Home Success Stories New ways for SBB AG - Well "up and running" with the automated and cloud-based planning tool: The SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC)

New routes for SBB AG: Well on track with the automated and cloud-based SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) planning tool

A brief introduction to SBB AG

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is based in Bern and is Switzerland's state-owned railway company. In terms of both passenger transport and turnover, SBB is now one of the largest railway companies in Europe. Every day, more than 840,000 passengers and 185,000 net tonnes of goods are transported. SBB is not only active in passenger and freight transport, but also covers the two business areas of infrastructure and real estate.

SBB's previous planning tool had grown historically in recent years and no longer met current requirements. There was a great desire for a higher-performance planning tool, which is why the old planning tool for the corporate division was replaced by a new automated, cloud-based planning tool in the SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) with the support of s-peers AG. The SAC was embedded in the previous infrastructure.

The project: Implementation of a cloud-based planning tool in the SAC

Until the time of the changeover, there was an Excel and Access-based planning tool, which was replaced by SAC and integrated into the SBB infrastructure. The data for planning comes from other SAP source systems (SAP BW on HANA, SAP BPC) and from different Excel files.

The new planning tool was to be cross-divisional and thus be set up for various SBB divisions. The integration was started with all divisions except for the IT division. Preparing the files with the previous planning tool was very time-consuming, resulting in long waiting times. In addition, the tool was not user-friendly and had poor performance. Based on these criteria, the following requirements for the new planning tool emerged: (1) high degree of user-friendliness, (2) reliability, (3) performance, (4) usability and (5) ensuring the transfer of know-how to the planning tool users.

The project process and coaching approach at SBB AG

The implementation of the entire project took five months (from 01.2020 to 05.2020). The project start was shortly before the first Corona lockdown. Due to the ambitious timing of five months and the Corona lockdown, an agile project management approach became more and more important for the successful project completion.

In order to understand the complex planning process and map the interrelationships, a lot of work was done with flipcharts, whiteboards and other visualisation options at the beginning. In just a few months, the agile and cross-departmental team developed a forward-looking planning tool that could be integrated into the existing tool landscape without any problems.

The interdisciplinary project team consisted of eight project members (six from SBB and two from s-peers AG). From the SBB side, two project coordinators, two people responsible for coordinating the entire planning, one employee from the IT department and one employee from the Analytics department were involved. The two project members from s-peers AG were advisors to the reporting workshop (Analytics | Planning | Reporting).

The coaching approach and the high commitment of the team in particular contributed to the success of the entire project. The user experience was the focus at every stage of the project, which led to continuous training of the users and a high acceptance of the new system. Whenever a new feature was ready for testing, users were involved promptly and the resulting feedback was integrated immediately. During the Corona crisis and the associated home office duty, communication was maintained at all times and, contrary to expectations, did not lead to any major restrictions on project work. Due to the high transparency and the constant exchange with the users, the quality could ultimately be improved and ensured.

The integration of the solution: Description of the Planning tool for the finance department

(1) Cost Driver Planning, (2) External Employee Planning, (3) Third Party Income Statement Planning, (4) Internal Activity Allocation Planning, (5) Projects Planning, (6) Related Planning Documents, (7) Group Division Reporting and (8) Group Division Total Reporting.

Project reflection and outlook for further Developments with the SAC at SBB AG

The project was able to achieve the goal of mapping the integrated planning of the various group divisions in only one tool . The planning tool was initially created for all group divisions, excluding IT, but is scalable and can therefore be adapted to and adopted by other divisions without much effort. The reliable planning tool ensures high performance and the users save a lot of time thanks to the fast data processing and the associated short turnaround times. By means of automation , the data quality and the work process have been significantly improved. In addition, the planning tool is easy and intuitive to use for the users. Another major improvement lies in the decentralisation of know-how - in fact, great importance was attached to comprehensive know-how development and knowledge transfer. Detailed documentation of the new planning tool has been prepared for uniform dissemination of the application. Thus, the respective processes are standardised and the knowledge is passed on uniformly. The cloud-based tool offers the possibility to flexibly call up the planning with the improved performance from anywhere. Last but not least, SAC ensures the reliability and stability of the planning process.

The coaching approach used by s-peers AG in this project was highlighted as particularly innovative. In contrast to a classic consultancy - where the requirements are implemented directly - the consultants assisted the SBB project team with a mixture of tool training, support and advice. In this way, the knowledge can be built up in the long term and sustainably at SBB and can also be used for the next projects in the future.

So far, the planning tool has been implemented for a total of 27 users; in the next one and a half years, the planning tool is to be expanded to 100 additional users. As requested, the planning tool was initially set up for the group divisions. With regard to a possible extension of the scope of the planning tool, care is taken to continue to maintain the high acceptance of the new planning tool by involving the users at an early stage.


Sarah Siegfried, Innovation Engineer Finance, SBB AG

Published by:

Dr. Eric Trumm

Head of data science and innovation


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