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Pharmaceutical manufacturer increases business agility and drives growth with Connected Planning
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Unilab has faced a series of unprecedented challenges in recent years, including supply chain disruption caused by COVID-19 and intensifying global inflation. To adapt faster and more effectively to new business imperatives, Unilab stepped up its financial, sales, supply chain, and workforce planning activities with Anaplan—driving greater efficiency, improving visibility into company performance, and enhancing strategic decision-making.
We have much better visibility into product performance and overall business efficiency with Anaplan.”Aldrich Sabay, Assistant Vice President, Finance and Head of Financial Planning & Systems at Unilab
faster marketing discount calculations leave more time for analysis
scenario testing supports informed decision making
SAP processing cycle time accelerates planning and reduces risk of errors
Millions of people depend on trusted high-quality medicines, vitamins, and supplements from Unilab to stay fit, happy, and healthy. From humble origins in 1945 as a corner drugstore in Manila, Unilab has grown into the leading pharmaceutical company in the Philippines.
Its dedication to its purpose of working toward a healthier Philippines, one quality medicine at a time, is core to Unilab’s success. In recent years Unilab has faced challenges sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing inflationary pressures. To weather these headwinds, including supply chain disruption, Unilab attempts to plan for every eventuality and adapt with agility to meet new challenges.
“While our previous planning systems and processes had helped us build a thriving billion-dollar business, they no longer offered the flexibility to address evolving consumer preferences and supply-chain challenges,” recalls Rommel Samson, Division Vice President for Finance at Unilab.
Unilab had previously relied on manual planning processes that often created inefficiencies. For example, preparing marketing discount programs for key product lines could take weeks, and working with huge spreadsheets added to the complexity of the process. It was impossible for finance teams to update product and expense allocations in real time, which reduced visibility into the performance of individual products and the company as a whole.
Unilab representatives attended an Anaplan conference in 2017 in their search for a new, integrated digital planning solution. “This provided an excellent opportunity to learn how businesses of a similar scale use Anaplan,” says Aldrich Sabay, Assistant Vice President, Finance and Head of Financial Planning & Systems at Unilab. They heard how Anaplan customers trust the platform’s security — a critical concern in the pharmaceutical business — and how Anaplan constantly enhances the platform based on user feedback.
Unilab selected Anaplan and integrated it with the company’s SAP solutions and Informatica data platform. Initial use cases supported annual financial planning, statutory reporting, and cost-center reporting. Over the years the Unilab team grew the footprint into expense monitoring, marketing discounts planning, product costing, product profitability analysis, per-diem allowances review, and many other uses. The team even developed novel uses for Anaplan, such as an e-learning model that tracks employee training and development.
“We’ve built a Center of Excellence for planning, analysis, and reporting using Anaplan,” comments Sabay. “I learned a lot about the solution by becoming a Certified Anaplan Solutions Architect and building out our environment, as did the Certified Master Anaplanners on our team.”
“Unilab’s Center of Excellence, or CoE, is a model for pharmaceutical manufacturers who want to maximize the value of their Anaplan investment,” says Dilip Nair, AVP of Customer Success at Anaplan. “The Unilab CoE has built and connected more than 30 Anaplan use cases covering a variety of planning disciplines. Their work has improved business processes, delivered financial savings, and showed the business value that can Connected Planning can provide.”
By replacing time-consuming manual planning activities with streamlined and centralized workflows powered by Anaplan, the financial planning team at Unilab can work more efficiently and empower the business to react fast to changing consumer habits and market trends.
“We reduced our marketing discount program preparation and calculation cycle by 88% — from 45 days to just under 5 days,” Sabay says. “Anaplan makes dynamic asset allocations and consolidating monthly balance sheet reporting much easier. We can test multiple scenarios to see how our business will perform, and adapt our strategic plans accordingly.”
Integrating Anaplan with SAP also has provided a huge benefit in terms of how Unilab processes transactions. Because its existing planning systems were manual, Unilab’s financial planning team had to log into SAP to import key data. However, with Anaplan, they can automatically batch import and export data to and from SAP, which eliminated the manual tasks, resulting in faster turn-around times.
“We have much better visibility into product performance and overall business efficiency with Anaplan,” concludes Sabay. “We can make better decisions and respond faster to change, which ultimately helps more people access Unilab’s medicines and supplements.”