French firm consolidates financial reporting with SAP BPC

Faced with spending an increasing amount of time on financial reporting requirements for its global network, one company has looked to SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation for help.

Before implementing SAP Business Objects Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC), meeting financial reporting requirements had become an increasingly daunting task for ARaymond,a manufacturer of fasteners and other parts for the automobile industry. 

“It was sort of a nightmare,” said Marie-Thérèse King, information system management division director for the French company.

As ARaymond grew, so too did international financial reporting demands, which now include International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as well as country-specific mandates like Sarbanes-Oxley in the U.S. Executives ultimately concluded they could no longer gather data via the flood of Excel spreadsheets that its 50 companies were sending in from locations in Europe, North America and Asia. Because the data was submitted in a range of different formats, ARaymond’s financial accounting teams had to aggregate, correct and revise the data to make sure the information was consistent, which took up time and resources. 

To help address the problem, ARaymond turned to SAP BPC. The application does planning, budgeting and forecasting, and can help companies meet financial reporting requirements. SAP acquired the software when it purchased OutlookSoft in 2007.

“It’s been a big gain in time savings,” King said.

The SAP BPC implementation

ARaymond, which is still family owned, began consolidating much of its ERP and IT operations in the late 1990s, when it started deploying SAP ERP across the company and its subsidiaries.

“At the time, it was growing in the mind of everyone that we should have a common ERP among [all] the companies in the network,” King said.

Nine of the group’s largest subsidiaries -- all manufacturers -- now run SAP ERP ECC 6.0 for manufacturing, with more deployments on the way.  The other, smaller subsidiaries run a raft of other niche ERPs, including those from Madisonville, LA-based AIM Technologies , to CMS, a Canadian system, which is now a part of the British company SolarSoft.  

A couple of years after the company implemented SAP, ARaymond set about deploying SAP BPC to meet its financial reporting requirements and to attain a higher degree of financial accounting and data consistency. The Raynet business division, which supports the entire group’s IT processes and had managed the deployment of its SAP ERP, was asked to oversee implementing SAP BPC. The project lasted five months, according to King. 

The SAP financial reporting tools are Excel-based, which means that managers can put their numbers directly into the system. Once they add their information, members of the finance department can then export the data directly into a report format and immediately start analyzing those reports.

That has cut down the time required to prepare the reports, as well as the number of errors.

“We receive the information through flat files and templates that have been created,” King said.  “They’re far easier and less time consuming to fill in for any local controller.”

One other benefit of a unified reporting system is that the data is more consistent across the enterprise and that inter-company transactions are easier to track, she said. The application has also allowed them to better manage doing business in numerous currencies at once, as well as expedite financial closings and consolidations. 

Why turn to SAP BPC to meet financial regulations?

While some companies conduct exhaustive comparisons of different vendors based on things like cost, functionality and even business strategy, King said ARaymond never looked beyond SAP BPC for its reporting requirements – given that they had been running SAP ERP for over a decade, as well as SAP BusinessObjects for analytics.

“The decision was a natural choice for us,” King said. “It was such a huge step forward.”

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