Imec is streamlining its operations with SAS
User friendly and transparent
In 2008, in view of its rapid expansion and the growing need for more accurate reporting, Imec decided to call on Deloitte to conduct a business intelligence strategy study. A very comprehensive study it was, involving all stakeholders and resulting in one clear choice: SAS. "Mind you, we had been a long time SAS user for our scientific operations", says Yves Daelmans, Project Manager ICT at IMEC. "However, we asked Deloitte to scan the market with an open view, to consider all vendors and take all possible parameters into account before deciding on a suitable supplier. One of our major criteria was the way we wanted to address our various internal operational systems (IMECinOne, FAB300, RQM, ...), and in particular how we could extract data from our more logistic systems that run SAP. And at the same time, we wanted a very user friendly interface for our reporting, and we insisted on a very transparent solution, no black box – and SAS simply met all those criteria".
At the very start of the project early 2009, Imec set out to define standards and guidelines. Because it had limited internal ICT resources, it turned to LACO, a Belgian ICT company with some 150 consultants and a long time SAS partner. "Their expertise was not only fundamental in creating the BICC but they have stayed with us all the way in developing our BI solutions", Yves Daelmans explains. "Initially, our BICC was more technically oriented but increasingly we are now involving end users and developing best practices around reporting. We then started looking at our planning and resource management - Imec is quite a complex company in that respect because lots of programs are running simultaneously and there are numerous contracts that each have various deliverables. Our problem was that each operational system had its own reporting environment, and this is where SAS has brought us enormous added value by integrating all those reporting systems and providing new insights we never had before".
And there's more, says Yves Daelmans, for there is another important aspect of resource management: people. "We want to register the time they spend on each program, giving both them and our management a clear insight in their time use. Similarly we collect data on other resources like materials and equipment from various operational systems, and that is precisely where SAS BI stands out in combining all those resources into clear and user friendly reports".
The bare truth
Once Imec had the SAS solutions up and running, it started to look for other opportunities to make the most of it. Mobile phone costs was an obvious one – Imec pays for the subscriptions, so most users don't even know how much it costs. Yves Daelmans: "Now, at the end of the month, every user gets a message in his mailbox providing a detailed account of his mobile phone costs. At the same time, Imec gets a perfect insight into the calling behaviour of its employees enabling us to optimise the subscriptions of people who consume lots of data – again an added value of SAS. We applied the same methodology to file servers and storage. Scientific work generates huge amounts of data, and we wanted to give both ICT and management an insight into the use of that data in each department. Likewise for printing, to make the end users aware of the cost of printing in colour or black and white. It all seems so obvious, but there was no way to find out without SAS".
The next area that Imec wants to tackle with SAS is finance – SAP generates lots of financial reports, but with the ongoing internationalisation of Imec and the ensuing consolidation, there is an urgent need for comprehensive financial reporting – "and that is one of this year's objectives", says Yves Daelmans. "We aim to seamlessly integrate the financial data from the various entities all over the world to get a truly global financial picture – and SAS is the perfect enabler for this".
In 1982, the Flemish Government set up a program in the field of microelectronics with the goal of strengthening the microelectronics industry in Flanders. One of the initiatives was Imec, a laboratory for advanced research in microelectronics founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization, supervised by a Board of Directors which includes delegates from industry, Flemish universities and the Flemish Government.
Today, Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics, leveraging its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. It is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, Japan and India. Its staff of more than 1,900 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2010, Imec's revenue (P&L) was 285 Million Euro.
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“"Each operational system at Imec had its own reporting environment, and this is where SAS has brought us enormous added value by integrating all those reporting systems and providing new insights we never had before".”