Published on 01-Oct-2009
"We see Semler Services more as a profit-creating unit than as a cost centre, and we certainly need to contribute to the Group’s bottom line. So it’s natural for us to look at how our financial management, logistics and planning solutions can increase our revenues. With the IBM Cognos system, we’ve found a solution that serves as the framework for our forecasts. And we’ve been able to develop and adapt it in a relatively short time." - Kenneth Nielsen, Business Management Manager, Semler Services
Semler Services A/S
With an IBM® Cognos® system, Semler Services is driving the right road.
To create a transparent economy in the organisation, so that all management levels have the same picture and can view the same information.
An IBM Cognos 8 BI and IBM Cognos 8 Planning solution that is cost-effective, easy to implement and use, and efficient in solving the notorious auto industry challenges Semler Services faced
Constant focus on bottom line and revenues; performance optimisation; common understanding of the budget throughout the organisation; simulation opportunities; capability for use in all company functions, including HR, Sales and Finance
Semler Services A/S is part of the Semler Group, one of the largest and oldest automobile importers and dealerships in Denmark. Under the name Skandinavisk Motor Co. A/S, the Group imports and sells some of the world’s best known brands of cars, including Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Skoda. Semler Services A/S handles servicing, repairs, and administrative tasks for the Group, and offers a range of additional services to the Danish automobile industry.
The automobile industry is a notoriously difficult sector in which to operate. High taxes and duties have put pressure on revenues from core services, and the industry has been forced to find new ways to ensure a stable income. As a result, the sector is focusing on maintaining and developing superior customer relations, a core component of which is fast, effective automobile repairs and servicing. But the servicing component of the industry has its challenges, too.
“A repair shop is very expensive to establish,” explains Kenneth Nielsen, Business Management Manager at Semler Services. “It means investing in costly mechanical and technical equipment, constructing lifts and providing ongoing training for mechanics.” As Nielsen points out, servicing today’s high-technology automobiles can be a complex task, with increasingly computerized cars making greater demands on both equipment and people.
Adding to this servicing complexity is the shortage of good mechanics and the cyclical nature of automobile sales. Good planning becomes not only essential, but very difficult. “We knew that we would lose customers if the waiting times for service were too long,” says Nielsen. “At the same time it was difficult to expand our repair shop capacity without knowing what the demand for services would be. We needed to find a solution that could help forecast servicing demand based on automobile sales.”
According to Nielsen, an IBM Cognos system was the natural choice: “A few years ago, we moved to the Adaytum planning system, which is today a part of IBM Cognos 8 BI. This freed us from a dependence on spreadsheets and put us in a position where we could observe our company’s operations and finances on more than one level.”
More recently, greater emphasis on planning and forecasting caused Semler Services to build a solid data warehouse and develop more usable BI solutions.
The move to IBM Cognos 8 Planning was a logical next step, and Semler Services collaborated with IBM Cognos experts to build a customized IBM Cognos 8 Planning solution that is both cost-effective and easy to implement.
“Semler Services has used other business intelligence solutions in the past, but they turned out to be quite simply too expensive and inefficient to deal with the challenges that we needed to resolve,” says Nielsen. “With the IBM Cognos system, we’ve found a solution that serves as the framework for our forecasts. And we’ve been able to develop and adapt it in a relatively short time.”
Using its IBM Cognos 8 Planning solution, Semler Services is now able to use sales figures to forecast the quantity, type and timing of demand for automobile servicing and other repair shop activities. As a result, the company can plan to have the right mix of skills and physical resources available to ensure the rapid, efficient service that builds strong and profitable customer relationships.
The IBM Cognos 8 Planning solution has given Semler a significant advantage over their competition. Ironically, this has led to a decision to sell the solution to their competitors. As Nielsen explains, “When our competitors discover just how great our gains are using the solution, they will start to use similar solutions. By licensing our solution to our competitors, we can set the standard in the industry and be the ones controlling developments in the area.
We will always be first to have the newest upgrade. In addition, using a common system for many companies will be to the benefit of the entire industry. The first new users have already started using the solution and are seeing significant advantages.”
As the next step in the progression, Semler is now developing Web portals for both internal and external user access. With 100+ customers who will deliver cars to the Danish auto industry, Semler needs to address the requirements of hundreds of people.
In the challenging automobile industry, Nielsen believes that good business intelligence might well mean the difference between success and failure. And he thinks that the Semler Services experience can be applied to other industries as well: “Innovative thinking is a must in our industry, and I can easily envisage other sectors being able to learn from our positive experience with the IBM Cognos systems.”
About IBM Cognos BI and Performance Management
IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) and performance management solutions deliver world-leading enterprise planning, consolidation and BI software, support and services to help companies plan, understand and manage financial and operational performance. IBM Cognos solutions bring together technology, analytical applications, best practices, and a broad network of partners to give customers an open, adaptive and complete performance solution. Over 23,000 customers in more than 135 countries around the world choose IBM Cognos solutions.
Products and services used
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