Creating icons and making history, Mace helps shape the planet’s biggest cities, constructing and managing some of the world’s most amazing buildings and infrastructure. From changing the London skyline with the delivery of the iconic Shard to making history in New York, reuniting the Port Authority at the 4 World Trade Centre – every challenge is seen as an opportunity to imagine and achieve better.

So, when it came to the task of building a more efficient and accurate reporting solution, the same outlook was adopted to enable faster, more detailed project-based budgeting and reporting.

Headquartered in the UK, Mace is an international consultancy and construction company. It employs over 4,000 people in more than 60 countries, and is involved in some of the world’s highest-profile projects.

Many of Mace’s international projects are contracted on a fixed-price basis, and their success depends on the company’s ability to control costs and maintain profitability. Historically, the only way for senior managers to gain a full understanding of international operations was a monthly report, based on a complex spreadsheet which drew data from numerous different accounting systems in subsidiaries around the world.

Affecting accuracy

Brendan Kitley, Finance Systems Manager at Mace, comments: “The spreadsheet on which we based our international reports had about
 40 tabs and hundreds of cross-links, which meant it was very easy to introduce errors, and the lack of a standardised approach was affecting accuracy and consistency. We wanted to find a more robust process for financial reporting.”

Mace was already using business analytics software (IBM Cognos TM1) for its domestic business in the UK, and was keen to find a similar solution for the international business.

“We decided to use IBM Cognos Express as the foundation of our international reporting platform,” says Kitley. “We were impressed by its ability to give us many of the same capabilities as our TM1 solution, but at a price-point that was more affordable for an organisation the size of our international division. We also liked the web interface, which we knew our international users would be able to access easily.”

Despite all the complexities of importing data from multiple accounting systems and handling exchange rate calculations for operations in over 40 countries, the implementation of the new system was completed within six months.

The first major project with Cognos Express was to replicate the default reports that used to be produced by the old spreadsheet-based process. This was achieved relatively quickly, so the team was able 
to move on to a second phase of developing more sophisticated and detailed reports.

Better decisions

“The reports we have now are much more useful because they allow us to drill down from the group level through all our international subsidiaries to the individual cost-centres, and even to the projects themselves,” explains Kitley. “The ability to get an accurate picture of financial performance in each project empowers our managers to make better decisions.

“Moreover, since the reporting process is now largely automated, we can create reports more quickly and with less effort – which means we can generate them more frequently. Instead of a one-month lead time for reporting, we can do a full profitability analysis in half the time, and give our managers more timely access to the information they need.”

With the success of the international reporting project, Mace’s next challenge was to unite all its UK and international subsidiaries into this single financial reporting and budgeting system. With a common platform for all reporting processes, the company’s central finance team will be able to spend less time and effort on maintaining and customising the processes, and more on actually analysing the figures themselves.

“With better visibility and more timely access to more detailed and accurate information, we are in a better position to monitor performance and maintain profitability while ensuring that our projects are delivered on time and within budget… We expect to continue to unlock even greater benefits in terms of standardisation and financial control.” Brendan Kitley, Mace

Posted in Cognos Express, Construction, IBM, Reporting On July 17, 2015 By