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Bakery samples ERP flavors

When updating its stale IT system, Tasty Baking Co. weighed Oracle against SAP.

The Tasty Baking Co. prides itself on providing fresh products every day -- but struggled with outdated technology that stuck the 80-year-old Philadelphia company with stale data.

To improve operations and expand its business outside the northeastern U.S., the company's new management team wanted to update its technology.

Were they really going to listen to us, did they really care about the midmarket?
Brendan O'Malley, director of enterprise applications,Tasty Baking ,

"You can't have business as usual today, and be competitive," said Brendan O'Malley, director of enterprise applications. "We needed better information about what we were doing, what our customers wanted and we wanted to implement it quickly."

The nation's fourth largest bakery, the Tasty Baking Co. sells 4 million cookies, doughnuts and pies every day under the Tastykake brand name and earns $259 million per year.

Its previous system was outdated and unsupported, leaving Tastykake executives feeling as though their technology platform was burning out from under their feet.

Tastykake considered SAP AG and Oracle Corp., though they worried about receiving enough attention from two of the largest companies in the world.

"Were they really going to listen to us, did they really care about the midmarket?" O'Malley questioned.

Some thought the fix was in because O'Malley had spent the previous 10 years working as a systems integrator for Oracle. Instead, the overwhelmingly positive customer references SAP provided the company swung the business its way.

For more information
Midmarket CIOs tell SAP adventures

To accomplish the implementation quickly, Tastykake chose Deloitte as its integration partner because of the prepackaged SAP software it offers retail and other niche companies. Tastykake felt that was important because it wanted to avoid starting with a blank slate and get the project finished quickly. Ten months later the SAP software went live.

The greatest challenge Tastykake faced when implementing SAP was devoting sufficient internal resources to the project, O'Malley said.

Now, SAP software allows Tastykake to track its products from its raw materials, through the finished goods and to the final sale.

SAP's modular nature also fits well with the different requirements for dairy, meat, beverage and general food products.

Besides freshening up its IT needs, SAP also brought Tastykake into compliance with new levels of food tracking and traceability required by recent bioterrorism legislation as well as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The company's problems haven't changed since implementing SAP, O'Malley said, but the software provides more and better information in order to diagnose those problems.

For example, O'Malley said, in the past problems with stale cookies took several days to diagnose and solve. Now, real-time tracking can immediately identify where the problem occurred.

With implementation completed last November, O'Malley said he anticipates using SAP for even more analysis, like demand forecasting, supply chain management and executive reports.

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