IT & Consulting
Skanska & JCommerce Partnership
The rapid growth of the economies of Central and Eastern Europe is largely based on modern technologies and advanced business services. As a by-product of this success, these industries generate significant demand for office space. In Poland, Skanska not only constructs office facilities, but also roads, bridges, residential developments, conference venues, and cultural and sports facilities, and employs 8000 people.
Skanska has long been aware of the investment potential of this market. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania are responsible for over 50% of the entire Skanska group’s global revenue from the sale of office space. In 2012, Skanska commenced cooperation with JCommerce in the scope of solutions which support the construction of office space and monitoring the profitability of investing in this region of Europe.
Skanska in 2015:
- 530,000 m2 of completed office space,
- 170,000 m2 under construction and 320,000 m2 planned,
- a total of over one million square meters of existing and planned offices,
- offices spread over several cities in Central and Eastern Europe.
The beginning of nearshore cooperation
Nearshore cooperation between Skanska and JCommerce commenced with a project to optimize the ERP Microsoft Dynamics AX system in the Polish branch of the company, Skanska Property Poland. The system which was previously in use within the company no longer fulfilled expectations, and so, in 2012, JCommerce specialists became involved in the development of the system and its adaptation to the needs of the company.
Turning to dedicated software
As part of a project concerning the development and maintenance of an ERP system, the client outsourced the building of a mobile application for the iOS system to JCommerce. This project was part of digital transformation towards mobility, and increasing the efficiency of the accounting process was the main goal. The application was created using .NET and C# technologies and it allows users to verify and accept accounting documents, account assignment, employees’ expenses, and business trip accounting.
Implementation of a Business Intelligence platform
Along with the modernization of financial systems, the client decided to integrate their source systems – ERP MS Dynamics AX and the custom ERP system KORAB – with a reporting and analytical platform. The Business Intelligence solution was to enable the aggregation and calculation of financial and non-financial data from the project level to the national and regional level, facilitating communication between project managers and executives and reporting to the company’s financial controller.
The client wished to create a flat management platform for each employee from all departments in European countries and regions. A platform for collecting data from various sources and systems and visualizing them as an easy-scalable reports was created. Integration of a number of data types, including both financial and non-financial data calculated in different time perspectives, was the biggest challenge in the scope of the project. As a partner of leading Business Intelligence platform providers such as Microsoft and Qlik, JCommerce has the capability to find an optimal solution.
Skanska was looking for an intuitive and easy-to-use tool, which is why they decided to implement QlikView. The client obtained access to modern full-service reports and an analytical platform including a mobile application. Implementation of the tools took less than a month and included multi-currency data from 4 regions, 10 subregions and 40 companies. QlikView allows the user to undertake multidimensional data analysis and export a report for any period. The solution also has a planning module which was used by the client in the strategic planning process for 2014-2024.
“The application implementation phase was completed successfully, and the tool itself has revolutionized work at our company. On behalf of Skanska, I recommend JCommerce as a reliable and trustworthy business partner in the area of Business Intelligence solutions. The extensive technical knowledge, experience and flexibility of JCommerce specialists contributed to the success of the project.”
Kamil Lubiejewski, Finance Manager, Skanska Property Poland
Dedicated Business Intelligence Platform
After the successful implementation of QlikView, other sources were integrated with the reporting platform that standardizes the calculation of KPI in different departments. In order to unify the data collection process, Skanska outsourced the development of a web application combined with a data warehouse based on MS SQL Server and the QlikView application.
The team had to face restricted deadlines and data collection in real time. Another challenge was the complicated business logic of the application and the varied requirements of users from central level and multinational departments of the organization. Our team was responsible for building the project from scratch including technical preparation, architecture, development, and implementation.
The former solution was based on QlikView, but the data loading model did not meet managers’ expectations, which is why they decided to develop a custom solution. Currently the system records all leases, rents, discounts, and annual profits using a data warehouse. With a significantly improved speed of data entry, users do not have to enter data in different databases, and gain direct access to current information and transparent reports. With the web application data being available in all locations at the same time, information is consistent and orderly, without errors resulting from incorrect data entry. Scalability is a considerable advantage, as is the ease of adaptation to the increased needs of the company, thanks to the technologies used as well as licensing models.
The reporting consolidation process in all the countries covered by the system is reduced by a period of one day. The higher quality of the data can be seen in the lower number of questions which need to be asked and the lower number of revisions which any of the countries need to submit. Moreover, further new modules are planned which will be designed to connect the application directly with HFM, the consolidation tool used by Skanska worldwide – this should result in additional time savings and improved quality in the reporting consolidation process.
The integrated Business Intelligence platform including a web application, data warehouse and analytical application provided key functionalities for the clients’ managers, such as:
- Data collection forms
- Tenants report
- Project profit report
- Posted and planned costs report
- Financial reports
- Financial statements module for the stock exchange
- Administration module for staff management and budget planning
“We appreciated mutual trust and the transparent strategy in the project. Some phases of the projects have been accomplished under very strict time constraints and we were pleased with JCommerce’s ability to scale up the project resources as and when required.”
Peter Beres, BU Controlling Manager, Skanska
For the next steps, the nearshore team implemented additional data grids for processing and analyzing, and further extensions of the functionalities, such as:
- a new Land Valuation tool which analyzes changes in the reported book value of land compared to market value,
- the integration of a new CRM system,
- the addition of certain external market data.
“The system has been presented in all of Skanska’s business regions, namely Scandinavia, the UK, and the United States, and there is a desire to roll out the system in all locations. This is obviously another big challenge that requires the adaptation of the system to local conditions, such as different accounting systems, or changing the metric system to the imperial system in the United Kingdom and the United States.”
Péter Béres, Business Unit Controlling Manager, Skanska
Software testing process
During the development of the web application, the client reported the need to build a software testing process. The current process was based on irregular UAT testing in which many critical errors occurred. The aim of this project was to systematize the software testing process and decrease the number of errors reported by users as well as its criticality.
After an audit of the applicable process and consultation with users and developers, JCommerce engineers prepare and implement documentations and regressive tests to discover problems related to the existing functionalities. Several tests were also automated and added to the continuous integration process. As the next step, our nearshore team detected problems with the interface of the application, which was non-intuitive and differential. To unify the UX and interfaces of the application, our team created templates which help with analysis and make it possible to detect user activities causing errors.
The implementation of the new standards in the testing process lasted about six months. The total number of reported issues decreased by 70% and the number of critical errors was reduced by 90%.
Application refactoring and future plans
During the long-term nearshore cooperation on the project, the JCommerce team released numerous versions including additional functionalities, changes in data processing and interface improvements. To ensure the high quality and efficiency of the system, the client decided to rewrite the code. Refactoring aimed to improve the operation of the system and build it with the use of new technologies, to allow for future development and maintain stability.
About the client
Skanska Commercial Development Europe offers commercial development services in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.The company is based in Solna, Sweden.