Walter Meier generates financial reports without external support

Eliminating expensive agency fees and improving accuracy with IBM Cognos Disclosure Management

Published on 19-Nov-2013

"With IBM Cognos Disclosure Management, error-prone manual transferring of data and the need to co-ordinate with external agencies are now a thing of the past. As a result, we expect the investment to pay for itself within approximately three years." - Cornelius Kohler, Head of Accounting, Reporting and Taxes, Walter Meier AG

Customer:
Walter Meier

Industry:
Industrial Products

Deployment country:
Switzerland

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, Business Integration, Business Performance Transformation, Enabling Business Flexibility, BA - Risk Analytics

IBM Business Partner:
Addedo

Overview

Walter Meier AG is a worldwide leader in the manufacture of commercial and industrial humidifiers and production technology. Founded in 1937, the company has 10 production sites, is active in over 70 countries, and employs approximately 2,000 people. It generates annual revenues of CHF 700 million, and its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

Business need:
To generate financial reports, staff at Walter Meier had to transfer data from spreadsheets and forward it to an external graphics agency. This was inflexible, expensive and prone to errors.

Solution:
Walter Meier implemented IBM® Cognos® Disclosure Management and integrated it with its existing IBM Cognos Controller software, enabling the company to generate its financial reports without external help.

Benefits:
Integrates the entire external financial reporting process – including layout design – into a single easy-to-use solution. Provides a familiar Microsoft Office environment for users to work in, while ensuring reliable and error-free results. Delivers a fast, flexible and cost-effective reporting process, and eliminates the need to hire external graphics agencies.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, please click here.

Walter Meier AG is a worldwide leader in the manufacture of commercial and industrial humidifiers and production technology. Founded in 1937, the company has 10 production sites, is active in over 70 countries, and employs approximately 2,000 people. It generates annual revenues of CHF 700 million, and its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

As a listed company, Walter Meier is obliged to publish statutory financial reports every six months. The company had been using IBM Cognos Controller software to consolidate its financial figures, and then commissioning an external graphics agency to create the layouts of the reports. Walter Meier employees manually transferred data from the main financial system into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and the agency produced a suitable layout and format.

However, there was a problem: co-operation between the Walter Meier team and the agency was laborious and prone to misunderstandings, as Cornelius Kohler, Head of Accounting, Reporting and Taxes at Walter Meier AG, recalls.

“It took the agency approximately four weeks to prepare the 95-page financial report. As well as the associated costs, the risk of errors in the consultation stage was rather high, and the process was inflexible as we were not able to implement changes at short notice outside of normal working hours.”

As a result, financial reporting often took an unnecessarily long time and caused some degree of dissatisfaction. Walter Meier needed to find a new solution.

Introducing new financial reporting processes
To simplify the reporting process and reduce the risk of errors, Walter Meier decided to work with addedo AG, a company that specializes in consulting and support services, to implement IBM Cognos Disclosure Management software.

“IBM Cognos Disclosure Management offers a very effective alternative to our previous process,” says Cornelius Kohler. “In the future it will integrate perfectly with our IBM Cognos Controller financial consolidation software, automate all of our financial reporting processes and bring them together into a single end-to-end solution.”

For Walter Meier, this combination of IBM Cognos software products will provide full independence from third-party support while reducing costs, minimizing the risk of errors, and dramatically accelerating the publication process for financial reports. Even changes to the final layout can be carried out by Walter Meier staff, without the need for help from an external agency.

Beyond all the expected advantages, the most important point for Walter Meier was that the automated data transfer between individual programs should run in a reliable and consistent manner.

“Our entire infrastructure is based on a classic client/server environment, with Microsoft Windows and SQL Server technology,” explains Kohler. “It was crucial to ensure that data could be exchanged reliably between the programs that we use when we are creating the financial reports. The solution is an XLS link interface. The interface enables data from IBM Cognos Controller to be pulled into IBM Cognos Disclosure Management at any time. This ensures that new or changed data from our financial consolidation process can be automatically and instantly updated in the financial report, without any need for human intervention.”

Putting the solution straight into practice
As soon as the installation and configuration were complete, the staff at Walter Meier embarked on an intensive course to learn how to use the new solution. The first practical test was carried out immediately after this training session, and the testing phase was completed successfully.

Next, Walter Meier used the solution to create its 2012 financial report, which was published in February 2013, without the support of an external graphics agency. One of the major advantages reported by the Walter Meier team was that IBM Cognos Disclosure Management is simple and intuitive to use. Employees can work in familiar software environments such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, while the software works as a data engine in the background and provides the logic required to tie the whole process together. Ultimately, more than 100 Excel files and 200 separate Word files are combined into two financial reports (one in English and one in German), and their layouts are defined in advance.

Other useful features include a “track changes” mode, which enables changes in Word to be logged so that all participants are aware of the current state of the project at all times. The ability to define and use “global variables” is also advantageous: for example, staff can load the layout of the previous year’s report and simply enter a new value for each variable. The software then automatically adapts all of the data entries to fit the layout of the final report.

Full return on investment within three years
Now that the company has generated its first financial report with IBM Cognos Disclosure Management, Cornelius Kohler describes his initial conclusions: “We appreciate the newly-gained flexibility, which promotes the autonomy of our staff – enabling them to carry out their work much faster and to implement new ideas at any time. Moreover, because the entire end-to-end process is controlled by a single solution, the results are also much more reliable. This is because error-prone manual transferring of data and the need to co-ordinate with external agencies are now a thing of the past. As a result, we expect the investment to pay for itself within approximately three years.”

About addedo AG
Founded in Zug and Zürich in January 2006, addedo AG offers consultancy and support services along with IBM Business Analytics software solutions. The company has grown quickly in the last few years, and has now become the largest reseller of IBM Business Analytics software in Switzerland in terms of turnover. Its portfolio also comprises third-party products for business areas such as consolidation, reporting and analysis. The company focuses on the requirements in the office of finance, and has more than 90 customers in Switzerland alone. addedo AG International in Zug also has subsidiaries in Sweden, the UK, and Germany. Currently, the addedo group employs a total of 45 staff, who own 80 percent of the company’s shares.

For more information about addedo AG, please visit www.addedo.com

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management.

Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organizations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals.

For more information
For further information please visit ibm.com/business-analytics

Products and services used

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

Software:
Cognos Controller, Cognos Disclosure Management

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Deutschland GmbH, IBM-Allee 1, 71139 Ehningen, Deutschland. ibm.com/de. IBM Österreich, Obere Donaustrasse 95, 1020 Wien. ibm.com/at. IBM Schweiz, Vulkanstrasse 106, 8010 Zürich. ibm.com/ch. Produced in Switzerland. November 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and Cognos are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and addedo AG are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor addedo AG makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.