturing process sources the majority of its raw materials from our own paper mills. Our headquarters is located in Dublin, with regional headquarters in Paris (for Europe) and Miami (for Latin America).

In Europe, we have:
* 161 plants of corrugated cardboard;
* 19 paper mills;
* 8 other paper and paperboard mills;
* 72 other sites;

In Latin America, we have:
* 34 production plants corrugated packaging;
* 12 paper mills;
* 5 bagged;
* 38 other sites.

What is the role of Information Technology Services (ITS) at Smurfit Kappa?

Smurfit Kappa is an important supplier for its customers. Not only the quality of our packaging and paper products but also the reliability of deliveries, which are directly related to our customers’ administrative and IT logistics, are essential. ITS is the key player in ensuring the quality of these services to the customer.

Can you describe your IT environment?

The SAP landscape is very critical for Smurfit Kappa since it addressed the whole value chain of the group through SAP modules PP , PM , SD, MM and SAP SCM. It also addresses support functions using SAP CO and FI modules. The overview of the whole business is supported by the BI, PI and Solman platforms. The scope of ITS is broad, covering all of Europe’s 188 operational units.

Can you give some background to why you decided to change outsourcer?

In 2011, we had had the same outsourcer for ten years. The end of the contract provided an opportunity for us to introduce new technologies, while improving the performance of our systems and our operating costs.

Can you give an outline of your project?

An outsourcing provider must always remain on the alert for changes in the market, so that it can guide the changes necessary for maximum performance. This is what we found in oXya.

What were you expecting a new outsourcer?

Leading-edge technical expertise that is always up date, effective reactivity with short response times, proactive monitoring and sound advice: all this implies a true win-win relationship between the teams, who need to be closely involved with one another.

What enabled oXya to earn your trust?

oXya’s response to the Invitation To Tender was in-line with our specific problems and needs. It was not a standard response, to which Smurfit Kappa had to conform, but one that was tailored to our needs. It was at the same time very technical and very business-focused in its approach.

The technical approach recommended by oXya and the balance of costs relating to the contract, both helped cement our preference.

Finally, it seemed to us that oXya’s operational organization, which is based on administration groups that are dedicated the customer, would ensure that we built strong relationships and achieved efficient collaboration.

Who were the partners in the project?

We appealed to the Gartner to conduct prior benchmarking of potential competitors; and we subsequently consulted them regarding for technical specifications and the definition of SLAs .

How did you hear of oXya?

Gartner had never heard of oXya! It was one of our partners, who specializes in archiving for SAP, who recommended that we solicit a bid from oXya .

Why did oXya’s solution attract Smurfit Kappa?

Our first exchanges with oXya allowed us to move forwards in a very practical sense because we were opposite people who were able to respond to our technical issues. Right at the start, oXya questioned our proposed architecture and proposed that we transition to open source Linux, replacing HP-Unix, which we had used until then.

So you engaged oXya because of technical considerations?

oXya appeared to us to be the ideal provider, able to help us to meet the future ITS challenges. The competence at all levels of the organization of oXya’s interlocutors seemed also to be the best guarantee for good reactivity in our daily operations. I quickly had the intuition that the choice of oXya was unavoidable.

How did the handover go between your old outsourcer and oXya?

The transition lasted 4 months. We encountered major technical problems. oXya quickly identified the cause of the problem and established a clear and effective plan of action. In the end, everything went in an orderly and peaceful manner, leading to good performance. The operations team in charge of the transition has been very effective, especially in their management of the inevitable problems in post-production.

What can you say about oXya’s business model for outsourcing clients?

I would say that the oXya business model is very efficient in terms of the quality of service. The simplicity of the relations, the involvement of management, the responsiveness of both technology and people are important assets for the proper conduct of operations. We take a co-responsible approach as if it were an internal IT service within the company. In concrete terms, in one year of collaboration with oXya, we have received more advice than our former provider gave us in ten years!

Could you give us a concrete example of a problem that oXya had to manage?

SAP MII (Integration of Manufacturing Intelligence) will roll-out gradually in the group’s paper mills, replacing existing local solutions. We required a very short time to go-live in the first two plants, which were used as a pilot. Both plants were able to benefit from new systems within one month and oXya has made ​​every effort to meet these deadlines.

In your opinion what were the keys to success?

The oXya team is positioned closer to the client so that the communication was very fluid. Particularly when it is necessary to adapt architectures—this saves us valuable time.

What advice would you give to another client for the conduct of SAP projects?

At the outset it always seems reassuring to establish a partnership with a general outsourcer. After our experience, I will definitely say that you must dare to engage with a specialist for the SAP part.

Have you already identified projects for the future?

We had a busy year for new projects in 2012! In 2013, we will continue the harmonization and modernization of our IT infrastructure by upgrading Solman from 7.0 to 7.1, allowing us to benefit from all its new features.

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