Golden State Foods (GSF), in addition to being one of the largest diversified suppliers to the foodservice industry, has been a Planful customer since 2014. In that time, the company has grown its business worldwide while it methodically transformed finance from a spreadsheet-driven function into an agile and strategic strength that guides the business forward.
GSF extended its use of Planful’s platform in two distinct phases. The company first used Planful to consolidate and automate core reports, and then GSF moved its financial and business planning processes onto Planful. The move gives GSF’s finance and accounting teams more speed and better collaboration with the business and serves as a model for how other companies can realize true extended planning and analysis (xP&A).
GSF has over $5 billion in sales driven by superior quality, innovation, and customer service. It serves more than 125,000 restaurants and stores around the globe from more than 50 locations across five continents.
When he joined GSF as corporate controller in 2013, Brad Tingey, now Corporate Vice President of Finance, faced the daunting task of onboarding several recent acquisitions. Those entities, two of which were from outside the U.S., strained GSF’s spreadsheet-driven financial processes.
“We were really struggling with our old way of doing things, which was very manual and very time-intensive,” Brad said. “If you wanted to figure out how much the (foreign exchange) rate in various currencies impacted the results overall, or look at the company in a constant currency…you’d need to manually build the model in Excel.”
Compounding the issues for GSF were the different and disconnected ERP systems in use by the newly acquired entities. Constant updates to spreadsheet formulas and manual reconciliations added even more complexity and manual effort to GSF’s financial processes. Each month-end close required up to 12 hours of overtime for the finance team, and any requests for ad hoc reports could derail someone for half a day. The company needed a change.
Brad set his priorities for bringing in modern technology to initiate finance transformation. One of his top requirements: finance had to own it.
“We wanted this to be a finance-driven solution,” said Brad. “We wanted to be in control of our destiny.”
So GSF selected Planful to consolidate and automate core reports, instantly eliminating the overtime from every monthly close and cutting two additional days of manual work previously required for final reporting. Beyond time savings, Planful also gave GSF executives more visibility into how their decisions impacted performance and profitability.
Learn more about this first phase of GSF’s transformation of finance in this case study.
Accelerating its monthly financial close process provided substantial time savings for GSF. But it quickly revealed further friction and dependence on slow, manual efforts across its financial planning processes.
“We relied on Excel to build and analyze budgets as well as conduct our quarterly re-forecasting,” said Lauren Bissell, FP&A Continuous Improvement Manager at GSF. “The re-forecasting process in spreadsheets was long, and consistency was difficult. With constant changes in the business, it was just too time consuming to maintain and scale.”
In such a fast-moving business environment, any change required too much manual time to update spreadsheets and adjust models. That limited visibility into the business and slowed decisions.
As its operational planning process struggled to maintain pace, GSF needed a way to accelerate those processes and better integrate and collaborate with the business. Since it easily moved consolidations from spreadsheets to Planful, GSF saw an opportunity to do the same with planning. Working with Planful partner KeenVision, GSF quickly standardized their financial processes across the business, created a single source of financial truth, and moved more of it’s financial processes onto a modern, cloud-based FP&A platform.
Moving to Planful helped GSF cut its time for creating quarterly business reviews in half, gave decision makers self-service access to financial insights, and both reduced stress on, and increased the confidence of Finance and Accounting. With Planful, GSF now has an end-to-end FP&A solution that’s flexible, powerful, and enables it to be more nimble overall.
“Planful helps us save time and increase transparency, and that enhances our value and strengthens our relationship with our global business leaders,” concluded Lauren.
Learn more about this second phase of GSF’s financial transformation in this case study.