District heating is a popular source of renewable energy for urban areas throughout Sweden. A district heating system consists of an underground infrastructure of insulated pipelines that provide thermal energy supplied by a central power plant to commercial and residential buildings in a municipality. Örebro based Värmevärden/Adven has 520 employees managing 350 sites to provide heating, renewable energy, industrial energy and waste recovery solutions for private customers, municipalities, industries and apartment complexes across Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and the Baltics.
Delivering comfortable and environmentally friendly heat to a customer base that borders the Arctic Circle is no easy task. The demand is high there are many obstacles that can curtail or delay operations. For Värmevärden’s Manager of Finance IT, Gustaf Roman, the challenges of the financial team centered around a lack of flexibility within their ERP that made it difficult to tailor to the needs of their business, and a locally developed third party planning solution that was enlisted to support the system.
According to Roman, “We wanted stability and flexibility, and we wanted the possibility to grow. That wasn’t possible with the current solution. And we struggled to adapt our ERP to fit the needs of the business.” Värmevärden, like other companies operating in the energy services sector, faces challenges with procurement of raw fuels, regulatory hurdles, and tax requirements – all of which are in a constant state of fluctuation. “A large portion of our cost is fuel and the supply of various kinds of fuels. It’s quite a complex process,” said Roman.
To further complicate matters, Roman explained that the company was at the early stages of an ERP switch. Värmevärden, through a series of acquisitions, found itself manually feeding data from six different ERPs into their old planning system. This made it difficult to manage the legacy data that each company contributed to the group. As a result, their existing planning solution was unable to keep up with the volume and complexity of their growing operation.
Building to Success with Bizview
Drawing on his 20+ years of experience with business intelligence and finance, Roman arrived at a decision to deploy Bizview as its budgeting, planning, forecasting, and reporting solution that would tie the pieces of the complex operation together. Bizview was used to consolidate data from the various legacy ERPs and build dashboards connected to the company’s central figures. This is where the team found the flexibility, visibility, and access that was impossible with their previous solution. It also opened the door to a new level of control and individual ownership of the company’s data. “It’s easy for the end users (Värmevärden employees) to support and fill the system with information,” said Roman.
With the greater access to key metrics that were previously difficult to obtain, Roman leveraged Bizview to ramp up forecasting. According to Roman, “We can use different indexes per account group and different sections in the income statement and balance sheet. We forecast both income statement and balance sheet through Bizview, and it’s possible to forecast for longer periods than we could look at before.” He went on to say, “We are doing monthly forecasting for the entire group (of companies) and that is no problem. There are two people that are working with this, and they are easily able to reforecast within a couple of hours.”
Companies within the energy services sector operate in a constant state of flux, and Värmevärden is no exception. Their drive for expansion and ongoing acquisitions gives the finance team little time to relax between cycles. Fortunately, Bizview brings some much-needed relief by simplifying time-consuming processes, allowing the team to focus on value-added activities such as forecasting and analysis. Roman has some advice for companies that are struggling to extract useful insights from their ERP: “If you want a flexible tool that is possible to scale, one that is easy to change and maintain yourself, then I would consider Bizview.”
Bizview gave Värmevärden valuable forecasting tools that enabled growth.
- Time savings – Monthly forecasting shrunk from 3 days to 3 hours.
- Flexibility – Ability to run models with multiple variables and scenarios.
- Stability – Effectively manages an operation with 350 sites.
- Data Consolidation – Merged data from 6 ERPs into one forecasting model.
Värmevärden’s implementation of Bizview offered “A huge leap forward” in financial operations.