How Fresenius Created Robust Financial Forecasting Automations with Workato

Fresenius Medical Care is a global Fortune 500 company based in Germany and North America that provides a range of services and products to help aid patients in renal dialysis and other medical needs. With 325,000 renal patients globally being cared for in more than 3,800 dialysis clinics, and more than 100,000 employees worldwide, Fresenius has become one of the top providers in the world for patients with kidney issues.


APPS

  • Quick Base
  • Salesforce Veeva
  • Prolog
  • SAP
  • Sharepoint

CHALLENGES

  • Facility projects needed better data and more efficient workflows in order to complete construction faster and provide patients with a higher-level of care.
  • 8 divisions across Fresenius were working from different systems and in silos leading to slower execution of facility projects.
  • Approvals for each stage of a project were completed in an ad hoc manner across multiple systems and divisions, leading to unnecessary project delays.
  • Ability to review data was inefficient and dynamic reports were non-existent.

ROI

  • Speed to market for facilities was greatly improved by reducing the time between project conception and completion.
  • Increased collaboration amongst departments thanks to multiple departments working from the same technology system. Departments now work together instead of in silos.
  • Approval workflows are now automatically routed and simplified between different systems. And employees have the ability to execute actions and approvals via email.

Fresenius North America builds, owns, and runs medical treatment centers throughout the United States; in addition to manufacturing and distributing medical supplies. One of the crucial operational challenges for the healthcare company is managing and opening new dialysis centers and other physical locations. The North American division of the company has a department called RECS — Real Estates and Construction Services — that typically handles all of these construction projects.

Developing these medical treatment facilities is a massive undertaking for Fresenius. They require several levels of approvals across multiple departments and stakeholders, and involve complex project management workflows. In the past, the RECS department operated separately from the rest of Fresenius, using a disparate set of unconnected systems. So, when executing a rebuild, renovation, or new build, the review and approval process was inefficiently tracked and there was no 360 degree view of the planned project’s progress and forecasting models.

Fresenius’s executive vision is to provide the best care and be the most trusted provider for patients with renal and chronic care needs by building the most comprehensive and integrated network. Facility construction is an integral component to achieve this vision, as is operating in a collaborative, innovative, and results-oriented manner. In order to achieve this vision, RECS began working with MCF Technology Solutions, LLC, a business and technology consulting company based in Ohio, about six-years-ago.

“We have built suites of applications and integrations for RECS to help manage, track, and automate their construction approval process, the actual construction projects, and to help bring all of the teams involved together in order to get facilities built faster,” says Rama Davis, technical lead at MCF Tech.

Now, Fresenius has a fully integrated project review, approval, and management system developed in Quick Base with intelligent automation built into the workflows involving other applications and systems.

An Automatic and Full Financial Forecasting Model

When Fresenius identifies the need to develop, renovate, or relocate a new Medical Center, someone logs in to a web portal and submits the preliminary information for approval, including: geographical information, management information, cost estimates, and any necessary file attachments. Also included in the portal is a square footage calculation tool where different proposed spaces can be entered automatically by project type and/or manual selection, and the total cost based on square footage and other construction considerations is calculated.

Using intelligent automation, data that’s being tracked on these construction projects in Quick Base and other systems can be sent to Salesforce so executives and members of other teams at the larger medical group can leverage this data for smarter, more agile management decisions and KPI tracking.

“They wanted to combine the data from construction with their data that they already had from their sales and operations to get a full picture of the financial health and growth of the organization,” says Davis. “But they only had parts of it and we were able to use Workato to bring in the information to really give them a full financial picture and forecasting model.”

Fresenius built robust financial automations with Workato.

The downstream benefit of all of this data integration is that Fresenius is able to now identify facility locations more efficiently in areas that better serve patient populations who need life-saving dialysis treatments. That impact directly ties back to the company’s overall strategic mission.

“Though I don’t directly work with patients, I think there is a pretty direct impact if they can get these facilities built faster and only 10 miles from a patient’s house instead of 30 or 40 now that the data can point to the optimal location.”

FP&A: Connecting the Finances and Lifecycle of Construction Projects

Once information on a project is entered into Quick Base, behind-the-scenes logic routes the proposed project through the proper review and approval channels thanks to the Workato recipes created by MCF Tech. At each step, the request may be sent backwards with recommended changes and edits. This alone has greatly increased the speed and efficiency with which projects go from proposal to getting the green light.

