Case Ahlstrom

Case Ahlstrom

Data driven decision making boosts Ahlstrom’s global business

Images: Copyright © Ahlstrom

Ahlstrom is one of the leading operators in sustainable and innovative fiber-based solutions. Creating and executing a coherent SAP-based architecture for a large group’s financial and sales reporting was a years-long project. Etlia was responsible for the solution’s data architecture and operated as the project manager.

Ahlstrom has tens of factories and approximately 8000 employees worldwide. Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen oversees maintaining and developing the group’s data analytics. The Data & Analytics team involves six people. External consultants and partners are used in development projects when needed.

SAP-analytics solution was built step-by-step

The project of unifying the financial and sales reporting started in 2018 and lasted for about four years. The goal was to harmonize and simplify the processes in the areas of financial, sales, stock and purchasing reporting. In addition to creating a unified data architecture, the data collection and integration were automized in a strong association with the Controlling organization.

“An efficient, comparable, and up-to-date financial reporting is a must-have in business. A harmonized reporting model built on SAP and developed with Etlia’s support, is trustworthy, works nearly in real-time, and doesn’t require much manual work.”

Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen
Head of Data And Analytics Strategy & Solutions

Such a project involves several data sources since the units in different parts of the world use various financial management and ERP systems. There’s also constant evolution: new businesses and factories are being bought as the project goes on and others may be sold or run down.

The harmonizing project was conducted in several phases:

  1. Form a unified data architecture based on a general architecture design
  2. Define business requirements for data warehousing
  3. Integrate systems one by one to the SAP data warehouse
  4. Test and implement integrations and ramp down old systems

The first phase was to set the foundation for a unified reporting model and data architecture: what data does business reporting need and in which form is data available from different sources. Based on the requirements from Ahlstrom Controlling, Etlia designed a data warehousing solution on top of SAP and oversaw the execution in the roles of the product owner and project manager, meaning that Etlia was responsible for the whole project. 

After the data-architecture solution was validated by the Controlling team, systems producing financial, and sales information were integrated into SAP one by one. In total there were seven systems to integrate.

The technical execution and maintenance of the solution took place in a multi-vendor-environment with Etlia, Bilot and Tech Mahindra, the outsourcing partner of Ahlstrom.

The end result was approximately 25 prioritized and near real-time financial reports in SAP, with the help of automized data collection and integration.

The solution-oriented approach in a multi-vendor-environment

Tuukka says that the role of the lead consultant in different data and analytics projects is essential. Choosing a consultant for an SAP technology project naturally depends on the experience and competence to execute such ventures.

Understanding the customer’s operating environment and the technology in use is a big plus. The timing and pricing of the consulting must also match the timeframe and budget of the project.

Tuukka-Juhana Ukkosen kuva

“Etlia has a well-organized way of working. Having good communication skills in a multi-vendor environment involving various parties made it easier to progress. We also value Etlia’s competence to operate in an international environment, and especially to take the full picture into account. The capability to solve problems in a solution-oriented way and to foresee the future has brought us the additional value we looked for.”

Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen
Head of Data And Analytics Strategy & Solutions

When a project that lasts for years involves multiple internal and external parties, managing the whole is essential to proceed and in terms of the result. Etlia’s way of bringing up and constructively questioning decisions if needed helps the customer to make functional decisions in the long term. 

“On top of the SAP specific technology know-how, we got more than we could ask for: views and suggestions regarding the future of the systems are a valuable addition, which also strengthens our vision.”

Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen
Head of Data And Analytics Strategy & Solutions

Tuukka also finds it important that Etlia ensured the solution would work in the future. In practice, this meant carefully familiarizing the system to the partner in charge of the maintenance and development. 

Etlia has an in-depth understanding of SAP-integrations

Etlia has also been a part of another smaller project. Ahlstrom needed expertise in integrating AecorSoft software with SAP and Azure. Etlia could provide the needed solution-oriented know-how also to this project.

“We looked for a suitable solution from various places. Etlia had the best understanding of our needs and provided us with a suitable timetable at a competitive price. Our previous experience with Etlia and the Proof of Concept convinced us. Etlia is a useful and trustworthy partner in Data Warehousing and Cloud Solution projects.”

Tuukka-Juhana Ukkonen
Head of Data And Analytics Strategy & Solutions

Our customers

  • Metso:Outotec
  • Ahlstrom-Munksjö
  • Containerships
  • Aidian

Contact us

Have questions or want to know more about our company? Please get in touch!

Juuso Maijala, Analytics Expert