After several major acquisitions, Boskalis wanted to move to a single integrated Performance Management solution. A diversity of business models with their own requirements made this complex. The two-step implementation of SAP BPC provides overview and confidence.
An integrated Performance Management solution
In 2010, Boskalis acquired Smit, followed by the acquisition of Dockwise in 2013. "After the acquisitions, we were keen to move to one integrated database," says Paul Schurgers, Manager of Group Accounting & Reporting at Boskalis. In doing so, there was especially plenty of room for division-specific requirements. "Actually, I only add up numbers," Paul continues. "The money is made outside, where it is important that the divisions get figures that they recognize and with which they can make good decisions."
Facilitate and standardize
Since the acquisitions, Boskalis has a palette of business models; in addition to dredging, maritime services have mostly been added. "These different business models do complicate an integrated system," says Richard Leijnse of Boskalis. Richard originally came from Smit. "Every business model you want to facilitate, but on the other hand we also have the desire to standardize."
The different business units also have different reporting periods; monthly and quarterly. "We maintained that reporting rhythm," says Paul. The project team also had to be able to create support among its supporters; this was also true when determining the uniform chart of accounts. Richard: "For example, we spent a lot of time explaining why I want one account and not another. It is also logical that we have different requirements, Offshore Energy is different from Dredging."
Balancing pace and support
"We chose to standardize the input, while giving the output more flexibility," Richard continues. "If Offshore Energy wants a report, they get that as output, even if Dredging doesn't need that report. "In a project, it's also about balancing pace and support," says Wesley Schulte of Finext.
"If you grant all wishes without fitting them in the right way, it becomes unmanageable."
"First standardize, then flexibilize. If you accommodate all wishes without incorporating them in the right way, it becomes unmanageable," adds Olaf Looije of Swap Support. Finext and Swap Support are sister organizations that often work together around Performance Management applications; for example, Olaf has been involved in managing Boskalis' financial applications from Swap Support for many years.
The organization made a conscious decision to implement the new system in two steps. "It was a two-stage rocket; first we brought Smit to the same platform, then we integrated the worlds," says Wesley.
This two-stage rocket gives users a chance to get used to it. "Actually, it's an investment in change management," says Paul. "Richard's success with the application at Smit led to other business units wanting the same thing. For example, people saw that they no longer had to type in data when they started working with imports. Without the Smit application, I wouldn't have been able to put down the integrated Boskalis application."
Engaging the key users
Involving the users proved to be a success factor. "We were able to attract a lot of good people to the project; from Boskalis Netherlands, Dredging and Offshore Energy. These were heavy users, especially on the reporting side," Paul says. "The real work was done by the team. I mostly removed everything that was on the track, but the project team with the key users made the train move."
"We no longer have discussions about the numbers, everyone recognizes themselves in them."
The cooperation with Finext and Swap Support is also satisfactory. Paul: "There is a pleasant relationship between the specialists; Finext takes on the project and Swap Support the management phase. It is important that there are good links between the implementation and the management, I think Swap Support and Finext give excellent shape to this."
Basis of success
A second success factor is the central database. "One database does form the basis of success," says Paul. With so many different business models, that does demand something of the application. It also requires measured design choices. Paul: "One system also means that you get a forecast model per entity. Richard doesn't need that, but he does want a detailed profit & loss statement. If you're going to standardize as much as possible, basically everyone pays a price."
However, it also delivers a lot. "We no longer have discussions about the numbers; everyone recognizes them," Richard says. "As a result, people take ownership for their numbers. In addition, it helps that people don't only have to give input, but also get output back."
Report in 100 countries
Over 200 colleagues work with the system. "Boskalis has about 800 reporting units in about 100 countries, each with their own requirements for the ERP system," Paul says. "It is also important for us that the system brings together all global figures in a uniform way. In some countries the statutory figures are leading with a prescribed chart of accounts, and in other countries some software packages are not allowed."
On top of that, the reporting and consolidation structure changes slightly every year. Paul: "We operate worldwide. In principle, if a new project already has an existing company in that country, we are not going to set up a new company there. However, the turnover of each project, and also that new project, must be accounted for at the right business unit and responsible manager." The new application makes this easy to set up, after which the revenue streams are automatically presented to the correct business unit.
Steering from an overview
Looking back, staying true to the original requirements has been the third success factor in the project. Paul: "Prior to construction we took time to clearly define the key requirements, then we held on to these key requirements when during the project the requests came to do things differently after all." Within that, though, there was plenty of room for the specific needs of the divisions and business units. There was also a lot of wiggle room for the project team to build the application they wanted. "The project team started flying because of that," Paul states.
"When you have an overview, you can steer."
Consequently, Paul and Richard are pleased with the new consolidation solution. "We are now one to two weeks faster in reporting the group figures," Paul says. "Before, I was proud when I had the figures from the main three systems, now we have the time to also properly verify and analyze those figures before they go to the CFO. The confidence in the numbers is greater." "When you have an overview, you can steer," concludes Richard.