"Finally we did it!"
How Impero streamlines processes in European Energy’s quarterly closing
Headquartered in Denmark, European Energy is on a mission to become a global force in the fight against climate change. With its operations quickly expanding more than 600 separate companies, the quarterly closing process needed simplifying and standardisation. That’s when the Finance team turned to Impero.
At a glance
- Danish renewable energy developer and provider
- Around 600 employees and projects in 30 countries
- 600 companies in the group with a listed bond on NASDAQ
- European Energy worked with Basico to choose Impero for its quarter end closing
About European Energy
At the core of European Energy’s mission is an ambition – to grow into a global force that champions the green transition, develops green energy solutions, and encourages the world to join the movement towards a fossil-fuel-free society.
As CFO Jonny Jonasson explains, the company is a developer and provider of renewable energy assets that work in the entire chain.
“That means finding or identifying the right projects, and obtaining the permits and approvals that are necessary to actually construct. And then we manage the entire construction process to accelerate the development,” he says.
With projects spanning solar, onshore, offshore wind and Power-to-X, since 2004 European Energy has saved more than 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 and planted 245,000 trees around its energy parks.
The compliance challenge
With a listed bond on NASDAQ Copenhagen, European Energy has strict reporting requirements.
“We are obliged to disclose a quarterly report to NASDAQ and comply with all the IFRS requirements both in the quarterly and annual reports. That means our closing process is primarily in quarters,” Jonny explains.
“We have a long list of activities to close the books, and all our projects are divided in separate legal entities. Our group structure comprises 600 separate entities that are all consolidated into the entire Group.
“After closing the books, we have a quite complicated process of closing all the individual companies and consolidate them into one group report.”
While Jonny describes the previous process as “partly standardised”, documentation of how the closing was done and which controls were performed was scattered throughout “complicated Excel sheets and manual personal task management tools.”
“It was hard quickly to see where we were in the process,” Jonny reflects.
“It was divided in a few groups, where based on historical organisation or geographical organisation, things were performed somewhat differently. Several templates were used, but it wasn’t globally standardised.”
'We realised something needed to change'
Jonny explains there were two main motivations for making the switch from the company’s partly-standardised spreadsheets.
“It was clear we were spending too much time in the management of these processes, and there was pressure to have more reliable documentation for the work performed,” Jonny says.
When you’re consolidating quarterly closing for a group with 600 companies, there comes a time when spreadsheets just cannot keep up.
“One specific issue was a file we used to document where we were in the process. It was an ordinary Excel file that only one person could edit at a time,” he says.
“And because the spreadsheet needed to link to some other applications it couldn’t be a shared file in SharePoint, it had to be standalone. When you have information to update in the file, you were not able to because someone else had the file locked.
“That was just frustrating”.
“It was alright when we had three controllers, but with 23 we realised something needed to change.”
‘We had a number of criteria, and Impero became the preferred solution’
“We understood that we needed a system – and worked with Basico to identify a platform that can manage our compliance tasks,” Jonny explains.
As part of this project, Jonny says European Energy had a “beauty contest” between two recommended systems.
“With the assistance from Basico we had key selection criteria. It was about the price, the simplicity of maintaining controls and whether we could tailor it to our group structure and our massive number of SPVs. We also looked at the quality of support,” Jonny says.
“We needed it to work for our corporate structure, and had that discussion with both vendors about how to make it work. Impero was very helpful in setting up a solution that could manage an unlimited number of companies.
“Impero was the preferred solution.”
'Digital is absolutely necessary to have transparency'
Beyond the immediate advantage of scrapping the spreadsheet that only one person could edit at once, Jonny says going digital has charged transparency throughout European Energy’s quarterly closing process.
“Digital is absolutely necessary to have transparency,” Jonny says.
“We have an easier overview of the entire process, of what steps are actually in the process, and also a status every day for whether we’re progressing as planned and which of the individual employees are under pressure.”
An unexpected benefit has been the ability of various companies to give feedback on the process and internal resourcing, to make improvements for next time.
“Impero gives us transparency and a much-improved level of information provided to the next step in each of the processes,” he explains.
“It’s quite obvious that it’s much easier for us to manage our internal resources now.”
What's the Impero difference?
When European Energy put Impero to the test in its first quarterly closing after implementation, Jonny said the company saw the benefits.
“We saw the benefits the first time we used the Impero system,” Jonny declares.
“We’re still spending the same number of calendar days on a closing, but it’s clear we will be able to cut it in the future.
European Energy is already saving time on adjustments in reviews.
“The mapping of all the procedures in the implementation process ensured we reached a good level of standardisation in the tools that we’re using. That has absolutely saved us time,” he explains.
“This has been the best closing process that we have ever had.”
Looking back... any advice?
Following the “best closing process we’ve ever had”, Jonny looked back to share some advice for businesses in a similar situation: with cumbersome spreadsheets, and in need of standardisation across their processes for closing.
“We absolutely let the old process run for too long,” he says.
“Impero is a quite easy to use, easy to implement platform that gives you a clear overview of your compliance tasks and lets you visualise it.
“As we’ve grown so much, and we are now so many companies in the group, it’s clear to us that we should have implemented it sooner.”
Ready to see why European Energy wishes it switched to Impero years ago?
Are you also struggling in a maze of spreadsheets, non-standard procedures and always chasing documentation for your closing processes? You’re not alone.
In fact, more than 80% of business data is in unstructured formats such as contracts, emails, PDFs and other documents.
Book a personalised demo to discover the difference Impero can make in your business.