ERP system gets help from flexible reporting tool

Lesaffre Yeast Corporation gains direct access to Oracle financial data via Excel-based software, improving reporting efficiency and management support.

Source: Excel4apps.

Lesaffre Yeast Corporation and Red Star Yeast Company LLC, a joint venture between Lesaffre Yeast Corporation and Archer Daniels Midland Company Inc., is a producer of yeast for a variety of applications throughout North America. These applications include bakeries and food service, retail stores for home baking, wine, animal feed additives, human health care and ethanol.

In 2004, Lesaffre installed the Process Manufacturing version of Oracle E-Business Suite (OPM), designed specifically for recipe-based manufacturing. It was one of the first subsidiaries within the Lesaffre Group family, a global company of 6,000 employees based in France, to install a fully integrated ERP system. 

According to Michael Roach, controller for Lesaffre Yeast Corporation, implementation of the system provided immediate benefits, including improved coordination across functional departments and increased efficiencies in doing business. However, soon after installation of the system, Lesaffre’s finance and accounting group discovered challenges in working with Oracle’s Financial Statement Generator (FSG).

After a period of using FSG reports (FSGs), Roach and his team began searching for a tool that could expedite financial reporting while providing better access to detailed OPM data. “The Oracle system provided a backbone of data that was not previously available, but the key was being able to efficiently access, manipulate and analyze this data to help drive the business forward,” says Roach.

 “To modify a report, you accessed a separate template and used a type of code to enter the necessary account numbers, decimals places, etc.,” says Jordan Lueck, senior accountant. “Then, you ran the report from Oracle, which took over an hour, only to often find out it didn’t work, requiring a repeat of the process. It took a whole day to run our monthly 100-page package.”

In 2008, the Oracle reporting challenges prompted Lesaffre to explore a new solution. The search led to a one-hour demonstration of GL Wand from Excel4apps, an Excel-based reporting tool that links directly with live Oracle data. Roach was convinced it was the right solution and decided on a one-month trial.

“After just two or three hours of GL Wand training, our finance and accounting users could build reports and drill right into live Oracle data via the Excel front end,” Roach describes. “It was so easy compared with FSGs, and without the time required for coding.”

In May 2008, Lesaffre installed GL Wand, but there was a snag: GL Wand did not yet have drill-down capabilities for OPM, a less common version of Oracle. Working together, the two companies put the functionality in place, plus additional capabilities.

“Within a few months, GL Wand had all the drill-down capability we needed,” Roach explains. “In addition, Excel4apps implemented drill-down for Oracle Trade Management on the accounts receivable side, which basic Oracle didn’t have.”

After converting all existing FSG reports to GL Wand, Lesaffre’s finance group saw major improvements in reporting efficiency (see table).

“It used to take an entire day to run our monthly report package, but with GL Wand it takes about two hours,” says Lueck. “I simply modify the report set by changing dates, file names, etc. Each report takes just 15 minutes.”

Lueck also appreciates the ease of the Excel front end, which allows her to email the reports, whereas using ADI required printing and scanning. “The person requesting the report can modify it as necessary in Excel, which was impossible with the scans,” she says.

While GL Wand met Lesaffre’s goal for a more efficient reporting process, the software’s biggest impact has been in improved support of business analytics and management requests. “We get a number of requests for information from management on a daily basis, and our channel managers are asking for more detailed, customized reports to help them stay on budget,” states Lueck. “With GL Wand, it’s easy to modify an existing report to give them the detail they want in 10 minutes, whereas with the old FSG report writer, it took days.”

For more information about GL Wand, visit Excel4apps.

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