Reference case


Because of EDI through X4Connect, Sanofi has more time for what it's all about: Customer Contact!

Sanofi is an international pharmaceutical company that supplies medicines and vaccines, among other things. Its Dutch branch is located in Amsterdam. To ensure optimal logistics processes, digital systems process thousands of orders each year. Thanks to EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, from ECS International, in many cases no manual work is involved. This efficient working method offers many advantages, as it frees up more time and space for personal contact with customers. The organisation therefore intends to significantly increase the use of EDI. 

EDI is a communication technology that simplifies the electronic exchange of data between different information systems. Each system generates its own data and stores it in a specific format. By integrating systems and standardisation, the systems of sender and receiver will be speaking the same language, so to speak. Sanofi, originally French, has been using this method for years and is so satisfied with it that it is continually getting more customers to join.

Creating a paperless work environment

Niels Rutte is supply chain & customer service manager at Sanofi Netherlands. He is very enthusiastic about EDI because it makes paperless working possible, for example. “Customers are still having to print an order first. Then they scan the document and send it to us as an attachment by email. This is very cumbersome. With EDI you get rid of all those actions and save time. You also no longer run the risk of an email being left unsent or being overlooked. With automatic processing, the system picks up an order immediately. That means that deliveries can be made faster.” Sanofi provides large organisations such as Kruidvat, Etos and Albert Heijn with over-the-counter medicines. This includes cough syrup, for example. Medicines prescribed by doctors find their way to the patient from the pharmacy through wholesalers such as Brocacef, Mosadex or Pluripharm. “There’s no room for error in the chain,” says Rutte, “because it often concerns very expensive medicines with a very specific activity. The risk for patients can be very high if they take the wrong medicine. That is why we do not accept telephone orders, in order to avoid the risk of misunderstandings that may arise during oral transmission. Not much can go wrong with EDI, the traffic goes automatically. Retyping data is no longer necessary, so typing errors are not an issue either.” 

Sanofi achieves significant time savings

The fact that EDI helps Sanofi to work more efficiently is important, according to Rutte, because digitisation is an extremely important topic within the organisation. “EDI is a zero touch system where you make the technology work for you. It saves us a significant amount of time. That is a great advantage, because we prefer to focus on our customers. We can respond more quickly to questions and complaints, for example, and let customers know sooner when new medicines will become available.” The advantages of EDI (working faster and more efficiently, saving time and costs, fewer errors) are reasons for Sanofi to do more with this technology. Rutte: “A few years ago we exchanged messages with 40 percent of our customers using this method. This is currently around sixty percent. The aim is to reach ninety percent in the long term.” The manager believes that one hundred percent is not feasible. “There will always be customers who use systems that just don't allow EDI.”

Connection often set up within half an hour

In most cases, however, it is not too complicated for new customers to get started with EDI. Rutte: "It usually takes an entire working day, but sometimes a connection can be set up within half an hour." Sanofi leaves the actions necessary to enable uniform messaging with new customers to a partner: ECS International. It uses X4Connect as a solution to make the translation between different languages that systems ‘speak’. This cloud service also enables users to monitor message traffic very accurately. This does not only have to be about flows to and from external partners. X4Connect is also suitable for internal exchange (between departments).

ECS can handle a lot of formats and knows the market

According to Rutte, ECS International distinguishes itself from others because it can process a large number of file types. “It doesn't really matter which system the customer uses. They can handle many variants. Sanofi has one connection and ECS streamlines traffic so that everything enters and is processed at only one point. We don't have to worry about that.” Another advantage according to Rutte is that ECS International has knowledge of the pharmaceutical market. “They also work with other organisations in this industry. As a result, they know exactly what is needed. We’re not exactly selling tubs of butter. These can be life-saving products. It is extremely important for orders to arrive on time, in the right place. ECS simply takes care of that.”

ECS takes all the work of your hands

“The slogan ‘we’ll take all the work off your hands’ is used a lot nowadays,” he continues. “But that is exactly what ECS does. We do still establish the first contact with a customer. They will hear a familiar voice on the line and won’t feel overwhelmed. As soon as we have an agreement, I will pass on the contact details to ECS. This is usually a purchaser, system administrator or pharmacist. ECS then coordinates everything with them. Connections are tested and if the service works properly, it can be put into production quickly.” Rutte also appreciates the personal contact with ECS International. “Now that we are expanding electronic ordering, it is important to keep an overview. That is why I have weekly meetings with ECS about the progress, with the same contacts. That works really well." Rutte highly recommends EDI with ECS International. “I'm not just saying that, we are also going to roll out EDI in Belgium. ECS is flexible and can easily establish connections with new partners. As a result, our time is not taken up with all manner of manual work, but with our customers. That is the most important thing for us.” 

About ECS

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