REVIEWER: Jim Bell, director of financial systems for Huntsman.
BACKGROUND: Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated and commodity chemicals. Its operating companies manufacture basic products for a variety of global industries. Huntsman was originally known for pioneering innovations in packaging and, later, rapid and integrated growth in petrochemicals.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We originally brought Applix TM1 in to facilitate simplified and easier financial reporting. Over the years, we expanded our use to include consolidating our financial systems into a single business performance management application. TM1 helped us do our management reporting, rolling forecasts, budgeting and global financial consolidations. In 2004, Huntsman embarked on a major business initiative, and a key component of the initiative would be a scorecard called Project Coronado. Project Coronado was designed to reduce company expenses and provide transparency into our financial and operational activities.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TM1 has the depth and breadth we needed to both serve as the single business performance management application and to be the foundation for Project Coronado. As our core financial application, TM1's reliance on Microsoft Excel as a user interface is very important to us. TM1's enhancements to Excel allow our managers to add textual notes explaining variances. TM1's architecture allows us to easily build multidimensional cubes, which let us slice and dice vast quantities of changing information. TM1 allows us to write rules that suit our business needs. Using rules, we were able to automate many tasks. Our divisions and businesses can update their numbers via a database view or by sending the information directly to TM1, usually completing the forecasting within days.
STRENGTHS: Financial reporting can be a long and complex process, but TM1 is able to simplify and speed the process, while also providing great levels of detail as quickly as possible. TM1 has write-back and dynamic consolidation capabilities that are perfect for budgeting, an iterative process. In addition to its ability to let us examine multiple facets of raw data and turn that into business information, TM1 is adept at serving as a single source of information. We gather the raw data needed for all our financial activities and Project Coronado from six different SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.
WEAKNESSES: TM1 requires you to build your own cubes. Some may prefer an application that is not as customizable, but if you are willing to either participate in training or bring in a partner, you can create the cubes that are specific to your business.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Key members of our financial team relied on TM1 at previous jobs. This confidence and experience with TM1 made it a logical consideration. Huntsman performed due diligence searching for a single performance management application, and ultimately, we decided the software and consulting costs for TM1 were much more appropriate than other prohibitively expensive software. Its features and functionality as well as its role in our financial reporting department and processes positioned it well as our scorecarding solution. We chose TM1 for Project Coronado because it delivers detailed data with transparency via audit trails, which fits very well with Sarbanes-Oxley requirements and our corporate initiatives.
DELIVERABLES: With TM1 we can easily create profit-and-loss statements and detailed reports on business lines, product lines and other variables. TM1 enables us to deliver monthly reports consistently and easily, providing the information necessary for the company to make decisions and react faster. TM1 was used to create and maintain the Project Coronado scorecard, gathering the global costs from the trial balance cubes and importing that data into the scorecard cubes. These cubes are then segregated by account, cost center, location, legal entity and by business segment. Huntsman executives use the scorecard to keep a monthly tab on how the business is meeting its goals.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Many of my team members are proficient at working with TM1, but we do use Applix technical support for resolving problems. Additionally, we send new team members for Applix training so that they are productive and comfortable working with the software more quickly.
DOCUMENTATION: While users rarely look at the documentation, we have found it complete and useful when needed.
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