Putting an end to manual reporting: Aigle Hong Kong rolls out GL Wand for SAP
When Aigle’s head office in France decided to roll out SAP across the rest of its organization, replacing the existing software at the branch offices, there was some concern about the impact this would have on their ability to generate effective financial reports. By implementing GL Wand from Excel4apps, Aigle Hong Kong has overcome the limitations of SAP reporting to deliver reports that are detailed and effective, and has reduced the potential for errors to creep in, thanks to what is now an automated, flexible and easily executed process.
The Need for Excel
Aigle is a French footwear and textile company founded in 1853. Initially focused on protective rubber boots and raincoats, today the business also produces urban and country wear in the form of boots, shoes and clothing. The combination of authenticity, style and practicality, coupled with its high quality and attention to detail is what sets this business apart and makes it a global name in apparel.
Like many companies which rely on the SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, Aigle, and in particular the company’s Hong Kong office, was concerned about the fact that reporting from SAP can be time consuming and difficult. According to Florent Perrinelle, Asia IT and Project Manager at the company, the move to SAP meant ending their association with their previous software provider, Sage. “The software offered by Sage was closely aligned to Excel and worked really well for us, so it was a natural concern to have,” he says.
“Therefore, we knew that it was critical to find a tool that could assist us in bridging this gap. We conducted the necessary research online and soon settled on GL Wand from Excel4apps. We also evaluated a competitive product. However, GL Wand was selected for its ease-of-use and deeper integration with SAP. “We also didn’t consider any SAP products, as I already knew that they do not offer something similar directly for the ERP layer.”
“GL Wand from Excel4apps is ideal as it enables us to retrieve the relevant data from SAP without needing any additional IT implementations to be conducted to make it work properly.”
Furthermore, he adds, the new solution is particularly user-friendly and reduces the time needed to produce effective financial reports. “GL Wand has quickly eliminated the concerns we initially had about the move to SAP actually negatively He adds that if there is one challenge they have had to deal with, it is the fact that because of the migration to SAP, there are times when the necessary data is unavailable. This entails a manual aspect to the process, as this history has to be obtained from physical documents. “Of course, this is not the fault of GL Wand, and I have to say that even though this manual aspect increases the time taken in creating our reports, without GL Wand, it would take far longer.” impacting on our ability to produce such reports; in fact, thanks to the manner in which GL Wand works with SAP, it has improved the process significantly.”
A Transformative Solution
When Aigle Hong Kong decided it would need a tool to fit with the newly implemented SAP solution, the company ultimately wanted one that would enable it to continue to produce the level of reporting that its previous software solution had allowed.
After considering two options, the company chose to implement GL Wand due to how easily it enabled the finance staff to generate the required reports. “Our initial brief to the team looking into this was to find us a solution that would enable us to maintain the status quo, as far as what we had been able to do previously. When we discovered that GL Wand would allow us to do even more than expected, it became the obvious choice for us.”
Aigle Hong Kong rolled out its GL Wand solution in September 2015 and according to Perrinelle, the staff are happy with it.
“We have a very small team – only five people in our finance department – so we do not use it as extensively as some larger enterprises might, but it has proven to be a solution that is easy to use and simple to understand, so our people have had no trouble with it. Ultimately, success with GL Wand depends upon the user’s ability to understand and work in Excel. Our people all have very strong Excel skills and so they have been able to use it intuitively, and with little training required.”
Asked what the finance department had to say about the tool, Perrinelle suggests that they all agree that as long as one knows both SAP and Excel, then you will know how to use GL Wand effectively. “All that is required is to properly understand the data that resides in the SAP system and how to apply it in Excel and you will be able to do wonderful things with GL Wand.”
He adds that if there is one challenge they have had to deal with, it is the fact that because of the migration to SAP, there are times when the necessary data is unavailable. This entails a manual aspect to the process, as this history has to be obtained from physical documents. “Of course, this is not the fault of GL Wand, and I have to say that even though this manual aspect increases the time taken in creating our reports, without GL Wand, it would take far longer.”
Not only does GL Wand produce the reports required by management with no fuss, but the resulting information is considered more reliable, too. This is important, since the company uses the solution to produce a wide range of reports, including balance sheet, income statement by profit center, cost center reports and inter company reports.
Perrinelle explains that the tool has assisted them in generating additional reports that had, even with the previous software, always been done manually. “We are currently testing a new way to calculate a like-to like contribution report, with a little bit of VBA/Excel on top of GL Wand. Building this report manually takes a long time and we anticipate that GL Wand will speed up the process enormously.”
“Obviously, when one manually captures data into reports, either by typing it in or by copying and pasting from a SAP report, it inherently increases the risk of errors. In addition, the drill down functionality offered by the tool means that it if something requires investigation, you just drill down as far as required in order to check your numbers. This makes it much easier to find and correct any inconsistencies or errors.”
“Improved accuracy and reliability of information is matched with a reduced timeframe for producing reports courtesy of GL Wand,” adds Perrinelle. “Moreover, using the tool is simple and easy that from the outset, we have been able to generate relevant reports in a quick and easy manner. But the best for us is how well GL Wand and SAP dovetail when it comes to creating these reports. The SAP system creates trustworthy data, and then GL Wand enables us to interpret it and turn it into meaningful reports.”
While the user-friendliness of the tool and the ease with which it has been picked up by the financial department means that Aigle Hong Kong has not really had to call on the Excel4apps support team. Perrinelle is quick to add that it remains reassuring to know that they can have access to this excellent service should they ever require it.
He adds that GL Wand is a tool that will work for both large and small organizations. In an enterprise, he explains, a tool like this means that the financial team are able to make more accurate decisions much faster, while also being freed from the cumbersome process of manual report creation, thereby enabling them to focus more closely on other aspects of their work.
“For smaller organizations, the beauty of this tool is that it gives you the ability to create accurate, effective and better looking reports without having to invest enormous amounts of money in bespoke software.”
“GL Wand from Excel4apps has all the capabilities you require and is simple and intuitive to use. I for one would have no hesitation in recommending it to any business that has had its fill of trying to generate its reports manually,” he concludes.