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Phoenix Contact

Agility in motion: how Phoenix Contact launched an initial ESG solution in less than 6 weeks

When time is of the essence, you can rely on intelligent planning solutions from Board

Agility is a popular buzz word in todays’ business lexicon. But Phoenix Contact personifies agility in practice. Shortly after the introduction of the Intelligent Board Platform for group planning in Finance, a request came in to quickly create an initial application for ESG reporting and control. In under 6 weeks, the project team developed the application on the Board platform. This sprint was the perfect opportunity for Phoenix Contact to get acquainted with Board and to bring financial and non-financial topics together — enabling them to develop future applications. 

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  • Industry: Manufacturing
  • Department: Finance
  • Employees: 22,000
  • Turnover: 3.6 billion EUR
In partnership with:

Phoenix Contact offers innovative products, solutions, and digitization expertise for electrification, networking, and automation as part of its brand. With its long-term growth perspectives, the company thus supports both society and industry in the transition to a sustainable world.

Challenge: Replacing an outdated software and achieving a future-proof solution

The finance department at Phoenix Contact was faced with a challenging scenario. Its existing planning solution was approaching end-of-maintenance. In addition, performance and usability no longer met the department’s requirements. In partnership with KPMG Germany, the team began evaluating new software for planning the group’s finances in the future. 

"We took a close look at the market overviews by analysts such as BARC, Forrester and Gartner, while also incorporating the experience we have gained from several projects at KPMG," said Ilker Dinc, Project Manager at KPMG. “We finally narrowed down the group of potential vendors to two, whom we asked for proof-of-concepts.”

During this process, Board's Intelligent Planning solution became the clear choice for the project team. Thomas Bremes, Inhouse Consultant at Phoenix Contact recalls,

"We have a large internal user community for the planning software. Therefore, it is important that users can operate the application intuitively. We liked Board's planning screens from the start in terms of visual design. In addition, all processes for the use cases could be mapped easily. Above all, Board was able to react flexibly to all requirements." 

Solution: Flexible, intuitive, and efficient

Phoenix Contact opted to use the cloud version of Board's Intelligent Planning Platform to redesign its group financial planning—modeling important planning processes on the platform. This includes integrated financial planning, P&L consolidation, and investment planning, which was the first application to be implemented. 

"We quickly realized that we needed to first modernize our existing planning processes before transferring them into Board," explains Thomas Bremes. "At the same time, all of us familiarized ourselves with the new software." 

Agile planning meets flexible platform: a swift solution for ESG reporting and control 

It was during this time that the project team received an urgent request from the Quality Management and Compliance department. A swift solution for ESG reporting was needed and the finance department was asked for support. In the past, such tasks were performed in Excel with huge effort on administration and organization. Phoenix Contact's current ESG reporting includes topics related to the environment, such as the proportion of recycled materials and fuel consumption, as well as social topics, such as the composition of the workforce.

Marcus Mathes, responsible for ESG reporting at Phoenix Contact, explains: "We have many subsidiaries providing data on group level on ESG. We needed a sophisticated access control system with granular authorization concepts as well as a solution that allowed us to visualize nearly 100 KPIs in a concise way."

The Board implementation project team quickly decided that Board was an ideal platform for this task, and they prioritized the ESG reporting use case to showcase the agility and power of the platform. The ESG solution now easily collates data centrally and connects different areas and locations. 

“The application creates accountability and support users to be precise. In addition, it is very user-friendly and data entry is easy, as relevant information on the required data is always available. This has a very positive effect on data quality and user acceptance," says Marcus Mathes. "Not to mention the significantly reduced amount of time we need to spend on administrative tasks."

The development of the application was extremely fast—less than 2 months.

"We never felt like we were at a point where we had to say this couldn’t be done. Board is so flexible that it is easy to adapt to different requirements. For example, the general user administration in Board is very well designed. This made it easy to implement the detailed authorization concept," explains Tim Leikeim, Technical Project Manager at KPMG. "Thanks to the agile development, we were able to onboard users smoothly, specifically because of the outstanding interim results that continued to inspire us."

It is hardly surprising that feedback from users has been highly positive. "The intuitive user experience makes it simply fun to work with. Not to mention the significantly reduced amount of time we need to spend on administrative tasks," says Marcus Mathes. "The intuitive UX/UI also reduces the training time to a minimum. One afternoon is enough to familiarize users with the system.

The development of the initial ESG application was a win-win for the entire project team. Thomas Bremes from Finance agreed.

"This was an ideal, hands-on project to quickly familiarize ourselves with the Board platform. In addition, at Phoenix Contact we assume that non-financial data, such as we have with ESG, and traditional financial data will increasingly grow together in planning. Thus, we have already taken a step in the right direction here."

Ilker Dinc agrees entirely: "This is a typical example of how finance and non-finance topics can come together to provide the big picture. It also showcases how finance can provide support to other areas by supplying and orchestrating the platform for others to share." 

Customer benefits: Rapid development of new applications regardless of IT

Agile, flexible, and fast – the example of ESG reporting showcases how Board supports companies’ diverse requirements. 

As Thomas Bremes describes it, "We now have a platform where we can develop various applications for planning, reporting, and analytics. The modular approach allows us to increase the maturity level with each new application. From the ESG project, we extracted valuable knowledge and practical ideas for investment planning. These are different puzzle pieces that interlock to provide a coherent overall picture."

Tim Leikeim supported this, adding, "If something works well in one area and there is positive feedback from coworkers, then it is much easier to gain acceptance from users in other areas. They then approach the new applications with a much more positive attitude."

And since the IT department does not need to be involved at all times, projects can be developed quickly and without bottlenecks. “With Board, we can quickly implement new ideas in specialist departments. We can build mock-ups in a very short time to get a feeling of how the requirements may be implemented. We can then do this entirely by ourselves,” says Thomas Bremes.

Picture source: Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG