The fundamental shock suffered from the outbreak of Covid-19 on global scale affected and still affects us all, both on a societal and private level. The crisis also affects companies in many ways and makes it more difficult to focus on innovation. However, as John F. Kennedy once observed, the Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’: One stands for danger, the other for opportunity. For Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd. this holds true as well. Despite the exceptional situation, the company sticks to its core values and innovation spirit and continues to explore opportunities to innovate. In March 2020, the company teamed up with two teams from the SAP Customer Innovation organization, the SAP AppHaus and the Strategic Customer Engagements teams, to jointly work on an innovative approach: build a real-life example with SAP Analytics Cloud for planning on Gazprom’s infrastructure showing ways to improve and automate the financial planning processes.
Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd. (GM&T) is a fully owned subsidiary of the Gazprom group, the world’s largest gas producer and one of the world’s largest energy companies. With the aim of providing the world with innovative energy solutions, GM&T builds a unique environment of excellence.
While applying SAP’s Human-Centered Approach to Innovation in a fully virtual setup, the project team leveraged SAP Analytics Cloud for planning to accelerate the budgeting process for IT-projects across multiple departments. In contrast to the old planning process, the proof-of-concept used existing account structures and rules showing simplicity, transparency and user-centricity as well as opportunities to accelerate the budgeting process and make it more efficient.
Analyzing the as-is situation, virtually
Kicking off the co-innovation journey with an exploration workshop in early March 2020, the SAP team had to switch on short notice to a virtual collaboration setup. The SAP AppHaus team was just starting to virtualize its offerings in response to the COVID-19 crisis to continue fostering innovation ideas and projects remotely. Our known and proven methods could be applied with the help of Mural, a platform offering a digital workspace for visual collaboration with virtual whiteboards and post-its.
The project’s mission consisted in reimagining the planning process for project-based IT costs. To analyze the as-is situation and to gain a deep understanding of GM&T’s challenges in line with SAP’s Human-Centered Approach to Innovation, the project team conducted a half-day virtual Exploration Workshop to create a so-called User Journey Map for the planning process. In the workshop, the team gained a holistic view of the process and the related hurdles they had to overcome. This was supplemented by remote end-user interviews to clarify details and to validate the Proof of Concept (PoC) development and UI designs done by SAP.
The financial planning process involves several steps, departments and user roles in the UK, Russia and Germany and aims at budgeting the annual costs of IT projects. Project managers must first determine the costs associated with approved projects, such as personnel to be staffed on the project, as well as software and hardware costs. IT controllers then consolidate and allocate the operational expenditure (OPEX) and capital expenditure (CAPEX) splits manually, while the HR department checks the availability of staff. Currently the planning is mainly done using MS Excel. Planning data is pushed to GM&T’s SAP Business Warehouse at a rather late stage. Top-down and bottom-up budget adjustments lead to the process being run through from scratch again.
Accelerating the planning process in changing environments
In some cases, the current planning process takes a long time to respond appropriately in times of ever-changing business environments. System breaks make data reconciliation, plan/actual comparisons and the calculation of what-if scenarios tedious and error-prone. Additionally, there is no automated consideration of different currencies and their exchange rates. Missing real-time insights into the planning data results in a lack of transparency for the company’s management.
Enterprise planning with SAP Analytics Cloud
Gazprom Marketing & Trading had chosen SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) for planning to test its functionality on the more complex IT cost planning process. The enterprise planning solution stands out by streamlining end-to-end workflows, aggregating and harmonizing data of different sources and tracking organizational KPIs in real-time, visualized in interactive dashboards.
The PoC, running on GM&T’s IT systems, shows how manual processes can be replaced by SAP Analytics Cloud for planning. Automated data aggregation, based on planning and reporting from individual projects replaces error-prone, manual tasks across different systems and departments. Operating expenses and capital expenditure are now allocated automatically, based on the project phases and activities.
Interactive Dashboards available on a desktop or mobile provide real time insights and can replace the management reporting previously visualized in PowerPoint. Intuitive simulations of what-if scenarios take strategic decision making to the next level.
Matt Elton, Business Planning & Reporting Manager, Gazprom Marketing & Trading was part of the Gazprom project team from the very beginning and sums his experience made during the project phase up: “You don’t need to be a developer to make it work in SAP Analytics Cloud for planning, when business has new requirements.”
While currently HR has to manually check the availability of personnel that the project manager staffed, in the PoC SAC for planning takes over and automates the process. Headcount planning data is checked against the productive system and the result is shown either with a green square or a red circle, in case more people were planned than available.
A seamless integration and real-time synchronization with GM&T’s SAP Business Warehouse enables easy transfer of master data and plan/actual comparisons.
You don't need to be a developer to make it work in SAP Analytics Cloud for planning, when business has new requirements.– Matt Elton, Business Planning & Reporting Manager, Gazprom Marketing & Trading
It was so easy to get master data across from SAP BW, now we know how well BW is integrated in SAC for planning.– Zandes Burger, Capability Manager EPM, Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd.
Gazprom paving its way towards the Intelligent Enterprise
Manual and time-consuming data collection and reconciliation? The current PoC demonstrated that this can belong to the past soon: it allows for faster, confident and better-informed decision making, turning data into business value. The end-to-end process integration, powered by SAC for planning, increases speed, efficiency and accuracy of planning. Realtime analytics can turn SAC for planning into a single source of truth for GM&T’s top management.
Preparing for post-crisis growth
In a time when innovation is more critical than ever GM&T used this PoC to proof its way to become an Intelligent Enterprise. SAC for planning enables a reliable evaluation of GM&T’s IT initiative portfolio and therefore can contribute to building the foundation for post-crisis growth. “It was a pleasure for us to support GM&T’s innovation mission in a completely virtual project setting for the very first time”, states Michaela Epp, Program Manager at the SAP AppHaus.
What was also proven: COVID-19 cannot stop innovation!