Purcell Enhances SAP Value, Accelerates its Financial Reporting Processes with GL Wand
A global leader in the design and manufacture of high-quality electronic equipment enclosures for telecom and other industries, Purcell Systems needed faster, more efficient financial reporting processes, particularly as the company expands its business globally.
Need for SAP Financial Reporting Capability
An SAP user since 2006, Purcell Systems found over time that financial reporting from its big ERP system was inefficient, especially as managers began to request more information more quickly. Based in Spokane Valley, Washington, with international subsidiaries, Purcell manufactures thermally managed outdoor electronic equipment enclosures. By 2012, the company seriously needed a way to expedite both ad-hoc and standard financial reporting processes.
“We had no real financial reporting capability within SAP,” said Kevin Lybbert, SAP / Business Process Analyst at Purcell Systems. “To access the necessary data, someone had to drop SAP information into Excel and then create the report. If any data changed, we had to go through all those steps again to make sure everyone was looking at the same numbers.”
The bottom line? Reporting for Purcell was a time-consuming, cumbersome process and the company needed faster access to critical data. GL Wand from Excel4apps, an Excel-based reporting tool with direct links to real-time SAP data, entered the picture in late 2012 as a solution worthy to explore.
SAP Reports Fall Short
Standard SAP reports did not provide financial data in the way Purcell needed it to appear, according to Patty Bordelon, global controller for Purcell Systems. The finance and accounting team was unable to consolidate financial statements properly in SAP, and both ad hoc and standard monthly and year-end closing reports were also an issue.
“We wanted to report our income statements a bit differently from the way it came across in SAP reports,” Bordelon explained. “We found it worked better to download the trial balance from SAP and then create reports using pivot tables in Excel spreadsheet templates, which was very time consuming.”
For ad hoc reports, the process was equally time intensive.
“To get the requested information, we would create and run different queries within SAP through the tables, and where possible, we would link tables together,” described Lybbert. “If there wasn’t a way to link everything in SAP, we would run the query and send the data to Excel, where we would finish linking data and create the report.”
Trial Phase Proves Value
In 2012, with requests for SAP financial information mounting, Purcell decided to look for a new reporting tool. Lybbert knew of Excel-based GL Wand from SAP’s user conference, SAPPHIRE, and training venues, and was impressed with its fast access to real-time SAP data. Purcell decided to take advantage of GL Wand’s free trial, while also evaluating another similar reporting product.
Lybbert was the primary person responsible for evaluating both tools. After a three-week trial on Purcell’s quality system, which had live transactions up to two months prior, he ultimately recognized the advantages of the Excel4apps reporting solution.
“At the end of the day, GL Wand had a smoother interface and was more logical in how it worked, as with the creation of templates, for example,” Lybbert said. “Plus, its value proposition was much higher than the other product, so it was an easy sell for us internally.”
After installing GL Wand in September 2012 for domestic operations, Lybbert was more than ready to use it for reporting in a live SAP environment. After a short tutorial from an Excel4apps rep, Lybbert was well on his way to becoming Purcell’s GL Wand “super user” during the trial phase.
“We don’t have a very complicated SAP structure, so I was able to mimic our income statement using the GL Wand drilldown function to access the detailed data and then link it back into other reporting functions for cost centers,” Lybbert described. “I was basically able to use all the different aspects of GL Wand.”
Monthly and Ad-hoc Reports Speed Up
With the domestic monthly close for financials, Purcell runs cost center reports and financial statements with GL Wand on a daily basis. As the trial phase demonstrated, GL Wand saves significant time.
“The reports used to take 2 to 4 hours on a daily basis, and now with our template in GL Wand we can get the data instantaneously,” said Bordelon. “As soon as a journal entry is posted, we can see the effects of it on our income statements.”
Ad-hoc reports are also much faster – and more accurate.
“The best thing about GL Wand is that it allows me to pull the real-time SAP information into my reports,” Lybbert said. “Now, every time I have a question, I don’t have to jump into SAP and go through all these steps to find information. I have it all in GL Wand, and if a change occurs, it updates automatically. Because GL Wand provides direct access and pulls the data for me, I am confident that the data is correct.”
Margin Analysis Goes from 8 Hours to 1
The decision to implement GL Wand is paying off in many ways. For example, Lybbert creates a margin analysis report at month end that shows shipments, revenue, material costs, and variances that might have flowed through on those products. Before GL Wand, he would go into SAP and drop out the information needed, then reconcile it back to the general ledger.