Vaillant is an international market leader in the field of heating and ventilation technology. Vaillant offers its customers worldwide environmentally-friendly and energy-saving heating and ventilation systems. Based in Remscheid, Germany, the Vaillant Group was founded in 1874 and is still 100% family owned. Proving one of the firm’s tag lines true, “because Vaillant thinks ahead”, the company recently started a financial transformation for Internal Accounting guided by Kai Hennig.
Working for such a large international organization has its challenges. “Vaillant is big,” says Hennig. “We have branches in multiple countries around the world sending information to each other across time zones in order to collect data for the closing process. It’s no easy task and can seriously hinder progress on projects.” Hennig and Vaillant foresaw the need to automate their financial procedures based on the lengthy lists of time-consuming manual tasks employees faced at each closing and the need for establishing clear and transparent financials. “When I started here, the monthly close was too reliant on manual activities and emails. Fortunately, Vaillant and I were on the same page—a modern corporation needs automation because it creates clear processes, workflows, and ownership.”
When planning the creation of Vaillant’s Financial Shared Service Center, the organization looked for a software solution to establish clear, automated processes and give upper-level management the KPI information they could depend on to make smart business decisions. Hennig was already familiar with Smart Close because he had played a critical role in an implementation of Smart Close while working at a previous company. He had been so impressed with the Smart Close solution that he supported implementing it at Vaillant as well. “The future of finance is having structured processes. These solutions support that so I was automatically drawn back to the software. A company needs efficiency and transparency in its financial processes and in closings.
Benefits that go above and beyond. Smart Close is embedded within SAP, so it runs directly within the SAP environment. As Hennig explains, clarity in processes and accountability were huge benefits Vaillant gained with Smart Close. “Before, we depended on excel sheets which couldn’t easily be updated or shared, and it’s actually too risky to work that way. With these tools, you simply schedule an activity and it’s executed successfully, without errors. This gives you the optimal closing structure template in SAP. Upper management and operational people can monitor progress while closing the books, anytime and in real time. It’s all very clear and transparent.” Improved internal structure and processes. Beyond establishing clear processes and ownership of tasks, Smart Close has also helped Vaillant evaluate its internal performance, improving its internal structure and processes.
“Before, we didn’t have data benchmarking our different branches and how they were doing. We couldn’t analyze where we could gain efficiencies. With these solutions, you can easily compare different areas and learn from the more efficient ones. It’s essential to have a structured list of closing activities because it gives you a huge level of transparency.”
“Smart Close offers that list and, in addition, merges all its best practices in SAP. When you have that, you can then start to harmonize the closing processes across all companies, countries, and regions.”