Lallemand gains faster insight into global margins

Accelerating business reporting and budgeting

Published on 02-Aug-2012

"With multiple different sources, it’s vital to be able to extract the data intelligently. Cognos Data Manager gives us a great deal of control over the transformation and loading of data, making it easy to keep the data warehouse consistent." - Dominique Courchesne, Cognos Project Leader, Lallemand


Life Sciences, Consumer Products

Deployment country:

BA - Business Analytics, Business Integration, BA - Business Intelligence, Business Performance Transformation, BA - Performance Management

IBM Business Partner:


Lallemand is a Canadian company that develops, manufactures and distributes yeast, bacteria and other ingredients derived from micro-organisms for use in the bakery industry, the brewing industry, the animal feed industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and in other food- and agriculture-related applications. A highly acquisitive company, Lallemand has grown from 600 employees in 1998 to more than 2,400 today in 36 countries across five continents.

Business need:
With multiple lines of business and different operational units all around the world, Lallemand was struggling to get an accurate and timely view of business performance and budgets. The company wanted to generate more consistent reports at higher speed and with less effort. It also wanted to accelerate the creation of sales and expense budgets.

Working with IBM Premier Business Partner Globalsult, Lallemand deployed IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence on top of a central data warehouse, using IBM Cognos Data Manager to extract and transform data from operational systems. The company also deployed IBM Cognos Planning, which it is now upgrading to IBM Cognos TM1®.

200 sales managers are each saving up to four days each month.

The solution provides a single version of the truth, with all important data held in a single place. Faster financial closing at the end of each month.

Case Study

To read a French version of this case study, click here

Lallemand is a Canadian company that develops, manufactures and distributes yeast, bacteria and other ingredients derived from micro-organisms for use in the bakery industry, the brewing industry, the animal feed industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and in other food- and agriculture-related applications. A highly acquisitive company, Lallemand has grown from 600 employees in 1998 to more than 2,400 today in 36 countries across five continents.

With multiple business units across the globe, it was difficult and time-consuming for Lallemand to get an accurate picture of budgets and performance. Sales and purchasing managers tended to create their own highly complex spreadsheets for budgeting and planning, using data sourced from a variety of different operational systems. This not only created delays and inefficiency in month-end closing, but also raised the possibility of errors and made it virtually impossible to get timely information on margins.

“Bakery in particular is a low-margin business, so it’s really important to be able to model the impact of changes in underlying costs,” says Dominique Courchesne, Cognos Project Leader at Lallemand. “In the past, it took a lot of time and effort to consolidate data and manipulate it in spreadsheets. As a result, it took a long time to generate meaningful information about cost, margin and profitability. The situation was similar for other aspects of management information, planning and budgeting.”

Building a data warehouse

To avoid disruption to the business, and to protect its investment in systems adapted to specific local business environments, Lallemand decided to build a central data warehouse that would gather and normalize data from all the different systems and act as a single source of truth for business intelligence.

Starting with a pilot project for the bakery products division in North America, Lallemand deployed IBM Cognos Data Manager to gather operational data from multiple source systems, and transform and load it into a data warehouse. The pilot project covered consolidated sales budgets only, using IBM Cognos Business Intelligence for reporting and analysis; dramatic improvements in the speed and transparency of reporting led to the ongoing expansion of the Cognos environment at Lallemand.

“The establishment of a central data warehouse and the introduction of Cognos created a cultural change within Lallemand,” says Dominique Courchesne. “Business users were able to quickly and easily access consistent actual sales and budgeting data, and use it to support better decision-making. We have now extended Cognos to cover expenditure in the North America business, and we are continuing to roll it out across other geographies and lines of business. We have also rolled out IBM Cognos Planning, initially for sales budgets, and we now have more than 70 active Planning applications across numerous operational areas.”

Flexible reporting

Using Cognos Business Intelligence , Lallemand has built a single interface offering easy access to more than 200 pre-built interactive reports. These are aimed at multiple different types of user, from business analysts and sales managers to managing directors and other senior decision-makers. On average, the reporting function handles a further 1,800 requests for custom analyses each month.

