After deciding to split into two legal entities, Gases del Caribe had to undertake a massive transformation – disentangling its web of processes, systems and data ahead of the looming separation.
Gases del Caribe enlisted IBM to transform its SAP ERP systems, data and processes, forming distinct entities. To reap time and cost savings, the company outsourced its data-center operations to IBM.
MajorIT transformation on time and within budget
Avoideddisruption to business users by restricting downtime to a weekend
Savestime and money through infrastructure outsourcing to IBM
Business challenge story
Transformation on the horizon
Until recently, Gases del Caribe was comprised of six natural-gas distribution companies, each serving a distinct region of Colombia. When the company decided to split into two different groups, each with three subsidiaries, it faced an enormous challenge. How could it divide up the single SAP ERP landscape that served all six companies, and disentangle associated systems, processes and data? The IT team faced an enormous challenge, as it needed to separate the complex infrastructure, master data and transactional data within a tight timeline. The stakes were high – if the team encountered any problems dividing the SAP landscape, it could potentially postpone or derail the entire separation, causing significant disruption to operations.
Race against the clock
For support during this monumental task, Gases del Caribe engaged IBM® Services. The IBM team proposed to divide Gases del Caribe’s SAP ERP systems using state-of-the-art SAP Landscape Transformation software, which is designed to help companies better manage restructuring, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. Augusto Donado, IT Director of Gases del Caribe, recalls: “To successfully split our mission-critical SAP ERP landscape into two distinct parts, we needed a partner we could truly rely on. We had worked with IBM previously and always found the consultants to be helpful and knowledgeable. When the IBM team came up with a robust, detailed proposal to divide our SAP environment using SAP Landscape Transformation – a solution designed for precisely this kind of task – we knew we had found our match.” The challenge was not only to separate the system environments at an infrastructure level; Gases del Caribe also needed to ensure that each new company could access only its own data, while avoiding disruption to existing logistics, human resources and financial processes. The project comprised the change of legal entities and system set-up, and demanded that all relevant business processes were still running smoothly on the two autonomous system landscapes. To address these requirements, IBM brought in technical and business consultants to support the deployment of SAP Landscape Transformation. The solution has been deployed on only a few occasions in Latin America, so the local IBM team called on IBM competency centers in India (which function as SAP Landscape Transformation partners, trained directly by SAP) for support – bringing in the necessary resources to guide a best-practice implementation. SAP Landscape Transformation simplified all aspects of the project, helping IBM and Gases del Caribe to better plan, analyze, schedule and achieve the desired system overhaul in a holistic manner, rather than building a new system from scratch in a greenfield approach. To help safeguard the project’s success, the project team completed three major test cycles, identifying and addressing risks. The hard work paid off, as Gases del Caribe successfully divided its SAP landscape into two parts to support the new separate companies – each with its own corresponding transactional data. “Thanks to the excellent support from IBM and the cutting-edge SAP Landscape Transformation solution, we completed the complex system transformation on time and within budget,” continues Augusto Donado. “The cutover took place over a single weekend and we managed a smooth go-live, so the switch was completely transparent to business users logging in on the Monday morning. Most importantly, we have encountered almost no errors since go-live. The project was a tremendous success.” Dr Carlos Mazeneth, CEO of Efigas (one of the new entities formed in the separation project), continues: “The separation of entities represented a huge challenge for all of us. We needed to retain important information and maintain smooth operations and customer service, while our fundamental systems underwent a significant transformation. IBM brought to the table the experience and expertise we needed to make the project a success. IBM was very flexible in meeting our needs, and in particular helped us to identify and solve potential problems before they caused delays.” Within the same project, the IBM team upgraded the Oracle Database supporting the SAP ERP applications to the latest version. In addition, IBM migrated Gases del Caribe’s new SAP ERP landscape – including modules for finance, controlling, customer relationship management, human capital management, sales, distribution and materials management plus SAP Process Integration – to a new infrastructure housed in an IBM data center and managed by IBM Services. Now, the SAP ERP applications are supported by IBM Power® System E870 servers and IBM storage, which is virtualized using IBM Spectrum Virtualize™. Augusto Donado adds: “IBM was quick to bring in extra resources where needed to get the new infrastructure set up in time for the transition to an IBM data center. The IBM project managers did a stellar job in managing the separation project and the delivery by the hosting teams to ensure that both elements of the project ran smoothly.” What’s more, the IBM team also helped Gases del Caribe roll out the SAP ERP applications to a new subsidiary set up during the project, which will supply natural gas to residents of the La Guajira region of northern Colombia.
The project has been a massive success. With separate SAP ERP landscapes in place, Gases del Caribe was able to separate its business as planned and launch a new subsidiary to serve a new set of customers. By handing off infrastructure management to IBM, Gases del Caribe can keep its in-house IT function lean and efficient. Furthermore, by upgrading the underlying database and hardware, the company has boosted reliability and performance for its core SAP ERP applications. Augusto Donado concludes: “By migrating to the new data center we estimate we have achieved a 26 percent cost saving. A complete overhaul of mission-critical systems is serious business – and mistakes could have painful consequences. By working with IBM, we gained peace of mind that our critical SAP applications were in good hands, successfully pulled off a highly complex transformation project, and gained significant time and cost savings. The service from IBM was exceptional and we are thrilled with the results.”
About Gases del Caribe
Founded in 1966, Gases del Caribe distributes natural gas to more than 890,000 people across over 195 communities in Colombia.
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