How Sharp implemented new corporate finance systems and capabilities with a deadline for divestment looming.
IBM Business Analytics Solution – IBM Cognos Controller on Cloud and IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud
Services – Lease16 and Migration
As a global leader in clinical supply chain and pharmaceutical packaging services, Sharp is a key contract partner for life sciences companies around the world. Its 2,000 employees deliver specialised packaging and contract services for drug products from phase 1 clinical trials all the way through to commercial delivery to market.
Sharp, which is headquartered in Pennsylvania USA, has grown both organically and by acquisition over the past 65 years. Today, the group operates nine manufacturing facilities across the US, the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium—all of which are fully compliant with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards.
At the end of 2021, Sharp split from its former parent UDG Healthcare, to become a standalone company. This independent status created several new obligations for Sharp around internal and external reporting such as monthly board reports, quarterly accounts, year-end financial statements, and investor calls.
With the deadline for divestment looming, Sharp had just three months to set up a new corporate finance function that could meet these requirements.
Kevin Byrne, Group Financial Controller of Sharp, recalls: “As a multinational group that operates in several currencies, we needed a systematic way to get accurate numbers from all our subsidiaries on a regular basis. We had to implement new corporate finance systems and build our team at the same time—and speed was of the essence.”
Sharp’s former parent had been successfully using IBM Cognos Controller on Cloud as its group consolidation solution for several years, so the Sharp team was already familiar with the software. The team had also worked with Aramar before to implement Lease16 – a solution for managing IFRS16 lease obligations built on IBM Planning Analytics.
“With such a short runway for the project, the fact that we already knew and trusted both Aramar and the IBM software was crucial,” explains Kevin.
Another major advantage was the fact that Aramar’s Product Specialist, Sarah Dow, was a chartered accountant as well as a technical expert in the IBM software.
“Aramar understood what we needed from a finance perspective, as well as knowing the best way to set up the system to achieve our goals,” says Kevin. “The result was a really solid plan that we were confident we could deliver within the deadline.”
What did Aramar do?
Aramar helped the Sharp team spin up new cloud environments for both IBM Cognos Controller and IBM Planning Analytics with Aramar’s Lease16 solution. Next, the team migrated the relevant data from the former parent company’s systems and built models to generate all the new reports for the Sharp’s board and external stakeholders.
“We took a pragmatic approach,” says Kevin. “For example, while the obvious move might have been to build the new board reports from scratch in Planning Analytics, Aramar found a faster way by extending the models we already had in Controller. That enabled us to deliver new capabilities very quickly in a pressurised timeframe.”
Aramar also helped to redesign aspects of the existing Controller models to better align with Sharp’s new corporate structure. “Aramar created a view that flattens our consolidation structure, so we can break down our consolidated figures by company, not just by subgroups,” says Kevin. “I hadn’t previously appreciated the value of being able to see the figures in different ways, but now I use it all the time.”
After separating from UDG in late December, Sharp’s corporate finance team successfully delivered on all its reporting requirements at the end of January. “We went live on time with all the new external reports and we were immediately able to meet the much higher bar for internal reporting too,” says Kevin.
Thanks to Aramar’s Lease16 solution, the figures include all the company’s operating leases for buildings and equipment, reflecting the company’s full IFRS16 lease obligations on its balance sheet. Lease16 gives Sharp a one-stop shop for administrating its lease portfolio, a task that would be far too complex and time-consuming to manage with spreadsheets.
Moreover, because Aramar helped Sharp enrich the data that Controller and Planning Analytics integrate into the company’s chart of accounts, the systems have eliminated the need for many other spreadsheet-based reports that its corporate accountants previously created by hand.
“We have a team of three accountants at group level, and we want to be as efficient as possible,” says Kevin. “We would definitely need extra headcount if we still had to do so much of our work in spreadsheets. In addition, the risk of error is much lower by using robust consolidation systems.”
Following the success of the project, Sharp’s corporate finance team is continuing to engage with Aramar for mentoring and knowledge transfer, as well as discussing future financial planning and reporting initiatives.
“Now that we’ve met all our initial requirements, we’re considering extending our use of Planning Analytics for more flexible reporting and forecasting,” concludes Kevin. “Our support contract with Aramar is excellent because it means we always have access to their help, advice and expertise as our plans evolve.”
“The most important decision we made on this project was working with Aramar. Their expertise was crucial to delivering on our objectives within such a tight timeframe. And as we continue to build our corporate finance function, it’s great to know that Aramar is always there at our side.”
Kevin Byrne, Group Financial Controller, Sharp