When Stanley Works merged with Black & Decker in 2010, to form Stanley Black & Decker (SBD), joining up the two companies threw up the challenge of running two different financial systems - Black & Decker’s SAP ERP and Stanley’s Oracle estate.
However, the global provider of power and hand tools told the UK Oracle User Group’s Apps 13 conference in London that it had worked out a way to integrate the systems in the back end so that it could continue running both, therefore causing the least disruption to its business users.
The problems were evident when the merged company wanted to reconcile transactions and financial data between the two systems. According to SBD, it would take “at best” four hours to reconcile transactions from SAP with Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) - by the end of which there would be another four hours of new transactions generated in SAP, which meant that the company was continually playing catch-up.
The original, lengthy process involved SBD loading transaction data from SAP into Microsoft Excel, preparing the data, running a trial balance reconciliation and then loading the data into Oracle Hyperion Financial Data Quality Management (FDM). The arduous process resulted in inaccurate data, poor reconciliation and long submission times.
“The process took, best case, four hours. [But] by the time we submitted, we had four more hours of transaction data on SAP. We were running out of time, it was getting complicated,” Michael Suessner, financial systems controller at SBD, explains.
“HFM reconciliations [to confirm that the HFM ledger balances agreed with the SAP general ledger] took ages. Sometimes we just gave up because it just didn’t work.”
However, a re-engineering of processes, which have now been in place for about 18 months - has allowed SBD to reduce the time to just a few minutes.
In the new process, Hyperion data is built simultaneously with the creation of a transaction in SAP.
“Instead of doing everything in FDM, we created another SAP document, and on that document, when the SAP ledger is created, a new Hyperion document is generated in real time. [The data] is extracted out of Excel, out of FDM, all into SAP,” says Suessner.
“There are no lengthy extractions anymore, because it’s all done in real time. You save an enormous amount of time.”
Data and reconciliations are also more accurate with the new process, as SAP transactions (such as billing and vendors invoices) are moved to a HFM conversion engine, then to HFM Cross Validation, going back to the SAP system to look up and check against the information on documents there, to HFM data repository - all in real time. It is this verified data repository file that is loaded into Oracle FDM, and it is possible to link back to the original SAP or Hyperion version from the newly-created reports.
“We really struggled in the past with reconciliations, and proving what flows into what. So that really helps us a lot,” says Suessner.
Furthermore, the new process does not allow a document to be created until all the required information is completed, so that vital data is no longer missed or lost.
Low IT involvement = faster rollout
SBD has so far rolled out the new processes to 143 companies, 230 HFM entities across Europe, Asia and Australia, with more scheduled. The rollout is being carried out by finance users using standard user tools, with low IT involvement.
“That made us very flexible,” says Suessner, who adds that the rollout took just seven months, including testing and training.
“Development said it would be in excess of 15 months - so we were faster,” he says proudly.
Other benefits include the implementation of a consistent process across all countries for Hyperion submissions, and Hyperion users who don’t know SAP can see familiar Hyperion characteristics in SAP.
It is also now easier to bring new companies online into the system.
“The rollout just goes very quickly. We don’t have to worry about it, nothing IT has to worry about, users get used to it. Something that makes my life very easy,” Seussner says.