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How Autodesk replaced expensive reconciliation software with Celonis

I didn’t know it could do that!

When it comes to enterprise software, those seven words can be a game charger. They express that moment when you discover an unexpected and especially powerful capability or use case. Perhaps it’s a productivity hack that will save your team time or a feature that will improve the quality of your work. Or maybe, if you’re lucky, you discover that you can use a solution intended for one purpose in a new way that saves your company not only time but money.

In 2020, Autodesk was beginning an ERP transformation program, migrating from SAP ECC to S/4HANA. The maker of 3D design software knew they were going to run both systems in parallel for several years during the changeover and needed a solution to help them understand their legacy processes, monitor for issues during the migration, ensure compliance and provide the ability to optimize processes in the future. They turned to Celonis.

Autodesk used Celonis throughout the migration, for end-to-end process mapping, live data verification between the two systems and to monitor performance and optimize processes post migration. The company also wanted to quantify the impact of the ERP transformation. Over the next several years, they used Celonis to not only achieve these expected outcomes, but a significant and unexpected one as well.

At the San Francisco stop on the Celonis World Tour 2023, Ashraf Youssef, Head of Intelligent Automation at Autodesk, described how the company used process mining during its ERP migration, how it currently uses the platform for order-to-cash and opportunity-to-order and future use cases it's considering, such as IT service management (ITSM) and configure price quote (CPQ). He also shared how after working with Celonis, the team discovered they could replace an existing piece of reconciliation software with Celonis. Here’s how Youssef described that moment:

“It started with the architects who were working on the ERP transformation. We had a choice. We could have used our current reconciliation tools. They were very costly. And they said, ‘Oh, but all of the data is already in Celonis. The Celonis database behind it is incredibly fast. We could probably build a better solution using Celonis operationally.’”

Ashraf Youssef, Head of Intelligent Automation at Autodesk on stage at Celonis World Tour 2023

Ashraf Youssef on stage at Celonis World tour 2023

And it worked. Autodesk used the Celonis Machine Learning Workbench to reconcile “more than 120,000 sales order line items per month during the migration.” Youssef said Celonis enabled the team to detect orders that fell out of sync between the two ERP systems and reduced the project development time for the migration by four to six weeks. Most importantly, he said, they detected more than 15 critical defects in the move from one ERP to the other.

Using Celonis for reconciliation worked so well, Youssef said Autodesk was able to “retire" their existing reconciliation tool and the “expensive licensing” that went with it.

The team’s success with Celonis for reconciliation inspired other potential applications.

“As people saw this reconciliation's amazing, they brought in other operational use cases for revenue ops,” said Youssef. For example, the team does operational dashboards for accounts payable focused on fraud detection. They use the Machine Learning Workbench and Duplicate Invoice Checker App to spot compliance issues, such as employees paying themselves.

The practice of empowering people across the organization to use process mining and Celonis was one of the key learnings Yousseff shared in closing out his presentation. He said Autodesk has a citizen developer program which his team taps into.

“Technical people throughout the company who have a good idea, we'll give them the training and the tools to go out and build their own dashboards,” he said. “And we've had good success with this, of people doing the online training with Celonis, building their own analyses based on the data that we've pulled in.”

More from World Tour 2023

World Tour 2023 features 10 stops around the world including Munich, Milan, San Francisco, Madrid, Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York, London, Paris and Chicago. Each additional stop features Celonis ecosystem partners, customers and process experts from across industries sharing best practices and knowledge.

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Bill Detwiler
Senior Communications Strategist and Editor Celonis Blog

Bill Detwiler is Senior Communications Strategist and Editor of the Celonis blog. He is the former Editor in Chief of TechRepublic, where he hosted the Dynamic Developer podcast and Cracking Open, CNET’s popular online show. Bill is an award-winning journalist, who’s covered the tech industry for more than two decades. Prior his career in the software industry and tech media, he was an IT professional in the social research and energy industries.

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