International property developer gains strong foundation for further growth

HB Reavis Group is the leader on the Slovak real estate market. At the end of 2006, it opened offices in the Czech Republic and Hungary, in Poland (in 2008) and in 2010 in Croatia. Thanks to its fast growth it began in 2008 a search for an international, comprehensive information system that would help it sort out not only existing problems with sharing and processing information, but also support its further growth. Ultimately it chose Microsoft Dynamics AX. The latter covered all its needs and offered high-level flexibility and adaptability to the company’s needs.

Business Needs

Company’s fast growth required move to professional information system

HB Reavis Group was founded in 1993 as a real estate agency. It entered the property development market in the mid-1990s, when it built its first office complex in Slovakia – the Bratislava Business Center I (BBC I). At the end of 2001, the HB Reavis Group opened its first shopping center, Aupark Bratislava. In 2005 the company began to focus on logistics, completing the first phase of the Bratislava Logistics Center – Rača. Although the company continued to expand into new fields of business, it had still, for a long time, used its original IT tools for management and accounting. They covered only basic processes, were used only to a limited degree and were only minimally integrated. The accounting for individual parts of the fast-growing group was done through local accounting programs and Excel tables were used for planning and reporting. Thus company management had a relatively complicated and drawn-out process for accessing data needed for decision-making. The financial statements for the entire group became available only six months after the end of the fiscal year. Management of property development projects as such was also difficult. The projects usually impacted several cost centers that exchanged data among themselves only via Excel. Thanks to this information exchange system, it also happened that different subjects worked with different versions of the same data. When the company expanded from Slovakia abroad in 2008, it decided to move to a comprehensive, international, enterprise information system; one that would be able to cover all areas of the company’s business – from economics to CRM to complicated administrative processes related to the rental of space in office buildings and shopping and logistics centers.

Solution

The company implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX to manage its accounting such that it would comply with many national accounting standards and IFRS. The new system was also to cover its project planning and other key processes: Microsoft Dynamics CRM for managing relationships with customers using rented space; Microsoft SQL Server for Business Intelligence and a data warehouse; Microsoft SharePoint Server in the role of a Document Management System and for electronic invoice workflow and the Alstanet Facility Management system as a specialized CAFM solution based on the Microsoft platform and interconnected with all other parts of the solution.

The company chose Microsoft Dynamics AX due to greater flexibility

Initially the HB Reavis Group chose from a total of nine offers. It later made a short-list that included Microsoft Dynamics AX and a competing multinational solution. Indeed it was the requirement for an international solution that was key for the company, because it had just expanded into the Czech Republic and Poland and was planning further expansion in the future. Thus the new system had to know how to manage accounts per individual national legislative norms and also per IFRS standards. The latter are used to calculate the financial results for the entire group. The company, however, also expected the system to have a high degree of flexibility for eventual future modifications, an advanced Business Intelligence solution and also support for one of its business activities – Facility Management. For the latter it required a specialized solution able to be modified for the company’s individual needs. Indeed it was because of this requirement and the existing vertical solution for Microsoft Dynamics AX that the company chose this product.

Implementation took place in several phases

HB Reavis Group chose Accenture to implement the system. Accenture first carried out a detailed procedural analysis and then became project manager for the entire implementation. Several other companies ultimately took part in this process. These included, for example, Avanade – a joint-venture of Accenture and Microsoft – which had already implemented Microsoft Dynamics AX at Hitachi Asia and helped eBay migrate part of its portal to the Windows Azure platform. There was also the company, Alstanet, which supplied its specialized solution for Facility Management that enabled among other things the visualization of all 487 990 m2 of rented space that HB Reavis Group owns in individual countries.

