allnex: or how to integrate and automate great reporting

What happens when a world-class player in the chemistry field merges with an equally sized coating resins prodcuer? At allnex, integration of processes is one of the answers. When it comes to reporting in the sales and procurement departments, the help of MI&S was called in to integrate SAP and AX-platforms. MI&S director Dries Van Avermaet explains how that went, and what are the lessons learned.

So what’s the story behind this reporting case? Allnex, producer of coating resins, merged with Nuplex (a global company from Australia and New Zealand) in September 2016. Dries Van Avermaet, director at MI&S, was already working for the Allnex group, basically dealing with a pure SAP-project: ‘at that time, I was dealing with management reporting issues. But after the merge, our cooperation took a different direction. Historically, Nuplex was working on the Microsoft AX system, whereas allnex (the new name being with a small ‘a’) has always been using SAP. Our new mission was: integrate both. Or to put it differently: provide an integrated reporting solution that supports synergies between the sales and procurement departments.’

Functional approach
Step one? Define an elaborated set of dimensions and data definitions for both departments. Van Avermaet: ‘immediately, we could use our typical MI&S-approach, which is very functionality-driven, rather than technology-driven. We took a look at the problem from a reporting need.’ As a consequence, the first reporting cubes already came out in May 2017. The first interactive dashboards went live in September 2017.
allnex opted for upgrading SAP BI to Hana. Why was that? Van Avermaet: ‘Earlier SAP BI-versions turned out to be quite troublesome when dealing with non-SAP data sources. Hanna is more flexible in this respect. Since allnex is not active in the Cloud, a decision was made to implement BW on Hanna on premise.’ All together the project was run by a dedicated team consisting of MI&S consultants, external subcontractors and internal allnex specialists. All-in-all some 40 people were involved.
The migration being done, Van Avermaet today is still on site: ‘we are doing some hypercare. One of the issues now is data cleaning. Next on the menu will be planning and forecasting.’

Quick start
Large projects typically result in big ‘lessons learned’. No surprise, this holds for the allnex case too. Van Avermaet: ‘I am pleasantly surprised by the speed of the management. The fast decision to migrate to Hanna enabled a quick start of the project. Also, there was a strong focus on the functional side. Thanks to this, the reporting was set up in merely four months: three months to discuss and define the functional needs, and one more month to do the technical implementation.’

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