When Implema was appointed to help implement SAP S/4HANA Cloud at Novavax’s Swedish subsidiary, there was no shortage of challenges. The company was transitioning from a clinical business to a commercial organisation in the midst of the pandemic and needed a new business system. At the same time, unprecedented demand meant the company was growing rapidly. ”We couldn’t have done it without Implema,” says Magnus Sävenhed, CEO of Novavax Sweden, referring to the joint effort behind the project.
Novavax is a global biotech company specialising in developing innovative vaccines for some of the most severe infectious diseases, such as SARS, influenza, RSV, Ebola, and Covid-19. The Swedish subsidiary, Novavax AB, is based in Uppsala and is responsible for the company’s research, development, and production of saponin-based adjuvants.
During the pandemic, the Swedish operation increased production significantly. The American parent company was already implementing SAP S/4HANA and wanted a parallel roll-out at its Swedish subsidiary. To address challenges relating to time zone differences and the need for local SAP expertise, Implema was enlisted to assist with the implementation.
The critical role of business systems in Life Science
Life Science companies operate in a highly regulated environment, and the right business system is critical for compliance. Traceability of inbound and outbound shipments down to batch and package levels, expiration date management, batch classification, audit trails, authorisation control, and electronic signatures are essential features.
In addition, the entire Life Science industry is facing a significant transformation. New customer-centric business models are emerging, requiring increased collaboration across interconnected, platform-based ecosystems where business systems play a central role.
A project with exceptional circumstances
The SAP S/4HANA implementation project kicked off in August 2021 amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Implema’s extensive expertise in the Life Science sector meant that Novavax’s industry-specific requirements could easily be addressed. However, there were other challenges to overcome.
”From the outset, it was evident that Novavax was a company in transformation. The ongoing shift from a clinical to a commercial operation required a new level of collaboration between company departments and subsidiaries. The company was operating without an overarching business system. Novavax needed help to develop business processes and to define how the various departments would come together to make it work in SAP” says Katarina Sutrowitz, Sales Director SAP at Implema.
”During the transformation, Novavax was also experiencing considerable growth due to the ongoing pandemic. This put enormous pressure on the business, particularly production and distribution,” continues Katarina
The project also had to consider the complex Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) regulations for publicly traded companies in the USA. These rules, introduced to protect investors, place high demands on internal controls and restrict company information access.
The project was delivered in close cooperation with the American consulting partner. This involved bridging time zones and aligning calendars, something that, with a little coordination, went surprisingly well.
Despite all challenges, the project was successful and met Novavax’s business requirements. Thanks to careful preparation, the project went live without a hitch. Implema’s Project Manager, Rolf Lundquist, attributes the success to the close cooperation between everyone involved.
”There was an open and collaborative atmosphere from the very outset. Everyone understood the importance of adhering to standard functionality as far as possible and maintaining a strong focus on quality. This shared vision was the key to the project’s success.”
The project involved three partners: Novavax, the American implementation partner, and Implema, the local partner. Implema acted in a dual role, both as the ”customer” and as the requirements specifier for the Swedish operation.
”This was an exciting Life Science project where Implema acted on the customer’s behalf, helping Novavax’s Swedish subsidiary formulate its processes and requirements towards the parent company. Ultimately, they received an SAP S/4HANA solution that was suited the Swedish operation.”
Implema assisted with project management, defining new processes, solution modelling, acceptance testing, and troubleshooting. Implema also developed user roles, end-user training programs, and a governance model, trained key users, and helped create high-quality migration materials.
”We couldn’t have done it without Implema.”
Novavax is equally satisfied with the collaborative effort and the project outcome.
”Given our situation, with rapid growth and intense pressure on our operations, having a local partner with SAP expertise and solid Life Science experience was crucial. I am convinced that the implementation of SAP was vital to our success as a commercial company – providing both human and veterinary vaccines,” says Magnus Sävenhed, CEO of Novavax Sweden. ”We’re incredibly pleased with the outcome. We couldn’t have done it without Implema.”