Saving Time & Reducing Risk by Automating 90% of 80,000 Global Tasks

Since 1905, Norsk Hydro has turned natural resources into valuable products for people and businesses, creating a safe and secure workplace for 32,000 employees in more than 140 locations and 40 countries.

The Challenge

Norsk Hydro has grown rapidly through acquisitions in the past few decades, leaving the organization with a patchwork of ERPs and processes. To streamline and unify finance, as well as HR and IT, the company created a global business service (GBS) entity, managed through several global and regional hubs.

“The GBS provides the services for Finance, HR, and IT,” says Piotr Kubacki, global process owner for record to report (R2R), at Norsk Hydro. “My role is to harmonize processes across all the different units.”

Yet, despite the GBS - managing, analyzing, and reporting on the close was still a challenge. Data coming in from various business units varied greatly and processes weren’t standardized.

“Finance is a huge operation. On a monthly basis, we execute around 80,000 tasks globally,” says Kubacki. “Yet previously, we still had a lot of business areas working in different ways. They had their own checklists, built most of the time in Excel. None of these checklists were harmonized, and none had the correct deadlines.”

Why BlackLine

Kubacki and his team were ready to standardize and automate close processes across all business units, both to create alignment and increase transparency. They also wanted a tool that could schedule tasks, create workflows, and manage exceptions within SAP to provide a streamlined user experience and save time.

“We were looking for a solution that would help us execute the close in the most optimal way,” says Kubacki. “That solution was BlackLine.”

Norsk Hydro implemented BlackLine Smart Close, BlackLine Account Reconciliations, and BlackLine Analysis solutions. Embedded in SAP, Smart Close not only automates and streamlines Norsk Hydro’s SAP close activities, but automatically uses SAP user roles and authorizations, mirroring the SAP user experience.

Smart Close is now Norsk Hydro’s “standard tool,” says Kubacki. “The moment a new location moves to SAP, we implement Smart Close. It’s the standard way we close the books across all locations. Currently, we have more than 500 people using Smart Close.”

The Results

Saved time. With Smart Close, Norsk Hydro has automated 90% of their global processes, resulting in a faster close.

“We have 80,000 tasks in our Smart Close checklist, and 90% of those tasks are automated, without any loss in quality,” says Kubacki. “I can’t imagine going back and executing all of those tasks manually. Smart Close has greatly streamlined our workflow.”

Reduced risk. Both increased visibility and automation help Norsk Hydro mitigate risk.
“Smart Close has been a game changer during the closing period, especially as there’s so much time pressure. It automatically identifies errors and issues with orders,” says Kubacki. “Right now, it runs at 5 am in the morning. If it finds an issue, it triggers an email, and we can see if something wasn’t posted correctly or if there’s a problem with the quality of the master data.”

Kubacki notes that Smart Close has also helped Norsk Hydro strengthen controls. “Before Smart Close, both executing that number of transactions and finding errors in such a short time wasn’t physically possible.”

Increased transparency. Prior to Smart Close, different business units ran different processes, hindering transparency. With BlackLine, processes are both standardized and completely visible.

“With Smart Close, we can see instantly how many tasks we have and how many tasks belong to which business,” says Kubacki. “It’s all in the Smart Close dashboard.”

Smart Close also enables increased visibility of old items. “We can easily see which items should have been cleared a long time ago. It’s motivating people to take action. We’re then able to follow up from a global perspective and identify remaining problems.”

Increased same-day payments. Smart Close has helped Norsk Hydro meet the same-day standard for paid invoices.

“The treasury guidelines state that we should issue payments every day,” says Kubacki. “After implementing Smart Close, we immediately improved our paid-invoices-on-time metric from 73% to 93%.”

Industry

Energy & Raw Materials

ERP

SAP S/4HANA

Region

Global

Company Size

Midsize

Business Impact

Saved time

Reduced risk

Increased transparency and on-time payments


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