SUCCESSFUL CASE STUDY IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF BACKOFFICE SYSTEMS
Madrid, 13 March 2012.
UFG is a specialist gas company operating in international liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets and also at the national level, where it has become an exemplary key operator. It is currently one of the first three operators in the Spanish gas market, both by total sales and market share.
From its constitution in 1998, it opted for active participation in all the links of the natural gas value chain (from the source of supply to marketing, through liquefaction, maritime transport, regasification and distribution) and, therefore, in the infrastructure needed to ensure process control and thus achieve greater operational flexibility.
Its main assets are the liquefaction plants at Damietta (Egypt) and Qalhat (Oman), its fleet of two gas carriers and its shares in the Sagunto and Ferrol regasification plants.
The indicated corporate movements set a major challenge for UFG: to replace its ERP in a very short time period, since the discontinuity of the corporate back-office systems, tailor-made for the Union Fenosa group companies, was scheduled for early 2011.
Given this complex scenario and the need to make the changes in a flexible manner, both in the functional areas, and the UFG Systems Department, the work began in earnest. After starting a detailed process of analysis, the first decision was the selection of SAP as the software on which to lay the foundations of its future ERP system.
The second was to invite tenders from some of the benchmark companies in the market, to determine which would carry out its implementation. Tecnocom was the consultant selected according to criteria such as the competitiveness of the tender, as well as the level of flexibility shown to adapt to the characteristics and needs of UFG: a company with a very significant turnover, but with an agile decision structure and a group of highly prepared people committed to the project.
Modules and solutions
The initial scope of the project involved the implementation of the following modules and solutions:
- Financial Department: Accounting, controlling, financial supply chain, budgetary management, planning and business consolidation.
- Purchasing Department: Purchases and management of materials (standard storage management systems).
- Human Resources Department: Administration of personnel, payroll calculations, professional development, time management and visualization of the business organisation.
- Interfaces with the business applications of UFG.
During the development of the project it was found to be necessary to extend its scope, and it was decided to incorporate the following developments, modules and solutions:
- OpenText solutions for scanning and entry of invoices in electronic format.
- SAP Enterprise Portal, both for use as an Employee Portal and for a series of horizontal company processes linked with budgeting and purchases.
- SAP Business Objects to provide the group with a more complete information tool.
The design and implementation of the training plan, oriented to the initial training of the employees, were absolutely key: on-the-job training to support them in its use and to facilitate the management of the change.
A fundamental factor that favoured success in the implementation of SAP was the total and decisive involvement of senior management and the user departments in the development of the project. From the first moment, they all collaborated actively in the analysis and the decision making, as well as in the testing phase and final implementation.
Benefits and plans
With the development of this project, UFG has ensured that all the internal BackOffice processes are supported by a proven and latest generation solution, developed in a standard platform and open to multiple suppliers, and totally integrated with their business processes.
The newly implemented tools facilitate the process of accelerated the accounting close in the group (the last day of every month), and the consolidated monthly balance five days later.
Features such as multi-country, multi-currency and multi-language management, as well as the manner in which SAP manages the organizational structures, the parameterization of processes, permissions and master data, will facilitate the extension of UFG’s organizational model to other group companies or the future integration of this management tool into new companies.
The SAP solutions portfolio has enabled coverage to be given to business processes around the ERP in a standard manner, with no need for interfaces, and in a record time.
The implementation of SAP Enterprise Portal has facilitated the way in which all UFG employees interact with the most distributed processes, with administration and human resources being able to use any computer or mobile device browser to participate in the horizontal processes of the company.
UFG has anticipated making roll outs to other UFG group companies and use the SAP solutions portfolio to continue responding to new business processes.