Planar Turns to Planful to Grow, Transform a Global Operation

Case Study

You may not know Planar Systems, but odds are you’ve seen their products. From gas station displays to world-class displays that NASA uses to track everything from orbital launches to debris that’s flying through the air, Planar’s screens are a part of everyday life for millions.

“You may have never heard of us but I guarantee you’ve seen our stuff,” said Shane Riddle, Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis.

Riddle joined Planar in December 2010, shortly after the company adopted Planful and while it was still an independent publicly traded entity. China’s Leyard Optoelectronic Co. acquired Planar for $156.8 million in November 2015. Having Planful as Planar’s Continuous Planning platform made it easier to track performance and automate reporting while supporting management’s global ambitions.

Challenges

In a way, handling the added complexity of new geographies and a new reporting structure isn’t new at all. Planar was a multi-geography, multi-currency operation before Leyard came along. Planful brought efficiency and eliminated errors. But before 2010, Excel was all there was, and it didn’t work well.

“We were consolidating books from three different companies with different charts of accounts … we also had four main business units for which we had to provide P&L reports,” Riddle said. Planar’s finance team also had to factor in U.S. dollars, Euros and other currencies when computing results.

“Before Planful, if you wanted to look at regions, you’d be looking at one set of spreadsheets and if you wanted to look at functional divisions and products and examine product-level sales, you’d be looking at an entirely different set of spreadsheets. Any meaningful analysis could take days,” Riddle said. Today, his managers get ad hoc reports on demand and profit and loss statements, balance sheets, KPI summaries, spending summaries, and a complete forecast vs. actuals every month.

Solution

With the Planful platform, Riddle and the rest of the Planar finance team are able to track a constantly shifting variety of variables across different geographies as well as functional areas, a huge leap forward from the days when the team was stuck with Excel.

“I can’t imagine trying to do this without Planful,” Riddle said. “I’d need at least two more people on my team.”

Results

Since the Leyard acquisition, Planar has assumed planning and reporting duties for a large portion of its Chinese parent.

“With Planful, [the top executives] very quickly recognized that we were far ahead of them in terms of process and control and systems … We provide the only consolidated management view of the International business group,” Riddle said. Other benefits include:

• Efficient growth. Being able to keep tabs on a wide range of key metrics has allowed executives to make fine-grained decisions and preserve consistent profits despite the flurry of acquisition-fueled changes in the underlying business.

“We’ve doubled revenue from roughly $175M to $350M and held overhead flat. We haven’t eliminated expense, but have become increasingly more efficient,” Riddle said.

• A single source of truth. With too many companies and currencies operating under the Planar and Leyard banners, Riddle says he and his team needed Planful to provide “one source” of the truth about the business and the underlying drivers of revenue and profit.

“If we became a $2 billion company tomorrow, would it be the same? In some ways, no, but Planful has never failed to scale up when we needed it to.”

We have very aggressive growth goals. We’re doubling revenues and profits year over year over year. Planful is allowing us to grow, invest, and perform at the level we need, which is why we renewed our contract — again.
Shane Riddle Planar Systems Manager of Financial Reporting and Analytics
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