Paper360 - March/April 2016 - (Page 58)
the bottom line | ERP DATA
SWM Gets Faster ERP Financial Data
An Excel-based tool gives SWM faster access to real-time Oracle
ERP system data for richer reports with minimal IT assistance.
Creating timely, accurate and
visually appealing reports is often time consuming for finance and accounting users of
complex ERP systems like SAP and Oracle.
Yet these reports provide vital data for making
decisions and assessing business performance
- especially in a capital intensive, low-margin
industry like pulp and paper.
While essential for collecting data, these
ERP systems fall short in financial reporting capabilities, leaving finance users to
reach for Microsoft Excel, a preferred tool
for manipulating data. Unfortunately, actually getting data from the ERP system into
Excel involves repetitive manual exports and
Schweitzer-Mauduit International (SWM)
has been an Oracle E-Business Suite user since
1995, when the company formed via spin-off
from Kimberly-Clark Corp. A provider of
engineered solutions and advanced materials, including specialty papers for the tobacco
and other industries, SWM and its subsidiaries operate in nine countries. While running
Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) Version 11i in
2004, SWM began searching for more efficient
ways for finance users to create reports.
INSTANT ACCESS TO ERP DATA
At the time, SWM used several methods to
extract Oracle general ledger (GL) data, all of
which were "cumbersome, time-consuming,
inefficient and error prone," says Bob German,
senior cost accounting manager for SWM.
These methods included Oracle Business
Intelligence Discoverer reports, standard
Oracle reports and use of Microsoft Access.
"Discoverer is not friendly for the basic
financial accounting user, so creating new
reports always required IT support," says
German. "Once IT programmed the report
and we ran it, the export to Excel was in a
very rudimentary format and required lots of
massaging in another spreadsheet tab to tailor
the report for the final audience."
Schweitzer-Mauduit International (SWM) went from exporting static Oracle data into Excel
(Figure A) to pulling live Oracle data directly into its Excel-based reporting tool (Figure B) for
up-to-the minute financial information.
The process was similarly inefficient using
Access and standard Oracle reports to retrieve
the GL data and put it into Excel for presentation. In addition, one detailed report had to
be completely re-keyed into Excel. Because
standard Oracle financial reporting tools did
not fit its requirements for user friendliness
and data access, in 2004 SWM began to evaluate third-party software alternatives.
A database administrator eventually discovered Excel-based GL Wand from Excel4apps.
With its direct link to real-time Oracle data
and familiar Excel interface, GL Wand became
a prime candidate, and SWM decided to participate in a trial of the financial reporting tool.
"GL Wand stood out among the competition because it could provide instantaneous
data, as Oracle journal entries are immediately reflected in the report once entered,"
says German. "Some competitors required
an interface from Oracle to a separate data
storage table. So, if you set up the data feed
for every half hour, you were stuck waiting
30 minutes, and if you set it up for every five
minutes, it tended to be a resource hog for the
SWM's Accounting Organization for the
North American business unit was pleased
that GL Wand could instantly provide current financial data via Excel, and SWM's IT
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Paper360 - March/April 2016
Over the Wire
Engineering: A Continuing Evolution
RISI’s European CEO of the Year
Sappi Europe: Serious About the Future of Paper
Reliability and Maintenance Beliefs – Part IV
Discovering Hidden Causes of Converting Problems
Barrier Technologies: The New Revolution in Food Packaging
Standard Bleaching Sequences Including an Ozone Stage – Part I
TAPPI Journal Summaries
SWM Gets Faster ERP Financial Data
Battling Rejection Burnout
Index of Advertisers
Paper360 - March/April 2016