One of the world’s largest mining houses and producers of major commodities faced a number of challenges with its Budgeting, Forecasting and Reporting (BFR) processes. These processes are complex and subject to a number of obstacles such as volatility regarding the price of commodities, cost pressures around labour and electricity, and long planning cycles over the life of the mines.

The mining house decided to standardise BFR in one of its metallurgical sectors, and IBM Cognos Budget and Planning tools from IBM Premier Partner Cortell Corporate Performance Management (Cortell) provided the solution.

“The mining house followed a very stringent selection process, entering into discussions with vendors followed by a competitive bidding process. The IBM Cognos Budget and Planning solution was on their shortlist from the start, and came out on top for its ability to conduct the necessary ‘what if’ planning scenarios that are critical in the volatile mining environment.

“Our experience in the mining sector, along with our multiple reference sites and our Premier Partner status with IBM helped to seal the deal,” says David McWilliam, director at Cortell.

Their requirements included a tool that would not only standardise BFR, but also provide scenario planning, and one that would be interoperable with the company’s existing SAP environment. IBM Cognos Budget and Planning falls within the IBM Business Analytics stable and offers the required ability to explore multiple scenarios quickly and easily thanks to its in-memory analytics engine.

Deployed throughout the organisation, it integrates seamlessly with SAP and offers a standard platform for the calculation of budgets, forecasting, as well as extensive reporting on all areas.

After performing a pilot implementation along with other candidates, Cortell was selected to conduct the complete installation at one of its metallurgical sectors, and once the full potential of the solution was understood, the scope of the project was extended to include further capabilities of the solution.

Ensuring data integrity was a vital component of the project, which required careful extraction and transformation of data formats, as well as mapping of metadata. Five full-time on-site resources were dedicated to the project, which delivered a month ahead of schedule despite the late changes to the project scope.

“The users within the metallurgical sector have been highly impressed with the solution and its ability to accurately conduct ‘what if’ scenarios once the budget and forecasting model was built. As an example, they can now easily ascertain what the effect will be across the board if the price of electricity increases, or if the price of a particular commodity decreases.

“This helps to improve the accuracy of budgeting and forecasting going forward. The solution was also delivered on time and on budget, which is no mean feat in itself,” McWilliam concludes.

The mining house is currently looking to extend the IBM Cognos Budget and Planning solution to other areas of the business.