About the Company
Santen is a market leader in ophthalmic innovation, producing a variety of medicines and engaging in substantial and constant research and development efforts. With facilities located in Europe, the U.S., China and Japan, and significant sustained growth, the company has a truly global presence. With a desire to firmly establish its global position and streamline budgeting, planning and forecasting across its global R&D and U.S.-based selling, general and administrative expenses, Santen knew it needed to seek out a reliable partner that would help it implement the most effective analytics solution for its needs.
The Issues Driving the Desire to Change
Santen realized it needed a more efficient solution to its budgeting and forecasting needs due to a number of continuing issues with its internally developed SQL-based tool. That tool only allowed one person to upload and could handle only 4-5 currencies (a major complication for a business with employees across the globe following the same budget cycle), general use was complicated, and barriers prevented staff from directly entering or changing information. That system was prone to errors, and rectifying them required significant time and effort on the part of employees.
The drive for harmonized, global accessibility was a major consideration for Santen as it wanted to synchronize operations and fully function at a global level. It needed a solution that was cloud-based, had a strong, positive reputation and could perform at a higher level than the inefficient in-house solution. Considerations included managing R&D globally and SG&A in the U.S., allowing 5 to 7 users – and ultimately as many as 10 to 20 or more – to simultaneously use the system and make interactions faster and simpler, along with managing $200 million in annual spending. Additionally, a major streamlining effort had to take place around the use of project IDs and codes. Because Santen has so many projects in various stages of development, and projects could involve dozens of codes related to their iterations and components, the database for such information was prohibitively large with the old system.
“Aviana delivered the project on time and on budget. Everything was delivered exactly as promised. They paid attention to the tiniest details of the project”
Wenming Liu, Santen’s associate director of FP&A
Implementing the Solution
Deciding to work with Aviana, a specialist in business analytics, following an RFP process that included a number of vendors and platforms – and especially impressed with how the in-person demonstration of IBM Planning Analytics was tailor-made to the company’s needs and explained how specific pieces of code in the software applied to them – Santen moved forward.
The implementation project followed a 12-week timeline and finished ahead of schedule, with Aviana providing weekly updates to executives about project progress. Wenming Liu, Santen’s associate director of FP&A and primary owner for its execution, said the level of detail and understanding displayed by Aviana boosted confidence in IBM Planning Analytics and the ability of Aviana to implement it correctly.
“Aviana delivered the project on time and on budget. Everything was delivered exactly as promised. They paid attention to the tiniest details of the project,” Liu said.
Liu also said the company’s ability to anticipate and address the potential needs of all users was another major positive.
Aviana’s ability to deliver the project on time was especially important considering Santen’s roots as a Japanese company. That nation’s culture places a high value on accountability, structure and on-time delivery. While U.S. companies often take delivery deadlines for granted, they aren’t as common in Japan’s business culture. Aviana’s provision of a firm deadline and surpassing of expectations was a major benefit both practically and culturally.
The Benefits of IBM Planning Analytics
With users still in the process of moving over to their new, global, cloud-based solution and wrapping up obligations with the former system, Santen has only begun to enjoy the benefits of IBM Planning Analytics. However, excitement for the switch is high. Liu said staff are anticipating the ability to use a true, full-fledged solution for R&D and SG&A concerns, one that provides for multiple users simultaneously utilizing it across the globe and more direct access to data and analysis. Benefits extend in other directions, too, with the ability to generate more effective reports for stakeholders and provide more information to project managers, customer managers and other Santen staff members in relevant roles. The efficiency gains for the company and the increase in data visibility, along with analysis that will help a number of different projects progress more efficiently in the future, will soon be realized on a broad level.
Expected savings are also a major driver of the enthusiasm behind the new solution. Liu said numbers are hard to accurately quantify so early in the process, but he anticipates significant time savings once migration is complete.
“IBM Planning Analytics is a whole lot more robust and much more flexible,” Liu said. “We expect major time savings for people working on budgeting and forecasting. Hopefully, this will make people a lot more efficient.”
Tasks that could take days or weeks can now be addressed in a matter of hours – and the time saved can go into other duties and projects, making both the workflows and the staff who use IBM Planning Analytics more efficient.
A More Robust, Accessible and Global Solution
Santen’s decision to move on from a limited and frustrating system for managing R&D and SG&A to a fully functional, connected and capable solution provided by IBM Planning Analytics is critical for a company that wants to emphasize its global connectivity, empower users and reap the benefits of greater insight, forecasting and analysis. The company has put the right platforms and processes in place to increase employee efficiency and realize better results, fueling their global operations structure and reputation as a leader in ophthalmology, and creating conditions for further development and growth.