Morgan Advanced Materials

Opal Wave Engineers Range of Benefits for Multinational Company

Morgan advanced materials logo

Executive overview

Company: Morgan Advanced Materials
Industry: Engineering
Products and Services: Various
Partner: Opal Wave Solutions Ltd


SAP Business Planning and Consolidation application, version for the Microsoft platform. Global engineering company Morgan Advanced Materials has been an Opal Wave client since first acquiring the SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) system in 2008. The system is now used across Morgan’s extensive multinational operations daily for data relating to financial and statutory reporting, health and safety, the environment, HR, insurance and a range of other matters.

Having worked with Opal Wave for a number of years, Morgan recently appointed the firm for a three-stage project, comprising: replacing many of its physical BPC servers with virtual ones; developing the environment for and implementing SAP BPC version 10.1; and archiving version 7.5 of that system, which version 10.1 replaced. The project was duly delivered successfully, on-time and within budget.


Global engineering business, serving customers in over 100 countries

Morgan Advanced Materials is a global engineering company, quoted on the London Stock Exchange, with headquarters in Windsor, England. A world leader in advanced materials science and ceramic, carbon and composite engineering, its output includes high-specification materials, components and sub-assembly parts. The organisation operates in the healthcare, petrochemicals, transport, electronics, energy, security and industrial markets. Morgan’s principal product ranges are insulating fibres, electrical carbon transfer systems, seals and bearings, ceramic cores, crucibles for metal processing and high technology composites.

The company also develops specialist materials and makes many application-specific products to customer requirements. Morgan has over 80 manufacturing sites in more than 30 countries, supported by a network of sales offices around the world. It employs almost 9,000 people, serving customers in over 100 countries.


Morgan appoints Opal Wave to three-stage project

Explaining the thinking behind the project’s elements, David Honour, Morgan’s Group Financial Systems Manager, says: “We had several BPC servers which were coming to the end of their lives, getting less reliable and more expensive to maintain. Our BPC servers are so widely used across different time zones that they simply have to be fully available for six-and-a-half days a week.

“In addition, SAP BPC version 10.1 was attractive to us for reasons including that its report-writing functions, which we use extensively, are superior to those of version 7.5. They’re largely based around dragging, dropping and clicking, and – in contrast to some competitor products – are intuitive, user-friendly and not couched in weird words. Other reasons for upgrading included that version 10.1 supports the newest versions of Microsoft Windows and particularly Excel, which we use a lot, and that SAP were withdrawing support for version 7.5.

“We made archiving version 7.5 part of the project, as we’d still need to refer to it after the switchover but would require less access and want to devote fewer resources to it.”

David says Morgan had no hesitation in appointing Opal Wave as their partner for the project.

He explains: “I like dealing with Opal Wave and, in my opinion, they know more about BPC and related matters than anybody else in the UK. I’ve been working with them for several years and one of the great things about them is you always feel they’ve done any job you ask them to tackle for someone else before.”

Why Opal Wave?

Expertise and experience made the company ideal for Morgan project

Opal Wave is the leading UK-based enterprise performance management and business intelligence software expert specialising in SAP BPC solutions as well as SAP HANA, the most advanced in-memory platform for business available today. Founded in 2008, Opal Wave employs over 40 people and has offices in London, Bradford and Beirut. The company offers consulting, hardware, software, hosting, support and maintenance services. It has worked successfully with dozens of clients, in many sectors, across the UK, Europe, the USA and the Middle East, providing tailored solutions meeting their unique needs and delivering exactly the results they desired, in areas such as planning, budgeting, reporting and analysis.

The firm’s specialisms include working with clients to ensure: their performance management strategy aligns with business aims; information produced is relevant and timely; and performance management systems adapt to changes in their operations and needs. In addition to undertaking work such as designing and building, Opal Wave trains clients on developing, deploying, using and maintaining its applications, including integrating them with existing systems. It can host these at its state-of-the-art data centre and provides continuous back-up through 24-hour online support and a hotline phone service. The company partners with complementary specialists in related fields, including data warehousing, business intelligence and enterprise resource planning. It is a SAP Gold Value Added Reseller, as well as being certified in SAP Enterprise Performance Management solutions and the SAP HANA database management system. Opal Wave is a certified SAP Partner Managed Cloud partner and a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.


Every project stage delivered without disruption

Each phase of the project was implemented without disrupting the client’s daily, business-critical activities, following extensive and robust planning.
At the project cutover, SAP BPC version 7.5 was taken out of service at 5pm one Friday evening and version 10.1 was fully live by the middle of the following Monday morning, for example.

The Morgan team’s role embraced the higher-level design and prescribing the sequence of phases, with Opal Wave’s main responsibilities including the operational design and building work.

David Honour says: “We decided that the best approach for the first stage was to acquire a limited number of high-powered virtual servers, rather than a larger quantity of smaller ones.

“It was never the intention that we’d be 100 per cent virtual. We still have four physical BPC servers but now have nine or 10 virtual ones too.”

The project included two Opal Wave consultants spending a week with David and his assistant, assessing building options. One of the firm’s experts was then on-site in Windsor for a number of weeks, undertaking the work.

Other project elements included Opal Wave training David in relevant respects and him then tutoring other internal users.

He says: “Opal Wave’s training is always very good and I’ve taken elements of their approach to use in the coaching which I deliver.”


Client says everybody who uses “really flexible tool” sees it as a step forward

SAP BPC version 10.1 can provide powerful, integrated, sophisticated, flexible reporting and consolidation functionality and processes, including across multinational networks, such as Morgan’s.

Powerful and scalable enough to handle high demand, with predefined templates speeding reporting and consolidation, the system can improve and automate data checking, collection and control, while eliminating manual input and reducing errors and redundancy. Its central database can unify disparate data silos and help ensure a single version of the truth across an organisation.

Capable of meeting a company’s current and future needs, version 10.1’s flexibility means it can adapt to changing business needs and be extended easily to new sites as businesses grow.

Version 10.1 therefore has the ability to enhance the speed, efficiency, relevance, consistency and accuracy of an organisation’s enterprise reporting. It can lead to improved and faster decision making, plus enhanced efficiency and profitability.

Morgan now has licenses for about 330 staff – in countries including Canada, the US, South Africa, Mexico, China and India – to use version 10.1.

David Honour says: “SAP’s products have a deserved reputation and version 10.1 is a really flexible tool. Everybody who uses it in the company sees its arrival as a step forward.”


Range of advantages follow Opal Wave input

David Honour says the project involved “a big change” for Morgan but has delivered significant benefits.

He explains: “The new servers mean it’s now harder for something to go wrong. We no longer have to worry about disk space and when these servers reach the end of their lives, we should be able to transfer to new ones without much disruption.

“The great things about version 10.1 include that it offers a vast suite for data entry and reporting and will never be replaced, just regularly upgraded. We’ve already discovered that many of its patches are easy to apply – just like updating a smartphone – and that most upgrades are simpler to implement than was the case with version 7.5.

“A further advantage is data consistency. If our finance and HR functions need current employee numbers, for example, they get the same figures, and that principle applies for departments wanting information such as sales revenues and volumes too.”
David says Opal Wave’s partnership approach to the project has also delivered lasting benefits.

He explains: “Many suppliers doing the building, for example, would have minimal contact with the client. This can lead to problems down-the-line, as the client is then left to try and make the system run without really understanding it.

AboutOpal 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.