For nearly a century, IXYS UK Westcode has been at the forefront of power semiconductor design. What began as Westcode Semiconductors making copper oxide based semiconductors expanded into silicon power devices in the 1950s. Westcode was acquired by the IXYS Corporation and became part of a worldwide organization pioneering development of power semiconductors, solid state relays, high voltage integrated circuits, and microcontrollers. In early 2018, IXYS was acquired by Littelfuse, a leader in circuit protection. The combined organization has a customer base of 100,000, and more than 50 locations across America, Europe, and Asia.
Prior to being acquired by Littelfuse, IXYS UK Westcode had a reporting process that involved downloading a trial balance from their JD Edwards ERP software into Excel, manipulating it into a variety of formats, and then importing it into different static spreadsheets. All of this was quite a time-consuming task. “It was all a bit slow and cumbersome,” recalled IXYS Financial Controller Simon Hatfield. “But, you got used to it. It was normal to be working this way.”
Altogether, Hatfield’s team would take a full day just to manually create their spreadsheets. Once the spreadsheets were compiled, Hatfield’s team would then have to upload the numbers into Oracle Hyperion and analyze the output in order to complete GL mapping journals. Hyperion uploads could take up to an hour each and were run multiple times throughout the close process. The entire month-end close process with all its manual input took five business days.
When IXYS was acquired by Littelfuse, the team knew that changes were coming, including changes in how much time they’d have to close the books. “We knew that we were going to be pushed by Littelfuse to shorten the close window,” Hatfield recalled. “There’s more work to do after we’ve produced our numbers for Littlefuse, so they want as much time as possible.”
That was when Hatfield first encountered Spreadsheet Server by insightsoftware. “It sounded like a great idea, so I followed up,” he said.
Building to Success with Spreadsheet Server
IXYS added Spreadsheet Server, carefully setting up and checking report structures to be sure everything was done correctly. “Once a report is set up, you know you can rely on it and you don’t have to worry about the accuracy,” Hatfield said.
Going from manual reporting to automated reporting templates that could simply be refreshed each month via live data pulling directly from JD Edwards was an enormous time savings. “The ability to save time was the biggest attraction of Spreadsheet Server,” Hatfield admitted. “We do a daily shipping report, which previously was another download from JD Edwards. Now we simply change the date and push a button. It’s great. We are finding time savings all over the place.”
As for shrinking the close process as required by Littelfuse? Spreadsheet Server made it easier to trim time off of that as well. “When it comes to month-end reconciliation, you don’t have to go find the balance, because it’s already there,” said Hatfield. “I just change the date and the information pops up.”
There’s also no more waiting on multiple uploads to Hyperion. “Before, I had to wait until we uploaded information into Hyperion, then download more information and do analysis,” Hatfield said. “Now there’s no need to do that: I have all the information I need in a Spreadsheet Server report, which saves us from making extra steps in the process and speeds everything up.” Indeed, the IXYS month-end close process dropped from five days down to two and a half.
But time savings wasn’t the only benefit. Hatfield’s team now has the freedom to consider and analyze numbers and look at variances. “It’s all less of a rush at month-end to be able to do those things because we’ve finished that much more quickly,” he said. “We also get certain reporting requests from other departments that we’re able to answer more quickly now using the functions of Spreadsheet Server.”
In the first six months of having Spreadsheet Server, the IXYS team has been very busy, adding inventory reports from Spreadsheet Server to their report pack. While they’re currently using Spreadsheet Server to a degree to assist with budgeting, next steps will involve installing Budget Accelerator, a Spreadsheet Server companion product that will make it easier for the team at a local level to compare numbers to the budget, a process today that is quite manual.
Even though the IXYS team has had Spreadsheet Server for less than a year, they’ve already experienced the following benefits:
- Cut month-end close process timing by 50%
- Saved several hours by removing the need to perform multiple Hyperion uploads
- Gained more time to analyze numbers and resolve variances
IXYS’ success with Spreadsheet Server in the first six months is only the beginning. “I think we’ve really only scratched the surface of how we can use Spreadsheet Server,” Hatfield said. “With a little more time, I know we’ll be able to get even more benefits out of it.”