Ingevity Seizes Business Opportunity to Increase Agility and Push the Bounds of What’s Possible
Brianna Shipley, Director of Editorial, SAPinsider
A simple operating principle can be found at the heart of Ingevity’s mission to develop, manufacture, and bring to market solutions that help customers solve complex problems: People working together to create meaningful impact and exponential results.
To achieve this end, the leading provider of specialty chemicals and high-performance carbon materials, is constantly looking for opportunities to grow both organically and inorganically. The company’s strategic approach to growth is one of the driving forces behind its most recent transformation initiative to become more agile.
Ingevity’s products are used in a variety of demanding applications including asphalt paving, agrochemicals, bioplastics, and automotive components that reduce gasoline vapor emissions. Capturing the opportunity to spin up the services it needs quickly and easily will better support its diverse customer base.
In pursuit of purifying, protecting, and enhancing the world, Ingevity is embarking on a journey to position the business to take advantage of technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation, and make the world more sustainable.
Integrated Digital Platform Supports Effective Planning
Ingevity is investing in additional skillsets for the team with an eye toward deploying and supporting new technologies, allowing effective planning, and ultimately facilitating an agile service deployment model. Integrating analytics and machine learning into the company’s business functions and plant floor operations, for example, will support Ingevity’s need for speed by enabling the business to adopt predictive and preventative maintenance across all of its equipment and meet customers’ needs on demand.
The company has already deployed SAP Integrated Business Planning modules to get some quick wins and early benefits in this area. “We’re deploying the modules in phases, starting with demand planning and then moving on to supply, and so on,” Michael Mullis, VP of IT and CIO of Ingevity, says.
In addition to infusing skills into its workforce, Ingevity is considering ways to further enhance and empower its teams by establishing centers of expertise (COE) within its supply chain, planning, and finance functions.
But first, in order to bring its vision of creating an agile business model to life, Ingevity must create a solid foundation by building an integrated SAP S/4HANA business platform, migrating from a 20-year-old, heavily customized version of SAP ECC 6.0.
Critical to upgrading Ingevity’s technological core has been its people, and ensuring the well-being of its workforce through workplace enrichment programs is an important component to the project’s success.
“We’re very focused on change management and the potential for employee burnout, which in a remote environment is happening in isolation. We’re keeping tabs and keeping an eye on the team and making sure people have an opportunity to voice concerns and checking in regularly,” Mullis says. He adds that the company’s systems integrator partner, Capgemini, continues to play a significant role in supporting Ingevity’s business transformation, from providing implementation expertise to helping the company navigate the challenges of completing a migration project remotely.
Organizational and Process Redesign Propels Transformation Forward
Ingevity is applying an agile approach to its SAP S/4HANA implementation, as opposed to the traditional waterfall approach that the team is used to. In addition to the challenge that this learning curve presented, the company also launched its transformation initiative in July of 2020 — during the pandemic. The timing of the project required Ingevity to reimagine its work teams through a remote lens.
“That’s been an interesting journey in its own right — how do you implement a global business transformation leveraging SAP in a remote working environment?” Mullis says.
In order to adapt, Ingevity has had to redesign its original project team structure to ensure the correct stakeholders are involved when it comes time to make or escalate decisions and provide reporting. A second tier of leadership was added to the project team, called the operating committee, to sit between the executive steering committee and those directly involved in the project.
“The operating committee has become a key vehicle for us to really help understand whether we’re making the right decisions and whether we’re communicating effectively,” Mullis says.
Ingevity selected key business owners, stakeholders, and decision makers from its supply chain, finance, operations, manufacturing, and customer service functions to serve on the new committee. These employees are focused on identifying key decisions, the impacts of those decisions, and how, as leaders of the organization, they can help the company drive that message.
The executive steering team reports on whether Ingevity needs additional guidance in a certain area or support from SAP or Capgemini.
Ingevity has also had to rely more heavily on Capgemini to make sure that the methodology and the process are clearly understood and articulated in advance of each of the different phases. This special attention to communication has kept the project moving forward, with the team planning to conduct a pilot go-live in October 2021, and start the final deployments in early 2022.
Following the go-live, Ingevity will need to reengineer its business processes through SAP S/4HANA, allowing the company to focus on data management and master data governance.
Analytics as an Enabler
Ingevity is looking forward to leveraging insights as a result of the planning and forecasting capabilities it will gain with SAP S/4HANA at its foundation. Once real-time analytics is enabled the business will be able to make use of the information by leveraging master data management tools.
Once SAP S/4HANA is live, the cloud-based planning solution will replace SAP Advanced Planner and Optimizer and OMP, and will be further extended by various other software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings from SAP.
“SAP S/4HANA leap-frogs us forward with all of the new functionality available in the latest version, and in preparation for the migration journey we moved all of our new and existing SAP systems to the cloud — Microsoft Azure.”
Ingevity had already committed to its SAP S/4HANA cloud journey prior to the RISE with SAP announcement but Mullis acknowledges that the transformation-as-a-service offering is a great step forward to help make it easier for other companies to move to the cloud with SAP S/4HANA driving the business.
“I like what SAP has done. By bundling all these pieces together it should really help make it easier for others to start their journey.”
Today, Ingevity is about to exit the build phase and enter the testing phase.
“Ultimately, we’re building a digital platform for the company so getting the core in now helps us position ourselves for technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, real-time analytics, and robotic process automation.”
What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders
- Overestimate the power of effective communication. Checking in on employee wellness and ensuring that critical information is articulated to the appropriate people is ever more important when working in a remote environment. This may require adopting a new leadership approach or restructuring teams to ensure lines of communication flow.
- Consider how a technology upgrade can impact the larger business. Ingevity’s move to an integrated SAP S/4HANA business technology platform from its legacy system will open the door for business transformation in other areas, such as supply chain and customer experience. When creating the business case for your own upgrades, consider how functionality that you will gain can enable the business to meet customer needs, inform decision making, and even impact company culture.
- Don’t be afraid to step back before you step forward. Mullis knew that the company needed to increase its focus on data management and master data governance before it could take advantage of real-time analytics. Preparation is key to achieving great things.
Company Snapshot: Ingevity
- Provider of specialty chemicals and high-performance carbon materials that purify, protect, and enhance the world around us.
- Headquartered: North Charleston, South Carolina
- Operates in 75 countries around the world and employs approximately 1,750 people
- Annual revenue: 1,216.1 million US dollars (2020)