Corporate Performance Management Transformation at Eni Gas and Power France
Delivering an 80% increase in efficiency through process automation and the replacement of spreadsheets
As data volumes continued to expand, Eni Gas and Power France approached Board with the need to replace the manual, Excel-based financial control processes that were affecting the productivity of the team. Using the Board decision-making platform, Eni has transformed its Corporate Performance Management activities and automated much of the budgeting, planning, and forecasting process, which has reduced costs and dramatically increased the efficiency of the department.
- Industry: Oil & Gas
- Department: Finance
- Turnover: €1.8 billion
- Customers: 1.3 million
- Founded: 1968
Of Italian origin, Eni is the world's fifth-largest oil group. It has a presence in all segments of the energy market, including oil and gas exploration and production; retailing of gas, electricity, LNG, and oil products; refining, including biofuels; and renewables.
The company has been present in France since 1968 under three entities, which generated sales of €1.8 billion in 2019 from 1.3 million customers:
- Eni Gas and Power France (gas and electricity distribution)
- Eni France (service stations, lubricants, bitumens, fuels)
- Versalis International (chemistry)
Eni Gas and Power France (Eni) supplies natural gas and electricity to a range of business customers as well as private households. The company has a wide variety of gas suppliers, working with different producers on long-term contracts in addition to its own production capabilities, enabling the business to guarantee and secure its offer on the French market.
Eni’s electricity supply is purchased through various channels (producers, traders, and foreign players) and comes from several production sources, including nuclear and renewables. The green electricity distributed by the organization is guaranteed as renewable and of European origin.
The business also offers energy efficiency solutions and was recently voted as Best Energy Supplier for the third consecutive year.
The Challenge: Cumbersome, spreadsheet-based financial control processes slowing down analysis and reporting
The Management Control department at Eni recognized the need for a new solution that would automate various activities relating to corporate performance, delivering flexibility and autonomy in the management of the business.
“Change was necessary because we were piloting the business by hand using Excel. At some point, we had to industrialize, we had to modernize,” explains Aline Leganne, Head of Planning, Control and Credit Management. “We were getting close to a million lines of data and Excel struggled at 500,000 lines, so we switched some activities to Access, but it was equally as slow.”
As a result, most employees in the finance department continued to work with Excel, supplemented by Access, in a process that required data to be manually updated. It was very restrictive, slow, and vulnerable to data entry errors.
“Spending so much time doing things by hand is not very smart. It affects the productivity and performance of employees because we have less time to sit down and analyze things," adds Aline.
The Project: A more effective approach to Corporate Performance Management
Eni had previously tried to implement a tool to overcome these challenges at group level but the project had failed, so the search for a more robust solution began. The ambition was to implement a reliable and efficient software platform combining financial performance management (CPM) capabilities, including the calculation of the actuals and the forecast, and the ability to produce the company's many performance indicators.
The market in which Eni operates requires the efficient processing of large volumes of technical and financial data. The business therefore needed a solution that would connect different accounting systems, make data readable in several formats, and facilitate numerous transactions – especially during the financial closing phases.
The chosen solution also had to be sufficiently open and flexible enough to integrate business processes and market specificities, as well as to enable rapid compliance with various regulatory developments. Finally, the implementation of new features had to not only be possible but easy.
By automating previously manual tasks (including data collection, input, and updating), the chosen solution would free up time for performance analysis and give finance the autonomy it desired in IT management. The tool would therefore be shaped and driven by the profession; “A tool for finance, by finance” in the words of Aline.
The objective was, through the use of a unified solution, to get a real head start in terms of performance management and decision-making assistance. The selected product had to simplify the speed of financial planning and real-time analysis, including:
- Financial simulations
- Product/Client Profitability Analysis
- Balance sheet production (and the calculation of working capital)
- Generation of the Monthly Income Statement
Looking for a high-performance solution capable of conducting these activities, Eni took an interest in the Board decision-making platform, which unifies Business Intelligence, planning, and predictive analytics capabilities in a single, user-friendly interface.
After a tendering phase in which Proof of Concept (POC) models of several solutions were carried out, Board stood out against three determining criteria:
- Computing power and the ability to quickly process a large volume of data;
- Agility to set up new features;
- The ability to respond to regulatory challenges.
The Benefits: A significant improvement in financial management
With Board now in place, Aline is very clear about the benefits Eni is experiencing as a result:
“In terms of ROI, what used to take us a week a month takes us today, with the Board solution, only one day. In other words, Board has earned the financial management team of Eni Gas and Power France almost a week a month. The productivity gain is obvious and considerable. Costs have been reduced and decision-making greatly facilitated by this flexible and robust software.”
The functional scope of the project was precisely defined and the chosen Board partner was able to optimize the setup of the platform by discussing the different advantages and disadvantages of each possible option with the Eni team. All data is integrated into Board and the processes modeled on the platform, with source data coming mainly from the billing and CRM systems and being frequently updated.
By automating processes that were once manual, Eni has also been able to reduce the risk of errors. Financial teams now have access to data, tables, and KPIs reliably and quickly and Excel files are a thing of the past. The entire finance process is supported by Board, which is easy to use and has been embraced by the Eni team – so much so that the team is gradually increasing the scope of its use.
The implementation of this major project took seven months and Aline appreciated the good coordination between Board, the partner, and her own team who adopted the tool without any problems.
“Everyone has been attentive and responsive, and this has enabled us to manage the most technical points with ease, especially those relating to energy taxes. Good coordination of the three teams and the involvement of all have made it possible to develop the tool with all the technical complexities that may appear,” comments Aline.
Adapting the solution to modern uses (ergonomics, collaboration, autonomy) also contributed to the success of the project.
Next Steps: Expanding the use of Board into other areas
Aline is already thinking about other projects for the use of Board in financial management, including the development of an application dedicated to Credit Management.
Eni also intends to capitalize on the user-friendliness of the Board platform to extend it to other branches of the company to integrate other axes and processes of performance management.