Energy supplier Eneco wanted to be able to consolidate and report more efficiently and chose to switch to a new consolidation system. Key wishes from the business were to save time and to introduce standardization. Implementing SAP BPC has brought Eneco efficiency improvements and a reliable consolidation. Moreover, considerably more users have access to the daily automatically available single and consolidated figures.
“The fact that the software supplier would stop supporting the old consolidation system in the near future was a reason to take a critical look at our entire consolidation process,” says Mischa Ewoldt, Manager Business Reporting at Eneco. “The company’s wish to be able to report more efficiently was an important additional trigger,” colleague Sieuwerd Tiemersma adds. Tiemersma was closely involved in the project as a member of the project management team. “The company goals were to gain time and to establish standardization. Our ultimate goal was to have one source of figures and with that one source of truth.”
“DUE TO ENECO’S AMBITION AND THE CONTINUOUS REALISTIC VIEW OF THE FINEXT PROJECT TEAM WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH MUCH”
Following a selection process the choice fell on SAP BPC as the new consolidation system. “To us, the advantages of SAP BPC were the user-friendliness, an optimization of the consolidation process and the option to let the reporting- planning- and budget process be part of the same system.”
The start of the project was time-consuming. “It began with a very extensive scope. We spend a lot of time discussing the wishes regarding planning, budgeting and reporting in the organization. We benefited from this when we drew up the functional requirements.” “The acceleration came when we involved Finext. They looked at our ideas with their experience with consolidation and SAP BPC and brought tangibility,” Ewoldt continues. “Our role at that moment was mainly to challenge,” says Jaap-Willem de Visser, Project manager at Finext. “Challenging the ideas, but also the planning. We looked at the planning from the implementation angle, which Eneco had not yet done.”
Ambition and reality
Furthermore Tiemersma and Ewoldt aimed high. “Maybe we were indeed a bit overambitious, and Finext pointed out the reality,” says Tiemersma. “By combining Eneco’s ambition and the continuous realistic view of the Finext project team we have been able to accomplish much.” “It was all work and no play; what do we want to achieve in the time available?” Mischa Ewoldt indicates “Finext provided a vision on what was desirable and feasible. In hindsight, even though this start-up phase took a lot of time, both are positive about this time investment at the start of the project. “The broad questioned information will remain useful for the future follow-up phases,” says Ewoldt. “We have now collected many ideas for the follow-up phases so we can formulate a targeted definition of the subsequent steps.”
A balanced cooperation
Eneco made sure that enough internal staff was available for the project. This ensured a balanced cooperation during the critical phases of the implementation. “Making sufficient people available for aspects such as data validation has an enormously positive impact on a project,” says Jaap-Willem de Visser. In practice he experiences that on many projects this is difficult for the contracting organization to realize.
How did Eneco succeed? “Partly by continuously emphasizing that it is really necessary,” says Mischa. “Partly because our people are quite critical and headstrong due to their commitment and did not want a ‘standard solution’. Therefore they wanted to participate in the project to see their own ideas being realized.”
“The beauty of this project is that it was taken up with a number of different people within Eneco,” says Jaap-Willem de Visser. “This properly guarantees the knowledge continuity within Eneco.” “It turned out that it was not only positive for the progress of the project, but it has now become a system which we can really support,” adds Tiemersma. Eneco has, in addition to the in-house developed knowledge, support from Swap Support, a sister organization of Finext. Tiemersma sees yet another advantage of the extensive knowledge development of his own staff. “Because we know the system so well now, we have insight into what we can do ourselves and what we need Finext or Swap Support for,” says Sieuwerd Tiemersma. “This way we can ask specific questions.”
Acceptance throughout the organization was handled carefully. “We did this very intensively,” tells Mischa Ewoldt. “Each department validated and approved its own data in detail.” During this phase it appeared that all inaccuracies could be traced to the old system. “This instilled a lot of confidence in the new tool,” Tiemersma continues. ”This has helped us tremendously in gaining the user’s acceptance. Once SAP BPC has been properly set up, it is very constant.” “Besides we have planned two months for a shadow run with a quarter of the end-users,” says Tiemersma. “We have weekly feedback sessions and by now we have an extensive FAQ and tips & tricks list.” This input can be used for the big roll-out. However, Tiemersma expects that a big roll-out will no longer be necessary. “More and more ‘oil stains’ appear, with people asking us if they can do a shadow run as well. We happily agree to that,” says Tiemersma. “Soon the big roll-out will only consist of formally planting the flag.”
Ewoldt and Tiemersma are positive about the results of the switch to a new consolidation system. They see the automated data load as an important advantage. “The source system feeds SAP BPC daily,” says Mischa Ewoldt. “That means that the end-user can each day consult the reports with data from the previous day.” “During the month end, SAP BPC is even fed 3 to 4 times a day,” Tiemersma adds. “This is a great help, especially since intercompany tuning with other departments is very important. If necessary we can immediately take action and refine.”
“START SPARRING EARLY IN THE PROCESS, SO YOU WON’T HAVE TO WRITE THE ENTIRE BLUEPRINT YOURSELF”
“Another big advantage is the standardization and direct access for many more users than before,” says Tiemersma. “The same number-set is available to everyone. We now have 70-80 users that can actively use it themselves. Previously, Excel was used more often to draw up reports.” “This way, reports become much more efficient because less cutting and pasting is needed. Hopefully this will raise the analyses’ quality, since controllers have more time to spare for making the analyses,” says Ewoldt. “Furthermore, we see efficiency improvements in the consolidation itself. Manual entries have now been computerized. Manual labor is time-consuming and always error-prone.”
Asked for their advice for organizations that are about to optimize their consolidation, Ewoldt and Tiemersma offer three clear tips. “First of all, make it a joint effort. Combine the pragmatic approach and the realistic project implementation from a party like Finext with the effort of your own staff,” says Tiemersma.
“Keep it small, step by step,” Ewoldt continuous with the second advice. “Start sparring early in the process, so you do not have to write the whole blueprint yourself first. A pitfall at the start of the project is to include all the possibilities SAP BPC has to offer. That will soon make the scope far too wide.” The solution approach Eneco chose is to not have the entire blue print ready for all phases, but to divide it in small pieces. “Directing a tight scope for those phases gives you a very controllable project,” Jaap-Willem de Visser concludes.
Finally Tiemersma adds the third advice “Data validation really is the magic word. Finext had already indicated that this demands a lot of effort from the internal staff. Despite this warning, we were surprised by how much time it costs indeed. It is time-consuming, but it is essential that it is done properly.”