14 Oct Farfetch
Industry: Online Retailer
Products and Services: Luxury fashion items
Web Site: www.farfetch.com
Partner: Opal Wave Solutions Ltd
Farfetch is the leading global luxury fashion retail online platform. The business previously relied on an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, alongside tools including Microsoft Excel, for tasks such as management reporting, budgeting and financial consolidation. However, Farfetch realised these arrangements would be inadequate for meeting demands on quoted companies, following its planned listing on the New York Stock Exchange, via an initial public offering (IPO), in September 2018. The group therefore conducted a competitive process, during which it met potential partners, who were asked to recommend systems they would propose installing. This resulted in the appointment of Opal Wave, who had proposed SAP BPC 11, for the implementation project, which began in January 2018. Farfetch’s management reporting, budgeting and forecasting functions were successfully migrated to the new solution by the flotation, with its financial consolidation following in mid-2019, as planned. The SAP system was being hosted in Opal Wave’s SAP HANA PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) solution. Opal Wave delivered all the required results, often inside very tight timescales, within budget, to an extremely high standard and without disrupting Farfetch’s business-critical activity.
- Faster reporting
- Automation has vastly reduced errors
- Deeper level of analysis achievable
- Enhanced transparency of information
- Increased data security
- Single, sound version of truth established across organisation
- Ease of use
Farfetch provides the only truly global online end-to-end luxury fashion retail platform and marketplace, selling products from hundreds of leading boutiques and over 3,000 top brands. The group offers categories including womenswear, menswear, kidswear, vintage, watches and jewellery, shipping to nearly 200 countries. Farfetch has offices in 14 major locations worldwide, employs over 2,000 staff, and maintains websites in 14 languages. The business provides despatch options including same day delivery in 19 major cities and even store-to-door in 90 minutes. Farfetch’s flotation in September 2018 saw its shares valued at over $5.8bn – above the estimated target range – and raised $885m for the business.
SAP BPC is the world’s most advanced EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) software supporting business’ planning and consolidation functions. It is relied on by thousands of successful organisations across the globe for budgeting, forecasting, statutory and management reporting, compliance, analytics and many other purposes.
Uniquely, Opal Wave offers a managed cloud version of the SAP BPC software, the BPC Cloud, on which customers can literally Go Live in a Day™, as an alternative to the traditional on-premise approach requiring hardware and installation. The company has thus made the application affordable by all sizes of enterprise, irrespective of sector.
Whether operated on-premise or in the cloud, SAP BPC makes an organisation’s reporting more speedy, efficient, consistent, relevant and accurate, via its ultra-fast-to-deploy, fully customisable templates. Capable of handling high demand across multinational networks, such as Farfetch’s, the solution integrates easily with other business systems.
After deployment, the SAP BPC software can expand and adapt to the evolving needs of a business, which can add functionality easily.
Among the many operational benefits customers can secure from SAP BPC are: reduced errors; better, faster decision making; shorter budget and book-closing cycles; and compliance with financial and other reporting standards.
The data in the solution is capable of being accessed in real-time and is supported on multiple platforms, including SAP HANA, today’s leading in-memory platform.
Opal Wave’s unique SAP HANA PaaS is a breakthrough in application hosting and management, uniquely combining the benefits of private and public clouds. It too is simple to configure and deploy, eliminates the need for expensive hardware, integrates seamlessly with on-premise solutions and adapts easily to business changes with near zero disruption. Covering SAP and all other applications, the solution is also customisable to meet all clients’ deployment needs and comes with full monitoring, management, back-up and disaster recovery, abolishing need for internal support.
Farfetch had decided to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, via an IPO, in September 2018. However, the group realised that continuing to use its existing ERP system, combined with tools including Microsoft Excel, for tasks such as management reporting, budgeting and financial consolidation, would not allow it to satisfy the stringent requirements imposed on public companies. These would force it to shift from annual to quarterly financial reporting, for example. Farfetch therefore asked two global business software manufacturers to recommend consultancies who could propose and install a suitable system. These producers included SAP, who suggested Opal Wave, one of its gold partners.
Nick Cooper, Farfetch’s Group Transformation Manager (Systems), said: “Seven or eight potential partners came in and gave us demonstrations of what they were recommending. Opal Wave won, as we preferred the SAP BPC system they suggested and their costs, plus we liked their guys. They also gave us confidence that they had the flexibility, resources and skillsets needed to get the system up and running in the short timeframe.
