Dredging company Boskalis didn't just have an FP&A challenge in 2016. Operational reporting also had to improve. The implementation of Vena provided a single version of the truth. Separate spreadsheets and different ERP systems were replaced or connected by Vena. We asked Boskalis about their findings on this journey.
Boskalis before Vena
As a large multinational with a history of more than 100 years, it is not surprising that Boskalis, active in dredging, offshore energy and marine services, has a lot of data to process. What they didn't have when Pieter Klem started in 2018 was a "single source of truth" - one place to make data available for financial and operational reporting throughout the company. "Divisions were using their own ERP systems and everyone was exporting data into Microsoft Excel," Pieter says. "Then everyone within those divisions built their own reports. It was anything but a professional solution."
With different divisions using their own ERPs and reports, reporting processes within the company were often disconnected and inefficient. Teams wasted time due to a lot of manual input, editing and exporting. "Everyone was exporting to Excel to start reporting there. While the required exports often took hours, perhaps four hours per employee."
With around 20 users and multiple exports, that time adds up quickly. And to build the reports properly, users had to search through large amounts of data and extract the right information themselves. On top of that, the manual input and enrichment of data increases the chance of human error and makes real-time integration of data from different sources impossible. Especially the latter is very important in the ongoing projects within Boskalis. It was clear to Pieter that Boskalis needed better capabilities.
The choice of Vena
The team at Boskalis knew it would be a huge task to bring all Reporting into one system with consistent processes and standard templates across the company. At the same time, they trusted that the right solution would help them consolidate numbers and make information more readily available to all customers within Boskalis. If they could reduce all kinds of manual tasks then they could begin to achieve real-time integration of sources, and set up a mature data landscape with operational and HR data in addition to financials. To help them achieve this, Boskalis chose Vena.
The team started small, implementing Vena for specific use cases, but use of Vena quickly gained momentum. For example, the Budget Control Reports (BCR) within Boskalis. This was implemented within one division to begin with, and its use spread to other divisions before it was even officially rolled out there. "When we started with the BCR, it was difficult to find a standard template because everyone did it in their own way," says Pieter. "So then we designed a new template in coordination with all the business units which became the new standard within Boskalis."
The use of Vena has since expanded to other divisions and multiple use cases. Today, Vena has real-time data integrations with the central data warehouse and a number of other data sources. This makes Vena the central place for all reporting processes such as weekly cash forecasting, reporting on P&L, balance sheet and HR information and operational project reports. An internal competence center of 5 people, led by Pieter, is the primary place for all Vena expertise within the company. They receive requests from users around the world and continue to build new use cases.
"Data, BI and Reporting is becoming increasingly important," says Denice de Groot, Business Analyst at Boskalis and a member of the internal Vena team. "So this is not a project that is important for a few years, it is important to set this team up well for the long term."
"Most importantly, reporting now takes a lot less time. Vena is always up to date"
With Vena's help, Boskalis was able to harmonize the financial and operational reporting of company-wide processes. The need for manual changes has been eliminated and standard dashboarding has been put in place with which information is accessible to everyone in a clear manner, without having to search through the underlying data. Denice: "The most important thing is that reporting now takes a lot less time. Vena is always up to date.
Vena allows Boskalis to add additional financial models and inspires Pieter, Denice and the team to keep improving. End users are also enthusiastic and regularly bring their own ideas for further development to the competence center. This continuous alignment with users ensures a continued focus on process improvement within the company.
The momentum around Vena has additionally provided buy-in for setting up a shared ERP platform. Different parts within Boskalis stem from acquisitions and always had their own ERP system. But the integration between the new, central ERP system and Vena has already led to a switch within different parts.
Currently, the entire organization is experiencing the benefits. The standardization of Reporting across all components has led to a more consistent way of working with all the associated benefits. At the same time, the integration with Power BI is starting to contribute more and more on the side of business intelligence and data visualization. "The combination between Vena and Power BI is definitely the next big development for us to pick up," says Pieter in conclusion.