Finance and IT join forces at Wavin
The technical support and hosting has now been added to the second-line functional hosting and support already outsourced to Swap Support. “When SAP BPC 7.0 became due for replacement, an upgrade to SAP BPC 7.5 was considered with a view to improving performance. However, this did not show from tests at the previous hosting party, which gave us little confidence in them,” says Joep van den Aker, ICT Manager at Wavin. Because of the need to upgrade, the conversion project was broadened.
“The system’s reliability is crucial to us. We want to guarantee a continuous, proper and reliable functioning of the system,” says Rob den Butter, Consolidation and Reporting Manager, Wavin.
Wavin decided to outsource the entire support surrounding SAP BPC, including the hosting, to Swap Support. “First we performed a ‘proof of concept’, to show that the performance would really improve,” says Kasper van Dongen, project leader from Swap Support. ”SAP BPC is a specific system, that needs a specific server set-up and a party with experience in that field,” says Wim Wind, Technical Manager at Wavin.
SAP BPC is a specific system, that needs a party with experience in that field.
A visit to Endemol, which has also outsourced its entire hosting and support surrounding consolidation software to Swap Support, influenced the decision to switch host. “The Endemol situation is comparable with regards to size and scale, their environment might even be more complicated and the application a bit heavier. The system worked very well at Endemol,” says Rob. “We could see that the reports were opened swiftly and correctly sent,” says René Meier, Senior Consolidation and Reporting Specialist at Wavin.
Remote Desktop Server versus client
A Remote Desktop Server (RDS), where you work directly on the server, is used in the new situation. “With RDS you virtually travel through the Internet. Via your own laptop you access the server, on which you can work directly. You no longer transfer data over the line, which causes fewer delays. A ‘client’-version allows you to work on your laptop, with data being transferred from the server to your laptop and vice versa,” Kasper explains. “If, for example, the network in Turkey or Russia is not optimal, this causes a delay when sending and receiving data.”
”Certainly in cases of long distances and lines of inferior quality, working with an RDS proves to be a very good method,” says Joep. “We are now less dependent on the local IT network infrastructure. This self-sufficiency provides a better quality in performance and stability. Before we used only clients.”
We now have a stable environment, with a service desk that can support and solve problems swiftly.
“That caused such a pressure on the network, especially during month closings, that we were often confronted with performance issues. We wanted SAP BPC to become an application for the entire group, so the regions could benefit from the system as well,” says René. “Because the system’s performance was inadequate, it did not work out that way. With the new set-up it does.”
For each country, the pros and cons of working via a Remote Desktop Server or via a client were weighed-up. “Clients are slightly cheaper, because with an RDS you also need Office licenses for each user on the server,” Kasper explains. “It has been a conscious choice; we use an RDS only where necessary. For example, Turkey will use an RDS, while the whole of Scandinavia – where the network is very good – works via clients.”
One focal point
During the upgrade to the new version of SAP BPC, a specialist from Finext, Swap Support´s sister organization, implemented a number of changes at the same time. “The migration to the new environment and the upgrade to SAP BPC 7.5 went almost without a hitch,” Wim says. “The IP-tunnels took up most time and effort. You have to bring two external parties together, the gates need to be open and both sides are using different hardware. We have learned that you need to have very good specifications when you bring together several (external) parties. This is one of the reasons why we are happy to have one focal point. It really simplifies things for the user as well. We now have one service desk to direct questions to.”
“We now have a stable environment, with a service desk that can support and solve problems swiftly,” René says. “For users, the speed has increased. Besides, everything can now be done on a laptop and the old computers have disappeared from desks. Some people still had two computers on their desk,” Rob adds.
The mutual interest of Finance and IT
Finance and IT often have different perspectives. Wavin manages this consciously. “In our experience it works best when IT and the functional group from the business join forces on the project. We have two responsible project managers, if they work well together, you can combine the two perspectives effectively,” says Joep. ”In the end we share the same interest; we all want the system users to be able to deliver the consolidation well each month.” “Dedicated resources with short lines, both from the business and from IT, have been one of the keys to the success,” says Rob.
It is important to keep the dedicated resources long enough on the project. “A pitfall towards the end of a project is switching to normal activities, such as the budget, too soon,” says René. “In fact, we still need to dot some last i’s and cross some last t´s. Wavin has recently been taken over by Mexichem. “This meant that we had to adjust our reporting to fit their structure and timelines. This transfer went smoothly.” The adjusted reporting structure and the new reporting format were implemented in SAP BPC within a short period. “Our Mexican parent company is very interested in SAP BPC and the functionality it offers,” says Rob.
The four people who were involved from Wavin are positive about Swap Support’s role. “It is a professional organization, very goal-orientated. The short lines and flexibility were very agreeable,” says Rob. “We had a project plan of six months and after two months we were one month ahead of schedule, which unfortunately we had to give up again due to the issues concerning the network tunnels. The flexibility Swap Support showed has really made it possible for us to deliver on time and within budget.” “This is also thanks to the flexibility of the parties that we work with, such as our network partner Referit,” says Kasper.
”There is a big difference between a small partner – such as Swap Support – and a large partner,” says Rob. “A large partner is very standardized, with a certain way of communicating. A smaller party such as Swap Support can be much more flexible. That is an important advantage. You know who to turn to. Whenever I call Kasper with a problem, he sees to it that it is immediately solved. You don’t have to tell your story six times. The commitment to solve issues is high.” “The services desk is run by people who can help you swiftly and who are knowledgeable,” René adds. “For a little more money, we now have a much better system,” Rob concludes.
Text: Danielle Gruijs
Photography: Mariske Krijgsman