Coca-Cola Hellenic

launches improved SAP system

Coca-Cola Hellenic

When Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), one of the biggest bottlers and sellers of Coca-Cola products in the world, implemented SAP in 2008, the treasury team expected great improvements in cash management and financial communication across the 28 countries in which the group operates. The reality was somewhat different, with the implemented version of SAP not interacting in harmony with CCH’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, called Wave 1. It was at that point that the newly appointed treasurer, Bart Jansen, decided to re-design and improve the SAP implementation – with help from Zanders.

When Bart Jansen joined CCH treasury in 2008, he might have been forgiven for thinking that he had joined at the perfect time – the company had just gone live with SAP Treasury. So with the latest technology already in place, surely Jansen would be able to focus on the bigger treasury issues?

He soon found that the treasury team in Athens was far from happy with how SAP was running. Treasury operated a stand-alone ERP5 installation that had to integrate with three SAP kernels at different versions of SAP. There was repetition of functions and lack of integration. Jansen explains that there were high levels of dissatisfaction with the functionality of the system among CCH’s users: “I started the new job as treasurer in the midst of the financial crisis with a team that was quite frustrated with their tools and also understaffed. I needed to do something drastic about this, so I called Judith van Paassen at Zanders.”

Jansen’s relationship with Zanders goes back a long way. As a Dutch national, he was previously treasurer at Dutch utility group Nuon, where he carried out a successful system implementation with Zanders. “After that experience, I knew that Zanders were knowledgeable about SAP, so when I moved to CCH in Athens, it was a natural step to call them,” he says. CCH sent out a request for proposal (RFP) and Zanders won the selection process.

Once Zanders had become involved in the project, things started to move quickly. Jansen says: “Bas Rebel and Bart Mol came over and worked with us in early 2009 and helped to identify 70 ‘gaps’, or weaknesses, in our process. While we identified some ‘quick wins’, we also realized that a lot more effort was required to address more structural issues.”

Integrating treasury with Wave 2

The aim of the SAP implementation was to upgrade the system to fit in more coherently with the Wave 2/ECC6 template. Every country treasury unit had its own banking partner and was communicating in its own way so this also had to be upgraded to Wave 2. Jansen explains how the project team worked to resolve these issues: “With help from Zanders we started to develop a business case that would solve our immediate and long-term structural issues related to the tools we use and the way we interact with our 28 countries. We now have a more integrated solution – particular for FX and cash management data – that complies with the latest standards and strengthens communications.”

“We absolutely benefited from Zanders’ expertise and knowledge of SAP.”

The business case was approved for the implementation project in November 2009 and work started on it in January 2010. As with any major implementation involving many different disciplines, it was not without some challenges. Jansen says: “One of the difficulties was the tight corporate deadlines regarding the Wave 2 roll-out. We had to comply with the Wave 2 deadlines imposed upon us by our own company, so we had to get the project started quickly.”

Communication is key

One of the challenges of working with an international team of consultants, according to Jansen, was getting people together in the same place: “The complexity of the system and the solution meant we had to involve several experts from different fields. Ultimately it was a matter of finding the right experts and getting them together, for example getting the people from Zanders together with our IT people. It wasn’t easy as they were not always in the same country but we still managed to communicate and address the issues.”

Zanders partner Laura Koekkoek adds: “We’re very pleased with the professional way the project has been run – in particular the testing phase was taken very seriously. We had a lot of people working together on this so communication has been crucial.”

Complex challenges

On the complexity of the implementation, Jansen says: “The best advice is always to stay as close to the standard version of SAP. Although this isn’t always possible, it helps to keep the complexity at a manageable level. We absolutely benefited from Zanders’ expertise and knowledge of SAP in this regard.”

With a complex system, designing the security and access rights has also been a time-consuming operation, as Jansen explains: “We spent a lot of time designing the authorization system, bearing in mind the segregation of duties within the company, and that has been really challenging on an integrated platform. We worked on this with internal auditor and it was one of the most important aspects before we went live.”

A pleasant working environment

So despite the pressures and complexity of this SAP implementation, is CCH happy with the results? For Bart Jansen, the most important gauge of the project&rsrsquo;s success was whether his treasury team in Athens was happy with the tools and system. “It has been a great success from that point of view,” he says. “They were previously spending a lot of time on administration and spread sheets, whereas now they can spend time on more meaningful tasks. We have been able to streamline processes and thereby reduce time spent on certain tasks by 30–50%, while the controls have significantly improved. So the team has a much more manageable workload and therefore a more pleasant working environment.”

CCH’s treasury is now in the process of rolling out Swiftnet and the SAP Bank Communication Management module to the country units, replacing the local electronic banking system functionality. This year they will begin work on an in-house bank and, once that is completed, they will set up a payments factory as part of the SAP system. Jansen adds: “We are now in the process of fully automating foreign currency accounting. We’re making a significant investment into the Wave2 platform. So we are already seeing significant benefits and hope to see more in future.”