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Cloud Business Transformation

Finnish industrial company establishes digital business process platform based on SAP's Intelligent Enterprise architecture in record time of just 15 months. The transformation project was named Leap.
Henning Krug
September 29, 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The Finnish chemical group Kemira, headquartered in Helsinki (5000 employees, 3.6 billion euros in annual sales, 63 production sites and sales in more than 100 countries), has realized the move to the cloud. In doing so, the company not only lifted the existing SAP ERP world into the S/4 Hana private cloud (on-prem model), but also established a complete global process and system landscape based on the SAP Intelligent Enterprise architecture.

All business processes, all business units and legal units of the global Kemira organization were involved. A total of 60 systems were lifted into the cloud. The program implemented five closely interlinked initiatives simultaneously: the S/4 transformation, the redesign of finance, the introduction of SAP Datasphere as an enterprise data warehouse, a Digital Data Excellence initiative, and the complete migration of 360 on-prem interfaces to SAP Integration Suite.

"The new enterprise-wide solution, combined with innovation and a solid global foundation for business management, gives us the opportunity to leverage data-driven business models, improve our customer relationships and focus on sustainability. Kemira is thus pioneering a new generation of enterprise solutions and pioneering a comprehensive cloudification of SAP business architectures," explains Taras Podbereznyj, CIO at Kemira and responsible for the innovation project.

We knew that with the right timing of the changeover, our competitive advantage would be all the greater.

Taras Podbereznyi, CIO, Kemira

Big Bang with success

The initiatives went live in big bang, with implementation completed in 15 months. "The result is a lesson in rapid value creation: 100 percent of group sales have since been handled end-to-end, company-wide and globally via the new enterprise platform," says Rainer Wittwen, CEO at cbs.

The smooth system changeover took place for all units on a go-live weekend, and across three time zones. Business continuity was a top priority during the cutover. All of Kemira's core business processes continued to run at full throughput during business hours, without the need for a time-consuming ramp-down of business activities prior to migration and a correspondingly lengthy ramp-up after go-live. It was a transformation along the lines of a surgical procedure: minimally invasive and without disrupting ongoing operations.

The near-zero downtime approach was used, which reduces the downtime of the operational systems to a minimum. The technical transformation was carried out as a selective data migration with the standard software cbs ET. It covered 400 SAP plants and 58 company codes in 37 countries. Over four billion data records were migrated. 3000 system users worldwide were affected by the conversion.

Kemira's existing technology platform was getting on in years. There was no alternative to switching to S/4. "We knew that with the right timing of the changeover, our competitive advantage would be all the greater. We therefore made a conscious decision to stay one step ahead of our competitors while creating a springboard for further innovation with a rapid transformation," explains Taras Podbereznyj, CIO at Kemira.

To find the right balance between transition and transformation when moving from the old on-prem world to the new cloud architecture, Kemira launched a preliminary study. "The customized transformation approach from cbs helped us find the right mix of innovation and transformation. You can't do everything from scratch; that would go beyond the scope of the project. In addition, we had already established a whole range of state-of-the-art processes that we wanted to safeguard as best practice for the future," explains Podbereznyj. 

Margin Analysis for FI

In the finance area, Kemira has completely repositioned itself as a result of the transformation. With the introduction of the new Margin Analysis, Finance is able to perform earnings and market segment analysis with a high degree of accuracy and manage it on a granular basis.
It now has a staged contribution margin accounting system including variance-oriented controlling at account level. In addition, there was the introduction of the new general ledger, the currency conversion and the implementation of Group valuation, the introduction of new asset accounting and the introduction of Financial Supply Chain Management (FSCM).

Digital Data Excellence is a strategic asset for Kemira for the future. The Leap project enabled Kemira to fundamentally modernize its data management and take it to a new level of innovation. "With the introduction of SAP Datasphere as a central enterprise data warehouse for financial reporting and SAP Analytics Cloud as a planning tool, we are reaching a new level in data management. We are one of the first companies in the world to use Datasphere as an enterprise data warehouse, and therefore a pioneer in the SAP Analytics environment. We are already in the process of extending the use of Datasphere and Analytics Cloud to other process areas in order to gain added value from the data for our business management," says a delighted CIO Podbereznyj. Kemira is thus well on its way to becoming a data-driven company and capable of implementing new data-driven business models. 

Datasphere and Analytics Cloud

"The Analytics Cloud acts as the front-end and Datasphere as the back-end. It is a future-proof solution that is technologically state of the art, combines the best of both worlds and is easily expandable and scalable. This means that Kemira always benefits automatically from the enhancements and updates that SAP delivers," explains Hendrik Sander, project manager at cbs.

"Kemira is the first industrial customer of this size to prove that you can run your entire finance reporting on Datasphere," enthuses Roland Werp, Senior Manager in Business Intelligence at cbs.

The project also set standards in the area of integration and middleware. It included the migration of all 363 on-prem interfaces in the ERP from SAP Process Integration to SAP Integration Suite in the cloud, integrated and coordinated with all milestones of the S/4 transformation project. "This was a project of the highest complexity, according to our current knowledge the largest interface migration to the cloud in the industry worldwide to date," Holger Himmelmann classifies the scope. The big bang go-live of the migrated interfaces took place on the same day as the S/4 Hana go-live.

"Kemira has made the leap to the cloud company and digitized its entire process world. The group is now in an optimal starting position. With the implemented platform, the company can tie in with all subsequent SAP developments and is always technologically state of the art. This is a real innovation advantage over other companies that may not reach this stage of development for another five years," explains Rainer Wittwen, CEO at cbs.

Henning Krug

Transformation Expert and Consulting Director, cbs Corporate Business Solutions

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.