Streamline back-office operations with financial management

At the end of 2008, the UniCredit Group – a major pan-European financial institution with 160,000 employees and nearly 10,000 branches – created its own dedicated international back-office subsidiary, establishing UniCredit Business Partner (UCBP) in January 2009. Today, about 7,000 professionals in Italy, Romania, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Poland collaborate to integrate back office activities with speed across the 22 countries the UniCredit Group spans.

According to Marco Martinelli, Management Control and Planning Manager for UCBP, the company made a strategic choice to establish new operational models for back-office tasks and to enhance the coordination and efficiency of the support activities it provides to the Group's banks. What's more, the organization sought to efficiently share best practices and achieve significant economies of scale with the creation of several Centers of Excellence.

This process has been well-executed thanks to the flexibility and to the scalability of the information solutions we developed with SAS.

Marco Martinelli
Management Control and Planning Manager

Integrating new solutions pursue its ambitious agenda, UCBP turned to SAS for a technologically advanced management-control system. “This is a completely new context for our organization,” says Martinelli. “We found ourselves having to tackle a particularly challenging situation: effectively managing a uniform flow of complex management information.”

SAS, which previously provided technology for UniCredit's back-office operations in Italy, was brought on board to help the emerging company fully integrate new and existing solutions in the application/database portfolio.

This partnership made it easier for UCBP to combine quantitative and financial data in a single, unified repository of corporate information that has improved communication among different departments.

"In this manner," Martinelli says, "information and organizational processes have become the two levers on which we focus for standardizing our analyses and business processes. Initially, SAS Financial Management helped us to adopt a common language in different organizational structures and nations by creating of a shared operational vocabulary for the exchange of information and management of our financial performance. This has enabled us to offer our management a more complete vision of the company."

A three-phased project

UCBP's objective was to create a shared environment with common informational resources and standardized terms and processes. This would provide top management with a common information platform from which to take action and monitor results. "In this first phase, we used SAS for data collection," says Martinelli. "It proved to be an effective repository for acquiring data from the different countries where UCBP operates. This phase also encouraged the creation of a dialogue with other companies in the group.

The second phase consists of making SAS Financial Management the clearinghouse for detailed information from different UCBP operational offices. SAS then processes it and generates a country-by-country summary.

The third phase provides each country with direct access to the common financial data to support the development of new, more in-depth analyses. As UCBP's business changes, the model underlying the SAS solution evolves as well, ensuring different analytical perspectives based on business and geography.

“The sharing of information among corporate entities is becoming more important in our environment, where most costs are personnel-related,” says Martinelli. “In fact, SAS has been instrumental in setting up a continuous dialogue between finance and HR in each country. They’re sharing information about each department and jointly analyzing their financial dynamics. SAS has emerged as a useful tool for encouraging dialogue among departments across countries and within individual countries.”

Scalability and flexibility

The implementation of SAS Financial Management addressed many difficulties that are typical in an international startup company. "We have had to create a single organizational structure cutting across various countries," explains Martinelli. "We needed to foster the sharing of essential information and processes in order to share experiences on the different operational structures merging together in UCBP.

"This process has been well-executed thanks to the flexibility and to the scalability of the information solutions we developed with SAS. In complex projects like ours, it is essential to be able to count on a flexible and scalable information solution that delivers in-depth analysis even as the business evolves and new requirements emerge."

Article originally published on Sistemi & Impresa in 2010.

Challenge

Streamline back-office operations with financial management.

Solution

SAS® Financial Management

Benefits

A scalable, flexible foundation of financial management that drives in-depth analyses as well as the ability to share information and business practices across departments and countries.

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