Published on 10-Sep-2009
The IBM® Cognos® solution included the technology, implementation process and ongoing support that Chemring needed, and could be up and running in four weeks.
Manage financial planning and consolidation in a rapidly growing, global enterprise.
An IBM Cognos 8 Controller system that has streamlined and improved financial decision-making, auditing, budgeting and forecasting throughout Chremring’s international sites and divisions.
Month-end reporting time has been reduced by 20 percent.
New acquisitions and customers can be integrated into the system within a month; report accuracy is now 100 percent; rigid budgeting has been replaced by flexible, continuous daily, weekly or monthly reporting.
Chemring is a specialist manufacturer of decoy countermeasures and energetic materials for the global defence, security and safety markets. The company is involved in major defence development programs in the UK, US and Europe, currently working with military services, security forces, commercial marine operators and leisure sailors.
The Group has a 100-year history of innovation and development, and now employs over 3,000 people at 21 operations in the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Australia.
In late 2007, Chemring was in the midst of global expansion, with acquisitions and customer wins driving the company forward. To manage this growth, the company needed an agile, reliable IT system capable of adapting to the needs of the company and helping it prepare for the future. Time-intensive processes like financial reporting needed to be streamlined into a user-friendly system to ensure the company and its staff were ready for continued growth.
Chemring experienced a number of problems when using its old, spreadsheet-based reporting system. One of the main challenges was inconsistency in the financial reporting from country to country. The central team maintained a master reporting spreadsheet and sent out individual reports to each of the international teams each month. This was time- consuming, and the process left each team’s spreadsheet open to alterations – such as line insertions or deletions. Such minor alterations caused significant problems when it came to pooling all the reports into the master spreadsheet. More detailed analysis wouldn’t always configure correctly – this left staff overstretched, wasting man-hours on time-consuming, non profit-making tasks.
Another challenge was adding new acquisitions or customers into the report. Each new win was added manually to the report, which again took a long time and was subject to human error and confusion. Chemring faced the challenge of how to create a streamlined, easy-to-use system. The objective was to be sure that each report was accurate, with easily sourced data.
After reviewing a number of options to find the right combination of software functionality, consultancy advice and project support, Chemring selected IBM Cognos 8 Controller. Ben James, Finance Director at Chemring Defence, who was part of the team that selected the IBM Cognos solution, says the support system provided was of
“We were looking for continual assistance throughout the implementation of the system,” James said. “We also wanted complete, reliable access to support once the software was in place. The IBM Cognos solution was the only one that offered both.”
Chemring required an off-the-shelf solution that would work quickly and efficiently. The system had to be up and running within four weeks of initial implementation to allow end-of-month reports to be produced on time. Chemring ultimately chose IBM Cognos 8 Controller because it recognised that it would be up and running much more rapidly than alternative options. The project was completed in the stated goal of four weeks – in time for the end-of- month report in November 2007, the first month of the new financial year.
From the outset, Chemring was able to rely on the IBM Cognos team for ongoing consultancy and the system build was a swift operation.
New acquisitions and customers can now be integrated into the reporting system within a month of acquisition, and the process is seamless. The savings in terms of total man-hours have been significant. IBM Cognos 8 Controller has reduced the month-end reporting process by a minimum of one day per month on a five-day close, resulting in a time saving of 20 percent per month, or 12 days per year.
The reports are used for auditing and budgeting throughout all Chemring’s international sites and divisions. It is absolutely crucial that the data and analysis provided is reliable and accurate, so that the company can plan and execute business decisions effectively.
Now that the company has a standard reporting system in place, Chemring can also be confident that reports are 100 percent correct. This results in more accurate decision-making and forecasting by the senior management team.
Chemring anticipates further savings as the year progresses and data files are further streamlined.
Building on a successful relationship with the IBM Cognos software team, Chemring will be implementing IBM Cognos 8 Planning over the next six months. This system will be used to help plan future budgets, to ensure greater accuracy so they can be customised better to Chemring’s policies. Using IBM Cognos 8 Planning, Chemring will also be able to make use of ‘what if’ scenario modelling and forecasting in order to test different plans and analyse the results.
“IBM Cognos Controller is perfect for us at a global coordination level,” says Angus McQueen, Group Accountant at Chemring. “Now the report we use is accurate, up-to-date and easy to extract figures from. Thanks to the IBM Cognos solution, the global teams are able to replace rigid budgeting with continuous daily, weekly, or monthly reporting and enjoy greater flexibility.”
“The new system will increase transparency across all global teams,” McQueen continues. “They’ll be able to see where we are against objectives on an ongoing basis, and they’ll be able to enter data in their own business language. The excessive number crunching will be reduced. Plus, the time spent on administrative tasks will be cut dramatically. This will allow skilled staff to spend more time on strategic business planning, rather than number-crunching. In the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever to boost productivity and lower costs. Our relationship with the IBM Cognos software team has put us in the strongest possible position.”
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
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Controller
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