BAT delivers a global roll out of enterprise wide driver-based planning with SAP BPC on HANA

British American Tobacco (BAT), is one of the world’s big five tobacco product manufacturers. The company sells over 200 brands across more than 200 markets, and employs approximately 57,000 people worldwide.


The business challenge

BAT was in the process of rolling out SAP BPC (Business Planning and Consolidation) globally for statutory group reporting, budgeting and financial forecasting. The solution was being implemented via a region-by-region staggered approach as part of a global business transformation to a new Target Operating Model.

However, it soon became apparent that that the system was struggling to cope with the huge amounts of data generated by the organisation’s business worldwide. Calculations would typically take several hours before eventually crashing, then have to be broken down into smaller processes and rerun. 

A performance test on the system, revealed that further go-lives were likely to overwhelm it. To keep it functioning, usage restrictions were imposed, and certain functions had to be switched off.

“Whilst SAP BPC offers the capabilities we need for our financial planning, forecasting and reporting activity, BAT is an incredibly complex business which generates massive amounts of data. We needed a tool that could integrate with BPC and cope with these huge data volumes.”  Daniel Goersch, Global BPC IT Lead at BAT

The solution

Bluefin Solutions, who was already partnering BAT on the SAP BPC rollout, recommended installing SAP HANA to replace the existing database. This would enable BAT to continue taking advantage of SAP BPC’s capabilities without disrupting the overall programme of change.

Bluefin completed a SAP BPC on HANA proof of concept (POC) in order to show BAT not only how much performance could be improved by, but how it could be managed with minimal disruption or risk. This provided the momentum for the approval of migrating BAT’s financial planning and reporting solution to an SAP HANA infrastructure and an upgrade to the latest version of SAP BW 7.4.

“This demonstration yielded very impressive results, helping to overcome the typical IT inertia towards adopting new technologies." Daniel Goersch, Global BPC IT Lead, British American Tobacco

Bluefin built a parallel hardware landscape and migrated the existing configuration, data and users across to it. This approach meant that BAT could keep its existing system running until the new one was live. Additionally, as endorsement from SAP in extremely important to BAT, Bluefin scheduled regular checkpoints with Quality Assurance team, and collaborated with SAP when issues arose with the new technology.

The benefits

“SAP HANA has brought our financial planning back to life again. It has also made the system more stable and reliable – not to mention a great deal faster. Monthly consolidations now take 60% less time to complete, reports take less than a fifth of the time to run, and a number of processes run 90% faster.”   Daniel Goersch, Global BPC IT Lead, British American Tobacco

The new set-up is extremely user-friendly as SAP BPC functionality runs in exactly the same way as before.

Furthermore, the increased speed gives the finance team time to focus on higher value work, such as analysing performance, rather than simply inputting data and running reports.

“Our finance team loves using SAP BPC. They still can – but now it works so much faster. The stresses and frustrations we had with the old system have been removed and everybody’s life has been made much easier.” Daniel Goersch, Global BPC IT Lead, British American Tobacco

The solution has also enabled the roll-out of BAT’s BPC system to its remaining regions, giving the organisation a platform for future growth as well as a consistent approach to financial management globally.

  • Global processes are now aligned to a global calendar. The finalisation of bottom-up forecasts and reported group actuals now happen according to a global calendar with peaks of activity leading up to the submission deadlines for the quarterly and annual forecasting cycles, as well as the external group financial reporting. Calculations at the group level involves the processing of 100+millions of rows of data (1bn+ rows total)
  • Access to data across the business. Forecasting is no longer a finance-only activity. Budget owners across the different business functions are empowered through self-service to review and update their plans. Additionally, the performance bottlenecks experienced at peak periods with over 5000+ users are no longer a problem
  • 24/7 system availability. With SAP HANA, the standard BPC housekeeping jobs needed to maintain optimum performance no longer need to be taken offline.

“We’re at the beginning of the journey with SAP HANA. We’re exploring the capabilities of the new system, to see what other benefits it can bring to the business." Daniel Goersch, Global BPC IT Lead, British American Tobacco

Why Bluefin Solutions?

“The project was extremely complex, as it involved four SAP technologies. But it was made easier by Bluefin Solutions’ deep technical knowledge of SAP HANA, BPC, BW and NetWeaver. Additionally, having worked with Bluefin before, we had full faith in the quality of work the team would deliver.”   Daniel Goersch, Global BPC IT Lead, British American Tobacco

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