REVIEWER: Tom Miller, manager of plant controlling for BMW Manufacturing Corp.

BACKGROUND: BMW Manufacturing Corp., based in South Carolina, is the first facility of its kind to be built outside of Germany where the parent company, BMW AG, is located. Today, Z3 roadsters and coupes, M (motorsport) roadsters and coupes and the X5 sports activity vehicle are built at the factory and exported throughout the world. The company needed a fast, flexible reporting system to manage its plant cost structure and productivity targets. We set aggressive productivity targets and then move toward those targets using specific cost measurements. To become more productive each year, we track costs associated with building a car, including direct labor, maintenance and utilities. We compare those costs to our targets and report problems as we pursue those productivity goals. Finance and operations all had the same goal of improving productivity while controlling costs. However, we lacked the tool to help us track our progress and prioritize problems encountered along the way. Our SAP system gave us reports, but they were just not flexible and user-friendly enough for both financial and nonfinancial users.

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