Enterprise Performance Management at Groupe SEB
Driving strategic and operational decision-making processes
Groupe SEB operates in nearly 150 countries with a unique portfolio of almost 30 leading brands, including Tefal, Rowenta, Moulinex, Imusa, Lagostina, and Rochedo. Each is marketed and sold through a multi-format retail approach. Since its creation, the Group has been a key player in everyday revolutions thanks to its innovative products which change the daily lives of consumers all over the world.
The story of Groupe SEB began in 1857 with the creation of the Antoine Lescure company in the Burgundy region of France. Starting life as a tinware business specializing in buckets, watering cans, and kitchen utensils, the company took a major stride forward in 1953 when it launched the pressure cooker, giving it a new national dimension and changing a fundamental habit of the French people: the way they cooked.
Groupe SEB deploys a long-term strategy focused on innovation, international development, competitiveness, and service to clients. Multi-cultural and multi-creative, the company’s 33,000 employees around the world share the same values and commitment to sustainable development, sense of professionalism, and passion for innovation.
Philippe Martelo, Director of Finance Information Technology at Groupe SEB, shares more:
Today we are the world reference in Small Domestic Equipment, being the number one in various different product categories and in numerous geographic areas, and we aim to be the global benchmark in our Industry. Our purpose is to make daily life simpler and more wonderful for consumers throughout the world, by creating new products and services that meet people’s current needs and anticipate their individual aspirations and desires. I think these aspects of our purpose, as well as our mission to create lasting value by making strong profitability a priority, are something we share with Board International!
The challenge: Legacy planning and reporting systems creating unnecessary complexity
As with most businesses, Groupe SEB faced challenges in its performance management activities, including raw material price volatility, market and distribution consolidation, the emergence of disruptive business models, and the acceleration of changes within the industry. SEB had dedicated substantial resources to budgeting and forecasting, but its processes were manually intensive, lacked agility, and were not always strategically aligned.
The Group's management reporting system was based on SAP BW. It focused on historical data, lacked simulation capabilities, and did not support users in their budgeting and forecasting processes. The system also suffered from slow response times, poor ergonomics, and did not provide quarterly views of data. In addition, SEB's performance reporting processes were quite rigid, did not feature workflow management, and would often produce irrelevant results. There was a clear need to simplify these processes and introduce more flexibility and relevance, as Philippe highlights:
Our pre-existing reporting system, based on SAP BW, was complex and included a lot of analytical dimensions and axes that were difficult to feed, resulting in a time-consuming process. The tools were designed for experts; therefore our Finance users could not gain autonomy from the IT Department. As we must cope with increasing volumes of data, the previous system hampered flexibility, as well as lacking the planning and forecasting capabilities to control, handle, and properly make the most of our big sets of data. We were suffering from the 'heaviness' of the system and its complexity, which became functional limits and technical shortcomings. The executive committee was starting to complain about the rigidity of our processes: it was time-consuming to calculate our standard costs, make updates related to a change in the volume of our factories, and so on.
Overcoming all these obstacles using the company's legacy systems would require heavy investment and long-running projects which would utilize too many resources. As a result, SEB decided to embark on a new project with the objective of overcoming these challenges in an Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) solution on top of its SAP BW reporting system. The EPM solution would bring agility to the process and encompass the Group's strategic plans, allowing it to apply the Agile approach, as Philippe explains:
For us, the Agile approach was important because we needed to implement a flexible solution. In the traditional approach the quality is so-so; you never meet your budget and you never meet your deadlines. Instead, with the Agile approach, your variables are no longer the calendar or your means but the scope… and you always meet your objectives!
The selection process: Searching for one platform to build many applications
The robustness of Groupe SEB’s management schemes, master data, reporting processes, and tools provided the opportunity to confidently introduce a lighter and more flexible Enterprise Performance Management solution; one which was straightforward, user-friendly, intuitive, visual, and would provide more agility, increased speed, and state of the art reporting.
The main business priorities of SEB’s project were:
- Smart Reporting: Existing reports were fragmented due to the evolution of business needs and the poor performance of the existing SAP BW system, so the new reporting solution had to provide fast access and user-friendly navigation to full reporting data.
- Weekly Sales Report: The objective here was to enable Groupe SEB to have a consolidated vision of its total revenues for the next six months, updated on a weekly basis.
- Lease Accounting: Make it easier to consolidate large volumes of contract data while ensuring accurate journal entries.
- Strategic Orientation: The new solution needed to support the production of the group's five-year plan, providing an application which would generate P&Ls by Product Lines and Geographies at different hierarchical levels, in line with historical data. It was also required to support data entry, workflows, versioning, data consolidation, and cost allocations on different axes with different keys.
- Operating performance: The EPM solution had to provide a multidimensional waterfall, isolating scope, currency effects, and price/volume/product mix, etc. in relation to the operating results.
The Enterprise Performance Management solution had to replace the current BW reports and support decision-making processes by creating plans, budgets, forecasts, and re-forecasts based on monthly, quarterly, yearly, and multi-year visions. On the same EPM platform, Groupe SEB needed to perform simulation and business modeling, related to purchase price, absorption of fixed costs in the plants, and “what-if” scenarios.
After a review of the market, the decision was made to choose the Board decision-making platform, which combines Business Intelligence, Planning, and Predictive Analytics in a single environment. Philippe explains the decision:
Starting from a set of eleven vendors, we compared the Board platform to six EPM solutions on the market and concluded that it is the most complete, powerful, and easy to use product. We wanted to bring value to very specific aspects, enhancing the capabilities of multiple solutions and seamlessly combining them within the same platform.
Finance Agile Smart Tools (FAST): The Board project
The transformational project was given the acronym FAST to represent its purpose. Philippe highlights the desired outcomes:
“Using the power and ergonomics of Board through an Agile approach, the key objectives were to increase flexibility, allow simulation capabilities, and progressively build up a finance toolbox made of smart, dedicated, user-friendly solutions.”
The core of the Board project at SEB is represented by the above-mentioned Strategic Orientation solution and is based on the company’s matrix structure, as Philippe explains: