Global food distributor enhances business performance with SAP


Source: SAP AG

By all measures, Olam International, one of the world’s largest suppliers and distributors of agricultural products and food ingredients, has been growing exponentially across geographies, markets and product lines. But with this growth has come the challenge of maintaining unified, accurate visibility into financial information, which is critical to keeping expansion on track and complying with recently mandated International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). To these aims, Olam relies on enterprise performance management solutions (EPM) from SAP AG (NYSE: SAP). With the SAP BusinessObjects™ Planning and Consolidation application, part of the portfolio of SAP BusinessObjects EPM solutions, Olam has completed its first fiscal year’s IFRS-compliant reporting, consolidating financial data for more than 90 legal entities operating as 250 profit centers in different currencies with a US$8.6 billion business.

Named on Forbes 2009 Asia List of Fabulous 50 Firms, Singapore- based Olam is the world’s largest supplier of raw cashew nuts and robusta coffee beans, and ranks as one of the world’s top-three rice suppliers. The company operates in 60 countries with 13,000 employees, and serves more than 11,000 customers across 20 product lines. Since deploying SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, Olam has found a way to streamline its financial reporting and consolidating process and deliver real-time information for operational and strategic decisions. Previously, product accountants at the company’s headquarters in Singapore had to consolidate financial data sent by country teams using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and reporting considerable time. Now, with the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application, consolidation is fast, accurate and automatic. The budgeting process is faster and the software’s easy-to-use interface enables employees to quickly create customized reports.

“We chose the SAP BusinessObjects application because it is very user-friendly,” said Rajesh Chopra, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs, Olam International Limited. “We implemented it without having to change too much of our existing process, and we now have a more efficient system that makes it much easier to generate consolidated data online, in real time. Most importantly, we now have an agile and IFRS-compliant system that will take us through the next phase of the company’s growth.”

Another challenge Olam faced with its rapid growth was how to efficiently and securely consolidate all its financial and management information, enabling compliance with multiple statutory reporting requirements. SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, running on top of an existing Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, enables Olam to handle the company’s multicurrency requirements and support for compliance with various accounting standards, such as IFRS, all in one unified solution for planning and consolidations

Olam selected Singapore-based implementation partner CPM BackOffice consulting services, which Chopra praised for the “clarity of thought and capability demonstrated by its team.”

“The Olam EPM model is structured around a business resilient architecture, with its EPM program focused on continued growth with flexibility ensuring a strong design with zero rework. Implementation strategy was executed as a seamless and continuous build across planning, budgeting and consolidation.” said Samir Neji, chief knowledge officer at CPM Consulting. “We are indeed proud that Olam has the most resilient and flexible EPM architecture today, thanks to a robust product, coupled with high levels of management commitment to technology excellence.”

The implementation process was carried out in three phases with financial, management reporting and budgeting processes all seamlessly integrated onto the company’s existing ERP system. The new system provides real-time retrieval of management reports and financial consolidation time; the result was a budget process cycle reduced by 30 percent, from a month to less than 10 days.

“We are very pleased to have this opportunity in working with one of the largest and fastest-growing global companies in integrated agricultural processes based in Singapore, contributing to their success in managing an incredibly complex supply-chain process, together with its implications on financial planning and reporting,” said Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager of Global Business User Sales SAP. “The positive result from this implementation is a proud achievement for all involved, and we look forward to a long-term collaboration as we participate in Olam’s growth. This is also a testament to the strength of SAP BusinessObjects EPM solution, and the ability to be compatible with any existing ERP system. This is a management system that is the strategic differentiator for today’s CFOs.”

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