Published on 23-Aug-2010
The company already had IBM Cognos PowerPlay in place, and needed a reliable planning solution to easily integrate with it.
To improve the planning process to address changes in the product portfolio, time lags in master data, overall visibility issues, a complex discount system, and to facilitate comparisons to actual data reported from IBM Cognos PowerPlay.
The IBM Cognos Planning solution enables a flexible and transparent process of forecast, while integrating with the in-place IBM PowerPlay solution.
Logical and reliable planning, quick and easy adjustment of the planning process, a more structured process, access to detailed data as well as the comparison against actuals.
Since 1994 Heidi Chocolat has brought to Romania the highest standards of the Swiss Läderach Group: a constant concern for continuous innovation, quality control and consistent customer orientation, along with a unique and varied choice of products. At present, Heidi Chocolat is one of the top chocolate brands in Romania, with a strong and increasing presence in foreign markets, most of which are located in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Presently, the company employs 320 people and is preparing for expansion to accommodate increased production and distribution, and is enhancing its IT operation to support its fast-paced business.
Heidi Chocolat’s quickly increasing number of customers and growing premium product portfolio introduced the need to have a more accurate, reliable and enforceable forecasting process.
The Heidi Chocolat needed a tool to replace their existing Microsoft® Excel® to provide better planning and visibility to help them with process support and presentations. They needed a system that could address challenges associated with changes to their product portfolio and time lags in master data. They also needed a solution that could handle their complex discount system. The planning process results also had to be compared to the actual data reported using IBM® Cognos® PowerPlay®.
Faced with increasing complexity and frequency in planning, budgeting and forecasting processes, Heidi Chocolat decided to dedicate resources to this part of their operation. With a need to plan ahead and report effectively to its parent company, Heidi Chocolat decided to move away from their existing spreadsheet based approach, which involved cumbersome and inaccurate calculations. While addressing these challenges, Heidi Chocolat was given the opportunity to review its forecasting process, and implement a solution to better suit their needs.
Based on its previous experience with IBM reporting tools, Heidi Chocolat began the evaluation of IBM’s planning and budgeting software, along with consultancy support. A vital selection criterion was that services associated with the project should be carried out using a professional and rapid application development approach. In the spring of 2009, a decision was made to implement the IBM Cognos Planning solution. The implementation would be performed by S&T Romania, a certified IBM Business Partner.
Assessing planning needs
Before the implementation, demonstration sessions were held in which the IBM Cognos Planning architecture and its applications were presented to representatives from Heidi Chocolat’s finance, sales and management areas. High-level planning requirements and volumes were also defined and the required level of detail identified according to Heidi Chocolat needs. The detailed analysis gave Heidi Chocolat the opportunity to review and align its forecasting procedure along the different business areas: product, customer, finance and management.
As a result of this highly efficient project, some of the benefits that were achieved included:
• logical and reliable planning
• quick and easy adjustment of the planning process, planned product portfolio and planned customers
• use of automated forecasting functions
• a structured, transparent, role-based process
• access to both granular and overview data
• improved data quality
• efficient reporting and comparison against actuals
The planning model was developed for 10+ indicators, for more than 400 customers, the entire product portfolio (over 120), for a time period of at least one year. The model included complex discount calculations, multiple versions of the forecasting process and the export of budget versus actuals.
The implementation was also aimed to enable features and intermediate forecasting process steps that were reconsidered as essential during the implementation phase. This was achieved by inserting interactive presentation sessions as the planning process was shaped within the planning tool. Thus, a much faster acceptance of the implemented process and of the technology led to a successful project. IBM Cognos 8 Planning, provided Heidi Chocolat with more accurate and in-depth analysis of operations and revenue cycle data, taking into consideration its customer and products base, and it helped them to better plan an expansion of both product and their customer base. Business decisions regarding production and featured customers can now be taken much faster, reducing the time lag.
Furthermore, by integrating with the existing IBM Cognos PowerPlay solution, Heidi Chocolat can automatically create reports to assess the accuracy of the planning data versus actual data.
About IBM Business Analytics
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