Vallourec’s specialized tubular steel solutions are used around the world to carry oil, gas, and water to homes and businesses. As a leading supplier to the energy sector, Vallourec in the United States focuses on building a green, low-carbon future, and has committed to reducing its own carbon emissions by up to 45% by 2025.
Vallourec manufactures its products to unique customer specifications and operates in a cyclical market. Its finance team, therefore, must revisit all forecast assumptions each month to ensure accuracy and profitability. This proven zero-based-budget approach increases financial planning and analysis (FP&A) complexity, especially when data from many individual projects is consolidated to understand enterprise-level financial performance.
For many years, analysts at Vallourec created all of the company’s financial reports using spreadsheets, but this approach had several drawbacks. It consumed significant time, hindered collaboration, incorporated only two dimensions, and introduced the risk of errors and inconsistency.
“Spreadsheet-based FP&A simply couldn’t capture the growing sophistication of our operations,” explains Thomas Gauchon, Vallourec’s Director of Finance & Controlling, Mass Production North America. “It took up to two days to prepare spreadsheets for new reporting periods, and about a week to create the budget, so our finance team frequently found themselves working overtime just to meet deadlines.”
Relying on spreadsheets increased the risk of duplicated effort and keystroke errors, and without a standardized process for creating reports, new finance team hires spent significant time learning the department’s unique way of working before they could do their jobs.
Modernizing financial planning
Vallourec chose the Anaplan platform to address these challenges. “Anaplan stood out as the most intuitive and feature-rich solution that we explored,” comments Gauchon. “After taking the Anaplan Level 1 Model Building course online, I felt confident that the solution had the functionality and ease of use we needed. The fact that Anaplan’s training courses enable users to learn the platform quickly was a huge plus.”
Vallourec deployed Anaplan to standardize financial planning activities and improve financial consolidation processes in two of its three North American companies. Vallourec’s solution, built in collaboration with Anaplan partner Akili, automatically ingests data from the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution and other data sources.
“Thanks to the excellent support we received from Anaplan and Akili, we were able to implement Anaplan ahead of schedule,” says Gauchon. “And by having our team take the Anaplan Level 2 Model Building course as part of the implementation, we eliminated the need for third-party support in the long run.”
Unlocking huge efficiency savings
With Anaplan, Vallourec is saving valuable time, automating key processes, and getting actionable data into the hands of decision-makers faster than ever. “We estimate we cut at least 3,000 hours of deduplication and consolidation work a year with Anaplan,” Gauchon says. “Previously, it would take weeks to set up a spreadsheet to support a new project, but with Anaplan we can create new models in seconds.” All the data that analysts need is automatically in Anaplan, so deduplication and data preparation tasks are eliminated. “We can locate key data in as little as five seconds,” comments Gauchon. “We have reduced overtime thanks to efficiencies created with Anaplan, so our financial planning team enjoys a much better work-life balance.”
Automation is also leading to better decision-making at Vallourec. Before Anaplan, the team manually created a package of financial reports for their executives. “Manual reporting took several days, and often we worked right up to the deadline before the meeting to assemble the metrics,” Gauchon recalls. Now, much of that data consolidation is automated. “Our executives use an Anaplan app that automatically pulls key metrics, so they can explore new opportunities and adjust plans for improved business performance.”
Gauchon describes Vallourec’s Anaplan environment as a “digital workspace” that has transformed finance operations. “Instead of each team member focusing on their own duties, we are all connected to the same platform,” he explains. “This dissolves the boundaries between departments and individuals, while increasing accountability.”
And that’s just the beginning. The third North American company in the Vallourec portfolio is adopting Anaplan based on the success of the first two companies, and teams are exploring opportunities to leverage the platform in other departments and regions. “We’re pleased with the benefits we have achieved using Anaplan and plan to roll it out to other departments at Vallourec,” Gauchon concludes. “By enabling greater control over our financial data, streamlining planning and reporting workflows, and improving information sharing across our organization, Anaplan helps us meet our business and sustainability goals.”