09 Aug The SKF Group
Products and Services: Bearings and seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication systems
Web Site: www.skf.com
Partner: Opal Wave Solutions Ltd
SKF is a leading global manufacturer of technological products, with experience in 40 industries. The group decided to upgrade from SAP BPC version 7.5, installed in 2011, which it used for purposes including financial reporting, monitoring energy consumption and logging accidents, to version 10.1. SKF examined three potential partners for the project before appointing Opal Wave, the only one with which it had never worked before. The customer had experienced serious performance problems with similar projects previously, but Opal Wave delivered their parts of the upgrade without problems, on-time, to a very high standard and within budget, without disrupting SKF’s vital business activity. Opal Wave’s contribution included enhancing the solution, based on best practice recommendations its experts made.
- Enhanced internal and external financial reporting
- Better accident reporting
- Improved monitoring of energy consumption
- More efficient reconciliation of internal invoicing between group companies
- Superior management of purchasing costs
- Activity-based planning capabilities
SKF is a world-leading supplier of products, customer solutions and services in the rolling bearing, seals, mechatronics and lubrications sectors. The group’s main competencies include technical support, maintenance services, condition monitoring and training. SKF also occupies an increasingly important position in the linear motion product market, as well as providing high precision bearings, spindles and spindle services for the machine tool industry. The group supplies about 40 industries, employs around 50,000 people, and has over 140 sites in more than 30 countries, including 16 technical centres.
SAP BPC is the world’s most advanced business planning and consolidation software. 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 SKF’s, the solution integrates easily with other business systems, providing a single version of the truth across the entire organisation. After initial 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.
SKF decided to upgrade to version 10.1 mainly because the manufacturer had said it would stop supporting version 7.5 in March 2018. The organisation was, however, aware it would gain additional benefits from the switch, including simplified administration and more varied and accessible reporting options, too.
The company looked at three potential external partners for the upgrade. It had worked previously with two of them but opted instead to appoint a new supplier in Opal Wave.
Inger Ericsson, SKF Group Financial Controlling and BPC Team Manager, says: “We realised pretty quickly that Opal Wave had the best knowledge and the best team.”
The SKF upgrade project ran from September 2017 to July 2018. However, most of Opal Wave’s 700 man-days spent on it were delivered in the initial four months – before the testing phase began – when a quartet of its experts were deployed full-time.
Opal Wave’s work included migrating about 100 SKF BPC templates to version 10.1’s EPM report writer. Its tasks also featured redeveloping core templates for the new system.
The company’s contribution additionally encompassed: providing an interim development environment for version 10.1; managing stress testing, which provided confidence that the solution would operate under the expected load before it went live, and users were exposed to it; and aiding user training through a unique series of videos it has produced.
Inger Ericsson praises Opal Wave for stepping proactively into a breach and providing the environment, at only a few days’ notice, after the acquisition and installation of new servers did not take place on-time, avoiding a potentially serious delay on the project’s critical path.
She says: “Opal Wave saved the project, as it would never have finished when we needed it to if we’d not been able to access their interim managed cloud environment for a few months. They acted very quickly and professionally, so we had it up-and-running extremely fast.”
Opal Wave recommended a stress test because, with 1,200 SAP BPC users of a mission-critical system, SKF needed to be sure that they could go live without performance issues. Historically, the group had experienced challenges with performance and stability, and a critical success factor for this project was addressing both problems.
Inger says: “Doing the stress test was a very late decision by us but, even though it showed there were no issues, we’re very happy we did it, as it made us much more confident about what would happen afterwards.”
Opal Wave’s training videos, covering all the key aspects of the new system, were also very well-received by SKF and meant that the users were able to adopt the upgraded BPC models with ease.
Ian Jamie, Opal Wave’s Managing Consultant, who oversaw the SKF project, says: “The videos served an important purpose, because it would otherwise have been very time-consuming to train the company’s hundreds of users around the world.
“The videos cover basic tasks in the upgraded SAP BPC software, such as how to access the system, log-on, operate the templates, run reports and write your own reports. The videos also address some more advanced processes, such as how to construct templates using the new EPM report writer.
“SKF can now just give the videos to new starters, for example, who can work through them.”
“Opal Wave saved the project, as it would never have finished when we needed it to if we’d not been able to access their interim managed cloud environment for a few months. They acted very quickly and professionally, so we had it up-and-running extremely fast.” Inger Ericsson, SKF Group Financial Controlling and BPC Team Manager.
The functions for which SKF uses SAP BPC version 10.1 are currently those for which it utilised version 7.5 which is principally as financial reporting and consolidation software which is core capability for SAP BPC.
Inger Ericsson explains: “The main purpose is external and internal financial reporting. We report annually and quarterly to the market and internally on our performance. But we use the system for a lot of other things too, including accident reporting, monitoring energy consumption, internal invoicing between group companies, managing purchasing costs and planning.”
The group’s SAP BPC license holders around the world undertake tasks such as inputting into the system and extracting reports from it.
Early feedback from users about the upgrade is highly encouraging.
Inger says: “The platform feels more stable now. Users also like version 10.1’s EPM report writer, with its improved usability, and say the templates – which make it clear what they can and can’t choose – are better, for example.”
Reflecting on the upgrade project, Inger says SKF are delighted that they appointed Opal Wave.
She says: “We have not had any issues with them or their work at all. We could never have expected that, after our experience of similar projects before, when we had people working day and night to put things right.
“This time, we got completely normal closing, first-time, after Opal Wave delivered a great project for us, so we’re extremely happy.”
Ian Jamie recounts an anecdote which illustrates Inger’s point perfectly.
He says: “Some of the users were asking why the new system had not gone live on the scheduled day, when in fact it had. The switchover, like the rest of the project, had gone so smoothly that they hadn’t even realised it had happened.”
Opal Wave has now supplied a staff member, who is working with SKF for 50 percent of the rest of 2018, to cover a temporary reduction in the internal team.
Inger says: “We’ll certainly use Opal Wave in the future and, in fact, already have a plan to work with them over improvements and upgrades to the system.”
“We are delighted that we appointed Opal Wave and have not had any issues with them or their work at all. We got completely normal closing, first-time, after Opal Wave delivered a great project for us, so we’re extremely happy. We’ll certainly use Opal Wave in the future.” Inger Ericsson, SKF Group Financial Controlling and BPC Team Manager.
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.
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