Some of Europe’s biggest media and retail firms count on Cinram to connect consumers with their products. How can it keep supply chain processes flowing smoothly to deliver goods on time, every time?
Cinram moved its EDI services to IBM® Sterling™ Supply Chain Business Network. With a managed service in the cloud, Cinram can count on always-on availability, easy scalability and top-notch support.
Near constantuptime means no interruption to business-critical EDI processes
Ultra-fastscaling helps Cinram adapt quickly to changing requirements and demand spikes
Avoidedcost of adding 3 FTEs by choosing a managed service
Business challenge story
Rising to the challenge
The media industry is in the middle of a major upheaval—and as consumers flock to streaming services to consume music, TV shows and films, our relationship with physical media is changing. Because demand for traditional DVD and CD formats is now increasingly concentrated around the holiday season, it has become all the more important for media companies to make the most of each and every sales opportunity.
These changing dynamics have put similar pressure on Cinram—a provider of supply chain solutions to some of the biggest names in media and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). Cinram serves as a vital link between media producers and retailers, helping to ensure that products are always ready for sale when customers are ready to buy.
Marc Howard, EDI Team Lead at Cinram, elaborates: “Our clients can be very demanding when it comes to delivery timeframes. When a top album is about to hit the shelves, we absolutely have to get that product to stores on time—otherwise our clients risk missing out on sales, and we risk damaging our reputation.”
To keep its supply chain moving smoothly, Cinram relies on electronic data interchange (EDI) messages flowing between hundreds of clients, suppliers and logistics partners. The company needs to process these messages quickly and accurately to ensure that the right goods are delivered when and where they are needed.
Howard continues: “We exchange some 250,000 documents a month with roughly 100 trading partners, using 40 different maps. These volumes can spike massively at peak periods, such as Christmas, when people tend to buy more DVDs and CDs as gifts. What’s more, our industry is very fast-paced, and we constantly have to add and remove trading partners, and adapt to new requests from our clients.
“After a large acquisition, we found ourselves maintaining two separate EDI platforms—putting a growing strain on our lean team. We spent a great deal of our time resolving issues, and it was difficult to react quickly to new requests and scale up fast when demand increased. We knew there had to be a better way to deliver the high-quality services our clients required, and we decided to consolidate all our EDI connections to a single platform.”
Taking to the cloud
To solve the challenge, Cinram migrated to IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network—a fully managed, cloud-based solution.
“We opted for a managed service because it offered us reliable performance and scalability, along with the stability of round-the-clock support and expert knowledge,” recalls Howard. “Having IBM looking after the platform takes a great deal of pressure off our own team.
“It took us about a year to migrate to the IBM platform; we worked with a very dedicated team who helped make the transition as smooth as possible, as well as a separate support team for dealing with any day-to-day questions or issues with the new platform.”
By embracing the managed services model, Cinram avoided significant capital expenses during the migration process.
Howard says: “If we had handled the migration ourselves, we would have had to bring in contractors to assist with the process. By partnering with IBM, we estimate that we avoided hiring as many as three full-time equivalents [FTEs], which helped us to keep our costs contained.”
During the migration, Cinram took the opportunity to streamline its EDI workflows, rationalizing maps and processes to bring a new level of simplicity and efficiency to operations. Today, the company can take advantage of repeatable templates to maintain seamless communication with partners and adapt easily to new requests.
Howard explains: “The maps we are using today are written in a way that makes it quick and easy for us to onboard new partners. Nine times out of ten we will already have a map that will already be configured to do most of the job we need, meaning we only have to do a small amount of customization to get the rest of the way. And the faster we can onboard new clients, the faster we can start working with them—helping us run a very agile business.”
In addition, Cinram uses IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network to gain deep visibility into end-to-end transaction lifecycles, monitoring metrics including document counts, error rates, on-time delivery rates and partner performance to optimize operations and stay on top of service-level agreements.
“I’m a big fan of the in-flight dashboard in IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network—it gives a great overview of all of the transactions and communications we manage, and allows me to get a better sense of how the business is performing,” notes Howard.
“Before, if I wanted to view certain metrics, I’d have to navigate between multiple different green-screen systems; with the IBM solution, I can bring up all the information I need in a single window. This visibility enables us to spot issues faster and respond proactively, keeping the business running smoothly and maintaining high levels of service for internal users and end clients.”
Signed, sealed, delivered
By choosing a managed service from IBM, Cinram has been able to free up its EDI team to focus on value-added work. Howard states: “In the past, I’d come into work most days to a list of failures that had cropped up overnight. I would then spend the entire morning going through them one-by-one to work out the source of the problem and find a resolution. Today, we typically have to deal with just six to seven errors a week—and those are mostly down to human errors made by our trading partners, rather than the system itself. It’s freed up a huge amount of my time, so I can come in and hit the ground running.”
He continues: “It’s been a similar story for the rest of our team. IBM handles pretty much all of the heavy lifting in terms of system management. So instead of fire-fighting technical issues, we can focus on new development and other strategic work that adds greater value to the business.”
With IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network driving highly stable and scalable EDI processes, Cinram can make sure its clients’ products reach end-customers on time.
“Having a solid EDI backbone is absolutely vital to our success,” says Howard. “If the system were to go down, then our operations would come to a halt. We’ve had close to 100 percent uptime with IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network Premium, and have never experienced any interruptions to our business.”
He concludes: “Similarly, it’s very easy for us to scale up the system as business grows. We can add additional EDI connections rapidly, without having to worry about provisioning new hardware. This means that even when business volumes spike, we can deliver the same fast response that our clients have come to expect from us. Without a doubt, IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network helps us deliver the reliable supply chain services we need to keep shelves stocked with the latest releases.”
Cinram provides supply chain solutions to companies and brands in the fast-moving consumer goods, home entertainment and retail industries. Cinram offers a range of packaging, distribution, retail and media development solutions, helping clients get products to consumers quickly and efficiently.