Boosting Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Monthly Forecasting Process

| Client story

Capgemini introduces an automated solution embedded within SAP’s Business Intelligence platform to replace a manual offline process.

“The solution standardises the forecasting process across the council, enabling
us to restructure our finance function and make tangible headcount savings.”Jim
McManus, Group Finance Manager, Dorset County Council

The Situation

Against the backdrop of increasing pressures on resources, Dorset County Council
like many of its peer group was seeking ways to get ‘more from less’. Various
planning processes were considered - the monthly forecast outturn process provided
the greatest benefits potential given it utilised an offline spreadsheet model
which suffered from a number of limitations including: inconsistent usage across
the organisation; extensive manual effort to collate, generate and publish forecast
data; lack of integration to core back office systems; limited reporting and analysis
capability and scalability restrictions.

The Solution

Working in collaboration with Dorset County Council, Capgemini designed and developed
a new forecast outturn solution utilising SAP’s Integrated Planning functionality,
embedded within SAP Business Warehouse. The solution comprises a number of planning
input schedules supporting financial, headcount and driver based inputs. Planning
functions allow the Finance community to dynamically model and simulate forecast
values using features such as distribution profiles and historic data patterns.
The ability to manually adjust simulated values was provided giving the forecaster
the ultimate flexibility. Integration with the core SAP back office solution via
SAP BW, enabled master and transaction data to be embedded into the planning input
schedules automatically with no manual intervention. With forecast data being
generated in the common reporting environment i.e. SAP BW, actual versus forecast
reporting was enabled in real-time.

The Result

As Jim McManus, Group Finance Manager of Dorset County Council reports: “The solution combines the master data and financial information seamlessly and
means we no longer have to keep updating offline templates for completeness.
” The SAP powered forecasting solution was first used in the month following
the go live of the core SAP back office and reporting system – this was as scheduled
to be in line with the forecast data update timetable. The development of the
solution gave Dorset County Council a substantial ‘avoided cost’ benefit as they
did not have to convert their previous spreadsheet model to integrate to SAP rather
than legacy. In addition to the avoided cost, the solution has delivered a number
of cashable and non cashable benefits including:

  • Headcount savings – the increased level of automation has freed up resources to be deployed elsewhere
  • Standardisation – a common forecast outturn process is now deployed across the Council
  • Facilitating better decision making – the solution facilitates a shift in focus from data collation to information
    analysis and exploitation
  • Commonality – common solution for management reporting and forecasting
  • Integration – automated integration into the forecasting process of core back office SAP
    Finance, HR, Payroll and Procurement transaction and master data
  • Driver based forecasting – enabled through the delivery of a driver as opposed to output based template
  • Improved Cash Management – forecast process is based on monthly forecast values enabling better cash
    flow management opportunities. The business outcomes delivered have been considerable
    and in addition the solution provided a rapid and quantifiable payback on Dorset
    County Council’s investment. Quoting one of Dorset County Council’s Finance community:
    Now our forecast information is generated in one place, on a consistent basis,
    so all our managers have a clear and transparent view of the financial position
    across the organisation.

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