Stephen J. Byers, Vice President & CIO, Tate & Lyle Group
Tate & Lyle PLC, ‘Tate & Lyle’, is a global B2B ingredients business. We partner with many of the world’s best-loved and most dynamic food and beverage brands to meet the growing consumer demand for tastier and healthier options. We do this by researching, developing and making food ingredients and solutions, which help manufacturers to reduce sugar, calories and fat, as well as add taste, texture, and nutrition to products consumed by millions of people every day.
More than 4,000 people work at Tate & Lyle’s 30 facilities based in many different countries across different continents. Although our colleagues and sites are spread across the globe, today we operate on a single, global business platform with common business processes enabling us to operate effectively across all markets.
Prior to 2010, Tate & Lyle operated primarily on a regional basis supported by regional business systems rather than a global operating model. Tate & Lyle Group’s new business strategy, established in 2010, dictated the need for global common processes that would allow us to operate more effectively across the world.
Today, because of this strategy, we serve our customers through two business divisions. The Bulk Ingredients business supplies bulk sweeteners for the food and beverage industry and starches for the paper and paperboard industries. This business unit also delivers citric acid to the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries to enhance flavor and preserve consumer products. Our second division, Speciality Food Ingredients, supplies ingredients and solutions that add specific functionality and value to customers’ products. These include no and low-calorie sweeteners, health and wellness ingredients such as fibers and protein, and texturants.
Underpinning these two business divisions are the Innovation and Commercial Development, Global Operations, and support functions such as procurement and finance. Innovation and Commercial Development is responsible for new product development and manages our innovation pipeline. Global Operations manufactures and delivers our products to customers across the world. It is responsible for the efficient operation of our manufacturing facilities, supply and demand planning, raw material sourcing, customer service and logistics, safety, sustainability, and the continuous improvement of our operations.
Innovation and Commercial Development is responsible for new product development and manages our innovation pipeline
To support this new operating model, which is product-focused, rather than geography-focused as it had been, we recognized the need to consolidate multiple business systems— SAP and non-SAP. In 2011, we launched a program to establish a new, global platform based on SAP. Today, Tate & Lyle has over 95 percent of its global revenue on one system and with the last few facilities being on-boarded in the coming months.
Reflecting on the near completion of this transformational journey, I believe that the determination and perseverance of executive leadership and the project team, which consisted of 250 people across all geographies at its peak, were central to its successful delivery.
In fact, this transformation presented a unique opportunity to recruit and retain a high-quality IS/IT SAP team which has been a significant benefit to Tate & Lyle. Building this team and carrying out business process design in-house gave us control over our own destiny. Our program of workshops, first with IT colleagues, then involving other teams within the business, and, finally, with implementation partners, helped us understand the depth and breadth of in business processes needed to provide robust capabilities to numerous functions, geographies, and, most importantly, to our customers. Getting this design right up front has meant that we have had little need over the years to add functionalities to our core business processes.
What has continued along this journey has been the ongoing harmonizing of data, such as recipes, customer segmentation, and product hierarchy, which can vary from region to region. Harmonizing data provides transparency and insight into to how to best serve our global customers.
At Tate & Lyle, our customers are at the heart of everything we do and now we have a single face to each customer. Whether we are shipping an ingredient in China, Slovakia or the US there is that same “look and feel” to the customer. The customer gets a consistent quality and presentation of information and documentation, with language, regulatory requirements, and customer specifics being the only variables. We have many different capabilities and we are able to match our service offering to the customer’s need - whether it is providing special labeling or managing inventory in a certain way. In contrast, our internal functions such as procurement, finance, and shipping operations on the guiding principle of global common processes and resist the desire to customize where it is not absolutely required thus enabling efficient and portable processes.
One of the biggest lessons from the project was around organizational change management. Helping users to adapt to new business processes was even more complex than anticipated. Working with colleagues in Communications and Human Resources to assess the change impact, build awareness of these changes, and set an expectation with line managers on adoption has been key. Additionally, we have established a robust global support network consisting of super-users in each geography and business process area underpinned by a broad array of training, adoption, and data quality tools.
This project has been a significant undertaking for Tate & Lyle. Its successful implementation enables us to move processes and people easily from region to region, with systems operating the same irrespective of one’s location. This new capability and our new way of working have been transformational for the company and really enhanced our ability to anticipate and meet the needs of our global customer base.