Scalable consolidation at Stahl

Scalable consolidation at Stahl


Chemical group Stahl has ambitious growth plans in which acquisitions play a major role. To facilitate this, Stahl needs scalable consolidation processes. SAP BPC and HANA support the big steps the organization is taking.

"As a company, we want to be able to grow," says Bram Drexhage, CFO at Stahl. The chemical group specializes in coatings for the leather industry in particular. "Worldwide there are about five major players; we would like to be No. 1. To achieve that, we have acquired two other players."

Control and scalability with SAP HANA and BPC

The acquisitions do take some beating in the consolidation process. "In 4 years, we almost tripled in size. With that, our information needs changed; control and scalability became more important," explains Piet Bekkers, CIO at Stahl.

To facilitate this, the multinational is moving to a new consolidation solution. "During one of the acquisitions, 18 entities were added. Our previous solution was not flexible enough to implement these changes quickly. Also, the software was no longer supported," says Irene Rutten, corporate controller at Stahl. The choice fell on SAP BPC. Irene: "We wanted the consolidation rules to be easy to set up and reports to be easy to build within the consolidation solution." "Within BPC you can be flexible with the entities and changes in them," says Gert-Jan van den Berg, involved in the implementation from Finext.

In addition, the rest of the organization already uses SAP. "The integration between accounting and reporting is easier to set up automatically when SAP is used left and right," says Bastiaan Sanders of Plainwater. "This eliminates manual actions, including the associated risks." Sister organizations Finext and Plainwater regularly pull together on implementations. Finext focuses on setting up the financial processes, while Plainwater specializes in information management and the links between the various layers.

Faster with SAP HANA

After the implementation of the new consolidation solution, performance was found to lag behind. "This was primarily a technical issue; the combination of the old database with the new BPC software was not performing adequately in terms of memory," Pete explains. "We couldn't estimate this beforehand, but through intensive use of BPC - with many reports and data entry schemes - we came to the conclusion that a migration to HANA was our best option."

"The system is indefinitely scalable. Also, the closure is faster, both quarterly and annually."

Stahl decides to switch to SAP HANA early. "The rest of the organization was not yet using HANA," Pete explains. "So we first researched carefully what the impact would be." The results were positive. Irene: "SAP HANA has improved performance tremendously; consolidation now only takes 40 seconds, and for reports we can refresh huge amounts of data within half a minute."

From working day 12 to 8

The international chemical organization is satisfied, not only with SAP HANA but also with SAP BPC itself. Pete: "With this move, we can handle a multitude of acquisitions; the system is indefinitely scalable. Closing is also faster, both quarterly and yearly. "We have gone from working day 12 to working day 8," agrees Irene. "In addition, the quality and reliability have gone up because of the comparability of the data. I think that is even more important than the speed," states Bram.

In addition, data integration is a big plus. "The link between SAP BPC and SAP Accounting is a huge advance," says Irene. "It's much more consistent; everyone uses the same ledger and the same mapping." "The traceability is greater now; you can trace transactions from BPC all the way into SAP ECC," says Bastiaan. "The quality is already incorporated in the source, a conscious choice. In SAP BW, this allows us to keep it lean and mean, making it easier and more stable. This does mean some functional impact on SAP ECC within your project, but you reap the benefits of that during the set-up of the integration. And afterwards during each monthly and annual closing."

Working together on trust

The cooperation between Stahl, Finext and Plainwater is based on trust. "At the beginning of the project I gave a budget of one million euros," Bram says with a laugh. "A budget is nothing, it's about getting to work and doing what is needed. We know what needs to be delivered and test the quality in between."

"We have a limited amount of expertise and manpower in-house. We do that consciously, otherwise we have overcapacity," Bram continues. "If we are faced with something we can't handle ourselves, we would like someone to take over for us. In doing so, it should not become too theoretical; make a decision and roll up your sleeves."

It is one of the reasons for choosing Finext and Plainwater. "We are critical in our choices for an external party though; we sat down with several parties before going with Finext," Pete says. "Also based on the references, we have the most confidence in the combination of Plainwater and Finext." "No nonsense and hard work is definitely the match between Stahl and our clubs," says Tiemen van der Tuijn, involved as project manager from Plainwater. "Speed and short lines of communication are therefore typical for the project."

"An implementation should not become a technical stronghold, but should start from the results for the organization."

Continuous professionalization

The organization is continuously preparing for the next steps in its growth. "We want to professionalize even further," says Bram. "For that, we need to ensure a clean house, also in the local countries." "The new system supports this," concludes Piet. "An implementation should not become a technical stronghold, but should start from the results for the organization. A pull from the requirements, not a push from the technology."