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One of the fun aspects of working closely with a wide range of retailers is the friendly competition and passionate sharing of ideas that highly competitive retailers show when they have the chance for dialog. It’s always fun to listen to companies like Under Armour and New Balance as they highlight their differences but then also dive deep into what they can learn from each other’s internal processes.

This week 30 current and potential customers from 16 companies met at SAP’s Newtown Square campus to share best practices in driving Financial Excellence using SAP’s Business Planning and Consolidation solution. The highly focused two day event gave a sharp and vivid snapshot of how some of retail’s most innovative companies are using BPC to transform the role that their finance functions play.

Financial Excellence for Retailers

Making the case for excellence is always a challenge for any supporting function in a retailer. Executive leadership and key stakeholders rightly focus transformation close to the customer, where the connection between investment and increased sales or increased GMROI is clearly visible. What this week’s discussion showed though is that flexible tools like BPC can drive real transformation in finance and enable finance functions to provide much stronger value to the business.

Here are a few examples of how customers are using BPC to dramatically improve their own processes, better inform the business and deliver tangible results:

  • New Balance reduced their monthly financial close from several weeks to just a couple of days
  • Given that more than 40% of a typical retailer’s SKUs are unprofitable based on Net Margin Return on Investment level – merchants need to see this data and use it to transform their assortments
  • Even with a complex landscape of legacy systems, Charming Shoppes is able to deliver full store P&Ls to each of its 6,900+ stores to empower store management
  • No business can grow 300% without changing the way it plans – in the middle of the Nook’s unexpectedly dramatic growth, BarnesAndNoble.com was able to deploy BPC in just seven weeks so that it now has the ability to plan and adapt successfully for its new world
  • By assessing total cost of risk at store level, Family Dollar is able to drive highly effective loss prevention
  • Under Armour is now able to complete a bottom-up budgeting cycle in just two weeks instead of 8 weeks
  • Leading multi-banner retailers using shared service organizations for key back office functions can provide the business with clear visibility on shared service usage and costs to enable them to control their shared service costs

Flexible and Intuitive Tools Deliver Ongoing Transformation

In addition to the significant value customers have been able to deliver, one of my other key takeaways from the event was that the BPC tools are so flexible and intuitive (thanks partly to the familiarity of Excel) that both finance and business users are constantly pushing to use them more widely and expand their use within the company.

Successful and flexible Enterprise Performance Management empowers executives, finance, IT and the business to focus on what they do best.

  • Executives get rapid and actionable insight that they can use to drive strong performance.
  • Finance has robust tools that allow their operational processes to be streamlined and enables them to invest in developing new insight, improving the strategic dialog with the business and driving incremental performance.
  • The business no longer has to wait for IT or finance to let them access new data or detail and can get the answers they need when they need them.
  • And IT… gets to put a solution in place and see the business vigorously engage and want to expand it to new areas, contribute to its administration and own the data in a way that can take years to achieve with other solutions.

it’s very much to the credit of SAP’s partners who focus on implementing Enterprise Performance Management and BPC that so many customers at the event were able to enthusiastically share evidence of how their organizations continue to extend using the strong foundation their implementation partner had put in place. Throughout the two days, customers mentioned that the expertise they had relied on from Aster Group, Column5, The Glenture Group, Sandpoint Consulting and SAP Consulting had been one of the most crucial success factors in their successful transformations.

Now Make It Real Time

Looking into the very near future, Steve Townsend of SAP gave a vivid outline of how SAP HANA will enable customers to take the scattered legacy of data sources that they have to aggregate, transfer and consolidate today and provide amazing fast access to real-time data with no aggregation. Combining this power with tools like Sales Analysis for Retail, a great foundation of retail intelligence available today using POS data feeds, will transform the speed at which customers can respond to the dynamic retail environment of rapidly changing consumer preferences, highly volatile demand, and long, risky supply chains.

What if every financial report and dashboard in your company was in real time? Replay your last major holiday event or promotion – if the lessons learned in preparing for and executive the event could have been identified and responded to in real time, think how the results could have been significantly improved.

Find Out More

More details on SAP BPC can be found here and any of us on SAP’s Value Engineering team would be keen to work with you and your customers on developing the case for implementing or extending your use of SAP BPC.

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