Working faster than the market with new visibility of information

RIEMSER Pharma enhances competitiveness and strengthens its position in the marketplace

Published on 25-Jul-2013

"The data for the annual statutory financial reports is now available in one day, rather than several weeks. The extensive automation has also streamlined reporting to AXA Private Equity significantly." - Michael Christoph Foyer, Head of the RIEMSER Business Intelligence Competency Center, RIEMSER Pharma GmbH


Life Sciences, Healthcare

Deployment country:

BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, BA - Performance Management

IBM Business Partner:
cundus AG


RIEMSER Pharma GmbH, headquartered in Greifswald, is a mid-sized specialist pharmaceutical company that markets products throughout Germany and around the world. The company focuses on prescription drugs in selected therapeutic niches where there is a significant medical need. RIEMSER’s core competencies are in supportive oncology, anti-infectives and dermatology.

Business need:
RIEMSER’s growth strategy depends on its focus on specialist pharmaceuticals. The demands of growth and intense competition in this market required a more integrated approach to financial reporting, analytics and corporate planning.

RIEMSER Pharma GmbH introduced IBM® Cognos® Express. This comprehensive solution for business intelligence and corporate planning provides planning, analysis and reporting capabilities.

Expands the company’s strategic vision. Increases success in the sales sector. Minimizes the error rate and the effort required to acquire information.

Case Study

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

RIEMSER Pharma GmbH, headquartered in Greifswald, is a mid-sized specialist pharmaceutical company that markets products throughout Germany and around the world. The company focuses on prescription drugs in selected therapeutic niches where there is a significant medical need. RIEMSER’s core competencies are in supportive oncology, anti-infectives and dermatology.

Identifying niche opportunities rapidly
Germany is the largest pharmaceutical market in Europe, but drug-pricing regulations and other regulatory requirements have led to a decline in domestic sales. As a result, RIEMSER sees its main opportunities for growth in exports and new product development. For over 20 years, the company’s positioning as an international niche specialist with innovative products has been the key to its success.

Complex processes lengthen time to insight
In the past, RIEMSER’s process for collating and analyzing business data was highly complex. The first challenge was that all of the information related to sales, products and customers was spread across separate systems — including an ERP system, an accounting system and local databases. The second challenge was that the volume of data was growing as the company expanded globally. Developing improved information management capabilities therefore became a top priority for the company.

Understanding the requirements
At the end of 2011, RIEMSER management decided to work with its long-term IBM Business Partner cundus AG to deploy a business intelligence solution, and determined several key requirements. To create a single source of truth across the organization, the solution needed to be connected to the main database, and include analytics, reporting and planning functionalities. In addition, all area managers needed be able to independently call up key performance indicators to help them better manage their area of responsibility and control costs.

For Michael Christoph Foyer, head of the RIEMSER Business Intelligence Competency Center, the flexibility to perform ad hoc queries was an important requirement – as was the ability to easily extend the solution to meet future requirements. Looking to the future, RIEMSER also saw the value of an analytics solution that could support corporate planning and budgeting.

The right solution from the right partner
Based on these requirements, RIEMSER was only interested in evaluating solutions that integrated both business intelligence and planning capabilities. Because of its positive experience of collaborating with IBM in the past, RIEMSER had confidence in IBM solutions, and selected IBM Cognos Express software.

The integrated and comprehensive IBM Cognos Express solution enables report generation, analytics and planning. With its simple, standardized interfaces, RIEMSER found it easy to integrate and extend the system into its existing IT landscape. The flexible web-based access, intuitive usability and value for money of the Cognos Express solution were also important factors in RIEMSER’s decision.

RIEMSER knew that the successful introduction of a business intelligence solution relies not only on the software itself, but also on good change management and strong in-house technical competencies. Foyer gathered business intelligence experts from cundus AG, and formed a team that would complement his own skills and knowledge in these areas.

“The experienced consultants from cundus combined technical expertise with a deep understanding of how our business is managed, which made the implementation much easier,” explains Foyer.

