Skip to main content

The beverage industry is a highly competitive area, what makes it so special?

Controlling at Schlumberger - This is an industry steeped in tradition with a great history. The oldest companies in Austria are breweries; many companies in our branch have their origins in family-run companies. Schlumberger AG is also under the decisive influence of Underberg AG, a family company that is now in fifth generation is run by the Underberg family. The industry is currently in a state of upheaval - there is a lot of movement. Consolidation plays an important role. We have also done a lot in recent years. Since 2006 alone we have among others the Gurktaler brand, Walraven Sax - a Dutch wine distribution company, the Hochriegl brand and acquired stakes in the Pfau distillery and the Leibwächter brand over the past 12 months. To get back to the beginning of the question; a lot of the past but also a lot of dynamism. There is no end in sight.

What are the prerequisites for being able to keep up with the market?

Profitability, strategic flexibility and elasticity, as well as the knowledge of how changes can be implemented organizationally and know-how-technically are the most important requirements for me. The acquisition of Hochriegel, for example, could not have been implemented if we had not had all of these basics. Then, of course, dealing with complexity. This then leads to the question of which systems are required for this - after all, everything must also be mappable in terms of system technology.

What role does controlling play at Schlumberger?

Controlling plays a very important role for us, as it promotes the future. The planning and entire analysis is the responsibility of this area, which is extremely important due to the large number of products in our portfolio. In addition to strong production expertise in the sparkling wine and wine sector, we can also demonstrate extensive sales expertise in spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. With our sales companies Top Spirit and Mounier, we are in fact represented in every important segment of the beverage market, mostly as market leaders. Our range is correspondingly diverse and therefore requires precise planning, billing and analysis.

Based on this broad list - what is relevant for you to plan?

I once heard the statement "Complexity as such cannot be eliminated, one can only learn to master it" - for us this is part of the business model. Depending on the economic situation, needs shift and substitute We have just noticed that due to unfavorable weather conditions and the macroeconomic situation, the catering industry currently needs special efforts, but the food trade is currently all the more successful. Conversely, when the economy is booming, it can be observed that people consume more outside the home. That is why flexibility is required essential in planning. The systems must be ready for constant changes.

What does this mean for your planning horizons?

On the one hand, we have a one-year plan that we map with CoPlanner. In addition, we have a three-year plan and a strategic plan up to 2020. Particularly in the production of sparkling wine, it is important to know which capacities will come up because of the long lead times. We also have great ambitions when it comes to export markets. This vision requires long-term planning in order to have the appropriate capacities ready. Experience has taught me that reality often contains changes that one would have considered unrealistic in the planning. No matter how much your head agonizes over the future, the reality is often far from the wildest imaginations.

Back to the annual planning ...

We have been using CoPIanner for planning the next business year for three years. We have a fiscal year starting April 1st, which is planned in two planning cycles. We start in January with the company accounts for the coming financial year - the classic budget or corporate plan as we call it - and we also create a projection for the second half of the year. Well, at the beginning of October, we have the first half of the marketing year behind us. A large part of the negotiations on the Christmas business has already been conducted with retailers Our knowledge of the near future, the most important part of our financial year, from operational business has been completed and will be included in the extrapolation by the end of October. In addition, there is a rolling planning of the sales department, which shows the immediate changes in daily business on a monthly basis. This planning is also done in CoPlanner.

What was the reason for switching to a new system?

Another reason was that we use other systems in the operational area that we are now linking to one another. The rolling sales planning of the key accounts for the next few months can now flow into the purchasing planning . This is necessary due to the large number of articles in order to keep stocks low while maintaining the availability of goods.

What were the basic requirements at the beginning of the project?

One of the visions was that knowledge does not depend on individual people, but that it is embedded in a good system. I still need specialists who can master the system. In an emergency, however, it would be much faster to train someone on the system than trying to reproduce all the knowledge that could be lost from one day to the next. In addition to increased efficiency, it is also about knowledge management.

What can you tell us about the change process?

In addition to the cost aspect, which of course plays an important role in the decision, the user friendliness, the technical standard and the future potential of the system and the implementation partner, who should also demonstrate a certain consistency, are relevant. There is then an assessment with and without costs and an assessment based on gut feeling. For CoPlanner, in addition to the stability of the company, the clarity of the surface and user acceptance played a major role. Basically, the topic of planning as such is not trival. It is the illustration of a future that can be changed in various parameters. Seen in this light, the introduction of CoPlanner as a project was challenging. Of course, there were many challenges to overcome in the implementation. We use our system in great detail. The granularity in planning was not easy to cope with and had an impact on the performance of the system and also required further adjustments for efficient planning.

To what extent has controlling changed since working with CoPlanner?

The possibilities have been clearly expanded compared to the previous planning solution in Excel. I also believe that planning accuracy has increased. I would therefore see it in the context of the possibilities of the now optimized disposition of finished goods, the purchasing planning of raw materials and, in the future, production planning, which have their origin in the CoPlanner.

Where do you personally see potential for planning in the future?

Where we still see a certain challenge is our very heterogeneous system landscape. The subject of integration and harmonization is moving further into the foreground. I see the potential with us less in terms of content in the planning area, but rather how the individual systems can be better linked and harmonized with one another. I would like more efficient planning cycles, shorter lead times and even higher usability. To manage the balancing act between complex systems and ever simpler usability - that is the challenge. There is still room for further quantum leaps.