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Lesieur relishes smoother annual budgeting and monthly closing

Leading French food company develops a recipe for budgeting, closing, and variance analysis that saves time and improves decision-making

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Fabled French foods company Lesieur wanted to improve visibility into its performance and free its finance specialists from time-consuming data preparation and reporting. Using Anaplan to centralize financial processes, Lesieur’s finance team cut monthly closing time by 20% and budgeting time by up to 40%. The new solution puts information in the hands of decision-makers faster than ever and empowers the entire company with actionable financial data.

We can essentially compare anything against anything, whether we’re looking at costs or profitability, and analyze at a granular level.

Emmanuelle Poulain, Head of Management Control

Lesieur is a ubiquitous, beloved presence in kitchens and on dining tables in France. Marketing an extensive range of vegetable oils and condiments to consumers, restaurants, and food-processors, the company – founded in 1908 and now part of the Avril Group – is the French market leader in edible oils.

To serve its loyal customers while controlling costs and maximizing profitability, Lesieur needs accurate budgeting and rapid financial closing capabilities, backed by the ability to perform multi-dimensional financial analysis. The company’s old finance tools were outdated and cumbersome to use, which delayed decision-makers’ access to information and tied up skilled analysts in low-value data preparation. In addition, the need to manually update calculation scripts in the old tool consumed valuable time that could otherwise have been dedicated to deeper analysis.

“When I joined the company, I saw a significant opportunity to look deeper into all the financial data we had available,” recalls Emmanuelle Poulain, Head of Management Control at Lesieur. “But the existing tool was too time-consuming to meet our ambitions. We wanted a fast, flexible, and efficient platform for financial planning and analysis.”

Rapid development and confident deployment

During consultation with the group IT function, Emmanuelle Poulain pushed for an alternative to the on-premises finance solution used by other Avril Group companies. “I wanted a cloud-based platform that we could put in place rapidly and without a major integration project,” she recalls. “A friend had recommended Anaplan, and I quickly felt comfortable with both Anaplan and its partner, Micropole.” Following a study showing the likely time and efficiency gains from Anaplan, Emmanuelle Poulain secured approval and worked with Micropole to achieve a five-month rollout of the solution, in time for Lesieur to complete its March 2021 annual financial closing.

“We were so confident in Anaplan that we didn’t feel the need to run that first financial closing in parallel on our old solution,” says Emmanuelle Poulain. “One key success factor was the strong partnership we forged with Micropole. They are relaxed, open people who understand our needs and continue to support us as we build our Anaplan skills.”

Comprehensive, multidimensional financial analysis

Anaplan leverages data from Lesieur’s SAP ERP system to present a comprehensive, real-time view of the company’s consolidated financial position. Lesieur’s finance team now uses Anaplan to create the annual budget and revise it twice a year based on updated performance figures. The team also uses Anaplan for monthly financial closing, related P&L reporting, and variance analysis.

“Anaplan enables us to analyze planned versus actual performance on a monthly basis, by sales network, by product, by customer, and more,” says Emmanuelle Poulain. “We can essentially compare anything against anything, whether we’re looking at costs or profitability, and analyze it at a granular level.”

The new solution has empowered more people throughout Lesieur with data, which has democratized analysis and decision-making. “Anaplan makes it fast and easy for us to push accurate, actionable information to the whole organization,” says Emmanuelle Poulain. “Previously, most of our time was spent producing data, but now we can focus on analyzing it and enriching it with commentaries. In this way, our finance team contributes significantly to the development of the business.”

Saving time and effort for finance specialists

With formula-driven, real-time calculations in Anaplan replacing the cumbersome, inflexible scripting of its previous solution, Lesieur is enjoying significant gains in performance, efficiency, and job satisfaction for finance employees.

“With Anaplan, we’re saving around 20% of the time previously required for monthly closing, Emmanuelle Poulain estimates. “The outcome is even more impressive for budgeting, where we’re saving between 30 and 40% of time in a budgeting process that takes several weeks. The positive impact of the Anaplan solution has been very quick to see.”