Nissan opts for financials in the cloud over SAP on-premise

Nissan has selected a cloud-based procurement and financial management tool rather than an SAP on premise solution, in a bid to migrate away from paper to full electronic order to invoice processing.

Barry Wilmer, purchase systems development manager at Nissan Europe, told Computerworld UK that even though its core ERP is SAP, integrating with SAP’s Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) tool still wasn’t an option due to problems with its functionality and increased cost when customising.

Instead Nissan selected Wax Digital’s web3 P2P, which will be used by its business units and manufacturing plants to support multiple languages and currencies across 16 European territories and process 600,000 invoices each year.

The cloud based system will ultimately be handling billions of Euros worth of non-production spend each year.

Wilmer explained that the project came about due to difficulties with Nissan’s legacy system, which was shared with Renault as part of their on-going alliance. When the alliance came to fruition, Nissan expanded Renault’s SAP system to cover Nissan in Europe.

“We effectively bought servers from Renault. It was basically a system that had a Java front-end that was able to raise purchase requisitions and get them approved, which then were brought into SAP and processed into purchase orders,” said Wilmer.

“We basically had a system that we could do very little with. We couldn’t do any of our own development, as we had to go back to Renault every time. Renault worked on the principle that if they thought it was a good idea they would do it, if it suited them.”

He added: “If it was a Nissan only development they wouldn’t do it because they didn’t want two systems to maintain.”

Wilmer also said that there were lots of errors in integrating with Nissan’s existing SAP system, which caused problems later on in the payment process.

In addition to these problems, Nissan has a midterm business plan for the company to achieve a global market share of 8 percent and increase corporate operating profit to 8 percent by 2016. It is hoped that the new cloud tool will help with achieving these goals.

“We looked at SAP SRM, but we found that there were a number of gaps in terms of what we needed to make it work the way we wanted to work and if you start customising SAP you can add two zeros to the end of any number,” said Wilmer.

“We began by looking at companies to manage contracts to bolt on to SRM, but then we came across Wax, and a bunch of other suppliers, who questioned why we would do it like that. As a result, we switched from considering developing our SAP products to using a cloud based service.”

Nissan's IT security team and finance department did initially have concerns about using a public cloud tool. However, it undertook due diligence to mitigate these worries and is operating a model whereby Nissan pulls its data back from the cloud on a regular basis and stores it in an on-premise database – just in case.

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