Clarity at DENSO AUTOMOTIVE Deutschland GmbH

Success Stories

Interview: Resource Planning and Cost Transparency with Clarity at DENSO

Our interviewee Stephan Watzka explains how Clarity ensures better resource utilization and more cost transparency in the engineering department of a large corporation.

July 25, 2023

itdesign, Clarity, Customer


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About the Interviewee

Hello, Mr. Watzka. Please tell us a few words about yourself and how you interact with Clarity.

I am Stephan Watzka, director of Engineering R&D at DENSO AUTOMOTIVE Deutschland GmbH and manager of the Engineering Cross-Function Departments. I joined the company in 2001, and I have been in my current role since 2020. We first ran across Clarity when we were looking for a tool that would help us with our resource planning in the area of Engineering. Our headquarters in Japan had previously used Clarity successfully, which is why we became aware of it during our search. We finally decided in favor of this software at the end of the selection phase.

In 2019, we launched a Proof of Concept together with itdesign and Broadcom. Since that time, I have also been involved in this Clarity project.

Stephan Watzka, DENSO AUTOMOTIVE Deutschland GmbH
Stephan Watzka, Director of Engineering R&D at DENSO AUTOMOTIVE Deutschland GmbH

Projects, Resources, Reporting, and Invoicing: Use Cases of Clarity

How is Clarity used in your organization, and what types of challenges does it help you overcome?

Our headquarters in Japan used Clarity for what is known as Early Stage Control Management, i.e., in project management. At DENSO AUTOMOTIVE Deutschland GmbH in Germany, the focus is more on resource management. In addition to Germany, our users are also in the UK, the Czech Republic, and Sweden.

The main application area for Clarity is in the field of engineering. We mainly use Clarity to plan projects, allocate resources, and record current efforts. We then deliver the results to the Finance Department, which does not work directly with the system, but receives the data from Clarity as a single source. Being able to support internal financial and cost planning and provide valid and good figures represents an important added value to us. The figures provided by Clarity are also used for billing and TC invoicing.

In addition, we use Clarity to generate quarterly reports to check the planning and invoice status. To do this, we compare the planned costs in Clarity with the actual invoice data. This helps us to check the validity of the project planning and to compare the planned figures with the actual costs in order to get an overview of the profitability of the business units. In the thermal sector in particular, Clarity is also used for management analytics and KPIs, where Clarity provides important data as a single source of information. Power BI affords us an even more vivid presentation of this data.

What is TC invoicing all about, and to what extent does cost splitting play a role?

Clarity does a lot to help us with our TC (Technical Center) invoicing, as we call it. We operate as an engineering center within the company. This means that the expenditures of our developers must be passed on to our headquarters in Japan or to the business units or the plants in Europe – depending on who incurred the costs.

We also need to be able to split costs across several areas or cost centers, since sometimes there isn’t just one consigner or stakeholder, but several. We were able to adapt Clarity in such a way that we can now map this so-called consigner splitting in the system, which saves us a lot of effort: With Clarity, we can create a developer expense summary, which is passed on to our finance department as the calculation basis for allocation to the correct cost centers.

Transparency, Uniformity, and Cost Reduction: Clarity's Added Value

What are the specific advantages of the software for DENSO?

The biggest advantage is that we can summarize information better and make it more transparent. We no longer had to use an Excel sheet like we previously did to inform people, for example, about the current project status or the costs, and we could now do it in a targeted manner and familiar format.

In addition, we were able to harmonize the input options with Clarity so that all business units have the same process. Our users benefit in particular from the simplification of quarterly reporting and invoicing, since we can now get the required data at the push of a button and forward it to the stakeholders so that the invoice can be received promptly. And the automatic monitoring for our admins is also a great aid.

The bottom line is that thanks to Clarity, we have to expend significantly less manual effort and ultimately we are much less susceptible to errors. As a result, the quality of the information is significantly higher than before.

To what extent does Clarity's flexibility provide added value for you?

The flexibility of Clarity is very important for us! We attach great importance to configuration instead of customizing, since we are always up to date thanks to the short upgrade cycles. The challenge is also that we cannot change anything outside of our own department, i.e., we have to adapt ourselves in such a way to serve all follow-up processes in the company group. That’s why we also serve a whole range of interfaces. The flexibility of Clarity allows us to easily cover our needs. Working with the itdesign team also plays an important role here, as they have the necessary know-how to map processes accordingly in the tool.

