Published on 23-Nov-2009
"With IBM Cognos TM1, the ability to drill down into the data is superb and provides real insight for the management team. It gives them the information they need at their finger tips, enabling more accurate and informed decision making." - Christine Proffitt, financial controller, FFIC
Business Analytics, Business Integration, Business Performance Transformation, MidMarket Framework, Performance Management
IBM Business Partner:
ICit Business Intelligence Limited
FUJIFILM Imaging Colorants (FFIC) is a world leader in the development and supply of innovative, high performance colourants for the global digital printing market. Created in February 2006, following the acquisition of Avecia’s electronic materials businesses by the Fuji Photo Film Co., the company manufactures colourants for inkjet printers, coloured chemical toners for laser printers and photocopiers, and infrared absorbers for a range of speciality applications.
Make a move from spreadsheets to a financial performance management system suited to a mid-size organisation. The IBM Cognos solution’s real-time approach to consolidating, viewing and analysing data made it stand out from the competition.
An IBM Cognos TM1 system that gives FFIC accuracy and consistency in data, producing confidence in reporting and a clear picture of business performance.
A full P&L, balance sheet and cash flow report can be done in hours, rather than days, as before; reduction of deadline pressure on the small finance team, since reports can be produced much more easily and quickly; integration with the company’s SAP system; Web access to data from anywhere in the world.
Created in February 2006, following the acquisition of Avecia’s electronic materials businesses by the Fuji Photo Film Co. (latterly renamed FUJIFILM Corporation), the company manufactures colourants for inkjet printers, coloured chemical toners for laser printers and photocopiers, and infrared absorbers for a range of speciality applications.
FFIC consists of three sister companies in the UK, USA and Japan and employs 280 people worldwide at four sites. Manufacturing is based at Grangemouth, Scotland, and Wilmington, US, and research and headquarters functions are based at Blackley, in Manchester, UK.
Prior to its acquisition by FUJIFILM, FFIC was part of Avecia, a private equity-financed group, which used large-scale, industrial-strength IT systems for all its financial reporting needs. However, on becoming part of FUJIFILM, the company was treated as a business in its own right rather than simply a division of a much larger organisation. As a result, the organisation required a financial system that was much better suited to the needs of a smaller, stand-alone company.
Initially, the finance team used Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheets and pivot tables to produce information for senior managers across the business and FUJIFILM HQ in Japan until a suitable management reporting system could be selected. This included regular profit and loss reports, balance sheets and cash flow information on which decisions about the business could be made.
“Using Excel to report on financial performance was fine in the short term but we recognised that it wasn’t a viable option in the longer term,” explains Christine Proffitt, financial controller at FFIC. “The selection of a management reporting system became a much more important issue after a change in reporting resulted in the UK HQ being responsible for submission of international consolidated results to FUJIFILM HQ. Instead of producing three separate unit submissions based on underlying accounting systems, it became necessary to collate and analyse data from the three companies quickly in order to meet strict internal reporting deadlines, often within just a few days of month-end. Trying to manage a suite of spreadsheets and worksheets, we experienced all the traditional problems of using this type of solution. Lack of consistency of information and foreign exchange complications lead to a heavy admin burden to ensure accuracy.” As a result, the finance team started to investigate what alternatives were out there.
One of the first solutions investigated was a financial management performance tool aimed at mid-size organisations, IBM® Cognos® TM1.
A prime requirement for any new solution was the ability to consolidate data quickly and accurately. IBM Cognos TM1 and its real-time approach to consolidating, viewing and analysing data made it stand out from the competition.
Following the decision to select an IBM Cognos solution, FFIC linked up with IBM Cognos silver partner, ICit Business Intelligence Limited, a certified implementation partner. ICit guided FFIC through the selection process, building a proof-of-concept model and explaining how IBM Cognos TM1 could be used to solve the initial consolidation requirement. ICit also showed FFIC how future needs could be accommodated – using a single-platform solution meant that FFIC’s investment would be future-proofed compared to alternative point solutions.
“ICit was extremely professional and knowledgeable, and were able to understand issues clearly from a business perspective. The team has unrivalled expertise in IBM Cognos TM1, combined with highly skilled qualified accountants and over 100 successful implementations under its belt. We were able to work closely together to develop a proof of concept to show what we could achieve with IBM Cognos TM1,”
says Proffitt. “Choosing the right solution and the right partner were critical to the success of the project. FFIC had clear objectives, and committed resources to the project to ensure a successful outcome.”
ICit performed the initial implementation, integrating IBM Cognos TM1 with FFIC’s SAP system, and then worked closely with the finance team to ensure it met FUJIFILM’s own international reporting rules. There was also a significant degree of testing and parallel running to enable a smooth transition from the existing spreadsheet system to a live IBM Cognos TM1.
Now, data is automatically sourced within FFIC and consolidated by the finance team in the UK. The team then produces the figures required by HQ and the supporting analysis, which can be turned around in a matter of hours. Previously, it could take the finance team a few days to prepare a full P&L, balance sheet and cash flow report.
Members of the senior management team can also access the figures, helping them to make informed decisions about the business and agree budgets and forecasts. With many of them travelling regularly between the US, the UK sites and Japan, the fact that consistent information and related reports can be accessed over the Web is a major benefit.
From day one, the IBM Cognos solution has improved the accuracy and consistency of the reports produced across the business. This includes the regular reports required by FUJIFILM HQ, and the more detailed analysis used by senior managers.
“The trust in the data is there. Users have much more confidence in the figures than before. With the data sourced automatically through IBM Cognos TM1 rather than having to be input manually into spreadsheets, the reporting system is no longer prone to administrative errors and provides a much more detailed picture of how the business is performing,” explains Proffitt.
The IBM Cognos solution has also reduced the pressure on the small finance team at FFIC and cut the administration of the entire reporting process significantly. The rush to pull together data at month, quarter and year-end within very tight internal deadlines is a thing of the past now that reports can be produced much more quickly than before.
Senior managers within FFIC now have greater insight into the overall performance of the business. Using standard reports, they can access more detailed figures, allowing them to investigate trends and variances to forecast and make informed decisions about the course of action that might be required to address these deviations from plan.
“With IBM Cognos TM1, the ability to drill down into the data is superb and provides real insight for the management team,” says Proffitt. “It gives them the information they need at their finger tips, enabling more accurate and informed decision making.”
The IBM Cognos solution is already being used by the finance team and senior mangers across FFIC. The next step will be to roll it out to some of the sales managers further down the line so that they can take greater responsibility for their own sales figures and related costs.
FFIC is also working with ICit to develop the system to improve internal reporting and provide more tailored reports for the entire management team.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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