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Finnish Paper Supplier Stora Enso Gains Exensive Financial Intelligence with SAS® Activity-Based Management

Stora Enso Oyj's Fine Paper division is using SAS Activity-Based Management in its product and customer profitability project, the results of which already exceed the expectations. With a turnover of €2.5 billion (US$3.1 billion), the division's product and service selection has expanded visibly over recent years, and at the same time, the complexity of the financial data relating to the whole process has greatly increased.

For example, among graphic paper sales, the emphasis of demand has changed from roll commodity to sheet commodity. Traditional profitability accounting stopped at the end of the paper machine, so roll handling and sheet making have not been followed up as closely within the paper industry.

"Existing cost accounting systems have not really supported a customer-centric activity model. That is why we needed to see how returns and costs are incurred for us with each of our customers," says project manager Aki Moilanen.

The division's 12 factories have also not had uniform and transparent accounting practices, which brought about a need to standardize practices and create transparent accounting according to the stages of the process.

Objectives Based on Information Needs
According to Moilanen, the project and accounting solution for Stora Enso Fine Paper division needed to address four main objectives based on specific informational needs. First, the project had to unify and clarify the principles of cost accounting. Secondly, the solution had to use existing systems. Thirdly, the solution had to minimize manual work and the complexity of producing information, and finally, it had to allow multidimensional reporting.

"We cannot build a new ERP-sized system for every need. That's why we must utilize the data of existing systems as much as possible and not build any new system for producing operative data," says Moilanen. "We must also be able to look at, for example, the factory's profitability according to customers, the customer's profitability according to countries and products, and so on."

With SAS Activity-Based Management (formerly Oros ABC/M), Stora Enso can now manage and standardize the process of consolidating financial information across multiple subsidiaries, departments and currencies, thus shaving time off financial reporting cycles. It meets management, performance and legal reporting requirements and aligns strategic organizational objectives with operational objectives.

Results Exceeding Objectives
Stora Enso's main partners in the project are August Associates, who specialize in managing profitability, and SAS, who helped to build the accounting solution and delivered the program, which was chosen by the project to be the accounting tool.

"If we were to start the project all over again, we would definitely do it with the same partners. August Associates' support in modeling has been crucial, and SAS' involvement in technical implementation has been evaluated as an extremely profitable investment," says Moilanen.

"It is especially important to try to figure out the level of validity of the data in different systems. Also important to success is accurate preproject assessment, which should be conducted in a very systematic fashion. This enables the team to gauge the amount of work the project requires and narrows down the important areas of emphasis," he says.

As a whole, the project began as expected and, according to Moilanen, the results gained have clearly exceeded the objectives that were set in the beginning.

"The results of the project have met with a very favorable reception at various levels of the organization. Our own management has been satisfied, and the project has aroused interest across the borders of different divisions," he says. Also, as the project has progressed, its status has risen, helping to move it forward. Now the exploitation stage of the project is under way and, according to Moilanen, the project has produced some completely new information and validated some existing ideas and practices.

"A very pleasant surprise has been the true breadth and real multidimensionality of the resulting information. The financial intelligence we have gained is really extensive and we can process it according to customers, countries, products and in any way we want," he says.

About Stora Enso
Stora Enso is an integrated paper, packaging and forest products company producing publication and fine papers, packaging boards and wood products, areas in which the group is a global market leader. Stora Enso sales totaled €12.8 billion (US$16.1 billion) in 2002. The group has some 42,500 employees in more than 40 countries on five continents and about 15 million tons of paper and board annual production capacity. Stora Enso's shares are listed in Helsinki, Stockholm and New York.

Stora Enso serves its mainly business-to-business customers through its own global sales and marketing network. A global presence provides local customer service. Customers are large and small publishers, printing houses and merchants, as well as the packaging, joinery and construction industries worldwide. Their main markets are Europe, North America and Asia.

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Stora Enso

Needed better financial management for greater customer-centricity.
SAS Activity-Based Management delivers financial intelligence by customer, market, product, or any other way.

If we were to start the project all over again, we would definitely do it with the same partners. August Associates' support in modeling has been crucial, and SAS' involvement in technical implementation has been evaluated as an extremely profitable investment.

Aki Moilanen

project manager

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