Future-proofing planning processes with standardized data within the same environment
Ferrer Internacional achieves end-to-end integrated planning from R&D to distribution
About Ferrer Internacional
Ferrer is an international privately-held pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Barcelona and presence in more than 115 countries. Ferrer’s vertical business covers everything from R&D to product distribution. The company’s mission is to contribute to improving health and quality of life through the pharmaceutical, OTC, self-care, molecular diagnosis, fine chemicals and food sectors.
Founded in 1959, Ferrer has been committed to innovation from the beginning. This commitment, put into practice every day across their R&D centers in Spain and abroad, has been recognized with the highest possible rating by the Spanish Government’s Profarma assessment system.
Ferrer’s products can be purchased worldwide, from San Francisco to Seoul and from Berlin to Buenos Aires, thanks to a network of affiliates, joint ventures and partnerships. The Group also boasts a solid industrial structure. Their certified manufacturing centers across four continents produce chemicals and finished pharmaceuticals to the most rigorous standards.
- 2210 employees
- 90+ countries
- 27 international subsidiaries and joint ventures
- Millions of customers across 5 continents
- 50% + of Ferrer's total turnover comes from international business
Being a fully integrated company, from research and development through to manufacturing, sales and distribution, Ferrer needed an integrated planning process to match. The company was struggling with a plethora of spreadsheets because its analysis and planning processes were based solely on Excel sheets coming from multiple Business Units and Controlling Areas. These Excel files had to be consolidated and summarized before being delivered to the Management Committee, a task which fell under the remit of the Controlling Department, increasing the team’s workload because of its extremely time-consuming nature.
To implement an effective end-to-end planning process throughout the entire organization, Ferrer was searching for a software solution capable of overcoming the misalignment among different logics and methodologies, different budgeting processes, and different levels of detail across the Business Units. There was also the need for a solid baseline of data which analysis and planning processes could rely on, since the existing data sources were heterogenous according to the different Departments of the Group (Corporate SAP, BW and other data files).
- Improve the quality of data included in the budgeting processes
- Reduce the complexity of planning processes
- Make forecasting more accurate and consistent across different departments and over time, and consolidate that information
- Empower controllers, executives and senior managers to take fact-based decisions, rather than relying (only) on gut feelings and personal assumptions
- Minimize low-value-added manual work
After a review of the market the Board platform was chosen for the project as it could deliver all of the benefits that Ferrer was pursuing. In particular, the ease of use of Board and the data transparency it would provide were praised:
"We discarded all those solutions that turned out to be rigid and not user-friendly. On the contrary, Board combines high flexibility and usability - minimizing the user's dependence on the IT department - together with easy integration of data from different sources and with different structures" claimed Raquel Martin Liarte, Head of Corporate Controlling at Ferrer. " Now, key users of the organization have the visibility they need in terms of information to plan and manage different business scenarios, including cross-sectional data."
Board is mainly used for:
- Strategic Planning
- Financial Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting
- Demand Planning
- HR Budgeting
- Marketing Planning
- Automatic Monthly Rolling Forecasts
- Budgeting of Production Volumes in all Business Units of the organization
- Profit & Loss Consolidation
The financial planning application delivers budgeting for both the current year and the forecast. The planning process takes place once a year and lasts from July until November, with all users contributing to the final result. Each user has their own planning area based on department, business unit and items. The Controlling Department oversees the entire process and has access to an admin area where controllers can manage system operations such as export or adding new planning elements (new cost centers, orders, etc.).
The monthly rolling forecast application automatically estimates future sales (with the gross margin) for the current year and the quantities planned for the upcoming 18 months. This estimation is undertaken every month, generating 11 different scenarios. The aim of this rolling forecast is to achieve actionable insights and accurate predictions within a timeframe of 18 months, leading to better decisions.
The benefits of a future-proof solution
Thanks to Board, Ferrer Group has effectively simplified planning processes by introducing similar budgeting models and unified criteria through structured planning templates, based on planning case histories and budgeting variables. This allows the organization to have all key information in the same interactive environment, providing a Single Point of Truth:
"The Board platform gives users the right quantity and quality of information they need to make proper decisions, specifically in the commercial and financial areas "- confirmed Raquel. "Through the iteration process over time, Board empowers our management teams to anticipate contingencies and act proactively in relation to them."
"I believe that Board helps us to perform complex calculations - taking different calculation hypotheses depending on each case history and model - faster every month. If we had to replicate this process in Excel it would take so much time and the organization would not be able to focus on decision-making and value-added activities. It also gives us an environment in which we can share relevant information online with commercial Business Units."
The advantages of using Board from a technical independency perspective have also been fully realised by the IT department, as IT team member Jaume Calix explains:
"Controlling users are totally autonomous from an IT perspective. They can perform modifications and parallel analysis without any direct technical intervention. That means time savings and a faster time-to-solution compared to other systems on the market.
Before the implementation of Board it was necessary to reuse and reload data. Now, thanks to Board's structured data visualization, the entire Company relies on the same sets of data and therefore people are more efficient."
Board’s positive impact does not stop there: “The project is still evolving, and in the near future we are going to build up Rolling Forecast and Budgeting process applications using the Board platform to extend them to all strategic areas of Ferrer Group,”
“The support we have had from SDG Group has been constant and complete and it is not over yet. In fact, we are continuously expanding the projects. We had a very intensive design process, in which SDG Group suggested several methodologies to us, and we have worked together to find the best solution. They have helped us to extrapolate these processes to the different business areas with training and solved doubts with the users. There has been a good working relationship between Controlling and SDG Group, with 3 people involved from our side who have worked hand-in-hand with SDG Group throughout”. concluded Raquel.