Case Study

BASF - Case Study

Board delivers a versatile, integrated approach to Business Intelligence at BASF

BASF is the world's leading chemical company with a large range of formulated products including chemicals, plastics and fibers, dyes and pigments, finishing products, pesticides, and preparations for nutrition, as well as oil and natural gas. BASF products have been leaders in the Italian agricultural sector for many years.

Since December 2000, BASF has operated within the Italian market through BASF Agro: a BASF company dedicated to the agrochemical business. The 'mission' of BASF Agro is to aid Italian farmers in successfully responding to the demands of a constantly evolving agricultural market. BASF Agro has therefore adopted a particular strategy to achieve this mission, based on worldwide investments in research and development. Its findings are adapted to the specific needs of the Italian market balanced with current and future economic demands, producers' requirements, and consumer expectations.

The challenge: Improving access to business information

The Management Intelligence project at BASF Agro stemmed from the need to solve complex problems related to processes such as planning, analysis, and measurement of the business.

BASF Agro was looking for an analytical business intelligence solution that would provide fast and timely information to support decision making and optimize planning and control processes within the marketing function.

"We wanted a flexible tool, enabling our IT department to collect, process, and distribute complex information, playing a fundamental role in the operational management of the company," says BASF Agro's official source.

After a thorough software selection process, which involved major vendors from the business intelligence market, BASF Agro chose Board.

Board was selected over other vendors because the solution offers analysis and budgeting capabilities in a single environment. Simplicity and effectiveness in the management, development, and maintenance of analytical applications were also key winning features.

The project began in October 2002 and required strong involvement from BASF Agro's employees, who were widely supported by the expertise of Board Italy. In February 2003, after four months of intense collaboration, the Board project was made fully operational. Today, Board provides invaluable support to the organization's sales and finance departments.

The Board solution: Fully integrated Management Intelligence

The agrochemical market in which BASF Agro trades is characterized by a high level of complexity. To meet the needs of this evolving market, the structure of BASF Agro must be articulated and complex as well.

BASF Agro has a commercial structure composed of more than 50 salespeople, distributed throughout the country and divided into four areas. The sales managers look after the company's customer portfolio, which consists of about a thousand billing points. Planning, forecasting, and balance sheets, however, are based on delivery locations and there are far more of these than billing points. A single customer (or billing point) may have several delivery locations that can be located quite a distance from each other in varying regions and therefore managed by different sales representatives. Consequently, a billing point may be shared by several sales reps if not by several commercial areas also. The structural complexity is augmented by the fact that the sales figures are reclassified into different channels, or types of sale, based on the characteristics of a single item, and paired with related crops.

There are also different levels of:

  • Planning (the item, the customer, the sales rep)
  • Forecasting (executed by the sales reps on a quarterly basis, and from the area manager and crop manager on a monthly basis)
  • Pricing (budgeting, forecasting, target, gross or billing, net of discounts, and year-end bonuses)

Even the quantities are expressed in a triple unit. The presence of these variables produces a remarkably qualitative and quantitative complexity, requiring the use of several Board information access profiles (such as Sales Manager, Zone Manager, Area Manager, Crop Manager, and Executive Manager).  Managing such a complex workflow and structure is only possible thanks to the agility of Board. Its powerful write-back capability, database flexibility, advanced security options, stability, and robustness of the architecture all play key roles in the project's success. It is also important that all off-site staff can refer to the data and perform data entry quickly and directly.

The project for BASF Agro also encompasses a module dedicated to executive managers, aimed at analyzing turnover performance, order and credit exposure, as well as analyzing deviations from the planned sales budgets. Thanks to its advanced ETL features and flexible functionality, Board can effectively integrate data and information from various sources, assuming a strategic role in the SAP environment.

"The Management Intelligence project is considered a successful solution, but is constantly evolving," adds the IT Manager of BASF Agro. "The application will constantly need to be improved and expanded to take into account requests from users and our market evolution. Thanks to its versatility, Board lends itself to quickly adapting to the evolution of business and management processes."

As evidence of this, the team has recently implemented an analysis of profitability for clients and products, with considerations to extend the application into SCM performance management soon.