Reliability and accuracy at Parnassia
“The Parnassia Group was formed by a large number of mergers. In 2008 it became a private limited company with the accompanying obligatory consolidation,” says Gerben Gerritsen, Parnassia Group. With over 8,000 employees and 560 locations, the Group offers a wide variety of disciplines and specialist clinical mental health care. “The restructuring was not easy. We used Excel for the consolidation. Consolidating in Excel has, however, big disadvantages, such as the fact that the data input software is error-prone. We wanted to improve proficiency. Moreover, Finance wanted to make the controls within the consolidation process more robust.”
The Parnassia Group has chosen SAP BPC as its new consolidation solution. This is a logical step given the organization’s earlier choice of SAP BPC for its planning process. “In 2010, we implemented SAP BPC to support the budgeting and forecast process. It is used for planning and reporting the number of required staff and man-hours,” says Leon van Beurden, Parnassia Group.
Chain of hosting, support and project
Since the implementation of the planning solution, the Parnassia Group has outsourced the hosting and support of SAP BPC to Swap Support. “Last year, we had to choose a tool to use for the consolidation process. The Swap Support team told us that their sister organization, Finext, had developed a consolidation template in SAP BPC. The solution can be implemented very swiftly from this ‘FIT-template’.”
The co-operation between Swap Support and Finext guarantees a seamless integration between project, hosting and support.
“We usually make a distinction between changes and projects,” explains Olaf Looije, Swap Support. “We address the changes from our hosting and support role at Swap Support, and for the projects we work together with our sister organization Finext.” Both Gerben and Leon are positive about this value-chain for Performance Management. “I never notice that they are two separate companies, but I experience them as one knowledge-driven team,” Gerben comments. “It is a pleasant way to work,” agrees Leon. ”The co-operation guarantees a seamless integration between project, hosting and support.”
Teamwork is everything
The Parnassia Group prefers to outsource the hosting and support of the Performance Management solution. “It provides us with a backup for those moments when I’m stuck,” says Leon. “Teamwork is everything, and with the support of Swap Support, I’m not alone. “ Olaf adds: “Sometimes we have projects or requests for information, in which we brain storm together about the best solution. Eight out of ten times Leon can continue solo after such a session. On the other two occasions we assist. The planning application, for instance, presented performance issues, which we solved together.” “I have a lot of faith in colleagues at Swap Support. Every question I ask, is answered,” says Leon.
Simple implementation via FIT-template
Implementing the new consolidation solution is made simpler by deploying the FIT-template. “This FIT-template is based on best practices and the combined experiences of Finext employees,” Gert-Jan van den Berg, Finext, explains. “You can quickly realize a thorough implementation of a consolidation solution.” “First, we organized exploratory workshops, to judge whether the template offered a fitting solution,” says Olaf. “It seems to suit Parnassia well, especially as they have a background in Excel. The experience of setting up consolidation processes can easily be adapted by Parnassia through use of the template.”
“It is wasteful to reinvent the wheel again,” says Gerben. “The template’s best practices provide simplicity,“ says Gert-Jan. “You can start at a fundamental level and ask, is this satisfactory, and what more do we need?” The template offers the possibility of additional functionalities. For the Parnassia Group, a drill-through was a required supplement. “Adding the drill through to the template went very well; we now even apply the drill-through in the planning solution,” says Leon.
Choices made easy
A number of choices need to be made during the implementation of a new consolidation process; the template provides a good framework.
“The fine-tuning during the pre-sessions is very important,” says Gerben. “The template is helpful in making the initial decisions about the implementation during the actual sessions.” “For instance, booking the equity pick-up. At Finext we do this in two different ways, which we can easily outline. This makes it easy to take joint decisions,” says Olaf. “During the session Olaf and Gert-Jan raised critical questions, forcing us to take decisions,” Leon adds.
“Another choice is more fundamental: why not use the SAP BPC planning tool?” says Olaf. “We advise that an application should be allowed to do what it is supposed to do; in this case, consolidate.” “We are still happy with this choice. Consolidation is a preparatory phase for the annual accounts, in which you no longer look at detail related to cost centers; should you want to do that, it becomes very complex and laborious,” explains Gerben.
“The progress was very positive,” says Gerben. “The speed, the short lines and the manager’s trust gave us more flexibility.” “We started the week before Christmas and we could deliver early February,” says Gert-Jan.
”The only decelerating factor was the data input from SAP FICO,” Leon continues. “In SAP BPC we need details about certain components and these were hard to extract from SAP FICO.” “In the new consolidation solution we needed to introduce a number of refinements, such as tests on detail, which were unnecessary in Excel,” Gerben explains. “But this also provided us with other things, such as confidence that it is error-free. Furthermore, few people understand the consolidation via Excel-sheets, so now we are no longer dependent on one person. We will be able to assign part of the work to other colleagues, which will allow us to take on other things.”
The new solution has a lot benefits; such as confidence that it is error-free.
“On top of this, the Parnassia Group is planning to consolidate each quarter, instead of once a year. The new consolidation solution will save time,” says Olaf. “The analysis of the figures will also improve,” concludes Gerben.
Leon and Gerben are already planning the next steps. “We want to integrate the cost prices as well,” says Leon. “You could also import a forecast or a planning from the planning application to the consolidation, so you can see if you are ahead or behind on budget. That option has already been built in,” Olaf indicates. Apart from that, Gerben also expects steps regarding the cash flow statements. “Just like everyone else in the care sector, we too must make cutbacks. A deeper insight into the cash flow statements would help.”
Step by step
When asked for advice about implementation of a Performance Management solution, Leon and Gerben react unanimously. “Arrange regular meetings with all disciplines; don´t do too much at once, but work in stages. Make a start; mark and secure it; and only then should you proceed to the next stage.“
Text: Danielle Gruijs
Photography: Mariske Krijgsman