Case study: SThree uses SAP BusinessObjects to see true profitability

computerweekly.com
19 November, 2014
Brian McKenna

Recruitment firm SThree is using BusinessObjects to put itself in a position to decide which of its business units is most profitable and sustainable.

Peter Wells, head of projects and delivery at SThree, will tell delegates at the upcoming SAP UK and Ireland User Group conference in Birmingham how the company turned a housekeeping job on its SAP estate to account, in developing a profitability analysis project under the overall leadership of CIO Lance Fisher.

The “profitability analysis project” gives SThree better information about the profitability of its operations, says Wells. 

“It is part of a drive to receive virtually real-time and more granular information on profitability across the organisation. It delivers real business insight to drive tactical and strategic decision-making,” he says. One example of how this insight could be used is redirecting investment towards more profitable offices.

The eight-month project – begun in 2012 and completed in 2013 – has secured two benefits, says Wells, in an interview ahead of the conference. It has improved the company’s business intelligence (BI) reporting and laid the groundwork for other SAP software-related projects in human resources (HR) and finance.

The company previously had an insufficiently granular understanding of profitability across its business. This meant it was not able to make accurate “kill or keep” decisions, and was, says Wells misdirecting resources. Directors could not see which parts of the business were performing well and which were not.

SThree, which was founded in 1986 in the UK with a focus on IT recruitment, divides its business into four brands: Computer Futures; Progressive Recruitment, which is focused on engineering, oil and gas; Huxley, for banking and finance; and Real Staffing, which covers healthcare and life sciences. 

It has 48 offices in 19 countries, and grows by expanding into new countries or new sectors. It opens an average of four new "territories" each year, says Wells.

Wells’ own role encompasses project management, back-office applications and business intelligence applications, and he heads those three teams of 24 employees. The profitability project drew on services from SAP consultancy Bluefin Solutions.

SThree's technical architecture is now such that data from its two data warehouses – an Oracle Exadata enterprise data warehouse and an SAP BW instance – and business applications, which include Oracle Siebel for sales automation and customer relationship management (CRM) and financial application PCM (profitability and cost management), “end up in BusinessObjects”, which has power users in the finance and HR functions.

For mobile BI visualisation for the senior executive team, the company is using Roambi.

The profitability analysis project has won two SAP awards: a bronze award in the “medium implementation” category (UK) in the 2013 SAP Quality Awards, and a silver award in the “small implementation” category (UK) in 2012.

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