“Using Cognos, we are starting to create consolidated P&L reports for our global divisions,” says Dominique Courchesne. “We are currently replacing Cognos Planning with Cognos TM1, to provide greater flexibility and performance. Cognos Planning was a good tool, and the move to TM1 is a natural progression. With TM1, the data in the cubes is refreshed instantly, and the ability to process everything in-memory will make it faster and easier for users to drill right down to the level of individual clients and products in sales reports. When the migration is complete, we will introduce the ability to budget for costs as well as sales.”

Lallemand uses Cognos Data Manager to extract data from Navision, Sage and Synergy ERP systems as well as from spreadsheets and legacy mainframe systems. “With multiple different sources, it’s vital to be able to extract the data intelligently,” comments Dominique Courchesne. “Cognos Data Manager gives us a great deal of control over the transformation and loading of data, making it easy to keep the data warehouse consistent.”

Working in partnership

Throughout its ongoing deployment of IBM Cognos technology, Lallemand has worked with Globalsult, an IBM Premier Business Partner and a leading consultancy for data warehousing and business intelligence solutions in Canada. Globalsult built the central data warehouse, oversaw the deployment of the Cognos technologies and provided training and skills-transfer to the in-house team at Lallemand. Globalsult also helped Lallemand to define KPIs for the business and to determine what data should be fed into the data warehouse to support these KPIs.

Says Dominique Courchesne, “Globalsult had expert knowledge of the Cognos tools, and were able to get us up to speed quickly. We now have an in-house team of four people for Cognos, but we continue to benefit from the part-time presence of two Globalsult consultants on-site. They are always highly professional and have a good understanding of our business priorities. Perhaps the key advantage in working with them is their openness. With some consultants, you get the impression that they are always holding something in reserve, so that you remain dependent on them. With Globalsult, we feel that there are no secrets: it’s much more of a partnership, and the transfer of skills is something that they actively promote.”

Faster reporting supports better decision-making

The deployment of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence and Cognos Planning at Lallemand has dramatically improved the speed and quality of reporting, analysis and budgeting. With a single, accurate central data source replacing hundreds of complex and error-prone spreadsheets, business users are far more confident that they are making decisions on a factual basis. They also enjoy much faster access to vital information on production costs, on expenditure and on sales by representative, by client and by product, to name just a few. Equally, analysts are now more autonomous and less reliant on the IT function to create custom reports.

“Cognos has improved the quality and speed of management information, helping decision-makers get the right information faster,” comments Dominique Courchesne. “With up-to-the-minute analysis of production costs, we can immediately see what our margin is, helping the business to maintain profitability even as the cost of raw materials fluctuates.”

In addition to delivering top-level reports faster, the Cognos solution provides faster access and more accurate information for factors such as profit by sales person, profit by business division and cost of production by plant. In the past, creating such reports in spreadsheets took considerable time and effort, and did not permit meaningful comparisons across different parts of the business.

Gathering the relevant data and creating sales budgets used to take up to three months, and required many days of error-prone reconciliation and consolidation work in spreadsheets. With IBM Cognos Planning, it now takes just one month to complete the budget, and requires far less time and effort from Lallemand employees.

Dominique Courchesne comments: “In the past, creating a sales budget meant sending out complex spreadsheets, chasing people to get them to complete their section, pulling in the results, sending the sheets back out for correction, then finally consolidating all the data. There was a lot of re-keying of data, each time raising the risk of human error. Today, with Cognos Planning, each person simply goes into the application and makes their input directly – and it will be even simpler and better with Cognos TM1.”

With accurate sales reports available at the touch of a button in Cognos, managers avoid considerable effort at month-end, and Lallemand is achieving a faster monthly financial close. “We estimate that our 200 sales managers are each saving around three or four days each month that were previously spent gathering and manipulating data for analysis,” says Dominique Courchesne. “That means more time spent actually analyzing the data and making decisions. Ultimately, from the point of view of our customers, Cognos helps us to react faster to their demands and to offer a more efficient service at competitive pricing.”

About Globalsult

Since its inception in 1999, Globalsult has developed and implemented business intelligence solutions for businesses in many industries. Its mission is to help companies transform and consolidate their operational data to enable them to make better decisions. Its passion is to equip its clients with competitive advantage by providing them with consistent, accurate and timely information.

To learn more about services from Globalsult, please visit

About IBM Business Analytics

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos TM1, Cognos Business Intelligence, Cognos Planning

Legal Information

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