Why is it important that you are able to connect or integrate additional systems with Clarity?

This both saves us extra effort and reduces the number of errors at the same time. Let me illustrate what I mean by way of an example. Currently, the costs incurred for the presentation of the total project costs have to be entered manually in Clarity and assigned to the respective project. Of course, this is not an added-value activity, and it also introduces the potential for input errors. That’s why we’re planning to integrate an interface to our financial system with itdesign: We’ll use this to automate data entry, thereby avoiding manual effort and eliminating another source of error.

Simplifications with itdesign Clarity SaaS and Automatic Monitoring

You use our hosting model, itdesign Clarity SaaS. In your opinion, what is the added value of this model?

The great added value is that we do not have to provide our own individual IT infrastructure on site. Thanks to itdesign Clarity SaaS, we can benefit, for example, from scaling the provision of hardware or IT infrastructure to meet our needs and be flexible. In addition, the external hosting offers us a secure area that we can use to comply with all necessary regulations (e.g., J-SOX und ISO). This allows us to focus on the application itself rather than on the infrastructure for that tool.

Clarity itself operates regularly in the background, and we have not had any problems so far – that’s exactly what we expected when we outsourced our hosting. We no longer have to deal with it ourselves, and the system simply runs without us having to worry about it.

itdesign Clarity SaaS

itdesign is your partner for everything involving your Clarity: We take care of the hosting and operation for your application as well.

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You mentioned automatic monitoring elsewhere. How does this help your admins?

The automatic monitoring of our system helps us a lot. We currently have around 400 users managed by 1.5 people. In addition, we also provide complete user support, help with creating user accounts, support with various topics in resource management, and more. After all, we cannot check all processes and tasks running in Clarity on a daily basis.  

The monitoring reliably tells us when we need to take a look at certain things, errors, or impasses. After a few months without any issues, the monitoring recently triggered an email, and we discovered an issue that we needed to address and resolve. This was incredibly valuable for us, because otherwise there might have been problems on the backend, such as, for example, with invoicing. 

What are some examples of problems that you have been able to address using automatic monitoring?

There may be transaction errors caused by the matrix not matching or if the primary role of an employee has changed, for example. It has to be checked whether it was changed at the right time and is still connected to the correct financial matrix. These are typical issues that the automatic monitoring handles to ensure transactions run smoothly. 

Challenges and Solutions During the Implementation Process

What challenges did you face during the implementation?

One big challenge is always ensuring that you are bringing along the users. We are introducing something new, and it looks different. It’s no longer the world as we had come to know it. How do I convince these users? Who do I need to focus on? And of course, we had to take different approaches in the different business units. In the introductory phase, it was important for us to understand the individual business units and know how they work. But other affected stakeholders, such as the recipients of TC invoicing, also had to be addressed accordingly.  

Another challenge was the conversion from Excel, PowerPoint, and MS Project to Clarity. These tools were embedded to different degrees depending on the department. So, we had to harmonize a lot with the Clarity implementation. 

Another key challenge was getting top management on board. Of course, there is always a high cost factor when launching new software, while the benefit cannot simply and directly be expressed in monetary terms.  

How did you tackle these challenges?

What was critical to overcoming these challenges was the Proof of Concept that we carried out. Here we were able to test all our requirements in practice and see whether the system worked as it should. It was also very important that we involved the relevant stakeholders and users as early as possible and conducted very intensive training. 

What also supported the process was that we had a certain agile working method. In other words, it was important to us to take the users with us and to satisfy their requirements as quickly as possible using concrete solutions. 

We also recognized that it is important to establish so-called champions for the individual units, who would act as regular points of contact and communicate the benefits of the software. They are the first persons who can be reached for questions and handling problems in the business units, and they are responsible for introducing and pointing out new features to people. 

What was particularly important when convincing management?

We showed how difficult it was to make costs and revenues transparent and to compare them without Clarity. And, of course, top management wants to know whether we are staying within our budgets, whether we are profitable, and if what we are doing is contributing to this or not. So: Are all costs generated by engineering and by our corporate functions covered by the end of quarter billing? Or are we operating in the red, necessitating us to take urgent action?

