Marico, an Indian consumer products and services provider in the global beauty and wellness industry, worked on Excel sheets, prior to deploying a business intelligence (BI) reporting tool.
A large amount of time was spent on collating the data and consolidation rather than critical analysis and opportunity identification. The multiple iterations caused by the ever-changing business needs meant huge issues in managing versions and identifying the accurate one. One of the company’s strategic business units had to go through 17 versions of a budget in a three-month period, as the reporting of actuals against budgets and quarterly profit plans also happened on Excel.
Marico appointed Surit Patel from InGroup (now merged with Eclectic Group, which amalgamated with Maxima based in UK) to study its budgeting and reporting systems and recommend an action plan that involved deploying a BI reporting tool.
“InGroup’s report reiterated our understanding that Marico had already achieved operational excellence through software solutions, but a strong need for a strategic tool for budgeting, planning, and reporting existed,” recalls Harshal Salukhe, manager - Business Applications at Marico. In other words, Marico needed BI.
Evaluation and implementation
Marico formed an internal team consisting of core business users and the information technology (IT) department to jointly conduct the technology evaluation. It evaluated products, including SAP BPC, Hyperion, SAS and Cognos TM1. The Cognos BI reporting tool was chosen for its flexibility of Excel, robustness of database, excellent functionality, friendly user interface, simple IT management, and quick deployment.
The project started in August 2008. Budgeting templates went live on December 4, 2008 and budget closure took place on March 31, 2009. The budget against the actuals happened on August 31, 2009.
While implementing the Cognos BI reporting tool, Marico decided to adopt an incremental approach. IBM consultants implemented the first phase of the project for two reporting segments. One of the reporting segments was developed by Marico’s internal team, which has been managing the product implementation, including global roll outs since February 2009.
Weighing the impact
Not having a BI reporting tool turned out to be a boon for Marico, as there were no integration issues. The BI reporting tool has resulted in several tangible and intangible benefits for Marico as given below.
• Increased employee productivity as more than 250 Excel sheets were made redundant.
• Finance team calculating total cost of ownership of 17 months as opposed to three years for all IT projects.
• Lead time for releasing budget reducing from five days to four hours.
• Reducing the management information system (MIS) reconciliation time from four days to five minutes, resulting in 500% savings.
• A single version of truth.
• 8% savings on 2009-10 estimates for cost of goods sold (COGS).
• Control over inventory losses.
• Ensuring requisite quality norms.
• Enabling tax optimizations.
Scope of BI reporting tool
BI reporting tool is used at Marico at three levels today: for sales flash, financial flash, and for rolling forecasts. The user community has extended the reporting to value-added reports such as inventory rationalization, plant-wise profitability, capital employed, value and volume growth, and MIS and accounting reconciliations.
The BI reporting tool has helped the business users to graduate from a data collection mindset to a data analysis mindset, by moving away from manual processes. The users today understand the benefits of leveraging technology for reporting and analytics. They are utilizing the BI reporting tool to analyze data granularity and are keen to influence business decisions through incisive analysis. The BI reporting tool has also helped standardize key processes and migrate from people dependent to independent practices.
The future roadmap
Going forward, Marico plans to explore automated financial dashboards through the BI reporting tool and undertake direct integration with the existing BI landscape. The organization also intends to extend the usage of the BI reporting tool in non-financial functions. Marico is keen to share and implement cross learning amongst segments and make reporting tools a way of life for the organization.