Bilstein Group

Tradition and progress – enterprise planning at Bilstein Group

Entrepreneurial foresight and comprehensive know-how give the Bilstein Group a competitive edge in the market. In the family business, importance is attached to flexible and reliable enterprise planning. Corporate Planner was equal to the requirements of the company, and has now been serving as the group’s planning tool for several years.

When the decision was made in 2007 to introduce Corporate Planner for enterprise planning, to begin with, this only applied for Bilstein Service GmbH, the parent service company of the entire group, and for Bilstein GmbH & Co KG, the largest manufacturing company within the group. A team of three was responsible for the selection and implementation of the software: Thomas Gräser, Head of Management Accounting at Bilstein GmbH & Co. KG, Bernd Winkhaus, Head of Management Accounting at Bilstein Service GmbH, and Ilias Foukis, Management Accountant at Bilstein GmbH & Co. KG. Their task was to implement a planning software application which would increase flexibility and enable simulations in the context of enterprise planning. Alongside flexibility and a short implementation period, the demand on human resources was a crucial factor. With the introduction of Corporate Planner having to be managed directly within the department and with no extra manpower from IT, the staff responsible decided in favour of the Corporate Planning tool.

As part of a workshop, the software’s capabilities were evaluated and initial structures built by way of example. In the process, the future users were able to learn the basic functions and how to operate the software. Working together with the CP Consultant Konrad Mayer, Ilias Foukis gradually built a model representing all the relevant divisions and structures for enterprise planning. In order to be able to pass on this knowledge in full to the staff in other group companies, he produced detailed documentation about the internal planning process.

At Bilstein, just like any company in the manufacturing industry, the level of utilisation of the production facilities is an essential component of enterprise planning. In the software therefore, various aspects of workload planning have to be recorded, evaluated and planned. In the tree structure, the utilisation of all main plants is depicted according to the manpower situation, divided into plants or shifts, and broken down into minutes. Plan values are entered for marginal planned costing [GPK, a costing methodology used in Germany], and a number of different scenarios are stored, such as allowing for rising energy costs.

In the cost centre structure displayed in Corporate Planner, the production costs, itemised according to primary cost type, are recorded and their consumption is planned. In order to allocate the secondary costs to the different departments, distribution keys are calculated and applied.

When all the specifications had been implemented, from the workload plan through the cost centre analysis to the cost distribution sheets, Corporate Planner had proved itself as the enterprise planning tool for Bilstein Service GmbH and Bilstein GmbH & Co. KG. For the 2009 plan, Corporate Planner was introduced in the other Bilstein Group manufacturing companies. Ilias Foukis made company-specific adjustments to the structures, and took on the task of introducing the software and training colleagues at two German companies and one in the Czech Republic. Nowadays, as many as 14 employees in the entire group work with Corporate Planner.

With the CP software, the business planning process has been cut by a third of the time which was previously required, while the flexibility of the plan has increased. The system delivers safe and reliable data which can now be more quickly passed on to our management in the form of reports and analyses. By means of simulations, different scenarios can be run through and taken into account, so the management is able to make decisions concerning the production plan on the basis of highly detailed information. Thanks to the corporate performance management software by Corporate Planning, the respective companies now have the benefit of entrepreneurial foresight as well.