The Sandvik Group wanted to improve the speed and transparency of its mission-critical financial close and reporting solution, which was used to analyze 100 gigabytes of data from 475 international business units. Working with Microsoft and SAP, Sandvik deployed an innovative SAP solution based on the Microsoft platform. As a result, Sandvik has minimized risk, boosted efficiency, and achieved real-time insight into its group financial reporting process.Business Needs
Founded in 1862, the Sandvik Group designs and manufactures tools and equipment for metalworking and mining. The Forbes Global 2000 company, which is headquartered in Sweden and operates in more than 130 countries, also develops metal products. Before 2010, its business users took advantage of the 4.2 release of OutlookSoft software to analyze and report on 100 gigabytes of information in databases running Microsoft SQL Server 2000 data management software. (Acquired by SAP, OutlookSoft is now known as the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application.)
||We realized excellent results by working with Microsoft and SAP. Together, we broke new ground in group-reporting systems…. [The architecture] is fully fault-tolerant, secure at each layer, and easy to scale.
Manager of Process and Systems Development
Sandvik Group Finance
In the first five days of each quarter, the company’s 475 business units entered and processed data, pushing the system’s load to 12 million financial requests. Built on 32-bit technologies, the solution struggled to manage the volume of requests and a report could take 20 minutes to create. IT flexibility and scalability were also issues, and any changes to the reporting process, including measures to protect classified data, decreased performance. In addition, business users had no way to verify the completeness or accuracy of reports until each subsidiary was done. This created additional stress and risk because business users had to complete and correct information with little time to spare. “It was like rush hour at the beginning of every quarter—only rush hour lasted 24 hours a day, five days in a row,” explains Patrik Södergren, Project Manager, within Sandvik Group Finance.
The company sought a highly available financial close and reporting solution that minimized risk, boosted performance, increased data transparency, and facilitated changing business requirements.Solution
After an extensive technology evaluation, Sandvik chose to migrate to the 7.5 release of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation for the Microsoft platform. “We already had a strong partnership with Microsoft and with SAP,” says Patrik Sköld, Manager of Process and Systems Development at Sandvik Group Finance. “By putting these two companies together, we knew we could think outside the box and come up with a great solution.”
In February 2010, Sandvik worked with consultants from Microsoft Services and SAP to create an innovative solution that runs on the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise operating system. Eight web servers, supported by IBM System x3650 M2 server computers, manage incoming requests from SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, routed by BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) from F5. To fulfill the requests, the analysis layer—which resides on six IBM System x3650 M2 servers—pulls information from the database, supported by Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and two clustered IBM System x3850 M2 servers. Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services processes the data using a model that features multidimensional online analytical processing (MOLAP) and six relational online analytical processing (ROLAP) cubes. “Our hybrid design, which combines MOLAP and ROLAP, was tricky to implement, but we received some excellent support from Microsoft Services to make it work,” notes Rolle Svedlund, System Area Manager, Sandvik IT Services.
The team used the Microsoft .NET Framework 4 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services to create a tool that monitors data entry. It also created a dashboard with the .NET Framework 4 that displays each subsidiary’s reporting status. To protect classified data, the team used built-in features in SQL Server 2008 such as data encryption and SQL Server Audit. Sandvik also deployed Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 to monitor IT components. To fine-tune the solution, the team conducted 180 stress tests on 60 million performance counters with the Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 Test Edition development system. In June 2010, employees began to use the new system.Benefits
By creating a solution with Microsoft and SAP, Sandvik has accelerated the group financial close and reporting process, delivered real-time insight into data, and reduced risk.Improves Efficiency
The new mission-critical solution easily manages the peaks in transaction volume and is highly reliable. Södergren says, “With the help of Microsoft and SAP, we have given our business users a more stable and planned way to work, which involves a lot less pressure and overtime.” Elaborating on how this helps employees, Södergren adds, “Now we have time to act on more strategic business issues, so that we can become a world-class leader in financial reporting.” Today, 1,000 business users at 475 global locations can generate reports much faster, in just 15 seconds or less. “The support provided from Microsoft Services during the whole process from planning to production deployment has been excellent. Microsoft really helped us to determine how we should use different techniques to achieve the level of performance we wanted" notes Svedlund.Increases Transparency
With the solution, authorized business users can look at data in new ways, view details about database changes, and receive an email message if there is a data-entry issue. Business users also have the ability to produce quarterly reports on time with less stress—and gain real-time insight into the status of those reports with a dashboard. “By creating a new group financial reporting solution with SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation on the Microsoft platform, we now have the tools we need to be more proactive and improve the quality of information we receive from reporting entities,” says Sköld.Minimizes Risk
IT issues no longer hinder global reporting at Sandvik. “We realized excellent results by working with Microsoft and SAP,” says Sköld. “Together, we broke new ground in group-reporting systems. In combination, these technology solutions have propelled our group reporting performance far in advance of where it was before, delivering substantial benefits to our business users and IT department. To my knowledge, we are the first in the world to use this architecture. It is fully fault-tolerant, secure at each layer, and easy to scale.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.