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In 2005 Unilever took "a hard look in the mirror and decided it had to change," according to Christian Kaufmann, managing director of the company's Finance Business Services Europe unit.
The mirror reflected a complex and fragmented picture. Unilever's employees in 24 countries used 18 ERP systems and hundreds of different finance processes. Unilever also employed a large number of people in each country; there were three business units with three CEOs and three separate leadership teams. "This was putting pressure on the top line," says Kaufmann. "Because Unilever's business groups operated as a loose federation, we had duplication, high cost, and varying quality."
The consumer goods company launched the "One Unilever" program. Its goals: to streamline the business (including finance), achieve substantial savings, become more consumer focused, compete more effectively against its competitors, and increase growth. In Europe the ambition included establishing a European supply chain.
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