Formed in 1996, Mitsubishi Electric Ltd is the UK branch of Mitsubishi Electric Europe, one of the largest of the 22 core companies which 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.
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 some areas, resulting in many inefficient manual processes which 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 resource per report. With hundreds of different 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, including manual reconciliation processes that took up to two weeks complete and complex budgeting processes which 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 to the company to integrate data from multiple legacy systems into a single, 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, as well as 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 flex to new requirements and data while empowering users around the business to create their own reports, ABAP queries, and analyses.
After looking at several internal and vendor solutions including SAP, Cognos, and Crystal Reports, Mitsubishi Electric chose the Board decision-making platform for its ability to seamlessly combine BI and CPM 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 Business Intelligence, Predictive Analytics, and Performance Management in a single integrated environment, so was able to deliver the full range of services Mitsubishi Electric needed across its order management, accounting, and reporting processes, speeding up the delivery of information to the business from days to minutes or 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 BI and CPM 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 a broad range of needs.
“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,” says Iain Blazey, General Manager IT Operations & Services at Mitsubishi Electric Europe.
These solutions include budgeting and forecasting capabilities that allows users to write back their forecasts directly into Board, and 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, allowing users to extract the information they need at a granular level.
Using the Board platform, Mitsubishi Electric was able to streamline sales & order analysis to allow users to understand how many quotes are issued for each project, average win/loss rates, the accuracy of sales forecasts and accuracy for 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 now 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, and Board puts the power in the end users’ hands, 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.
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 is empowering 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 European branches
- Streamlined reporting processes – Rather than weeks, it now takes just 25 minutes to run a standard report and make it 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, also highlighting any mismatches and 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.
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.
“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,” concludes John.