Since its inception 10 years ago in Casca, Rio Grande do Sul,
Unicred has rapidly evolved from a single small cooperative to
a full-service credit union for the healthcare sector, operating
130 cooperatives throughout all of Brazil with national headquarters
in Sao Paulo. It has BRL 2 billion (around US$0.85 billion)
in assets, with BRL 1.2 billion (around US$0.5 billion) in liquid
assets – and it is set to grow. In fact, by 2007 Unicred expects to
triple in size – which is precisely why the organization chose to
implement software from the SAP for Banking solution portfolio
– including the mySAP™ Business Suite family of business solutions.
The SAP® software offered Unicred exactly what it needed:
integrated, state-of-the-art technology designed to support
future needs and continued expansion.
A Wide Range of Credit Services
Unicred’s numerous cooperatives perform a wide variety of
tasks. For example, certain units recruit and train staff, while
others provide business, marketing, and technical services.
Still yet, others ensure regulatory compliance or provide market
analysis services. In addition, Unicred operates some 330 customer
service centers strategically located throughout Brazil.
The solution was perfectly suited to Unicred’s back- and frontoffice
needs and gave us confidence to face the future,” says the
executive. “As for the technology, the SAP solution will ensure
our competitive edge.
|Geraldo Magela Couto,
Managing Director, Unicred
Today, Unicred’s members – who range from individual pharmacists
to medical organizations – benefit from a wide range of credit
services that enable them to purchase equipment or set up clinics,
for example, or pursue further education and professional training.
In addition, the members can also take advantage of offerings
commonly provided by conventional banks, such as checking
accounts, credit and debit cards, investment opportunities, bank
transfers, and home banking services.
In Search of Integration
Prior to its SAP installation – and in spite of Unicred’s strong
market position – the company had to overcome several challenges
resulting from a diverse organizational structure and a
range of disparate IT systems: With 70 registered companies
using different procedures, communication was often difficult.
In addition, vertical communication between the smaller single
agencies, the 10 regional offices, and the company’s national
headquarters was problematic. “There was no single solution
that was shared by all, and there was no communication between
many of the systems,” states Geraldo Magela Couto, managing
director at Unicred.
Unicred knew it had to find a solution that would enable it to
integrate processes and at the same time deal with the idiosyncrasies
of its industry. After analyzing several solutions, Unicred
opted for SAP software. “The big difference with software from
SAP for Banking is in the fact that it is completely integrated and
also satisfies our needs, without having to be complemented by
another software solution,” says Magela Couto. “For example,
the SAP software has the flexibility to integrate the processes of
both a small cooperative and a large unit with 3,000 people. This
guarantees better banking performance and an enhanced ability
to maintain one of Unicred’s biggest assets: its blanket coverage –
which makes it possible to support businesses wherever they are
The implementation was the first of its kind in Latin America.
Because software from the SAP for Banking solution portfolio
had been successfully implemented in the same sector in
Europe, Magela Couto paid a visit to Germany to see firsthand
how the SAP software functioned. He was pleasantly surprised.
A Complete Solution
In addition to industry-specific software, Unicred also implemented
the SAP Business Suite family of business solutions, which
provides open applications that enable companies to get the
most out of their business relations, human resources, information,
and processes. It also took advantage of the SAP NetWeaver®
Business Intelligence component.
“Using SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence, Unicred was able to
create a single, central database for all regional offices,” explains
Magela Couto. “The database now contains all the records of
each office’s members and the associated transactions. Formerly
each office had its own database and there was no standardization.”
Unicred also uses the SAP NetWeaver Portal component to
configure and create new offerings – such as Internet banking
channels, telephone banking, and ATMs, among others. A
definite plus: the SAP NetWeaver platform embraces Internet
standards such as HTTP, XML, and Web services, enabling
companies to rapidly and easily integrate new technologies.
A Successful Implementation
SPEC carried out the implementation. Its team kicked off
the project in March 2004, installing the software in 12 months
throughout branch locations in western Amazonia, central
Brazil, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro. “The project team
created a skills center in Unicred Minas Gerais, bringing together
staff experienced in business processes and SAP products,”
comments Magela Couto. The skills center provided technical
and business support, training for users, and contract management.
It also offered help desk support.
In March 2005, the first users began a one-month training course.
On April 1, the first cooperative – Unicred Central Brazil, which
has 3,500 members and 7 customer service centers – began operating
the solution in its entirety. “The transition was extremely
smooth; we absolutely chose the ideal solution,” states the
For Unicred, the results of the implementation became visible
almost immediately. It no longer has to deal with the instability
of the former system, and thanks to role-based user access, security
is no longer an issue. Users can now access all records and
information right from their desktops, and communication
with partners has greatly improved. In addition, the accounting
department has an integrated, transparent view of the entire
company, enabling it to keep track of all necessary information.
“Thanks to streamlined accounting processes, we have improved
our cash flow,” says Magela Couto.
Another important benefit: Unicred can focus even more on its
relations with members. “At Unicred Central Brazil, 70% of the
staff originally worked in the back office,” explains Magela Couto.
“Now they have been freed up to serve the customer and can
place greater focus on the core business. Furthermore, we are
opening three new customer service centers, as a result of the
increased productivity enabled by the new technology.”
Unicred is rolling out the SAP solution in phases. In 2006, all
other 6 regional offices, including 150 customer service centers,
will have the software up and running.