BASF - Case Study
Board delivers a versatile, integrated approach to Business Intelligence at BASF
BASF is the world's leading chemical company with a 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 the 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 help Italian farmers to successfully respond 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. Their findings are adapted to the specific needs of the Italian market, balanced with current and future economic demands, producers' requirements and consumer expectations.
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 which would provide fast and timely information to support their decision making and optimize planning and control processes within their 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," said BASF Agro's official source.
After a thorough Software Selection, which involved major vendors from the business intelligence market, BASF Agro chose Board.
Board was seen as better than other vendors as the solution offers analysis and budgeting capabilities in a single environment. Simplicity and effectiveness in the management, development and maintenance of analytical applications was also a key winning feature.
The project began in October 2002 and required the strong involvement of BASF Agro's employees, who were widely supported by the experience of Board Italy's experts. In February 2003, after four months of intense collaboration, Board was made fully operational. Today, Board provides invaluable support to the organization's sales and finance departments.
The Board Solution
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 has to 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 a number of delivery locations which 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 also by several commercial areas. 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, from the area manager and crop manager on a monthly basis), and price (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 all these variables produces a remarkably qualitative and quantitative complexity and requires the use of several Board information access profiles (Sales Manager, Zone Manager, Area Manager, Crop Manager, Executive Managers). Easily managing such a complex work-flow 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 and is 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 function, Board can effectively integrate data and information from heterogeneous sources, assuming a strategic role in the SAP environment.
"The Management Intelligence project is considered a successful solution, but is constantly evolving," said 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 client/product and is considering extending the application into SCM performance management in the near future.