CIO50 2021 #4: Nicholas Fourie, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare vice president ICT, Nicholas Fourie says the past 18 months have been about the business pivoting in response to COVID.
“Early in the pandemic we formed a crisis response team made of people across the business. The goal was to protect everyone at our facilities, while outlining a plan to answer the global call for products. As an essential service, operations continued during COVID-19 lockdowns. Our health and safety approach was, and remains, to meet or exceed local government recommendations,” Fourie says.
ICT’s role in all of the COVID-19 response became instrumental. The challenge was that it had, pre-Covid, committed to many innovative and complex digital initiatives. It had to quickly reassess our priorities, to determine how it could continue to deliver value but also assist the business with innovative solutions to support its COVID response.
10 digital initiatives
ICT rapidly implemented 10 digital initiatives, that were taken on and delivered by the team, over and above 50+ digital initiatives already committed to as part of the annual business plan. Fouries says initiatives below were executed in record time, and greatly contributed to the company’s ability to continuously supply products to patients during the pandemic.
1. Bluetooth contact tracing system (CareCard) introduced.
2. Supported seamless remote working by implementing in less than two weeks a new global VPN solution, mobile meeting rooms (Surface hubs), a live streaming solution and Microsoft Teams globally.
3. Additional manufacturing systems to assist with increased and unplanned manufacturing expansion.
4. Digital/TV signage installed across the company’s campus to assist with COVID response communication.
5. Implemented an ‘employee onsite’ visibility tool, and compliance monitoring and data collection tool.
6. Implemented a stock allocation management solution.
7. Deployed an employee sentiment survey solution.
8. Deployed a social media management tool.
9. Implemented a ‘ready to go’ Mexico direct shipping contingency solution.
10. Deployed an electronic signage solution to meet stringent compliance requirements.
Stock allocation management solution
Fourie says the most impactful initiative is the stock allocation management solution, which was implemented in six weeks between March 2020 to mid-April 2020. It had a direct impact on the company’s ability to provide product at the right time, and ultimately contributed to the success of the business.
“The COVID-19 outbreak in the US drove up demand for our products exponentially, surging five to six times for critical patient-support products. Frontline teams were managing product lines manually and needed a better way to control and understand supply expectations. Traditional mechanisms proved cumbersome for teams as manual allocation was required with significant overtime hours spent on a weekly basis. The organisation needed to optimise this process so it could support its teams and ensure life-saving products could reach patients that needed them most. The new solution also needed to be flexible and scalable enough to contend with sharp spikes in demand and potential disruptions in supply from our global network of suppliers,” Fourie says.
The new solution which was developed, and can’t be disclosed due to IP, enabled them to systematically provide weekly product allocation quantities for over 200,000 product/customers combinations. It was seamlessly integrated into the sales order process. Business benefits include the following:
· The US operation was able to eliminate a daily manual offline order management done with 3000-line spreadsheet.
· Reduced 80-120 hours overtime hours per week for four customer-service leads.
· Enabled an automated processing of an average 10,000-line items per month (valued at approximately US$ 25million).
This new ‘demand management’ solution is now a centralised and collaborative process between partners and distributors, as they can operate and communicate across a unified platform. Review and renewal processes are based on historic allocations and balances, ensuring supply remains consistent and compliant, Fourie says.
“Partners and distributors can now easily consolidate and communicate to finalise allocations, ensure a seamless order management process that prioritises customers that require life-saving products.”