As a large, multinational company with a history that spans over 100 years, it’s not surprising that dredging, offshore energy and maritimes services contractor Boskalis has a lot of data to keep track of. What they didn’t have when Controller Pieter Klem first started working there in 2018 was a single source of truth that would make that data accessible and easy to use for financial and operational reporting across the company.
“Everyone used their own ERP system and exported the data into Microsoft Excel,” says Pieter. “Then everybody within all sorts of divisions built their own reporting. That was not a professional solution.”
With different divisions each using their own ERP systems and report templates, the company’s reporting and financial processes were disjointed and inefficient, with teams wasting time by multiplying their efforts reentering data manually every time. “Everybody was exporting from their ERP system to Excel to start building their reporting. It took a couple of hours—maybe four hours per employee,” Pieter says.
Across as many as 20 users, as well as multiple downloads, that time added up quickly—and the reports themselves involved multiple exports that users had to spend even more time wading through to get to the information they needed. What’s more, manually entering data across multiple systems also increased the chance of human error and made it difficult to integrate real-time data on the fly—something especially important for reporting on still-ongoing projects.
It was clear to Pieter that the Boskalis team needed a better way.
The team at Boskalis knew they had their work cut out for them if they wanted to harmonize their reporting across a single system, increase efficiency and create consistent processes with shared templates and models across the entire company. Yet they were confident that the right solution could help them do that by consolidating their data and making it more accessible throughout the company. If they could eliminate the need for multiple manual entries they could also begin to integrate real-time data sources and create a more mature data landscape that included not just financial data but operational and HR data too.
To help accomplish those goals, Boskalis turned to Vena.
The team started small, implementing Vena first for specific use cases—but usage soon began to build momentum. Take Boskalis’ Budget Control Reports (BCR) as an example. Implemented within a single division to begin with, usage began to expand organically to BCRs across the company as more users saw the benefits of Vena. “When we started the BCR, it was difficult to find one template, because everybody just built it by themselves,” Pieter says. “So we developed a template and agreed with all business units that this was the template—one working standard within Boskalis.”
Use of Vena has since expanded across other divisions and use cases. Today, Vena draws data from a consolidated data warehouse as well as real-time data sources, creating a single source of truth that feeds reporting and processes throughout the company—including weekly cash forecasting, profits and loss reporting, balance sheets and HR and operational projects. An in-house Competence Center of five employees, led by Pieter, acts as the main source of Vena knowledge within the company, building on their use cases and models and answering questions from users across the world.
“Data, BI and reporting is getting more and more important,” says Denice de Groot, Business Analyst at Boskalis and another member of the in-house Vena team. “So this isn’t just a project that will be important for a year—it's important to have this team in place for a long period.”
With the help of Vena, Boskalis has been able to create more harmonized financial and operational reporting across many of their processes company-wide, with a single source of truth to draw from. This has eliminated the need for multiple data reentries and introduced dashboarding that offers a clear, consolidated view of the information required, without the need to go searching for it. “The main thing is that it is less time consuming now,” says Denice. “Vena is always up to date.”
Vena has also allowed Boskalis to add additional value through new financial models, inspiring Pieter, Denice and their team to continually look for ways to improve their ongoing processes. End users, too, are excited to add to their Vena usage, regularly coming to the Competence Center team with ideas of their own, creating a constant back-and-forth focused on making the processes at Boskalis run smoother.
Not only that, but momentum around Vena has helped increase buy-in for a single shared ERP system as well. While teams across the company—many of them coming from company acquisitions—have previously used a multitude of ERP systems, having data mapped from one ERP system to Vena has inspired many of them to switch.
Today, the whole organization has been able to benefit. Reporting has become more standardized across the organization, allowing for a consistent way of doing business, while an integration with Microsoft Power BI is starting to help fuel their business intelligence and data visualization efforts as well—increasing Boskalis’ usage of Vena even more.
“The combination of Vena and Power BI is for us the next big thing to develop,” Pieter says.