Georg Fischer gains financial insight at the touch of a button

Extending analysis capabilities and taking a look into the future with IBM technologies

Published on 15-May-2013

"With just a few mouse-clicks, IBM Cognos TM1 provides Georg Fischer with the ability to survey current developments across the group. Comparable flexibility and performance in data analysis would have been unthinkable in the past." - Rüdiger Zepf, Group Controller, Georg Fischer AG

Customer:
Georg Fischer

Industry:
Industrial Products

Deployment country:
Switzerland

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, Business Integration, BA - Business Intelligence, Business Performance Transformation, BA - Performance Management

IBM Business Partner:
Serwise Group

Overview

Georg Fischer comprises three divisions: GF Piping Systems, GF Automotive and GF AgieCharmilles. Founded in 1802, the industrial company is headquartered in Switzerland and operates in 30 countries, comprising 125 companies and 48 manufacturing sites. With approximately 13,500 employees, Georg Fischer generated sales of CHF 3.6 billion in 2012.

Business need:
Factors such as commodity prices, demographics, market and economic developments influence international sales markets. Georg Fischer can gain a competitive advantage by responding quickly to market trends and adapting development, production and sales to customer needs.

Solution:
Georg Fischer has introduced a business intelligence system based on IBM® Cognos® TM1®. A combination of ad hoc analyses and textual comments gives financial controllers and group leaders monthly insight into the financial situation of individual subsidiaries and the current situation of regional sales markets.

Results:
Ensures data quality and reduces the analysis error rate to zero.

Benefits:
Provides monthly insights on market trends, demand or the investment climate, expanding the operational vision for controlling and group leadership. Enables the controlling department to create analyses in minutes.

Case Study

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

Georg Fischer comprises three divisions: GF Piping Systems, GF Automotive and GF AgieCharmilles. Founded in 1802, the industrial company is headquartered in Switzerland and operates in 30 countries, comprising 125 companies and 48 manufacturing sites. With approximately 13,500 employees, Georg Fischer generated sales of CHF 3.6 billion in 2012.

Worldwide presence
Georg Fischer’s global business is growing – in recent years, the company has been posting increasing sales. The company requires a high degree of transparency to control the finances of its 125 subsidiaries across 30 countries. Factors such as fluctuating commodity prices, demographic trends and economic developments can have a significant impact on production costs, demand, the investment climate and personnel structure.

“Every month, the group needs accurate information from all its subsidiaries to track variations, and to take appropriate countermeasures if necessary,” explains Rüdiger Zepf, Group Controller at Georg Fischer AG.

The need for more analysis options
Key figures from ERP systems such as SAP are captured from the subsidiaries using IBM Cognos Controller, and consolidated in the central controlling department. The consolidation process is tried and proven, but it possesses only limited capabilities for analysis and comment. “We also had a situation where reports on the sales, labor costs and monthly results of our groups and companies were presented in different forms and formatting,” says Rüdiger Zepf.

If managers in the divisional and group controlling teams wanted to get an overview, they had to merge reports manually, extract individual figures and written comments, and then transfer them to a spreadsheet before they could analyze them.

As Rüdiger Zepf comments: “What are the exact reasons for a decline in sales? How does a regional market develop? Why are companies investing less locally than last year? You have to be able to answer these kinds of questions that affect the entire group relatively quickly and easily in order to respond appropriately.”

Deeper levels of detail, more background knowledge
In mid-2010, Georg Fischer decided to expand its business analytics landscape in order to increase transparency. The requirements were clearly defined: using a business intelligence solution, the group wanted to harmonize and accelerate its monthly reporting processes. Ad hoc queries and dynamic drill-down functionality should be put in place to extend the analysis capabilities for central controlling teams. In particular, the new solution should be able to capture comments and background information in a structured manner. Finally, the solution should provide the basis for long-term, group-wide planning and forecasting capabilities.

High-speed analysis
Serwise AG helped Georg Fischer make the final crucial decision on software selection, and acted as a consulting partner every step of the way, from the very beginning of the project. The Serwise consultants advised implementing IBM Cognos TM1 as an analysis and planning solution, because it could easily be connected via standard interfaces to the existing IBM Cognos Controller solution.

The analytical capabilities of IBM Cognos TM1 would also provide several benefits. With its in-memory OLAP database, TM1 enables multidimensional analysis at high speed: even large amounts of data can be quickly analyzed. It also makes ad hoc and drill-down analyses simple, via a highly intuitive web interface. Finally, the web-based solution enables users to attach comments to specific data points, and places the comments in a multidimensional data cube to make it easier for users to analyze them.

