Regional business units of large global brands must constantly balance the expectations of their international parents with the nuances of their own markets. One such regional business unit, which makes and markets its parent company’s world-famous beer and several local brands in one European country, is encouraged to be entrepreneurial and is expected to operate sustainably, while being cost-efficient in its production, promotions, and logistics.
This puts pressure on margins, so understanding the impact of change at every level – from the cost of goods sold to the latest promotional deals with specific bars, restaurants, and retailers – is critical to success. Yet manual processes, based on a complex web of spreadsheets, restricted the finance team to quarterly planning reviews, which affected the company’s ability to respond fast to challenges and opportunities.
“We wanted to change the way that we were planning,” says the company’s strategic reporting manager. “The world is changing quickly and we need to evolve with it.” The company sought to combine economies of scale with the business agility needed for its fast-changing market.
A single solution for all brands
The regional brewing company, assisted by Accenture, deployed Anaplan for enterprise financial planning and analysis (FP&A). The move consolidated data from all its brands – along with their sales, production volumes, costs, and logistics – into a single solution with consistent processes and reporting. Data is available at the national or brand level, and users can also drill down to get details on a single SKU or customer.
Using Anaplan, the company can understand current performance and scenario-plan changes in sales volumes, prices, and promotions. “We now have fully integrated planning,” says the strategic reporting manager. “The ability to model the effects of sales promotions at the individual customer level is probably the Anaplan capability most appreciated by our business users.”
The company’s financial planning team can now examine operations as an integrated whole: sales, volumes, prices, production, promotions, supply chain, capacity, logistics, cash flow, and profitability. Anaplan enables the company to review actuals, analyze variances, and adjust forecasts, which helps to optimize production, streamline distribution, maximize sales – and keep the beer flowing.
Building genuine business agility
This integrated view enabled greater agility when it was needed most. “With Anaplan, we have cut planning cycles from more than three weeks to just one week,” the strategic reporting manager explains. “This let us shift from a quarterly planning cycle to a monthly cycle,” he continues, which helped the company quickly adapt to rapid changes in sales channels triggered by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Because sales promotions are important levers in the beer business, the solution was built to manage volume planning by customer and SKU, and was integrated with the company’s sales promotion tool. This ensures that promotions and volumes move in parallel as customer behavior changes. “The most successful part of our journey with Anaplan was the introduction of volume planning by customer and SKU,” recalls the strategic reporting manager. “Anaplan gave us the ability to adjust rapidly during COVID-19, as beer drinkers switched from frequenting bars and restaurants to staying at home. Without Anaplan, this would have been very tough.”
The solution also provides the finance team with a clearer long-term perspective into operations. With the consolidated, unified view of validated data presented by Anaplan, the team can review current and predicted profitability and model future sales by multiple dimensions. They can also model the impact of discount offers by brand, volume, and customer, as well as design pricing strategies in response to market opportunities.
On the operational side, teams combine product cost data from the company’s SAP solutions with price and promotions data in Anaplan to optimize production for maximum profitability. Meanwhile, the wealth of data in Anaplan also empowers executives to make data-driven decisions to pursue new business opportunities and make strategic adjustments in response to market trends.
“Anaplan gives us the insights we need to gain market share and drive sales performance and, of course, enhance satisfaction for our loyal customers,” the strategic reporting manager concludes.
*66% speed improvement estimated based on shifting from a quarterly planning cycle before Anaplan to a monthly planning cycle with Anaplan, and on cutting planning cycles from more than three weeks before Anaplan to one week with Anaplan.