Transforming business planning – and saving 344 days per year


Industry: Telecomunications

A1 Slovenia (former Si.mobil) is the leading private provider of integrated communication services in Slovenia. It began offering its services in 1999 as the first privately owned mobile operator in the country and has been retaining a position of a pioneer in the mobile communication field and constantly strengthening its position in the integrated communications market ever since.

Vip mobile Serbia was founded in 2007, and in just two years reached 1 million users, doubling this number in 2014. Even though they were the third operator in the market, they proved to be the first in many aspects. The company’s commitment to innovation has been recognized beyond the borders of Serbia, by some of the most reputable international institutions.

Both are part of Telekom Austria Group, which is an important part of the leading digital solutions and communications provider in Central and Eastern Europe with more than 24 million users in 8 countries, more than 4 billion EUR income and more than 17.500 employees. The Group is the European unit of América Móvil, the third largest provider of wireless services in the world.

Goal: The mature telecoms market offers few growth opportunities, so both companies needed to focus on retaining existing customers, boosting total customer value, and controlling costs.

Slovenia and Serbia are one of many European countries where there are more mobile phones than people. For the country’s telecoms operators, this poses a significant challenge. In a saturated market, where opportunities for growth are few and far between, the focus turns to winning customers from competitors, retaining existing customers, increasing total customer value, and reducing operational costs. Both OPCOS joined power in order to ensure that every area of their business was working towards these key goals – which meant it needed a new approach to business planning. They wanted to be able to model the whole business and not only create flexible plans for the next four years, but also analyze and predict the results of different strategies.


Their existing spreadsheet-based planning process was already reaching its limits and was too manual and error-prone to support their new requirements.

The key problem with spreadsheet-based planning process is that a preparation of new planning cycles takes a lot of time and effort. With each new cycle a controlling department, the owner of planning process, had to prepare hundreds of different spreadsheets, update the structures and different calculations, correct links between the spreadsheets, manually enter actual data and send it to the planners. This basically meant that the team spent all of their time mostly preparing input sheets. Most of the communication between departments and end users took place over e-mails, so needless to say there was no clear overview of a planning process. Furthermore, planning owners had no control over the process. At the end of the planning cycle, the team of 6 people worked on gathering all of the spreadsheet data and manually consolidating it.

In case of A1 Slovenia and VIP mobile Serbia, team responsible for planning process spend most of the time on a preparation of planning spreadsheets, data and its quality. This type of solution didn’t allow them any flexibility, versioning and give any time advantage for a deep analysis and reasonable actions.

Equally critical in an ever-changing market was the ability to adapt the new model to support new targets, new business units or departments, and new corporate structures.

Looking at the big picture, our new planning capabilities help us to make better decisions and steer the company more effectively. By finding ways to improve performance in key metrics such as churn and ARPU, we are consistently able to hit our profitability targets and meet other corporate objectives,”

Strategy and Planning Controller at Si.mobil (former A1)

Solution: In516ht has built a business planning solution that accurately models every aspect of its operations – including key drivers such as customer churn, voice and data usage, handset costs, and fraud.

Parent company, Telekom Austria, performed a very detailed evaluation of possible solutions, looking at planning, consolidation, workflow, analysis and reporting functionalities, as well as technical architecture, vendor credibility, and pricing. Based on these criteria, it selected an IBM Analytics solution – IBM® Cognos® TM1® – as the best fit for the whole group. Si.mobil then embarked on designing a solution that would meet its specific local needs, as well as providing group-level reports and KPIs. The company’s CFO was the project’s main sponsor, approving the budget, supporting change management in the planning process, and ensuring that IT resources would be available where necessary.

As an implementation partner, the company chose IN516HT, an IBM Business Partner that specializes in planning, modeling, and predictive analytics solutions.

“IN516HT was definitely the right partner for this project. They quickly understood the kind of logic we wanted and helped us build a solution that is transparent to our planners, while also automating all of the calculations and updating the model in real-time.”

Meeting all planning requirements with a comprehensive model

Our solution enables the creation of detailed budgets based on monthly actuals and forecasts, quarterly forecast updates, and long-range plans for up to four years ahead. It supports both top-down and bottom-up planning processes, so the company can set strategic targets, then work from the lowest level to build a realistic budget, and quickly see what adjustments it will need to make to meet its objectives. Crucially, the new solution takes into account almost every aspect of the company’s business, with 27 different modules that not only analyze financial metrics such as capital expenditure and profit and loss but also telecom-specific areas such as: new subscribers; churn ratios; usage of voice, SMS and data services; SIM and handset costs and inventory; and fraud and collection costs and revenues.

Improving customer insight through customer-centric business planning

Because the solution includes such a high level of operational detail, A1 Slovenia and VIP Mobile Serbia are able to make specific plans for different types of customers. It segments customers into 40 different groups, based on attributes such as whether they are a new subscriber or a long-term customer, what services they use, and so on. It can then calculate appropriate subsidies for each group in seconds.

“We can simulate and predict the effects of different market conditions on different customer segments, or on the business as a whole. What is the impact if we increase ARPU [average revenue per user] by five percent this year? What if churn falls by two percent? Because the model accounts for all areas of the business, we can be confident that the results take all the relevant factors into consideration. And we can generate these kinds of scenarios in a matter of hours – a process that used to take five days.”

As A1 is part of the Telekom Austria group, which has itself recently been acquired by América Móvil, the ability to update plans quickly and easily when group-level objectives change is a major advantage.

RESULT: Automation creates huge operational savings, delivering very rapid return on its investment in the solution.

The benefit that has had the most immediate impact on A1 Slovenia and VIP Mobile Serbia is the cultural change that the solution has enabled through automating the planning process. The company can now simulate the results of different business strategies in hours, instead of days.

Result in numbers

5 days saved – per OPCO per month in simulating and predicting the results of different business strategies

344 days saved – per OPCO per year by automating most manual aspects of the planning process

86.000 EUR saved – per OPCO per year by empowering planners to work on more valuable activities