Case study: Where do you insert the allen key in efficient reporting?

Efficient reporting through harmonised structures running ABACUS and QlikView at IKEA


IKEA is everywhere. All around the world, but also in Switzerland, this Swedish home furnishings chain has grown at a torrid pace over the past decades. With cleverly conceived functionality, fresh design and low prices, IKEA has become an integral part of Swiss home décor.

This growth however had its price: the company’s IT infrastructure was periodically upgraded and updated selectively with an eye on current needs, but not in all areas of the enterprise. In the HR realm, what evolved was a mixed bag of fragmented systems and layers that were barely networked and not in sync with each other.

Fine-tuning for growth

This condition was not tenable from a long-term standpoint, especially in view of the fact that the demands on systems and reporting processes were constantly on the rise and IKEA was growing further. Therefore, in 2001 the decision was taken to harmonise the company’s entire ABACUS landscape. The new system was aimed at ensuring that all processes are executed properly and on schedule. At the same time, it needed to be easily expandable – because IKEA continues to pursue a clearly defined growth strategy.

An even greater shift in the direction of centralisation took place several years later. IKEA introduced a central standard mandate. Between all subdivisions – i.e. teams and departments – the greatest common denominator was to be sought and found.

Excessive 'handwork' in HR reporting

At the time, the Allen key had to be used regularly in monthly HR reporting. But what originally were logically structured key figures grew over the years to become a very time-consuming compilation with more than 1500 pivot tables. All evaluations were based on MS SQL and Excel, which needed to be manually administered. Thus the reporting process was a cumbersome and error-ridden exercise. And because the reporting requirements expanded at the same time, there was an increasing desire for a new, user-friendly, highly automated solution.

We needed a partner who would understand us and give us holistic support. Due to our long-standing and very close relationship, PwC understands our concerns without requiring long-winded explanations.

David Affentranger, Head of PR and Communications IKEA


PwC is highly experienced with helping companies convert their accounting standards. Together with the implementation of a consolidation package, the solution was also to provide a base for planning and budgeting in one single system.

QlikView for analyses

Moreover, the HR processes at IKEA today are hardly comparable with those of the past. In 2011, ABACUS was enhanced to include QlikView, a tool for analysing HR key figures. At one fell swoop, the time-consuming and error-prone manual administration of the reporting procedure became a thing of the past. In connection with the introduction of QlikView, PwC was able to crystallise more than 1500 tables down to just several dynamic evaluations. The advantages these improvements offer the end user are striking, indeed: the application can be utilised intuitively and enables comparisons to be made of various months and business units. The data are updated automatically each day, and access to detail views is quick and easy.


IKEA started working with PwC already in 2001. Just how valuable such a long-standing partnership can be was clearly evident in the various project stages. Because on one hand the partners know each other well and, on the other, they share a similar culture and philosophy, uncertainties and misunderstandings were avoided. The solution to this challenge was readily defined and it was smoothly and efficiently translated into reality.

Comprehensive services

For IKEA, it was particularly advantageous that advice and implementation came as a holistic package rather than involving the need to call on new partners to address each specific issue. Not just in terms of technical matters – and that new-fangled thing called QlikView – but also when it comes to esoteric topics such as social security, IKEA was and still is able to rely on the specialists at PwC.

Regionally anchored

Another common denominator: just like IKEA, PwC is also present throughout Switzerland. As a result, PwC is highly familiar with the cantonal and regional circumstances and peculiarities. This can represent an invaluable advantage, especially in a federalist system as is known and cherished in Switzerland. If for instance laws were to change, the specialists at PwC are on the ground locally, up to speed on the facts, and know which aspects need to be borne in mind.

Everything under one roof

PwC assists IKEA today in various matters, amongst them IT systems support, employee training, as well as how to tackle complex HR issues, e.g. those relating to international employees and special cases. The entire spectrum of these advisory and implementation services is offered under one roof, something that saves the mandator an enormous amount of time and energy.


Michael Gniffke

Leader Business Software Integration Switzerland, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 47 74