The dynamics of the economy, especially in the operative business, are constantly increasing. Does this also affect a company like Andritz Energy & Environment GmbH?

Treiber: You can clearly see that the pace is increasing. Not only in general, but also from a controlling perspective. Reaction times are getting shorter, requests have to be handled faster, decisions have to be made faster. Ultimately, this is derived from the dynamics of the business. We are a globally active company that focuses primarily on foreign markets. We work together with various customers, but the interest in getting plants up and running quickly is always there. This shortens the lead times of projects immensely.

Cziglar-Benko-Eibel: IT naturally plays a major role here. It has to provide the right tools that the business needs to adapt more easily to new requests and this dynamic.

To what extent is long-term planning still possible under these conditions?

Treiber: Really detailed planning, which is still to be grasped, lies especially with companies like ours, only in the short and medium term - but here it must be optimal. In the project business this is not possible any other way. What we do, of course, is strategic planning. But it's more about how we want to position ourselves on the market in the future, which new business areas could be relevant, or what new goals we have.

What does "project" mean for your daily business?

Treiber: What distinguishes us from many other companies is that, because of the plant construction business, we handle all our business in the form of projects. When a new order comes in, an entire project organization is immediately behind it. The head of the team is always a technical and a commercial project manager. Among them there are of course a multitude of functions in a project organization chart. Almost all company positions are covered.

Cziglar-Benko-Eibel: We have about 20 to 30 customer projects running in parallel, plus research projects. Even the sales phase, which is longer than average in plant construction, is already being handled in projects. If an order comes in and becomes a customer project, a sales team has already worked intensively on it. In short - there is not much that is not a project with us.

That sounds very extensive. What effects does this have on decision-making processes?

Treiber: The project managers need a lot of information regarding deadlines, requirements, quality, etc., but of course also regarding economic factors - because in the end these must be right. It is the task of project controlling to support them, to create the necessary transparency and to be able to secure and accelerate decision making through target-performance analyses.

What exactly does transparency mean for you?

Treiber: To get a relatively timely overview of the situation, be it in terms of deadlines, resources or finances. To see what is going on in the project without needing five additional information points in the company to make analyses. Data must be quickly and flexibly retrievable and clearly structured in order to get a sound overview. This shortens the reaction time and helps us to act faster.

What are the major challenges?

Treiber: In any case the fact that you need different information from different levels in the company. In order to lead a project successfully, it is necessary that all processes are defined in-house and can be mapped in tools. This ensures clear structures. We handle our projects in work packages and subdivide them further into sub-packages - which we ultimately monitor. Good software provides essential support in this. Without CoPlanner, we would have to spend far more resources on data collection and processing. Valuable time is lost.

Cziglar-Benko-Eibel: The project focus also means that standard tools do not meet our requirements. We need modifications in order to monitor our business optimally. This flexibility was a basic requirement for our software partners - a software that is more than a standard solution and meets all our needs. We use standard products from CoPlanner, but we have also developed many additional modules together.

Treiber: From a business perspective, the challenge is rather multi-project controlling. We have a large number of projects running in parallel. There is project controlling, which is largely the responsibility of the commercial project managers, and one level above that is overall corporate controlling. The important thing is to provide the right information in order to be able to manage the individual projects well and to achieve the expected results in the end.

What has changed since the implementation of the new software?

Cziglar-Benko-Eibel: Excel used to be the tool of truth. But it is more and more about large data sets that need to be managed. Excel cannot offer this. So we were looking for a tool that would allow flexible or more complex queries in addition to the large data volumes and many interfaces. An OLAP-based system was just right for this.

Treiber: Excel data can be easily changed, so it often happened that there was no uniform picture of the project: in multi-project controlling a no-go. Ensuring data security that everyone starts from the same point of departure, has the same final status, was an essential aspect for the system. The data transfer was clearly optimized. Data typing is gone, there are no more duplicate entries. We're not talking about hours, but minutes for the transfer.

Cziglar-Benko-Eibel: For us, data security means having a good feeling, knowing that the data is in good hands. You no longer have to fear a super-GAU. The history is traceable at any time. Now we can generate empirical values and make future decisions based on these values.

Where is the added value in controlling for you?

Treiber: We now enjoy the great advantage of dynamic evaluation. In both project and main controlling. The database and the system make individual analyses possible without the need for IT support. Especially in reporting, where it is important to be able to generate specific reports quickly, this represents a great added value. The report is generated automatically, you can focus on the content and use the time you gain here for future decisions. Now I can really deal with the figures, not with their preparation. From a controller's point of view, this has significantly improved the work environment.

Where do they still see potential for the future?

Treiber: The big challenges - or what I would like to see - are new contexts. The classic hard facts can be obtained relatively quickly with good software. The goal should be to be able to analyze them in terms of their impact on other components. An example: A target-performance comparison of the use of resources is quite possible. An additional component would be to analyze the quality behind it. Questions like: Is the quality even there? Just because the target level is reached does not mean that the quality is also at that level. The challenge is to depict these complex interrelationships in a tool.

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