I have been a controller for Operations Germany at MANN+HUMMEL since 2011. An important task of a controller is to support the management team in their decision making and implementation processes. ‘Getting things done’ is therefore one of the basic principles of my role. To be able to ‘get things done’, it firstly is essential to have extensive information available to me. In order to optimise our future work and financial situation, I therefore developed the ‘Year At A Glance’ system, or YAG, together with three colleagues. Through the development of this system we have been able to bridge the gap between the past and the future.
The system essentially provides an overview of the entire business year, divided into months. We can use this to improve the accuracy of our forecasts and thus ensure better business management and improved response times to any disruptive factors.
The YAG system is not only a management tool for controllers, but also for plant managers. We envisage that it will generate greater transparency and a better overview, thereby offering everyone in the company the chance to understand the current financial situation. Using YAG, we intend to show the plant managers how their plant is positioned economically and explain the direction we are taking.
When I came to the company, MANN+HUMMEL’s finance and control systems were already very good, but still had potential for expansion. Our task was to optimise the existing management tool. This two-year project began in October 2011 with a team comprising myself, my co-worker Ulrike Wagner-Höschele, Petra Grinder-Mieß from Reporting and René Ziegler from IT.
It took quite a lot of work to get down to the core facts: what we needed, what we didn’t need and what the key factors were. In the first year of development we combined all the definitions in Excel spreadsheets. By the end of 2012 we had a uniform template and in 2013 we finally converted these into the software.
Linking Past and Future
Previously we had evaluated the figures monthly and had therefore spent nearly all our time discussing the past, only looking ahead to the future quarterly; however the development of YAG led to a fundamental change in this approach. We now evaluate the figures monthly and use the comparison between the past and the future to predict the most important figures and influences for the current year, hence the name ‘Year At A Glance’.
We get the turnover figures directly from the plants. We then combine these with current market development and trends in order to estimate the figures for the next month. So far, we’ve only seen a two-percent deviance in our predictions!
The new tool was launched on 10 July 2013 and had been adopted by all MANN+HUMMEL plants across the world by August, meaning we succeeded in meeting all our deadlines. At the next Finance Summit we will collect any feedback and suggestions relating to the system.
This new tool represents a further step towards the controller’s aim of maintaining a rolling forecast for the company.