Based in Duisburg, Germany, cundus AG is one of the leading consulting firms in the German, European and North American markets for unique, demand-oriented solutions for business intelligence, corporate performance management, external and regulatory reporting, and eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).

As an integrated solutions provider, cundus AG provides support throughout the entire business intelligence lifecycle — from strategy, design and implementation through to business-as-usual. It provides in-depth business methodologies and technological expertise, including extensive implementation skills and experience, and best practice approaches.

In preparation for introducing Cognos Express, the project team’s first task was to ensure that the data that would be used for analysis was consistent and reliable. The team mapped out the data sources, decided on extraction techniques and defined the data management processes. RIEMSER benefited from cundus AG’s best-practice approach, which enables Cognos Express to rapidly and automatically load data from production systems into an OLAP database. This database can be used to generate multi-dimensional data cubes for analysis in Cognos Express.

First, the finances
The first phase of the project was to develop a fresh process for external financial reporting. As a publicly traded company, RIEMSER prepares consolidated financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the German Commercial Code (HGB). In addition, the company regularly provides its strategic investor, AXA Private Equity, with status reports.

Together with cundus, Michael C. Foyer began developing a process to perform the necessary financial reporting in Cognos Express. Within one month, RIEMSER had successfully migrated its financial reporting processes to IBM Cognos Express, saving a significant amount of time and effort. “The data for the annual statutory financial reports is now available in one day, rather than several weeks,” explains Foyer. “The extensive automation has also streamlined reporting to AXA Private Equity significantly.”

Enabling greater transparency
After successfully migrating its financial reporting processes to Cognos Express, the next phase was to enable new analytics capabilities to improve decision-making processes for corporate management and controlling. For example, with enhanced reporting, the company’s management would be able to immediately identify when and why the company was departing from its strategy, and take appropriate action quickly.

In July 2012, the project team worked with cundus to provide the company’s controlling and management teams with a new multi-dimensional data cube for analytics. The cundus consultants helped to define the standard reports both from technical and business standpoints. Today, managers can pull reports and key performance indicators into their own dashboard, simply by dragging and dropping. Thanks to in-memory technology, it is possible to analyze the data from all angles in real time, right through to a detailed level. This allows management to drill down through nationwide product sales to see information such as sales figures for certain regions or vendors with just a few mouse-clicks.

“The solution provides a rapid overview of the market and our corporate performance. In short, decision-makers have gained greater visibility than ever before,” says Foyer. In the future, other business units should benefit from this transparency as well.

Improved sales management and business planning
During the third phase of the project, the team focused on sales reports to enable marketing and sales employees to benefit from deeper insights. The team defined a number of role-specific reports including data on weekly sales and profitability, which are now released to project managers on a regular basis. In addition to these pre-defined reports, users can also define, refine and test their own hypotheses – in short, creating their own analyses and plans. Self-service capabilities allow employees to create product management reports themselves, without requiring the support of the IT department.

“The new capabilities have created a shift in awareness,” says Foyer. “At the corporate level, we make intensive use of the new insights provided by IBM Cognos Express, which help us identify opportunities to improve our time to market.”

Today, the company is continuing to roll out Cognos Express across the business. By continuing its work with cundus AG, RIEMSER predicts that all of its business planning will be performed using the IBM Cognos Express Planner module within the next few months. This tool will replace the sometimes cumbersome manual planning process by introducing well defined workflows. It will also consolidate all planning data into a single OLAP database, where it will be available for further analysis.

Greater transparency, deeper insight
The new IBM solution has already helped significantly reduce the amount of time and labor involved in collecting and analyzing RIEMSER’s operational data. Cognos Express also makes it possible to perform ad hoc queries and analyses in real time, providing deeper insights for business users.

Foyer concludes: “This new solution has introduced considerably more transparency at RIEMSER. We now have an overview of the entire organization and its performance, and we are also able to quickly analyze specific issues. Management and staff get much faster access to more detailed and relevant information – so they are able to make much more intensive use of it. To sum up the results, a whole new level of information awareness has developed within the organization.”

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.

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Products and services used

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

Cognos Express

Legal Information

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