“Failure to transition key functions from our existing ERP system to SAP BPC before the flotation would have left us without a back-up and delayed the IPO.”
Opal Wave’s efforts ensured Farfetch migrated all the required functions successfully to SAP BPC before the flotation. This meant every relevant aspect was fully operational in time for the group’s 2019 budgeting process, for example.
The new system is now used for management reporting, budgeting and forecasting, plus financial consolidation, mainly by staff at Farfetch’s sites in London and Porto.
Roughly 20 staff use the solution for management reporting. The information SAP BPC produces helps with tasks such as compiling profit and loss accounts and balance sheets, reviewing actual results against expected outcomes in key performance areas, and monitoring headcount.
About 80 Farfetch staff utilise SAP BPC for budgeting and forecasting.
The group’s financial consolidation activity was run in parallel on the old and new systems during the summer of 2019, with full implementation taking place in the second quarter of the business’s financial year, starting that July.
About 60 staff, including specialists in Farfetch’s Treasury team, input directly into the new system for consolidation purposes, with the switch having helped the business in areas including cash and balance sheet management.
On the hosting issue, Nick says: “Our original plan was to bring this in-house – being a tech group, we have our own cloud servers. But it would have been a push to deliver this in time, as we don’t currently have the technical resource available internally to support it.
“It works for us to have Opal Wave providing everything – the support, the patching, and so on – and for us just to log in and have it all working. We tell Opal Wave what we need, and it’s all done.”
The consultancy’s ability to provide this high quality-hosting environment quickly – a facility many competitors lack – was one reason for the project’s speedy implementation. Other explanations included Opal Wave providing solution templates, developed to support very rapid deployment of SAP BPC, tailored to meet Farfetch’s specific needs. This ensured the work was not slowed through key aspects effectively beginning with blank sheets of paper. Much of the rapid progress was also due to Opal Wave deploying the right consultants at the right time, mostly at Farfetch’s London headquarters, ensuring all project activities were completed when planned.
Nick says: “We’re very happy with the way the whole solution has performed so far, as it’s working very effectively and delivering all the required outputs. Everything has been done to our satisfaction.
“Opal Wave have also been amazingly helpful in flexing to meet our needs. They feel like part of our team now. The’ve given us more resource at peak times and they’re always checking with us about the level of resource we’ll need to take things forward. Their technical knowledge is also great – they’ve helped us to see different ways of doing things, to speed things up – and they’ve charged us exactly what they said they would.”
Nick cites many benefits already apparent from the SAP BPC system.
He says: “We make fewer errors, as the involvement of humans has been reduced, and our reporting is faster. The level of analysis we need is also easier to achieve: we run a monthly analysis of some key HR metrics, for example, which was possible before, but much tougher.
“In addition, SAP BPC gives us the required transparency and data security – people who need to know the numbers can see them easily and those who don’t can’t get access to them. The system also gives us a single, sound version of the truth across the organisation, which is important.
Nick says the solution is also hugely intuitive to use, much easier than similar systems he has come across, though Opal Wave still provided some very useful end-user training to his organisation in London and Porto.
Evaluating the consultancy’s performance overall, he says: “Opal Wave have been great, really good, very helpful and hugely responsive. We have no regrets about appointing them and would absolutely recommend them to other businesses.”
About Opal Wave
Opal Wave was founded in 2008, the brainchild of three SAP BPC enterprise performance management (EPM) software specialists: Ivor Herman, Simon Bell and Ahtishaam Khan. Having worked for over 20 years each within the EPM domain, including with best practice processes, systems and technologies, they wanted to combine their experience and expertise to offer clients a genuinely valuable service that provided real benefit to their businesses. Since then, they have never looked back, with Opal Wave having gone from strength-to-strength, as more and more clients have discovered the benefits of better performance management.
Today Opal Wave delivers end to end EPM solutions to its customers across the globe including strategic advisory services supporting users in defining their EPM requirements, implementation and training services to deliver award winning projects plus a comprehensive Platform-as-a-Service for the SAP HANA platform underlying SAP’s solutions including the SAP BPC technology.
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