Digital Business Automation Helps Keep Hershey Chocolate Lovers Supplied

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When you hear the name Hershey, most likely you think kisses, bars, or syrup. But The Hershey Company’s brands also include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Payday, Jolly Rancher, Twizzlers, and many more of the world’s favorite treats. You can buy Hershey products almost anywhere, from the biggest box stores to the smallest mom-and-pop shops.

Keeping thousands of outlets around the world stocked with just the right mix of products is a mind-boggling task. It involves having the right ingredients on hand, producing the right quantities each day, and shipping products to the right locations. In today’s digital economy, those transactions happen electronically. To ensure they happen quickly and reliably every day, we run thousands of intricate and interdependent jobs that facilitate transaction processing, data transfers, data analysis, and reporting to the right stakeholders. That’s why digital business automation is a vital part of Hershey’s IT strategy.

The data center operations group runs thousands of jobs each day. These jobs manage the digital interactions that are necessary to run our business—not just manufacturing, supply planning, supply chain, warehousing, and distribution but also finance, payroll, costing, human resources, marketing, and sales. We handle many of these functions within our complex SAP® environment; the associated SAP jobs represent approximately 40% of our batch processing.

We run Teradata as our data warehouse. That system provides data and analytics for our business intelligence team, the group that tracks sales and inventories at our many outlets and determines how factors such as promotional offers impact sales.

BMC’s Control-M solution automates most of these jobs and processes. It kick-starts them, monitors progress, and sends out alerts if issues arise. So, when anyone asks me what Control-M does at The Hershey Company, I tell them that it literally runs our business. It’s one of our five most critical applications.

Centralizing automation for greater visibility

Supply planning is one of Hershey’s most critical business functions. It’s a daily exercise in which the production people determine how much of each item to make for the following day. Scheduling the next day’s shipments to warehouses and distribution centers is another critical function. A glitch in any of the batch processes supporting these areas could cause a major hit to the business. Imagine what would happen if one night the warehousing or distribution jobs did not complete properly. This would result in confusion at the loading docks, shipments being delayed, and shelves in many sales outlets not being restocked on time. We can’t let that happen, so we have to identify issues early and resolve them quickly, before they affect the business.

The beauty of Control-M is that it brings all workload automation into a centralized location, giving us a unique vantage point for detecting issues before there’s a business impact. We get an early warning of impending problems and can address them. For example, recently one of our largest SAP instances became hung in the middle of the day. The action halted the entire SAP landscape for that instance. The application owners might not have become aware of the problem for hours. Fortunately, Control-M detected the issue and alerted the appropriate people. They addressed the problem within a matter of minutes. Potential impact averted.

Doing more with less

Over the years, our batch processes have increased in number and complexity. At the same time, our staff size has dropped by about 60% as people have retired or moved on to other jobs. With Control-M automation, we’ve been able to absorb this growth with the smaller staff.

Control-M Self Service has helped significantly in this area because developers and application owners can now handle many of the tasks that previously had to be done by our team. The self-service approach puts power into the hands of application owners while letting the workload automation team maintain control.

Beyond traditional workload automation

We’re continuing our automation journey with a goal of constantly increasing the level of automation to support growth and change in our environment:

  • In each of the past four years, the number of jobs has grown by 10% annually as we bring on new applications.
  • Our new applications often involve cloud-based services, so we need to automate processes across our on-premises and cloud-based systems.
  • Our business intelligence teams are forging ahead with big data projects, and we believe Control-M will play an important role in helping them deliver key business insights.

Meeting the challenges associated with growth and change will require even greater emphasis on automation. Fortunately, BMC has always kept a step ahead of its customers with enhancements and new functionality. We intend to fully exploit the enhancements and new capabilities that BMC is introducing to grow our digital business automation landscape in support of our increasingly digital business operations.

For more information on Control-M solutions, click here.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Todd Lightner

Todd Lightner

As a hosting and computer operations analyst at The Hershey Company, Todd’s responsibilities include batch management administration from an end-to-end standpoint, managing multiple data center locations from an operational prospective, as well as ITSM administration. He has over 15 years of experience in various spaces within IT that include client technology, data center infrastructure operations, systems, and batch scheduling. Todd’s team is mainly focused on managing the enterprise batch schedule which is done through Control-M so that all automated processes are running smoothly 24/7. They manage all parts of Control-M from a monitoring standpoint, scheduling of all jobs, as well as the administration of all servers that are running Control-M.