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Unilever: Implementing SAP HANA to achieve rapid global innovation

Discover how Accenture helped Unilever converge more than 250 ERP systems into four regional-based SAP ERP systems.


With Accenture’s help, Unilever converged more than 250 enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems into four regional-based SAP ERP systems managed as one global platform, maximizing efficiency of core financial processes and reporting.

In parallel with the move to a global platform, Unilever implemented core SAP ERP Financials and other applications on SAP HANA, allowing it to significantly reduce time on month-end financial close, financial analysis and product cost forecasting processes.

Because of its unparalleled success, Unilever plans to move its entire SAP Business Suite onto the SAP HANA as part of its “journey of innovation.”

To fulfill its 10-year plan, Unilever needed to do more than simply put additional products on the shelves.


When consumer goods giant Unilever announced plans to double its business by 2020, it had to think on a global scale. 

At the time, the company had 2 billion consumers using at least one Unilever product each day, including some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Dove, Axe/Lynx, Lux/Radox, Becel/Flora, Knorr, Lipton, Hellmann’s, Heartbrand and Ben & Jerry’s.

In projecting to reach 4 billion of the earth’s (by-then) 9 billion inhabitants each day to fulfill its 10-year plan, as well as double sales to €80 billion, Unilever needed to do more than simply put additional products on the shelves.

Finding a revenue stream by expanding into emerging markets is a central component of the ambitious road map, which also includes halving its environmental impact within the same timeframe.


Unilever achieved 3-year revenue growth of €10 billion—a quarter of the way towards its goal.

Unilever enlisted Accenture to help implement SAP Controlling and Profitability Accelerator, powered by SAP HANA. This helped further reduce its month-end financial close to within one day, giving Unilever tangible evidence that SAP HANA could deliver on its promise of increased speed. This achievement gave Unilever the confidence that, moving forward, SAP HANA could help improve other business processes.

In implementing SAP Controlling and Profitability Accelerator powered by SAP HANA across four SAP ERP instances in just 16 weeks, and managing it as a single global platform, Unilever validated its new ERP innovation model. It showed that it could achieve rapid global innovation through just four instances of an industrial-grade solution, delivering the scale, resilience and reliability the company needed.


In addition to a three-year revenue growth of €10 billion—a quarter of the way toward its goal—Unilever became No. 4 on Gartner’s Supply Chain Top 25 2013 listing, reflecting a combination of top supply chain leadership and performance.

Unilever now runs 4.5 billion records for general ledger line items and more than 400 million records for controlling and profitability analysis in SAP HANA, and the production system has been dramatically accelerated.

Best-case achievements include:

  • Material ledger was cut from five to seven hours runtime to 1.7 hours (a 66 percent reduction).

  • Cost center assessment time decreased from 11 hours to 6.7 hours (39 percent).

  • Top-down distribution products went from more than 11 hours to 7.6 hours (32 percent).

  • Top-down distribution customers were lowered from 60 hours to about 35 hours (40 percent).

  • Controlling and profitability analysis reporting is now 10 times faster with an improved user experience.