"By using the time slider in Corporate Planner, we can quite simply have all our data, analyses and reports displayed in whatever time spans and time steps we need."
Head of Corporate Performance Management
- Cost management
- Integrated financial planning
- SAP ERP
Always well informed
At Mittelrhein Verlag, what goes for current affairs also goes for financial reporting. While the publishing house keeps its readership supplied with the latest facts and figures every day, the internal service provider, rz-Corporate Service GmbH, keeps its report users supplied with all the management information, analyses and reports they need. Its task is to present and circulate the data gathered in Corporate Planner in a consistent format.
Over the last two decades, a group of companies has grown up around Mittelrhein Verlag with a complex ownership structure. In May 2009, rz-Corporate Service GmbH was set up in Koblenz with the purpose of concentrating all of the publishing group’s administration tasks in a single company.
On top of that, the rz-Corporate Service GmbH corporate performance management team, led by Mr Marko Süsterhenn, took on responsibility for the financial reporting in the group. In the search for software that would adequately handle the group’s complexity while displaying the information as simply as possible, the Rhein-Zeitung newspaper found what it needed in Corporate Planner.
It quickly became apparent that the group’s complexity also extended into the Corporate Planner tree structures. The data import from SAP and various other pre-systems resulted in enormous structures being built with millions of fields that were multiplied further by the master-client method. A large number of irrelevant, unused fields were being created that made the structures in Corporate Planner rather unwieldy and confusing. With the firm intention of coming up with an optimum solution for the customer, the Corporate Planning team developed and tested a new function for simplifying tree structures using those of Mittelrhein Verlag as their example. This function would enable the user in future to hide all surplus fields in the client trees.
With all these fields already blocked in the database, the server does not even load them in the first place. This frees up main memory and server performance for use elsewhere. The number of fields in the display of all the publishing group companies has been cut by more than half.
Delighted with this simple and yet extremely worthwhile enhancement, the team in Koblenz got down to work. Their aim was to create a consolidated display of the entire group, broken down into the many associated companies. Information had always come in many different formats, from many locations and many sources throughout the group. Obtaining a general overview of all the companies had been well nigh impossible. But that was precisely what the executive managers of the Mittelrhein Verlag Group were looking for: a bird’s-eye view of the entire publishing group.
With support from Corporate Planning staff, they built structures in Corporate Planner while keeping in mind their aim of introducing more transparency into the complicated group structure. All the existing data, no matter whether from the various pre-systems or from individually compiled statistics, are imported into Corporate Planner where they are linked together.
Every company within the group has its figures entered in a branch, and these then flow into the consolidated display. Costs and revenues are entered and classified into cost centres and cost types. On that basis, standard key ratios are defined and stored. It will not be long before publishing statistics, such as editions and circulation figures, are included as well. The corporate performance management team can now deliver the required analyses and reports for individual companies as well as the entire group by mouse-click. “By using the time slider in Corporate Planner, we can quite simply have all our data, analyses and reports displayed in whatever time spans and time steps we need,” Marko Süsterhenn says, enthusiastic about the flexibility and versatility of the recently introduced software.
Uniform report layout
With all the analysis options and reporting functions, what particularly mattered to the managers was the design of the report layout. Since there had been no consistent reporting process until then, all kinds of different reports had been circulating in a wide variety of file formats, shapes and colours. This was to come to an end with the introduction of Corporate Planner. All reports now have a predefined, uniform layout, and are produced entirely at rz-Corporate Service GmbH. Those in charge of running the individual companies and departments are regularly supplied with the new reports. Using the same layout every time is intended to boost recognition. Information that is of particular relevance can furthermore be taken in and understood much more quickly if it is always presented in a familiar format. In the medium term, Marko Süsterhenn can well imagine that the managers of the individual companies will receive restricted access to the Corporate Planner database. With the rights management in the CP-Control Center, their access or read rights could be defined so that they can retrieve the required reports and analyses themselves without being able to overwrite or add values. The reports would then no longer need to be circulated. However, everything still lies in the hands of the corporate performance management team for now. Thanks to their flexible, consistent reporting system since the introduction of Corporate Planner, the executive managers and the staff are always well informed as it is.