Intelligent Planning at Mitsubishi Electric
Reducing sales analysis time by 99%, boosting visibility, and moving from disparate processes to company-wide control
Faced with an inflexible, legacy reporting system that required manual data consolidation and programming, Mitsubishi Electric turned to the Board Intelligent Planning Platform to unify data from multiple systems into a single, service-rich environment. Beginning with a sales reporting system, the use of Board has been expanded to cover the end-to-end sales analysis, budgeting, and forecasting process, from quoting through to after-sales tracking, leading to benefits including increased planning accuracy, streamlined reporting, and a reduction in sales analysis time from 10 hours to a couple of seconds.
- Industry: Manufacturing
- Department: Sales
- UK Branches: 7
- Operational Divisions: 6
- Operating: 35 years
Formed in 1996, Mitsubishi Electric Ltd is the UK branch of Mitsubishi Electric Europe, one of the largest of the 22 core companies that form the Mitsubishi Corporation. The business has seven branches in the UK and six operational divisions: Living Environmental Systems (LES), also known as air conditioning systems; Factory Automation (FA); Visual Information Systems (VIS); Diamond Vision (DV); Lift & Escalator Division (LED); and Automotive.
The Challenge: Resource-intensive, legacy reporting processes
Having used the same SAP-based ERP system since 1998, Mitsubishi Electric desperately needed an upgrade. Despite the addition of a user-friendly front end that allowed users to upload data, manage stock, produce quotations, and process orders, the system still fell short in several areas, resulting in inefficient manual processes that frustrated users.
The existing system was inflexible, required manual data consolidation, and any changes to reporting had to be programmed manually. Given the rate of change within the business, this meant keeping up a continuous and expensive development program that swallowed up hours - or even weeks - of third-party development resources for every report. With hundreds of reports to generate, Mitsubishi Electric turned to spreadsheets to manipulate ERP data into the required format, leading to accuracy and version control issues, and a reduction in the company’s ability to respond quickly to emerging business needs.
The accounts department was also experiencing a number of pain points that included manual reconciliation processes, which could take up to two weeks to complete, and complex budgeting processes that involved spreadsheets being sent back and forth to divisions before being entered into a third-party tool.
As part of a drive to continuously evolve internal operations, and improve technologies and services throughout the business, Mitsubishi Electric decided to invest in a single platform that would enable the company to integrate data from multiple legacy systems into a unified, service-rich environment.
The desire was to give users real-time access to accurate, multi-dimensional transactional data; enable quick and self-sufficient reporting through analytical capabilities including dashboards and KPI analyses; and the ability to conduct budgeting and forecasting.
To ease the burden on the IT department’s month-end productivity, the new system would also need to adjust to new requirements and data while empowering users around the business to create their own reports, ABAP queries, and analyses.
The Solution: Intelligent Planning
After looking at several internal and external solutions - including SAP, Cognos, and Crystal Reports - Mitsubishi Electric chose the Board Intelligent Planning Platform for its ability to offer smarter planning, actionable insights and better outcomes, as well as its speed, simplicity, and flexibility.
"Board was able to show us a PoC using our own data within a matter of days," says John Quickenden, Manager - Business Support Group at Mitsubishi Electric.
The Board platform unifies strategy, finance and operations to plan smarter and achieve full control of performance, delivering the full range of services Mitsubishi Electric needed across its order management, accounting, and reporting processes and speeding up the delivery of information to the business from days to minutes, or even seconds.
"Choosing the integrated Board solution meant there was no need to purchase additional modules because Board delivers what we need in a single environment. This means we have a future-proof platform to manage our planning needs," says John.
Mitsubishi Electric worked with Board Business Partner SDG Consulting, who provided the implementation skills and industry knowledge needed to ensure the solution met the broad range of requirements. Iain Blazey, General Manager IT Operations & Services at Mitsubishi Electric Europe, explains the implementation process:
We took a phased approach, beginning with a sales reporting system to provide performance reports from SAP, followed by a quoting system, a logistics system, and ending with a full end-to-end integration project that provides details on how a quote is created all the way to after-sales tracking.
These solutions include budgeting and forecasting capabilities that enable users to write back their forecasts directly into Board, as well as an Executive Dashboard which provides vital information across multiple parameters and allows the management team to analyze figures as needed without any intervention from the IT department. Information can also be filtered by a wide range of categories, giving users the ability to extract the information they need at a granular level.
Using the Board platform, Mitsubishi Electric can streamline sales & order analysis so users can better understand how many quotes are issued for each project, average win/loss rates, the accuracy of sales forecasts over the next six months, customer purchase trends, sales cycles, and average discounts.
Board also allows Mitsubishi Electric to record volumetric and weight information on materials so users can see information such as stock values by quantity, volume, value, and weight as well as the total volume of warehouse space currently being used. This can be filtered and customized in a number of ways, with Board putting the power in the end users’ hands and taking the pressure away from other departments.
"The more I discover about the toolkit the more I realize I am on a learning curve. When we started delivering Board the specifications were a certain size and we found that as we implemented Board and people saw what it could do these grew and grew," explains John.
The Benefits: Streamlined processes, increased accuracy, and greater flexibility
Mitsubishi Electric’s offices in Ireland, Spain, France, and Germany have all adopted Board and are experiencing the following benefits:
Increased planning accuracy: Sales teams now have visibility of the whole sales process, from quote to delivery and beyond, thanks to accurate sales pipeline reporting which incorporates daily feedback to Salesforce via automated emailed reports. This information empowers sales teams to identify trends and react to market needs more quickly
Instant sales analysis: Sales and Order analysis used to be a 10-hour process but can now be run in just two seconds
Improved autonomy: Business units can now create and modify their own reports and aggregate data across all European branches
Streamlined reporting processes: Rather than weeks, it now takes just 25 minutes to run a standard report and make it fully available to all divisional heads, who then have the flexibility to filter the information as required
Improved credit control: Invoices are now fully digital and reconciled within an hour, flagging any mismatches or inconsistencies for further analysis
Enhanced flexibility: Users can now create forecasts at a granular rather than aggregate level, empowering greater flexibility and analysis
Rapid results: Board began to show results back to the business in just three weeks and has since helped maintain control and profitability of a business unit that has grown rapidly to over €1bn sales across Europe
"This was one of the projects that got me noticed by the wider business, not only for implementing a technical solution based on the business need but for giving the business back the control and the ability to serve themselves and help drive their business forward," adds Iain.
The Future: Bringing budgeting and forecasting into the platform
Board was originally intended as a tool for the UK business, but it has proved so successful that Mitsubishi Electric is now looking to expand its use to other regions as a way of empowering the business to deliver timely information to the Corporate HQ. The desire is to use Board to replace disparate branch-based budgeting and forecasting tools with a common solution. John concludes:
The more people that use Board, the more they want from it and Board has provided us with the flexibility, capability, and speed to support this change across the business.