From concept to implementation
In the fall of 2010, Georg Fischer AG worked together with Serwise AG to develop a detailed concept for the solution’s information requirements, reporting and access permissions. Based on this concept, the Serwise consultants implemented the new analytics solution, configured interfaces and modeled data cubes for multidimensional analysis.

The project team also developed an automated process to gather data using a template that is automatically sent to managers throughout the subsidiaries, and which can then be imported into IBM Cognos TM1, along with the comments.

“Collaborating with Serwise was always a co-operative effort and remained focused on the objectives. The consultants quickly grasped our requirements and demonstrated the possibilities of the IBM technology,” said Rüdiger Zepf.

Serwise conducted test runs during several workshops and training seminars. “The test runs showed that complex analyses – even at the corporate and account level – are available with a single mouse-click,” says Frank Ihringer, CEO of Serwise AG. “The system’s performance has clearly impressed the project leaders.”

New solutions, new opportunities
The new solution has been operational since mid-2011. As before, all of the monthly data from all of the companies – on sales, costs, personnel, and more – is recorded in the IBM Cognos Controller consolidation solution. Today, however, the numbers are also brought together in a unified reporting structure and automatically loaded into IBM Cognos TM1.

Next, managers in the subsidiaries – the regional managers, controllers, CFOs and HR managers – automatically receive a standardized outline of comments. They note their comments on accounts or developments in areas such as sales, distribution, marketing and finance using a standardized reporting interface, and they can even add their comments offline. Next, the comments are automatically fed back to the analysis system and loaded into IBM Cognos TM1. All figures and text comments are now available in a data cube for analysis.

Fast, consistent, insightful: a clear overview for controllers
With the new solution, Georg Fischer has harmonized and accelerated its internal information process, and has increased transparency significantly. Key figures and comments are brought together in a structured manner, and are available to the group-wide and corporate controllers at headquarters. Using IBM Cognos TM1, data for a particular company can be analyzed right down to the account level – and drill-down analyses are just a mouse-click away.

“This kind of flexibility and speed in individual analysis would not have been possible before,” says Rüdiger Zepf. “If, for example, you need to obtain information regarding how all the sales managers of a region view the current situation in their sales market, the answer is just a few clicks away. You can see all the figures and comments within a few seconds; previously, this would have taken much longer.”

Textual comments from regional managers, controllers, CFOs, and HR managers describe the background on revenues, gross margins, costs, material costs, employee turnover and the investment climate in the individual market regions. These comments are attached to the latest figures – for example, regarding revenues or new orders. Users can navigate through whichever views and analytical dimensions they wish to see, such as time, revenues or costs.

Controlling and corporate leadership use the figures and context to keep themselves up-to-date at all times on the company’s situation. This enables them to assess variances from the business plan and make decisions based on sound evidence.

“The new analytics system supports the management of our group of companies because it provides maximum transparency – it give us a sound basis for responding to emerging situations and gaining an edge over the competition,” says Rüdiger Zepf.

Comprehensive business planning
So far, IBM Cognos TM1 is being used for detailed analysis in controlling at the divisional and group levels; in the near future, the company hopes to extend its use across other parts of the business.

“With IBM Cognos TM1, Georg Fischer is well equipped to make the right decisions in the future throughout the entire company,” predicts Zepf.

Georg Fischer will roll out the IBM Cognos TM1 globally over the next few months. The new platform is expected to make implementing future planning and reporting projects even more efficient. All financial controllers within the group’s subsidiaries now have direct access to the central TM1 controlling infrastructure, which means that a number of existing reporting systems will now be able to be partially replaced, and this standardization will provide further synergies.

About Serwise Group
Serwise Group is an international consulting firm headquartered in Winterthur and Dusseldorf. Serwise AG has been operating successfully in Switzerland since 1997, and has been represented in Germany by Serwise Deutschland GmbH since 2009; the Serwise Group also comprises Studentlab AG and Infra Support GmbH. Its consulting services include strategic development, organizational and process consulting, controlling and accounting optimization, evaluation, implementation, customization and development of software solutions.

To learn more about products and services from Serwise, visit www.serwise.com

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organisations 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 visualise 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, organisations 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 TM1

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 Germany. May 2013. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos and TM1 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 Serwise Group are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Serwise Group makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. 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. 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.