Payment process automation made easy at Nippon Shokubai Europe
1 hour of work saved every day, more room for value-added tasks and increased financial transparency: the person responsible for payment processing at Nippon Shokubai Europe (NSE) is delighted with the integration of their Isabel 6 banking platform in the SAP ERP system.
The integration project is just one example of how the Japanese chemical giant wants to optimize and digitize its processes in order to remain a frontrunner. Flexso is a trusted advisor and implementation partner in quite a few SAP-related projects at Nippon Shokubai Europe.
From batteries, car parts and screen displays to detergents, textiles and diapers, chances are they contain chemicals, catalysts or synthetic resins produced by Nippon Shokubai. Ever since 1941, the Japanese group has been a leader in its industry, exporting products far and wide across the globe. To retain that leadership position, the corporation has embarked upon an ambitious transformation journey in all of its branches – from the headquarters in Osaka (Japan) to the European base in Zwijndrecht (Belgium). One of the three pillars is digital transformation, featuring SAP in the main role.
Step-by-step migration to SAP S/4HANA
“For years, Nippon Shokubai Europe has been running SAP R/3, which we managed locally. Our colleagues in Japan used a different version of SAP. When we kicked off our digitization journey, consolidating both SAP systems was a logical first step to take,” explains Bart Segers, business innovation analyst at NSE.
NSE opted for a phased SAP migration: first consolidate the European and Japanese systems and then move to SAP S/4HANA. To keep everyone motivated during this long-term project, they decided to pick some low hanging fruit along the way. Integrating the Isabel 6 multi-banking platform into Nippon Shokubai’s ERP system was one of the first projects on the wish list.
Standardized integration of Isabel Connect
The team at Nippon Shokubai Europe had been using Isabel 6 for many years. The online tool helps them set up automated payments for all their Belgian banks. Determined to get the most out of the platform, FI/CO innovation analyst Eric Michiels had dreamed of integrating Isabel 6 into their ERP system for years: “While the connection felt like a quick win to me, it had not been a priority for a long time. The digital transformation created the perfect momentum.”
Eric was happy to hear that Flexso was familiar with Isabel Connect, the API that facilitates Isabel integrations with SAP. “They had even standardized the integration process in 2021 and promised that it would be an easy thing to do. They proved to be right.”
Isabel 6 and Isabel Connect
Isabel 6 is a single login B2B platform that provides businesses with access to 27 different banks. The Isabel Connect API integrates Isabel 6 with accounting software and ERP systems like SAP. By integrating the bank information into the back-office applications, it enables users to
- access account information from across all the banks in their trusted application,
- automatically upload payment files (such as CAMT053, CODA and MT940 files) in the back-office package,
- initiate payments directly from their finance applications.
Automating repetitive, manual finance flows
“Thanks to Flexso’s know-how and proven experience, their project management skills and their direct lines with the Isabel 6 team, we were live in no time. Apart from some minor technical hiccups, everything has been running smoothly ever since,” Eric confirms.
“Our objective was to automate the repetitive, manual task of payments and payment processing. The Isabel Connect API checks all the boxes. Our colleague who is in charge of payment transactions saves over 1 hour each day and we plan to further reduce the time in the near future,” says Eric. “More than that, we’ve significantly reduced the error margin and we have better control over all the financial transactions, which helps raise transparency. Last but not least, Isabel Connect guarantees the end-to-end security of all transaction data. That is, of course, of paramount importance.”
We save over 1 hour each day, have significantly reduced the error margin and we have better control over all the financial transactions, which helps raise transparency.
Advancing the business and digital transformations
In the meantime, the Isabel platform has migrated to a new version – and that exercise, too, went seamlessly. Nippon Shokubai Europe has now integrated SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) and Datasphere in order to further optimize their workflows and are prepping the move to SAP S/4HANA. In this process, too, they appreciate the advice and insights of Flexso.
“In a series of dedicated workshops, we are currently analyzing the existing business processes at Nippon Shokubai in order to pinpoint optimization opportunities. As a result, we’re constantly advancing the business and digital transformations that are needed to futureproof our company,” Bart concludes.