While all of the approvals and processes for construction projects are being tracked in Quick Base, RECS actually tracks all of the finances and construction budgeting in an on-premises application called Prolog.

Fresenius was manually creating each construction project in Prolog and then manually entering the budget for each project. As each project progressed, employees at Fresenius would also then manually update the construction costs in the Prolog system, with no visibility to the actual project cost in Quick Base.

To eliminate this manual process, a bidirectional integration between Quick Base and Prolog was created.

Fresenius built robust financial automations with Workato.

Now when a new project is created in Quick Base, it is automatically created in Prolog once the budget and project approval process is completed. The cost estimate, square footage calculations, geographical, and management information is pulled through and Fresenius begins actively managing the construction, remodel, or relocation of their facility. This eliminated the need to enter the same data multiple times, has eliminated wasted time and reduced human error because projects no longer have to be manually built across two different systems.

Based on the data entered during the concept and proposal stage, the project schedule is automatically loaded, and projects are prepopulated with an interactive Gantt chart. Workflows for bi-monthly project updates from project managers and task lists for each department are synced in the cloud so that all eight divisions of Fresenius have one record of truth to work from.

Over the lifecycle of a project, the budget is tracked in Prolog. The integration automatically sends budget data back into Quick Base so RECS and Fresenius leadership can have a complete picture of budget estimates versus actual spend, what the remaining budget is, any overages, and analytical insights on the cost of projects.  

“By taking their construction budgeting system and bringing it back into the approval and tracking system and really providing those tools for them to have all that data in one place we’re able to facilitate the building or rebuilding of a facility,” says Davis. “

As facilities are built faster and more efficiently, not only does that increases the income potential for the company but it also allows them to better serve and care for patients.

The Next Wave of Integrations

With two successful automation and integration projects behind them, RECS and the Fresenius team can’t get enough of the intelligent automations MCF Tech has delivered. “We’ve had them on Workato for only a few months but once they saw the capabilities and the speed in which we’re able to develop integrations, they just want to do more and more with Workato,” Davis says.

The next project is helping the facilities acquisition team, which works primarily in SharePoint to track potential medical groups or small practices that might want to join Fresenius Medical Care, create a bi-directional integration to seamlessly share data between SharePoint and Quick Base to eliminate duplication of effort by employees with manual data entry. It’ll also create better visibility and collaboration between teams that have traditionally worked in isolation.

Another integration will kick off soon for SAP, where the ongoing finances are tracked for the entire company, to Quick Base. Without operational financial data, the company is missing a large piece of the financial data picture. And then there will be an integration built between Dropbox, which the company is using for file storage.

“Others will come up,” Davis says, “They’re asking for stuff left and right because this is definitely giving the organization the tools to bring all of their systems together as well as tie their people together, increases collaboration, creates much better efficiencies, and all of that really leads to higher quality of data, much better KPI and metrics tracking.”

It’s much harder to measure the increased collaboration amongst different teams within the organization, Davis says, but that has been the ultimate goal from the start and something he believes Fresenius is achieving.

The Power of Intelligent Financial Automation

Over its 11 years in business, MCF Technology Solutions tried a lot of different integration platforms, but Workato was the only one struck the right balance between being enterprise-ready and user-friendly enough, Davis says, that they didn’t need to always rely on developers to make changes or update the integrations.

“We’ve done a lot of integrations just writing custom .NET code or other code languages hosted on our servers,” Davis explains, “But, Workato is making that part of our job a hundred times easier or faster.”  

He goes on to elaborate: “We can spin up an integration in a number of hours instead of months. By the time you spend the months necessary to write a very complex .NET integration or custom coded integrations, technology and business processes have moved on. It’s a cycle that companies can’t keep up with custom integrations.  Whereas the speed and efficiency of Workato really allows your integrations to keep up with your technologies.”

With Workato as its iPaaS of choice, MCF Tech has been able to not only keep IT departments happy, but more importantly help line-of-business users take control of their apps, and put the data in front of people in the place where they need it most.

Want to learn more about how Workato enables financial forecasting and unprecedented productivity?

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