Forecasting Expenses Accurately
One way Breakaway has been instrumental in helping sanofi-aventis gain insight into its business operations and improve the company’s performance is through the implementation of TM1 for expense forecasting.
The U.S. financial arm had been using Excel to manage its expenses and create forecasts. The data-consolidation and report-development processes had become cumbersome and inefficient. It was difficult for staff to make changes and adjust targets, which often required re-keying data—increasing the risk of human error.
Sanofi-aventis turned to Breakaway, its long-time consulting partner, to implement IBM Cognos’s TM1 analytic software for financial-performance management. “With only a one-month lead time on this project, Breakaway’s in-depth understanding of TM1 allowed for a quick and painless implementation process,” says Wes Gardner, Senior Manager, Financial Systems, at sanofi-aventis.
A key challenge was that many of the groups within the company needed to communicate and share their data with clients not using the TM1 solution. Breakaway built spreadsheets that seamlessly rolled into TM1 and eliminated the need to re-enter data from different groups and their clients. Today, as conditions change and adjustments need to be made, TM1 instantly provides real-time updates, ultimately improving the planning process across departments, functions, and locations.
“By eliminating repetitive processes, we are saving a significant amount of time and have access to real-time data,” explains Gardner. “We are easily able to conduct what-if scenarios, share information, communicate more effectively, and create almost instantaneous reports based on real-time data. If we are creating forecasts with data outside of the TM1 system, it is easy to pull numbers in and make changes. With accuracy being essential in our forecasting process, this automated consolidation helps us ensure that we are not compromising our data.”
Sanofi-aventis is ranked as the third-largest pharmaceutical company in the world. It discovers, develops, and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve lives worldwide. Listed in Paris [EURO-NEXT PARIS: SAN] and in New York [NYSE: SNY], the company has 17,700 employees and offers both patients and doctors a complete range of products.
Predicting Costs of a Complex Clinical Study
Breakaway also stepped in to help sanofi-aventis with a complicated and expensive clinical study conducted by the Global Marketing and Medical group. The pharmaceutical company had a lot at stake on this project and needed to make sure it was run efficiently.
“The group originally used Excel to manage the financial aspects of the clinical study,” explains Gardner. “However, the data coming from the third-party clinical research organization had to be re-keyed into the Excel spreadsheets, and this process was prone to errors. If an error was made in the spreadsheet, it was extremely difficult to figure out where it was made and how to correct it.”
Using TM1, Breakaway built applications for patient enrollments, tracking project milestones, and taking metrics from the study. The clinical study had many moving parts, making the model very complicated.
The Global Marketing and Medical group needed to be able to easily calculate base payments to the clinical research organization as milestones were met and ensure the project remained on course. If the study was ahead or behind schedule, the group needed to make changes easily and adjust the forecast.
Leveraging TM1’s advanced rules-based calculations, Breakaway developed a complex model that enabled changes to underlying data to be made and instantly calculated through the model. Now, with TM1, there is a load process that eliminates the need to re-enter data.
“This group was able to effectively plan, budget, and forecast for this clinical study with TM1 and was able to conduct ‘what-if’ analyses to improve predictability for the future,” explains Gardner.
“Breakaway is our right-hand support for TM1. They know our system and we prefer to rely on a known entity—one that has served us well for a decade,” says Gardner.
Global Brand Planning
Breakaway’s expertise in leveraging technology to solve business challenges does not lie just with the IBM Cognos TM1 solution. Breakaway has a thorough knowledge of using various technology solutions to address its clients’ business needs.
For example, sanofi-aventis’s corporate headquarters mandated that all of its divisions use a specific application for brand planning. The solution, MIS Alea, is a planning, consolidation, reporting, and analysis solution developed by a European company. The goal of the global brand planning project was to allow various global affiliates to enter their brand plans for their products, including their product profit-and-loss statements and other forecast data, and enable management to have a master view of all of its products across the company.
“We conducted an extensive bid process for this project and selected Breakaway because they demonstrated a thorough understanding of our business and an expertise in a range of financial software applications,” says Gardner. “Breakaway easily adapted to the Alea product and as the requirements on the project constantly changed, they continued to provide excellent support.”
“Breakaway is very technically competent,” points out Gardner. “When we wonder how we’re going to do a certain project, we are able to turn to Breakaway and their team assists and guides us and finds a unique solution to address our specific business challenge.”
“Breakaway is our right-hand support for TM1. They know our system and we prefer to rely on a known entity—one that has served us well for a decade.” —Wes GardnerSenior Manager, Financial Systems, sanofi-aventis