The Alfing-Sondermaschinen Group includes AKS, global leader in connecting rod production, and AMT, the leading specialist for nut runner technology, assembly systems, and automation. The two companies are largely independent entities, but are closely linked when it comes to development, construction, and production. They also share an executive management team, as well as the group’s Finance, HR, Purchasing and IT departments. Alfing uses SAP for back-office operations. While the SAP standard complies with P&L requirements under Germany’s commercial legislation, Alfing’s governance follows the cost-of-sales method. Previously, this required manual work feeding SAP data into many spread out processes that would eventually yield reports that could not be exported. Alfing was therefore looking to automate commercial processes for increased efficiency, and create a safe archive for cost-of-sales accounts.
We wanted to use cost-of-sales accounting in SAP along with enabling more automation. We definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. Thanks to the exceptional cooperation with Bechtle, we now have an archive of accounts and are able to export historical lists and leverage different visualisations. More than that, Bechtle also helped us to make analyses that much easier.
Uwe Hofmann, Head of Finance & Accounting, Alfing Sondermaschinen Beteiligungsverwaltungsgesellschaft
The objective was to create a custom SAP dashboard that would integrate all of the group’s end-of-month processes and automatically export results to unburden Controlling from these routine activities. Based on a comprehensive cost unit report, Alfing wanted to be able to archive and export all relevant cost unit master data, planned/actual values and quantities. The aim was to reduce the time needed to archive from two hours down to just minutes by enriching reports for result generation as part of Controlling’s period-end closing. In addition, Alfing wanted to be able to perform a final evaluation across all data and ultimately save them to the SAP server or export them into an Excel spreadsheet, including newly generated corrections or rebookings. Another crucial requirement was that all data must be immutable. Alfing was therefore on the hunt for a partner who can not only maintain and customise SAP, but also takes a holistic approach to the overall solution.
Together with Bechtle, Alfing’s Controlling department defined the target visualisation of essential data, i.e. which information from which tables are important for cost-of-sales accounting. Based on this Bechtle’s experts coded a completely customised SAP dashboard tailored to Alfing’s exact needs, using SAP’s proprietary ABAP programming language that was developed specifically for the purpose of creating commercial applications in SAP environments. The solution builds on SAP standard reports that are enriched with order-specific master data. Every report features a dedicated selection dialog for the individual data fields and all reports and related data can be viewed in a dedicated dashboard programmed by Bechtle. As part of a proof of concept, Bechtle created a baseline report. When Alfing users pull this or another report, the program will update and cache all content until it is saved and archived. Once the report has been saved, its content cannot be altered, but Alfing can always access the saved version for review as and when this is needed. Reports can also be exported in .csv and .xls formats.
On this basis, Bechtle and Alfing developed a series of reports that were integrated into the custom SAP dashboard to the customer’s requirements. During this process, Bechtle optimised some of the processes which had previously been manual and resolved some errors that had been introduced over time. Bechtle also optimally restructured the interfaces between SAP and Controlling, Finance, and HR. In close collaboration with Alfing, Bechtle was able to optimise the entire process to provide a transparent view of the month-end closing for the Alfing Sondermaschinen Group.
The SAP solution programmed by Bechtle is specially tailored to Alfing’s requirements. The dashboard makes it easier for the group to use the reports as they feature detailed visualisations of the end-of-month closing. A test run can also be performed in just a few minutes now. Alfing’s Controlling is now highly flexible. Once a billing period has closed, a live run can be carried out in minutes, creating an immutable archive of reporting data. Thanks to Bechtle, Alfing can now use its resources optimally and has securely archived all of its financial accounts. And overwriting the data—be it accidentally or otherwise—simply cannot happen, saving time, cost and stress.