Transformed Staffing Forecast and Controlling Processes at HOLTER Group
Reducing the time it takes to complete monthly staffing activities by more than 50%
HOLTER Group is a plumbing and heating wholesaler based in Austria. HOLTER is a family business with the power of a startup, offering a complete product range for plumbing, heating, installation, cooling, ventilation, renewable energy, and control technology as well as providing consulting services for installers and specialist tradespeople. With more than 850 employees based across 25 locations in Austria and Bavaria, it was difficult to gain a complete overview of personnel development and undertake accurate staff forecasting. To overcome this challenge, HOLTER adopted the Board Intelligent Planning Platform to guide processes with more consistency, reduce errors, increase the quality of staffing forecasts, and significantly shorten the setup process.
- Industry: Distribution & Wholesales
- Department: Finance, HR
- Founded: 1873
- Employees: 861
- Turnover: €321 million
HOLTER Group is a plumbing and heating wholesaler based in Wels, Upper Austria. This family-owned company offers the complete product range for plumbing, heating, installation, cooling, ventilation, renewable energy, and control technology as well as providing consulting services for installers and specialist tradespeople. HOLTER has 10 showrooms featuring an extensive selection of products and materials, state-of-the-art bathroom and swimming pool planning tools, and advice centers for spa and wellbeing purchases.
HOLTER is a family business with the power of a startup. Despite many years of tradition and successful growth, the company has mastered the skill of reinventing itself time and again to respond to the changing needs of its customers and market.
The Challenge: Achieving a reliable staffing forecast
HOLTER employs more than 850 people at 25 different locations in Germany and Austria, which was making it difficult to gain a complete overview of personnel development and undertake accurate staff forecasting.
Staffing forecasts were prepared by the Controlling team at HOLTER’s main office using Excel and special features in the accounting system, but these were restricted to managing HR for the current fiscal year only. Controlling would receive information about staff changes by email, phone, or other standard communication tools, making it difficult to control and monitor changes as they would often receive the information late, if at all. As a result, the monthly staffing forecast could take up to 15 working days to produce and was prone to errors.
HOLTER began looking for a solution that would guide the process consistently, reduce errors, increase the quality of the staffing forecast, and significantly shorten the setup process.
The Solution: Meeting all needs in a single platform
After a review of the market, HOLTER chose the Board Intelligent Planning Platform, which would not only take care of the staffing forecast but also replace the Controlling components of the accounting system in one solution.
The team liked that the coding-free, drag-and-drop nature of the Board platform would enable the gradual introduction, development, optimization, and expansion of applications as required. Thomas Schendl, Head of Financial Controlling at HOLTER, explains why Board was the best fit for the organization’s needs:
With the migration, we took the opportunity to redefine a number of our processes. By introducing these changes step-by-step with Board, we gave our organization the framework it needed to implement and internalize them before moving on to the next point. Other products that we considered in the selection process contained predefined applications that, firstly, could not have offered the flexibility we wanted, and secondly were far too complex for our startup.
The intuitive nature of Board reduces training requirements for employees. The Controlling team attended Board's in-house training courses on the topics of:
- Planning with Board
- Analyzing and reporting with Board
- Building a multidimensional Dashboard with Board.
These training courses took a total of just five training days. Controlling then offered a three-hour user training session for the heads of the various departments. 29 department heads are now up and running with the system, adding local staff changes to the staffing forecast with ease.
The Benefits: Staffing forecasts in half the time
With the Board platform, HOLTER can now conduct a monthly, rolling staffing forecast at the employee level. Department heads can perform local variance analysis for personnel costs, regional sales managers can carry out their sales planning at the customer level, and local managers can easily enter salary and pay-related staff changes themselves.
Employees work with the Board web client and use the built-in broadcast feature to inform colleagues about the availability of new forecast versions and monthly completion deadlines through automated messages.
Entering data at a specific area level delivers better quality monthly staffing forecasts, as the data is always delivered on time. There is also an integrated approval workflow between the head of department, the line manager, and Controlling, which complies with company guidelines and means the reported data is continuously monitored. Thomas explains:
With the help of the Board platform, we have reduced the time it takes to complete our monthly staffing forecast by more than 50%. We now have the forecast after a maximum of just seven working days, instead of the 15 working days we used to have to wait.
The Controlling team can also create databases and interfaces themselves without any advanced IT programming skills, thanks to the programming-free nature of Board. The data from the existing ERP system is easily connected by ODBC data import for immediate use, removing the error-prone manual input. Thomas confirms:
With our old system, the system provider was the only one who could make even simple changes, like adding columns in the report. With Board, each department – in this case, Controlling – can develop the application themselves without any in-depth programming skills.
Future plans: Platform expansion
HOLTER is planning to introduce further applications, the next being Board Financial Consolidation, a prebuilt solution that enables companies to perform both legally prescribed consolidation tasks and management consolidation within Board's unified environment. Board Financial Consolidation helps to manage investment forecasts for buildings, IT, and vehicles and includes a short-term cash-flow control feature.
Once implemented, Board Financial Consolidation will allow the HOLTER team to prepare detailed group reports and quick financial statements, giving the management team detailed insights into financial and operational results as well as full financial control.