“I am extremely proud of our product development and quality – in general, of the way we operate to produce safe products with high-quality for our customers and, in the end, for their consumer customers,” says Päivi Isomäki, Pharmia's Quality and R&D Director. “In my own work, my goal is to make life easier for people working with quality. Previously, we used paper forms, on which the employees of the quality department completed all delivery-related matters starting from the basic information. Since the packaging of some products cannot be opened until in the production phase, we sometimes have to wait for the acknowledgement that everything is in order,” Isomäki continues. This caused unnecessary hassle and the process relied on memory, as forms had to be left waiting for the approval from production.
Isomäki had also identified another bottleneck in her area of responsibility: the detailed product documents and specifications required by Pharmia's customers in relation to product development. “Previously, our R&D experts had to enter the same information into the systems multiple times, and modifying it was laborious. I wanted to help free up this time for the development of the actual product and the related story and customer service.”
What we did
Streamlining quality inspections and product documentation processes with agile applications and automation
What we used
Agile solutions for bottlenecks in the quality department and product development
In autumn 2021, Isomäki, who is in charge of not only quality and product development but also of Pharmia's information management, was contacted by Digia, which is the company's ERP system partner. “Digia shared Microsoft's low-code story with us, and I bought it immediately,” Isomäki says. The things that most resonated in Digia’s story were the customisability of Power Platform, that is, Microsoft's low-code platform, without actual customisation, and the basic idea of low-code, which is agile and quick development instead of projects that last for a year or two. “As a small operator, we cannot afford to commit to projects lasting for several years, where an enormous amount of code is created to solve just one issue,” Isomäki says, and continues: “We had been offered another tool from the world of ready-made solutions for the creation of product documents. However, it did not meet our needs, but would have required changes in our operating models.”
Digia shared Microsoft's low-code story with us, and I bought it immediately.
During spring 2022, Digia implemented for Pharmia two Microsoft Power Platform-based applications for the streamlining of the quality inspection and product documentation creation processes. Product acceptance inspections for products received at the warehouse are now carried out by using a tablet application, in which the required information is completed on a form, the delivery is accepted and a PDF document is created directly on the basis of the acceptance. This document is automatically transferred to Pharmia’s document Management system M-Files. “You can now search for all information from the systems,” Isomäki says. “For example, if the last test has not yet been completed, it is displayed in the application's list and no one will have to remember it separately or remind others about it. In the past, we sometimes had to leaf through paper folders dating back even three years if we had to find out whether there had been any earlier problems with deliveries from the same supplier.”
An application was implemented for Pharmia's product development for entering data just once into the ERP system, and the application extracts it from there for all the necessary forms. “In the future, there will be no need for our R&D experts to search for data or produce signed reports, as everyone from sales to product development can retrieve the data from the ERP themselves,” Isomäki says.
What interested Pharmia most in Power Platform and the Microsoft ecosystem was not only the platform agility, but also the harmonisation and manageability of the overall architecture. “We use Microsoft's O365 office software and Digia's ERP solution,” Isomäki says. Pharmia therefore felt it was safe to also choose its business support solutions from the Microsoft ecosystem and Digia.
The cooperation in the project was seamless. “We worked closely with Digia in weekly meetings. From the very beginning, the project team constantly presented to us form templates, and we had the opportunity to have a say on them. As a project, this was really easy,” Isomäki summarises. At Pharmia, the future users of the solutions were also actively involved in the solution specification. “The quality function has been very satisfied with the solution. As they had the opportunity to comment on the development work, they are also very committed,” Isomäki says.
The platform is visually amazing.
Isomäki recognises features in the Microsoft Power Platform that will at some point encourage further development of Pharmia's digital solutions: “Low-code and Power Platform are interesting because they are affordable compared to ready-made solutions, the forms have an attractive look and it is easy to open interfaces. And in terms of visuality, the platform is simply amazing.”