With Celonis, Sysmex America has made breakthrough improvements across the enterprise — from A/R, where they recovered $3.4 million in just one month, before going on to reduce their past-due by over 60% in less than a year — to their IT system landscape, where they're streamlining their SAP S/4HANA migration.
Sysmex is a global leader in hematology diagnostics and testing, with a single-minded focus on customer satisfaction.
“We sell diagnostic solutions primarily to hospitals and labs,” says Alex Garini, Sysmex America’s CFO. “But ultimately, our customers are the patients. There is always a person, a family behind what we sell. It could be my family; it could be your family. That’s how we look at the business.”
Their success is reflected in the rapid growth of the business over the last decade: “We have a significant and important market share in the United States as a result of the tremendous growth we’ve seen over the last 15 years,” points out Kris Cherukuri, Director of Enterprise Systems.
At the same time, Sysmex America is a mid-size company in a market with some very big players. As Cherukuri puts it, “We have to out-innovate our competition in order to survive and thrive.” For Sysmex, that means fostering a culture of innovation and doubling down on customer satisfaction. It also means prioritizing transformation initiatives by ROI in order to move fast and stay effective.
“The advantage of being a mid-sized company is that it gives us agility, but there are downsides as well. We have huge process variance because we have to take care of every customer like they’re the only customer.”
With such high market penetration, profit growth moving forward hinges on Sysmex’s ability to optimize operations and increase their bottom line; and with a big SAP S/4HANA system migration on the horizon, they needed to mitigate any impact on their operations and, ultimately, on their customers’ satisfaction.
Sysmex’s goals were three-fold: to drive effective digital transformation; to prioritize IT transformation initiatives based on ROI; and to democratize data analytics, enabling better decision-making across the organization.
They initially brought in Celonis to gain better visibility into their requirements for S/4HANA. “Customer satisfaction is the most important thing for us and that was one risk we did not know how to mitigate,” says Cherukuri.
Celonis was the ideal complement to their migration efforts with a third-party consultant — the Execution Management System (EMS) could shed light on any opportunities or requirements they might be missing. “Initially, we were thinking of Celonis as an insurance policy, but we've already identified process variants that didn't come up in the discovery workshops with the consulting team.”
The EMS also helped them identify the process variations and execution gaps that were having the biggest impact on their outcomes, making it easy to prioritize initiatives — and quantify their effects.
Armed with accurate, up-to-date knowledge of how their processes actually work, Sysmex can move forward with their next phase more confidently: “Celonis will help us focus on the test cases and scenarios that are critical for us as an organization to successfully implement the S/4HANA the right way.”
Sysmex’s S/4HANA migration is not the only initiative that has benefited from execution management. Celonis provided Sysmex with insights into their Order-to-Cash process, revealing a number of inefficiencies that they could fix immediately.
For example, Cherukuri and his team were surprised by the number of invoices that were put on credit hold, even though every single one was eventually released. It struck them as pointless. “Our biggest customer in Canada had been put on hold because their credit limit was too low,” says Cherukuri. “So we increased the credit limit there and then.”
It is a simple (and common) issue with an easy solution — but one that was undoubtedly affecting their cycle times. This way, Sysmex cuts down on delays on either delivery or payment — and ensures everyone is happy.
Sysmex America has now revamped their credit management process, including changing credit limits and whitelisting their preferred customers, so that their orders will not be placed on hold. The result is increased on-time delivery, faster time-to-cash, and ultimately a higher rate of customer satisfaction — and the implementation from contract signing to go-live took a mere four months.
Sysmex are also working to optimize their working capital by optimizing cash collection. “As a CFO, cash is king — so we’re using Celonis to analyze our credit collections,” notes Garini. “The better the quality of your processes, the better your cash collection and cash management, and the more satisfied your customers are.”
Celonis helped Sysmex identify millions in overdue payments — and start collecting them. They recovered $3.4M in overdue service contracts in just 30 days. They’ve seen a $10M improvement in their cash flow, and lowered the late payments rate from 61% to 44%.
The granularity of the EMS means Sysmex are able to track the outstanding amount, with every collector in Accounts Receivable aware of the portion for which they are responsible. They are also using the data to come up with targeted collections strategies for different types of customers.
"Celonis allows us to segment our customers in a way that is actionable," says Oscar Velazquez, Senior Director of Customer Operations. Using the EMS, Sysmex are able to understand who their customers are and their likelihood to pay based on data: previous payment patterns, geography, and so on. They can then employ the right collection strategy with the right customer, using resources more effectively to collect proactively and mitigate risks.
"We've seen an improvement of almost 60% of our past due, which has translated to somewhere between $10 and $12 million of improved cash flow into our business," says Velazquez. "And this is despite going through the COVID situation, which we would've expected to go the other way if we hadn’t had Celonis."
“Our CFO, Alex Garini, gave the management team a challenge,” notes Elizabeth Powell, Senior Manager in Customer Service and Contract Compliance. “He challenged us to increase the analytic capabilities of the organization — and management specifically — to truly drive data-driven decision-making.”
As the repository of all of Sysmex’s Order-to-Cash data, Celonis has become fundamental to creating this data-driven culture. “Now that we have the tool, I want to make absolutely certain that we are incorporating it into the day-to-day activities and that we are scheduling monthly reviews with each of the different teams,” says Powell.
By drilling into the data, each team can work out what to go after, put together an action plan and review any changes or results regularly.
“When I joined Sysmex, one of the biggest challenges in front of me was how to deploy the technology assets the right way. We had hundreds, if not thousands, of project requests sitting in the queue for the IT team, but no clear way to justify which ones should be acted on first,” Cherukuri points out.
“What Celonis allows us to do is to closely tie the deployment of the technology assets to improvements in processes and KPIs, and the direct value that is being added to Sysmex America.”
Alongside their ongoing transformation efforts, Sysmex is implementing Celonis across their Purchase-to-Pay and Accounts Payables processes, optimizing procurement, working capital and productivity. They’re currently looking to crack down on maverick buying, for instance.
They’ve also implemented Celonis with Zendesk and ServiceNow to get a handle on customer and IT service tickets. "We’ve been able to move at a very rapid pace," Powell points out. The Service Now implementation took just two months.
The ultimate goal is to institutionalize Celonis at every level of the business to enable truly data-driven action and help the organization’s data maturity grow.
To do so, they are also looking at usage discovery and benchmarking across the five instances of SAP they use globally. Celonis will help them streamline and standardize best practices across different geographies.
Sysmex is now able to put together analyses and dashboards that would have previously taken them months to build — to the extent that Cherukuri believes, “Celonis will start taking a bigger and bigger role as our analytics platform, even though that was not the intent at all when we started our relationship.”
Velazquez adds, "To me, Celonis is a game changer. It provides the analytics, a view and perspective on our business, our customers, and our processes that I've never before experienced in my career. The opportunities are endless."
By institutionalizing process analytics and continuously optimizing for outcomes, Sysmex are consistently pushing the boundaries of innovation — ensuring the company’s continued success in a fast-paced, competitive market.
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