Ian Wyrley-Birch discusses how Birchman and SAP lead in the Mining industry sector

Mining is an industry that has long depended on SAP ERP solutions to form the backbone of successful operations.

Birchman founding partner Ian Wyrley-Birch has been advising mining companies on SAP implementations for over 20 years. Ian’s vast experience in SAP ERP solutions has gained him invaluable knowledge as well as real-world insights into how companies can reap rewards when implementing SAP.

In this article, Ian discusses how crucial it is to align Digital Transformation roadmaps with SAP implementation and upgrades across global mining organisations; and how unique market knowledge enables Birchman to leverage and implement SAP solutions that increase business agility and drive value and results quickly.

Our mining background


Birchman has been working in the mining industry for over 20 years. We recognised that SAP was the dominant ERP solution in the mining sector, with most of the top 50 mining companies in the world using it.

Birchman also recognised mining as a unique industry with unique requirements. Located in some of the most remote areas in the world, the industry struggled with supply chain issues, complicated logistics and lengthy lead times.

Our close alignment with SAP and knowledge of its best practice capabilities, alongside our supply chain expertise, allowed us to deliver huge value quickly.

Birchman’s reputation grew quickly as a supply chain expert, and this saw conversations organically grow into working in other areas of the mining industry – asset management, maintenance, financial aspects including internal and global side of finance – supporting global reporting and forecasting and budgeting.


The Birchman methodology

Mining businesses often have a complicated organisational structure. It is an industry where companies are famously siloed and spread across different sites, regions, and time zones. This means that any strategy created needs to start with a focus on global alignment on the core direction and roadmap.

Our approach to Business Alignment, Business Application Sponsorship, Programme Management, Change Management and Project Management is unique – which brings additional benefits. Birchman can help digital transformation to be faster, and quicker and realise benefits sooner.

Also, as a member of United VARs, we are collectively one of the leading SAP Global Platinum Partners. It’s a membership of 70+ companies, covering 100+ countries. United VARs extend Birchman’s global reach and have enabled Birchman to help mining companies across the world, often in remote locations where understandings of local language and culture can make a difference.

These factors and many more ensure our methodology drives business alignment globally across sites and different business units.

Our approach does this in 50% of the time compared to the competition, allowing customers to reduce time to value and realise business benefit a lot quicker.

What makes Birchman different?

Simply put, our ability to work across the entire mining value chain, all the way from mine to market. We go to the site and know exactly what the mine does from a people, process, and technology perspective.

This gives us the strong real-world experience to ensure that SAP is well implemented, and the business processes deliver more value. This covers all aspects of finance, capital spending, supply chain, maintenance, warehousing, and logistics. Birchman has a progressive approach to business application sponsorship, and continuous business improvement supported by actionable business insights.

Because of our hands-on knowledge, we know how to make solutions appropriate to suit any requirements. Often when implementing, an SAP Software Integrator (SI) doesn’t have a clue what the mine does. Our unique understanding allows us to make sure SAP works for you, and not the business working for the SAP solution.

A common problem is that people aren’t taking advantage of new developments in SAP S/4HANA and increased usability (Fiori). Mining companies are not taking advantage of the new look and feel of new usability apps that can deliver more value and give users information at their fingerprints, rather than having to dig for it.

Birchman comes up with the appropriate solution to suit the requirement and environment, rather than an overly sophisticated outcome that is unusable. 

Future Trends in the mining industry to be aware of

ESG GraphicEnvironmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is a huge and growing topic. Sustainability is not only a trend but a key responsibility in the mining space, as they become more auditable from a non-financial perspective. Using SAP can help mining businesses accurately report on sustainability measures in the future, as it is one source of truth.

Products like Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC), Health & Safety and sustainability reporting in SAP will be huge impact areas. These are areas where Birchman is helping mining companies.

Another trend is predictive maintenance. Mining is an asset-intense industry sector; therefore, maintenance is a key process in driving the efficiency and cost of operations. Being able to predict maintenance and prevent stoppages is a high-value proposition.

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