BMW: Group-wide planning with IBM and SAP

Published on 07-Jan-2009

Validated on 18 Jul 2013

"Working with IBM Global Business Services has made it possible to develop an innovative and technically elegant solution for controlling and planning. By integrating SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse with Microsoft Excel, the company has a system built on industry-standard solutions that provides a single source of truth while greatly enhancing automation." - Walter Straub, Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services

Customer:
BMW Group

Industry:
Automotive

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
BA - Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Infrastructure, Optimizing IT

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

The BMW Group manages its budgets on two levels. During the budget period, the controlling is done by setting goals for the rate of return and results. In individual projects, controlling is realized by setting goals for present value (cash value), net present value (capital value) and the rate of return. Controlling needs to be consistent on both levels across the company.

Business need:
To optimise financial control, the BMW Group team aimed at integrating cost controlling and project planning processes across its entire organization. In the areas of analysis, communication and documentation of data used in business decision-making, the company wanted to introduce standardized methods and replace Excel processes with IT systems that could scale across the whole company.

Solution:
IBM Global Business Services and the BMW Group team implemented functionality for planning and budgeting, as well as reporting based on the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse component. To enable Microsoft Excel to interact with master data held in the data warehouse, Microsoft .NET masks were developed. Using accurate, consistent data from this centralized repository, the application can perform sophisticated functions for planning and budgeting.

Benefits:
All users within BMW Group are now working with the same data and the same methods, improving the consistency of results – and enabling faster and more informed decisions. Functions like the allocation of fixed costs can now be processed using a standard application configured by key users. The architecture chosen for the application integrates the advantages of process standardization based on SAP applications with the naturally flexible user interface of Microsoft Excel.

Case Study

Click here for a German version.

The BMW Group manages its budgets on two levels. During the budget period, the controlling is done by setting goals for the rate of return and results. In individual projects, controlling is realized by setting goals for present value (cash value), net present value (capital value) and the rate of return. Controlling needs to be consistent on both levels across the company.

“All decisions should be made on the same basis and using the same assumptions, so that different parts of the group don’t make independent calculations that wouldn’t add up,” explains Walter Straub, Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services.

“This meant that the BMW Group needed a single set of data and a set of shared methods that could be used by all the departments and project teams – but much of the information was held locally in Excel spreadsheets and siloed databases.”

Tackling a complex challenge

The team looked for a solution that would enable its financial controllers to perform standardized calculations on a single set of master and transaction data. Since these users were already familiar with Excel, and since the BMW Group already had a data warehouse based on the SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse component, there was a need to find a way to integrate the two.

This would be an ambitious and innovative project, requiring considerable technical expertise. IBM could offer a high level of competence in development and qualified project management in this area.

“One of the biggest challenges of the project was to enable algorithms that calculate complex KPIs to be executed in real time in SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse,” says Walter Straub. “Technically, this was highly complex, but the IBM team had the competence to complete the project successfully. Our deep business expertise and technical know-how were key factors in the choice of IBM as a partner for the project.”

High build quality

The first step was the creation of an IT concept, which required close cooperation between the BMW Group and IBM Global Business Services. The internal BMW Group team managed the requirements for the project, and worked with a larger team from IBM which handled the design, development and implementation of the solution.

The next step was to develop a prototype system to prove that the solution would deliver both the functionality and the performance that the BMW Group required. The IBM team created a series of masks using Microsoft .NET technologies to provide an interface between the Integrated Planning functionality within SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, and the Microsoft Excel front-end.

Following the successful testing of this prototype, IBM Global Business Services helped the BMW Group move the new system through testing into production, and provided training for the users.

“Despite the major technical challenges, the BMW Group and IBM team created an innovative solution – with proven high-quality code,” says Walter Straub.

Accelerating cost controlling processes

The new system has now been rolled out to the BMW Group’s central office, and provides integrated planning for both projects and budgets of the branch offices.

“The solution is helping to increase the speed and consistency of cost controlling processes,” says Walter Straub. “There is no longer any need for the controllers to spend time on collecting data manually, and the automation of the process reduces errors too. Equally, it is a much more robust system as far as compliance is concerned, since, for example, every use of the system is logged automatically.”

The solution provides a harmonized view of planning across projects and periods, ensuring the long-term sustainability of agreed budgets. Due to the implementation of an integrated long-term planning system including a continuous data structure, data quality has been increased, and it has become possible to significantly reduce the time it takes to create long-term budgeting plans.

“Working with IBM Global Business Services has made it possible to develop an innovative and technically elegant solution for controlling and planning,” concludes Walter Straub.

“By integrating SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse with Microsoft Excel, the company has a system built on industry-standard solutions that provides a single source of truth while greatly enhancing automation. Workload for users is reduced, and they can still use the Excel tools that they are familiar with, instead of learning a whole new system.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance, IBM Global Business Services

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