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Customer Story

Merlin Properties Transforms & Automates Internal Auditing with Alteryx

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Merlin Properties Key Stats

Industry: Real Estate
Department: Financial Services
Region: EMEA, Spain

in key Real Estate Assets

financial processes managed using Alteryx

Merlin Properties is the leading SOCIMI (Spanish Real Estate Investment Trust) and is among the 10 largest Real Estate Asset Investment Groups (REITs) in Europe. The Company's main activity is the acquisition and management of quality Commercial Real Estate Assets, focusing on offices, retail, logistics and data centers. After 8 years in the Market, Merlin Properties' portfolio has approximately €11,390 million in Real Estate Assets, spread over 150 office buildings, 14 malls, 55 logistics warehouses, 3 hotels and 4 data centers under construction.

Due to the number of assets and the complexity of the data to be processed, Merlin Properties needed a way to analyze and audit its financial and non-financial information efficiently.

The starting point is a dynamic and complex business, with many different technologies coexisting and a large amount of data from multiple sources. The aim was to aggregate external supplier data sources and bring them right up-to-date, in order to have information from all suppliers in real-time.

This posed a problem for Merlin Properties on 3 levels:

  • How to extract and process data
  • How to visualize that data in a more structured and organized way
  • How to carry out detailed data analysis to help with decision making

Digital Transformation and Automation of the Internal Audit Department

The main purpose of the project is the Digital Transformation and Automation of the Internal Audit Department. It also seeks to incorporate innovation with clear, easy-to-understand results.

To address this project, Merlin Properties started out with 3 key objectives. First, to have greater control over the data to identify internal errors and issues. Second, to reduce costs by accessing all data at a cheaper cost. And third, to prevent fraud.

The management of this ambitious project was made possible thanks to Alteryx's collaboration with PwC. They took charge of consulting and implementation of the tech side of the solution.

A paradigm shift

With this type of project, the traditional approach is based on very shallow business knowledge, which can be very expensive - it's all analysis. There's a third pillar, too, and that's the broadest, most basic and hardest to crack - the one that deals with data management. By tackling this project, Alteryx switched up the focus, giving greater relevance to the Business. Alteryx looked for a tool that could be used by the business side of the Company, a platform that any business user could take advantage of. With this approach in mind, the goal was to democratize data analysis and management.

Based on the key objective, which consists of the transformation of the Internal Audit Directorate, Merlin Properties set out other objectives. These included the digitization and automation of key processes within their Internal Audit, the definition of dynamic scorecards on key processes and creating scorecards to track the status of Internal Audit work. All this had to be done semi-automatically, a process that would run without the need for external intervention. To do this, beyond incorporating the most appropriate technology, Alteryx put a lot of work into training the Merlin Properties team, making them all individual participants and leaders of the transformation.

Other global objectives were included in the project. These were to democratize data analytics techniques, to reduce costs and maximize all available resources, to automate recurring tasks and focus instead on higher value ones, integrating internal and external data sources to achieve better value in terms of its analysis, and others including the generation of adaptable and modulable reviews according to the client in question and generating impact for the Company's Stakeholders.

Key processes included in the Transformation Project

The Merlin Properties transformation process includes the following key processes: Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Accounting, HR, CAPEX, OPEX, Invoicing, SCIIF Scoping Matrix, Risk and Credit Risk Mapping.

Based on the transactional information available in SAP, which was the system being employed, Alteryx identified the data tables and designed a database of its own, as well as managing data flows. The project team then conducted a Data Quality Audit, correcting the errors identified to ensure reliable use of the information. Once the database and flows were established and the quality of the information had been analyzed, the design of the information visualization was tested. This optimized the relational models and the first scorecards were published. The next step was to train the company's Internal Audit Staff to learn how to use the tools.

Project Results

Through the Transformation Process, Merlin Properties has automated processes and reports, significantly reducing the use of resources. At the same time, it removed errors produced by human interaction and manual processes, boosting efficiency. Consolidating data and reports across the company eradicates duplication and inefficiency across the board, freeing up Internal Audit resources for other tasks. Now that the Merlin Properties Team has incorporated and onboarded leading data analytics and BI tools (Alteryx and Power BI), they have greater confidence in decision making based on the usual criteria, data and methodologies.

Another benefit of the transformation carried out by Merlin Properties is that it allows the monitoring and control of the company in near real-time. This grants users the ability to analyze different concepts, ranging from the performance of an entire Division to the correct execution of a bookkeeping entry. This is vital, because there's no need to wait for Quarterly Reports - you can get valuable reports at any time.

Alteryx has allowed us to automate processes and reports that were a significant drain on time and resources. At the same time, we have eliminated errors caused by human interaction and have been able to dedicate resources to more valuable functions, due to the elimination of manual work

Automatically updated data available on a single platform

In summary, the automation and transformation project at Merlin Properties has given the Internal Audit Management Department access to all the Company's relevant information. This data is fully up-to-date and automatically incorporated into a single platform, which greatly improves the Team's work rate. Thanks to the Alteryx Project, Merlin Properties Internal Audit Professionals, Managers and other members of the Organization can assess real-time data at a glance, to make the best decisions all day every day.

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