Benefits

One system covered all activities

The actual implementation began in May 2009 with the analytical phase and the definition of the overall concept. During this time it was decided exactly what the entire system would look like. Ultimately Accenture recommended combining several Microsoft technologies. The Microsoft Dynamics AX system became the core. It was enhanced by a specialized vertical solution, Real Estate Management, that was modified by about 40% to suit the company’s needs. The independent Microsoft Dynamics CRM was chosen to manage customer relations, mainly as concerns building space rental. The specialized Alstanet Facility Management (AFM) system was chosen for the direct inventory and visualization of rented space. It is built based on Microsoft technologies that it directly connects to other parts of the overall solution. The company implemented Microsoft SharePoint Server for the management of all electronic documents. The latter manages the archiving of all contracts and technical documents for the company and also the electronic invoice workflow, which - with roughly 1500 invoices per month - greatly helps save time needed for approving them. The actual integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and AFM is carried out over the Microsoft SQL Server in the role of a data warehouse. SQL Server at the same time looks after the Business Intelligence solution working with data from Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM. For its Business Intelligence needs the company also uses the freely-accessible Microsoft PowerPivot tool for Excel 2010. Due to the vast scope of the entire solution and its implementation in a number of subsidiaries and different countries, the overall implementation was divided into several phases. Beginning on 1 January 2010, Microsoft Dynamics AX was launched in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Then the Document Management System based on the SharePoint Server platform followed. The invoicing system was launched in June 2010.

All rented space and contracts are in one spot

The Alstanet Facility Management system offered the company unique access to information on all rented space via an intuitive graphics interface. The system uses, as source documents, the buildings‘ architectural sketches created using the CAD application and meeting relevant standards, from which it obtains information not only about the rented spaces, but also about the technologies in individual buildings. The system is also able to (for each of the several dozens of buildings, representing rented space with an area of 487 990 m2 owned by HB Reavis Group) show for each space who is renting it, including contact information from the AX. It also shows the details of the rental contract integrated from MS Dynamics AX. It is also possible to show an overview of listings for the selected space from the CRM system, with an active cross-click on the details of the offer directly in the CRM system. Here you can easily see the floor plans of individual spaces. The AFM system for the HB Reavis Group also serves to monitor energy consumption – collection of meter readings and their integration into the AX system, where subsequent invoicing of individual renters takes place. Implementation concluded with the area of controlling, for planning all operational costs. This contains almost 40,000 planned items. These items are subsequently transferred to BI reports, where plans are cross-checked against facts.

Project planning functions across all companies in the group

Project planning also met with significantly positive change. HB Reavis Group is currently working on projects in Slovakia and the Czech Republic for a total value of 2 billion EUR. Each of these projects requires connections to several group subsidiaries. Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics AX you can now implement project budgeting in real time; including breakdowns of overall costs for individual companies and cost centers. You can also monitor the use and draw down of planned finances in real time. What had previously required regular exchange of and difficult merging of Excel documents now takes place automatically and uses the up-to-date data collected directly from relevant parts of the enterprise information system.

Management gained immediate access to information on company activities

Indeed it’s the immediate access to any information from any given country, subsidiary or its divisions that is the greatest positive aspect brought about by the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX and related tools at HB Reavis Group. Thanks to Business Intelligence solutions built on Microsoft SQL Server, company management has an immediate overview of the status of all key indicators. On Microsoft SharePoint server it has access to all contracts and invoices in their current versions. In Microsoft Dynamics AX it has an immediate overview of the financial situation of individual companies both according to national accounting standards as well as IFRS. In the AFM system one can quickly find information about each individual rented space across all buildings and countries. Big changes also occurred for the consolidated accounting report (financial statements), whose processing time – thanks to procedural changes in relation to the implementation of the Microsoft Dynamics AX system and thanks to options for better timing of individual activities in preparing the report – was cut by three months. The company also saved one worker-month in direct personnel costs. Other external costs related, for example, to financial audits also fell. Meanwhile HB Reavis Group is already planning to use the entire platform for other areas of business. Thanks to the flexibility of the entire solution and its individual parts, this will not be a problem.


Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success. 


For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to:

www.microsoft.com/dynamics

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Customer Size: Medium Organization
Industry: Professional Services
Country or Region: Slovakia
Solutions:
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX
Organization Profile: The HB Reavis Group is an international property development company with central offices in Luxembourg and operations in Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Business Situation: Company’s fast growth required move to a professional, comprehensive, international, enterprise information system covering all areas of the company’s business.

Benefits: ·  Unified enterprise information system for all subsidiaries in all countries
·  Unified accounting done according to national standards and IFRS
·  Immediate overview of company activities
·  Coverage of all processes across individual companies
·  All documents available in a single, correct version

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