ZF Friedrichshafen AG is a leading automotive supplier and technology company specialising in drive line and chassis solutions and safety technology. The company is represented by 137,000 employees at 230 locations in nearly 40 countries.
The Business Challenges
In 2013, the Board of Directors introduced a uniform reporting system and setup a single Management Information System (MIS) across ZF management. How do you consolidate the reporting system of an organisation comprising seven divisions and numerous strategic functions?
Existing, outdated systems no longer supported the innovative and global-oriented high-tech company. Different divisions were importing data from SAP into Excel datasheets. Producing reports was time consuming. Each report was sector-specific with different key figures and a different layout. Excel reports were emailed to recipients, making it harder to analyse and compare data. It was difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to cross-reference the data.
A reliable and flexible solution that adapts to rapid changes and fosters innovative business from ZF. Key requirements included:
- A Single Point of Truth
- Easy to use and adopt
- Consistent layout and uniform content
- Centrally located reports
- Secure and reliable access
ZF assessed about 60 BI tools, with BOARD coming top as their final choice. The ZF team were impressed with BOARD’s Proof of Concept as well as their close cooperation with the BOARD team. The BOARD team made sure the solution to the requirements was quick, creative and bespoke.
Within two short months they developed a Corporate Identity Designer that made it easy to implement the extensive design requirements of the reporting system. The first concept phase of the project took around a year to complete, in which time KPIs were defined for future reporting.
A style guide was created for reports and dashboards, combining International Business Communication Standards with ZF’s corporate design to ensure a consistent look and feel going forward.
The new reporting system was migrated step-by-step using an agile process. Not all business areas and strategic roles migrated at the same time, ensuring that additional requirements could be incorporated and the solution perfectly adapted to practical needs to produce an efficient reporting system.
The ZF project has resulted in a complete application with intuitive navigation that adapts automatically to the rights and roles of the user.
A connector easily and reliably loads reporting data into the BOARD database from SAP. The BOARD planning applications (Operational Planning & Strategic Planning) load data back from BOARD into SAP. ZF writes data from BOARD back into SAP to create a single, all-in-one data point (SpOT).
There are currently 7 different applications for analysing and viewing data:
- Managed Information System (MIS)
- Strategic Planning
- Operational Planning
- IFRS & HGB Notes (Financial Statement)
- Commentary (Liquidity)
- Tax (Tax Reporting)
- Profit Walk (Operative & Monthly Closing)
Around 1,200 employees access the tool and data worldwide, including everyone in the management team. The ‘storytelling’ approach contributed to the acceptance of the system; an innovation that BOARD developed for ZF’s reporting system. Predefined stories present data so they are easy to understand and interpret.
ZF has introduced a state-of-the-art reporting solution that perfectly suits the dynamic nature of the business.
Employees can view and assess reports on a tablet or a computer. Instead of email, stakeholders can access centrally stored data at all times. Standardising the design and content has made data faster and easier to compare. Statistical tools evaluate the use of screens so that unused screens can be removed and popular screens made more prominent.
With drill-down navigation options, the management team see as much detail as they like, based on the reported KPIs, with tailored comments to support the decisions made.
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