At this point, we quickly recognized the added value of Clarity, and we were also able to convince the management to introduce the new software.  

A Glimpse of the Future

Are you planning a further rollout to other areas or locations?

Yes, we have had a lot of positive feedback from other departments that are now also considering using Clarity for their planning, such as, for example, our quality department. They are also currently conducting a Proof of Concept, which allows them to use the current functionalities to see whether the solution suits them.

Since the beginning of the year, we have also been looking at other sites and locations that are switching or want to switch from their current reporting structure to Clarity. 

What do you hope to gain from the addition of further departments?

Of course, we hope that a rollout to other departments will standardize the entire structure at the company so that we don’t end up using several systems across different departments.

This results in uniform reporting, more project transparency, reliable headcount, and efficient resource management. This is an important goal, and, of course, it allows us to use this information to create well grounded reports and clear KPI presentations for top management. 

Different departments have different requirements. How do you deal with these challenges?

A particular challenge for us is that our corporate headquarters are in Japan. This means that all of our processes have to be coordinated accordingly, and we have to fill in the processes that take place there and provide information that is processed there. What makes it even more difficult is that the working methods of the various business units differ from each other. The flexibility and configuration options provided by Clarity help tremendously to master this challenge accordingly and at the same time to do justice for all departments.  

We also need the acceptance of all users, and to this end we show them where and how added value is created. This value may not be directly related to your own activity – i.e., including beyond the boundaries of your business unit. It may be that a unit has to do something according to a particular specification that may not provide any added value for itself, but rather only entails additional effort. And that is something that we have to coordinate with the various departments there. It is important to sensitize users to these topics and to look at the topic holistically.  

Collaboration with itdesign

We have now completed the basic introduction together. How do you currently evaluate the collaboration now that you are regularly using Clarity?

We have a close, regular, and very good collaboration with itdesign. We communicate very frequently on a weekly basis, and we continue to push forward with changes to the tool during joint workshops. During our weekly regular meeting, we check all progress, compare our results, and introduce new topics. To conduct the meeting, we simply use a Kanban board in Clarity. 

The switch to video conferencing over the past two years has been particularly positive. This has allowed us to speak more often and to approach the various topics even better.

If you were to put together the ideal project team, which characteristics would you consider important?

We could really use a proverbial jack of all trades. When introducing software, you need people with a good understanding of the process, who can quickly understand unknown processes, classify workflows, and understand which process steps could be eliminated by the software. And, of course, the team also needs in-depth knowledge about the software itself: What capabilities does it have? What can you address using standard features, and what requires customizing? These are all important questions that a project team must be able to handle.  

How would you describe your collaboration with itdesign? What would you attribute your success to?

The partnership with itdesign is very successful. We attach great importance to open communication, flexibility, and clear commitments, and we found that itdesign was a great fit right from the start in these areas. We always work together as equals, so we can address the various topics clearly. That provides a very good groundwork for collaboration. 

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The Summarized Success Story

DENSO Corporation’s Success Story with Clarity and itdesign

Transparency about projects, resources and finances, targeted reporting, and flexibility in IT thanks to external hosting: about the successful use of Clarity in a large multinational corporation like DENSO.

itdesign Customer DENSO

About DENSO Corporation

DENSO is a €44.3 billion ($47.9 billion) global mobility supplier that develops advanced technology and components for nearly every vehicle make and model on the road today. With manufacturing at its core, DENSO invests in its around 200 facilities to produce electrification, powertrain, thermal, mobility electronics, advanced devices to create jobs that directly change how the world moves. The company’s around 165,000 employees are paving the way to a mobility future that improves lives, eliminates traffic accidents, and preserves the environment. Globally headquartered in Kariya, Japan, DENSO spent around 9.0 percent of its global consolidated sales on research and development in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. 

  • Automotive supplier
  • 165,000 employees
  • Headquartered in Kariya, Japan
  • Founded in 1949
  • 200 locations worldwide

In Europe, DENSO regional headquarters is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. DENSO has 27 official group companies located in 14 European countries and employs nearly 15,000 people across its European organization. DENSO Europe’s consolidated revenue was €4.7 billion ($5.1 billion) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023. 

For more information about DENSO, visit 

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Anna Haußmann
Marketing Manager Clarity

+49 7071 3667 60