Published on 20-Apr-2010
"Without IBM Cognos TM1, it would have been impossible to resolve the task in such a short time. I am still very pleased with the flexibility and performance of TM1. It is the ideal tool for a company and team of our size. Low support expense was essential for us and we can support users with a small internal team. " - Thomas Kramer, Leader Cost- & Project-Controlling Switzerland, Nationale Suisse
IBM Business Partner:
Nationale Suisse implements a performance management solution.
Implement a performance management solution to support the company’s new planning, budgeting, reporting and controlling requirements.
IBM Cognos TM1 was implemented to provide users with optimal support for reporting and planning, with the focus on business variables.
IBM Cognos TM1-based solution is helping to boost the company’s competitiveness by improving planning security and streamlining and accelerating processes.
Nationale Suisse is an internationally active Swiss insurance company that markets risk and provident policies, as well as a range of customised niche products. Around 30 percent of this listed company’s premium income of 1.67 billion Swiss francs is generated by its subsidiaries in Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain.
As part of a new corporate strategy defined in 2005, including the planned implementation of a value-driven management model and an expansion of CFO functions, the company decided to install a management information system (MIS). The specifications for the solution included calculating and delivering control variables for senior management and managers in the business units and sectors, as well as producing planning variables and providing support for strategic and operational planning.
These new planning, budgeting, reporting and controlling requirements needed to be implemented according to standard rules and within consistent structures across the entire Nationale Suisse group, at both a business unit and sector level.
Analysis and evaluation:
With the assistance of Serwise AG, Nationale Suisse conducted an analysis of its numerous existing systems, data and structures. It found that reporting information came from many different sources, which were then used to create a wide range of individual reports. This type of data capture was unthinkable for the future standard system, while the option of connecting each data source individually was ruled out due to the associated complexity and potentially high cost of development.
The company therefore decided to create a central data pool in the form of a data warehouse based on Microsoft® SQL server, bringing together cost data from SAP as well as information on premiums, claims and services from the host system. An OLAP tool would then be used to create various cockpits, from the management information system to sales, claims and technical controlling. The requirements for this OLAP tool included the option of creating online analyses, user-friendly operation, flexibility in terms of configuration and creation of new reports, as well as high levels of user acceptance. If possible, a standard solution should be selected to meet these requirements.
With the help of the consultants from Serwise AG, an IBM® Cognos® partner, Nationale Suisse prepared an evaluation paper and specifications, as well as a comprehensive list of potential suppliers. It then used these specifications to draw up a shortlist of four suppliers and products. A detailed evaluation then took place to select the two final candidates to take part in a two-week proof of concept. In the end, a professional presentation of the ideal solution for the job, the obvious flexibility of the product, Excel® integration capability and an outstanding price-performance ratio resulted in a unanimous decision in favour of implementing IBM Cognos TM1®.
Implementation of the data pool and cockpits:
Work began on the creation of the data pool in December 2005, IBM Cognos TM1 was selected in March 2006, and four months later the tool was already being used for operational planning. The first step in this implementation was the preparation of a blueprint of processes and data models. A small internal team and a prototyping approach then ensured rapid results.
In April 2007, financial management raised new requirements for the control concept, including specifications relating to data quality and the harmonisation of profit and loss structures for reporting. However, the company’s switch to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) had to be implemented before these requirements could be considered. This resulted in delays in the MIS project, culminating in management’s decision to implement the control concept as part of the IFRS project. The associated tasks included integrating the newly evaluated accounting and consolidation financial system, as well as redesigning the data pool, MIS cubes and reports as a result of the switch to IFRS.
Goals safely achieved despite a few difficulties:
Looking back, the system was actually built twice, due to drastic changes in requirements in 2007. The company decided to convert the management information system to a financial information system in order to produce accurate budget forecasts with as few deviations as possible. Management drove the switch to the IFRS accounting standard. The IFRS conversion project was carried out in parallel to, at times even slightly behind, mapping of the different requirements in the TM1 solution. Thanks to its better, faster and more flexible analysis options, IBM Cognos TM1 is now used for annual accounts controlling. In 2009, the company began using SAP ECC 6.0 for accounting and Tagetik for annual accounts consolidation. On both occasions, the evaluated and planned solution was implemented successfully.
Nationale Suisse’s IBM Cognos TM1-based solution is helping to boost the company’s competitiveness by improving planning security and streamlining and accelerating processes. Acceptance levels are high, with many enthusiastic users of IBM Cognos TM1.
Years of cooperation, from consultancy and support to evaluation and implementation of the central data pool, over the various development phases of the MIS solution, have helped to forge a strong partnership between Nationale Suisse, Serwise AG and Frank Ihringer. The success of the partnership was based on great flexibility and reliability, as Thomas Kramer from Nationale Suisse confirms, that IBM Cognos TM1 used in many areas
Around 200 to 250 active users now use the solution for cost planning and reporting. The company intends to roll the tool out to its subsidiaries in future, to allow them to access IBM Cognos TM1 for analyses and reporting. In terms of business roles, the main users are controllers - from financial controllers for planning, profit and loss and general forecasts, to division controllers who use the solution to prepare reports for their division managers. An additional 150 cost managers in Switzerland, including the general agent, use the solution for sales and controlling. As is the case in most companies, frequent requests for changes and additions are received from all departments, in particular in relation to analyses. To avoid overburdening Thomas Kramer’s team, the company plans to train more people to define their own reports and to use the existing cubes more effectively and autonomously.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Canada 3755 Riverside Drive Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 4K9 Produced in Canada January 2010 All Rights Reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos and TM1 are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, Excel and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study is an example of how one customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference in this information to non-IBM Web sites are provided for convenience only and do not in any manner serve as an endorsement of those Web sites. The materials at those Web sites are not part of the materials for this IBM product and use of those Web sites is at your own risk.