With 25,000 employees, ASML is one of the largest high-tech companies in Europe and is still growing enormously fast. What developments do you see in your market?
Erik: “We still see the need for chips growing. Various trends including the Internet of Things, self-propelled cars, big data and many more reinforce this intended growth. We also see that the market has a need for a more and more advanced chip. This always requires a new technological step. That is why we spend more than 2 billion euros a year on research & development.
ASML does not make chips itself; we create the machines and technology with which the world’s largest chip manufacturers can produce chips on a large scale using their own architecture. We are a clear leader in this field in the Netherlands: all major chip manufacturers worldwide use ASML’s solutions”.
How do you support the business in this growth?
Erik: “The correctness of the planning is important. Externally for our shareholders, but also internally in order to be able to calculate various scenarios. To improve our planning, we first looked at the planning processes. Now that these processes run more smoothly and efficiently, you see that the current tooling no longer fits. We strive for an integrated planning landscape within ASML, in which unambiguous information for various users is available and exchangeable at all times for optimal cooperation. Our aim is connected planning, in which we blur the distinction between financial and operational planning”.
Jef: “We are in a ‘low volume, high value’ business, in which no two machines we make are the same. That has an impact on our planning process; we want to be able to plan at a very detailed level. Most organizations don’t look at their planning in such detail, but we need these details for the business. For example, to be able to plan on a sales order item level. That’s why we want a solution that can do more, is faster and works better for ASML”.
"As a SAP BPC support partner, Swap Support is involved in all developments and from that role they also think about the future."
In order to be able to make an informed choice between the different tools, we organised a Battle of the Tools together. What has that yielded?
Jef: “During the Battle, experts from Swap Support juxtaposed five different tools in one session. The participants from ASML were both business and IT users. For us it was very valuable to be able to compare the pros and cons of the tools together”.
Erik: “It’s nice to get an independent view on the different possibilities. As a support partner, Swap Support is involved in all developments and from that role they also think about the future. The story of the software supplier is somewhat biased after all. Swap Support supports various tools, which gives us an impartial opinion about the possibilities”.
What dilemmas did you encounter when making a shortlist for a new planning tool?
Erik: “You are going to make a choice for the future. Will you choose an established tool, which you know will go out of support in 5 years, or will you choose a solution that nobody uses yet? If you think progressive and choose a new tool such as SAP Analytics Cloud, chances are it hasn’t been fully optimized on all functionalities yet. If you choose conservatively, then you know it works. But you also have less functionality and in 5 years time you will have to select again. To get a better feel for this, we have done a Proof of Concept with SAP SAC (SAP Analytics Cloud)”.
The business was very involved in the Proof of Concept approach. Why do you find this so crucial?
Erik: “We chose this approach to prevent it from becoming an IT-driven initiative. We often see that IT starts with a tool selection in order to offer the best to the business. But if users aren’t involved from the start, they can’t experience the pros and cons of the various options. By having the business involved in the Proof of Concept (PoC) of an IT tool, you guarantee the connection with the future vision of the business”.
"Swap Support supports various tools, which gives us an impartial opinion about the possibilities."
We have been working with ASML for many years with a chain of specialists from Swap Support, Plainwater and Finext. How do you experience that?
Jef: “Swap Support manages incidents and operational matters in SAP BPC, both in terms of consolidation and in terms of planning and sales planning. As soon as it’s a larger project, Finext is called in. And Plainwater will be added for those projects where you are tinkering more with the infrastructure. It’s nice that one group of parties takes care of the maintenance, changes and technical support for SAP EPM. As a result, little knowledge transfer is required. Moreover, a single point of contact costs us much less time and delivers much more value.
All specialists understand our business well and know what’s going on. Support is good both during and outside office hours, there are not many parties that have such a service desk. That’s great, especially at the end of the month and at critical times”.
How did the Proof of Concept (PoC) with SAP SAC help to develop the new planning vision within ASML?
Erik: “With a PoC you can concretise your vision. The Proof of Concept with SAP SAC has shown that you can quickly realise something that offers many new possibilities. Because you set up a working and tangible solution in a short period of time, you enable users to actually experience the pros and cons, and in the event of a positive experience, they will commit themselves to making the intended change a reality”.
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