Snack food companies, rejoice: How we eat is radically shifting, from three square meals a day to more frequent grazing—and the trend toward around-the-clock snacking only seems to accelerate. A recent survey from research firm Technomic shows that 83 percent of consumers now snack on a daily basis, compared with 73 percent in 2014.
With greater consumer demand comes greater business opportunity. But before packaged food companies can seize more market share or better their profit margins, they may first have to streamline their financial planning.
That’s the realization that set Selecta on a path to finance transformation. It’s Europe’s largest vending machine company, feeding more than 6 million consumers at 140,000 locations every day. So if you ever pushed the button on a guilty pleasure while in Europe, you’re probably already a Selecta customer.
Feeling the bite of budgeting woes
It’s sprawl and reach means big revenues, but it also posed a huge challenge to the company’s finance department. For years, staff had to gather financials across 18 countries. Each location worked off different financial models. At the corporate headquarters, in Cham, Switzerland, the finance team would have to manually consolidate those disparate data sets—while repeatedly checking that errors weren’t introduced in the process. Once that massive undertaking was behind them, the team would crunch the data into two planning cycles: a three-year business plan and a detailed budget for the year ahead. The months-long process yielded two massive, unwieldy spreadsheets.
Selecta’s finance team knew that comprehensive data consolidation was a first and necessary step to streamlining its budgeting and planning processes. And the company faced shareholder pressure for more detailed planning and a swifter turnaround to shareholder questions. That “was a major impetus for revolutionizing our financial system with Adaptive Insights,” said Christan Ann Bahler, Selecta’s business planning and analysis manager. Deploying Adaptive Planning, part of the Adaptive Suite, Selecta created a standardized system across all of its territories that automatically consolidates the data into the group financial model.
Modeling data for all appetites
That meant the finance team could spend less time gathering and verifying data and more time thinking strategically about whether that data was meeting the company’s business goals. Modeling data across all territories became less of a headache, and the finance team was able to monitor KPIs—such as number of machines per merchandiser or average sales per machine per day—more easily, to identify opportunities to increase revenue or trim expenses.
“Ultimately, the conversation has moved from a question of whether data is correct to whether the outcome is as desired. This allows us to be far more strategic as a business,” said Bahler. And because regional teams spend less time bogged down by reporting their data back to headquarters, they have more time to glean insights about their own performance.
Regional teams were trained on how to model their own operational plans and scenario models, empowering them to use data to drive their decision-making. “We can now rest assured that all the figures are adding up and flowing through properly because each territory owns its own data, and the consolidation—including processes such as currency conversions—is taken care of by the system,” Bahler said.
Hungry for the future
Selecta’s finance team wasn’t content to stop with the new, streamlined system in place. Seeing how Adaptive Planning has transformed how it gathers and tracks data, the team immediately embarked on longer-term planning for the board. And its improved visibility means the finance team can not only confidently deliver a three-year forecast of the business to the board, but it can also advise the board on which returns will come out of each investment.
As companies in this sector jockey to stay competitive in the face of surging consumer demand and other industry trends, Selecta has found a way to move its finance team from the role of data-gatherer and spreadsheet-handler to a strategic partner to the board. And that’s a sweet customer win, any way you slice it.
To learn about other companies that are benefiting from Adaptive Insights, visit the Customer Success section of our website.