Jabil isn’t just a manufacturer, they are experts on global supply chain, logistics, automation, product design and engineering solutions. They are also interested in and invest heavily into the holistic application of emerging technologies like additive manufacturing, autonomous technologies, and artificial intelligence. They are a technologically motivated enterprise, so it’s no surprise that they would apply this forward-thinking view to their finance reporting as well.
Jabil is a sizable operation with 2,300 profit centers, over 250,000 employees in over 20 countries worldwide. And when you add to that the needs of their clients and partners in healthcare, aerospace, telecommunications, and consumer industries you can see why they would need a better, faster way to handle financial reporting. Finance reporting isn’t much use when it’s slow and inaccurate. That method leads to poor decision making and improper spend allocation. If an organization can only review its numbers toward the end of each month, there isn’t time to respond to irregularities or emergencies.
Jabil is a longtime partner and IBM Business Analytics (BA) portfolio user, but before they made the switch to BA almost 15 years ago, they were using excel and spending most of their financial planning time trying to determine which numbers were most true for planning purposes.
“We can bring in more investments and the IT team can handle it. We’re working in a weeks and months timeframe where others are taking months and years. We can’t even see where the bar used to be.”
– Patrick Patterson, Senior Manager Financial Systems, Jabil
IBM Business Analytics delivers efficient management of an incredibly complex supply chain
Switching to IBM Business Analytics gave Jabil the ability to gather and structure data to provide a central approach to management. The integrated solution automatically handles reporting, analysis, planning and forecasting. Now, leaders use the solution to define top-down financial and operational targets to influence annual planning and to develop a quarterly bottom-up 12-month forecast to capture a reliable forward view of revenue, expense, profit and working capital across all 2,300 profit centers.
It’s IBM Cognos Controller that offers Jabil a simplified automated consolidation process, removing their dependance on spreadsheets. The result is a single version of truth that management can rely on to anticipate performance gaps and focus on initiatives designed to steer business performance. The solution shifts time spent away from gathering data and report creation and allows for increased focus on understanding insights and acting on them.
Using IBM’s Business Analytics portfolio Jabil was able to cut three full working days from the process of creating SEC reports and cut four days out of pulling internal monthly financial numbers, providing important true numbers much earlier. With the ability to “steer the ship” in real time, Jabil can easily bring in new business. Since the solutions are scalable, new companies are onboarded and integrated into Jabil’s external financial reporting without much effort.
All of this provides leadership with the ability to see specific trends across their customer base and physical plants. Leaders can develop effective best practices, working practices and drill down on data to understand the particulars of any situation and respond effectively. Providing Jabil with total business analytics throughout their organization.
Keeping it small, keeping it connected
The first tool Jabil integrated was Cognos Controller and TM1 as part of an overall finance transformation. They had a small IT team and needed a powerful tool that could handle a variety of uses, like tax provisioning in treasury, reporting and modeling for finance and still scale. Cognos Controller proved to be durable, scalable and powerful enough to allow them to keep their IT team small and still support anything that comes their way.
In most organizations when an IT team finishes a project, they move on to another project and a support team takes over the initial project. At Jabil, the developers that build a project own it for the duration. From a skills point of view, developers are the ideal support staff to keep applications up and running. With IT and line of business integrated, the final piece of the puzzle was making sure everyone was looking at and using the right data.
With Cognos Controller and TM1 as the book of record, finance was able to implement a systemwide forced reconciliation to make sure the final data is always 100%. When each site submits their financials, there’s a reconciliation template that doesn’t allow finalization unless the numbers tie out. Everyone knows they can trust the system and that trust saves days of work—and it’s a truly automated system. Once actual numbers are in the system, Cognos sends out a mix of reports, around 80,000 a quarter, and since it’s a SOX controlled application, the data remains secure throughout.
The benefits include the ability to close out their books earlier. They went from day 15 reporting to day 5. The time savings is massive and having an application that takes data security seriously is a huge benefit. Overall, the solution turns a massive data collection effort into a push-button activity.
“Trust in data security is important, and puts Cognos Analytics and TM1 ahead of many other solutions.”
– Patrick Patterson, Senior Manager Financial Systems, Jabil
Knowledgeable partners drive success
For 15 years, IBM and Jabil have been integrating successful solutions with Cognos. No tool is perfect, and the leaders at Jabil understood that they would need a dedicated partner for the duration. A partner ready to invest in the tool and help with solutions and troubleshooting. IBM has been that partner. Working together Jabil and IBM have been able to work through every single major issue. The partnership allows Jabil to make important decisions faster and to fix problems quickly as they come, and Jabil is going to continue to invest in giving their employees the best tools possible.
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