The chemicals company Stahl has ambitious growth plans in which takeovers play a major role. To assist in this, Stahl needs scalable consolidation processes. SAP BPC Consolidation and HANA are supporting the significant steps that the organization is taking.
“We want to be able to grow as a company,” says Bram Drexhage, CFO at Stahl. The chemicals company specializes in process chemicals – for tanning, coloring, and painting – for the leather industry and coatings for other materials such as textiles, rubber, metal, and wood. “In the world, there are about five major players in the leather industry; we want to be number one. To achieve that, we have taken over the two biggest players.”
Control and Scalability
The takeovers put significant demands on the consolidation process. “We’ve nearly tripled in size in four years. That has changed our information requirements; control and scalability have become more important,” explains Piet Bekkers, CIO at Stahl.
To facilitate this, the multinational is switching to SAP BPC consolidation. “In one of the takeovers, we got an extra eighteen entities,” Irene Rutten, Financial Controller at Stahl, tells us. “Our previous solution wasn’t flexible enough for all these changes to be implemented quickly. The organization has changed so much that the division structure in the old system no longer suited the reporting structure we now need. The software wasn’t supported anymore, either.”
SAP BPC was selected. “We wanted the consolidation rules to be properly structured and reports to be easily created with the consolidation solution,” says Irene. “In BPC you can handle the entities and any changes to them flexibly,” adds Gert-Jan van den Berg from Finext, who is involved in the implementation.
Besides, the rest of the organization already uses SAP. “The integration of accounting and reporting is easier to set up automatically if SAP is used everywhere,” says Bastiaan Sanders from Plainwater. “This eliminates manual actions and associated risks.” Sister organizations Finext and Plainwater regularly work together on implementations. Finext focuses on implementing the financial processes, while Plainwater specializes in information management and the links between the various layers.
SAP BPC Consolidation is quicker with HANA
After implementing the new consolidation solution, performance dropped. “This was primarily a technical issue; the combination of the old database with the new BPC software did not perform sufficiently in terms of memory,” explains Piet. “We couldn’t gauge this in advance, but intensive use of BPC – with lots of reports and data input screens – let us conclude that migration to HANA was our best option.”
“There are no limitations on the scalability of the system. The end-of-period tasks also take less time now, for both the quarter and annual ending.”
Stahl decided to switch to HANA. “The rest of the organization wasn’t using HANA yet, so we carefully examined what the impact would be first,” says Piet. The results are positive. “HANA has improved the performance drastically,” says Irene. “The users can open input screens and save data quicker. Consolidating takes only half a minute, and we can refresh large amounts of data relatively quickly for the reporting.”
Faster and better
The international chemicals organization is satisfied, not only with HANA but also with SAP BPC Consolidation itself. Piet says, “This step will help us handle multiple acquisitions; there are no limitations on the scalability of the system. The end-of-period tasks also take less time now, for both the quarter and annual ending.” Irene agrees: “We’ve gone from an average of ten working days to an average of eight.” “Furthermore, the quality and reliability have improved because the data can be compared,” states Bram. “That’s even more important to me than the speed.”
The data integration is an additional plus point. “The link between SAP Accounting and SAP BPC Reporting is a major step forward,” says Irene. “It’s much more consistent – everyone is using the same ledger and the same mapping. There’s less manual input, and so it’s less susceptible to errors.” “Traceability has been enhanced: you can use BPC to trace the transactions back to SAP ECC,” says Bastiaan. “The quality has already been included in the source, a conscious choice. In SAP BW we can keep it lean and mean, making it easier and more stable. This does have a functional impact on SAP ECC during your project, but you’ll benefit from it when setting up the integration, and after that during every month-end and year-end.” “There are still some steps we want to take to optimize how we use SAP BPC; we keep working on improving the setup and usage of SAP BPC,” adds Irene.
Collaborating on Trust
The collaboration between Stahl, Finext, and Plainwater is based on trust. “We have a limited amount of in-house expertise and manpower. That’s deliberate; otherwise, we’d have excess capacity,” says Bram. “If we face anything we can’t handle ourselves, we’d like someone to take it over for us. And it mustn’t get too theoretical; make a decision, roll up those sleeves and get to work.”
This was one of the reasons why Stahl chose Finext and Plainwater. “We are critical when choosing external partners. We sat down with various candidates before choosing to work with Finext,” says Piet. “The references also gave us the highest confidence in the combination of Plainwater and Finext.” “No nonsense and hard work make for a good match between Stahl and our companies,” says Tiemen van der Tuijn, who is the project manager from Plainwater. “Speed and short lines of communication are key features of the project.”
“An implementation mustn’t become a technical tour de force – it should be based on the results for the organization.”
The organization is continuously preparing for the next stages of its growth. “We want to professionalize further,” explains Bram. “We need a clean house, also in the local countries.” “The new system supports that,” Piet concludes. “An implementation mustn’t become a technical tour de force – it should focus on the results for the organization. A pull from the requirements, not a push from technology.”