In everyday language, pain relief tablets are called aspirin, adhesive strips are referred to as Scotch tape, and tissues are known as Kleenex. Very few companies manage to establish their brand as a synonym for an entire product category in this way. But one midsized German company has even succeeded in turning its name into a verb (in German). “Kärchern” now means “to clean buildings or equipment, usually with a pressure washer,” and refers to the Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG company in Winnenden, a producer of high-performance cleaning systems for professional and home use. Within 10 years, revenues have doubled to more than 2 billion euros, primarily due to a targeted internationalization campaign. Today, the company’s products are sold globally through subsidiaries in 60 countries.
Outsourcing for greater efficiency
This success has increased the burden on the company’s internal organization. The internal Financial Shared Service Center (FSSC) was created as a service
provider to the company’s European subsidiaries, in order to process increasing sales in Germany and abroad. Its areas of responsibility include Procure-to-Pay (processing incoming invoices), Order-to-Cash (capturing/processing open accounts receivables) and Record-to-Report (accounting, monthly and annual financial statements). However, Thomas Elsner, Director of Finances and Services at Kärcher, realized that even a “highly efficient international figures factory” can reach its limits. Kärcher was hardly able to find enough specialized staff who understood the bookkeeping processes for handling growing sales volumes efficiently, while maintaining a high level of quality. Kärcher selected Accenture to help it prevent backlogs and delays with invoices and billing in daily business transactions, and to enable the strategic development of the organization’s finance operations.
Measurably lower costs
Recognizing that traditional structures could no longer handle such rapid growth, this traditional,
family-owned company became interested in a solution normally used by international corporations: business process outsourcing. “Working with Kärcher, we quickly developed an approach in which Accenture provides the support,” explains Simon Haller, Accenture Operation Capacity Solutions Lead ASG. “The high-volume transactional tasks of Kärcher’s FSSC, a technologically and organizationally sophisticated service center, were transferred one-to-one from Winnenden to Warsaw, where experts at the Accenture Delivery Center took over the processing of incoming and outgoing invoices, and the preparation of reporting figures.” Compared with other FSSCs, Kärcher’s organization is considered a benchmark because it delivers such high-quality data.
The company’s already high degree of digitization established a very good basis for collaboration with Accenture, and simplified the migration to the delivery center in Warsaw. For Kärcher, the approach delivers three advantages: Order spikes, for example when equipment is in high demand for spring cleaning, can be absorbed easily because the Accenture team in
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