Planful

Dyno Nobel Turns Data into Intelligence with Planful

Only a handful of companies that persist today can trace their roots to famous 19th century inventors. And while you probably know all about AT&T and General Electric, Dyno Nobel is nearly as influential. Dyno Nobel was founded in 1865 in Norway to market the dynamite explosives created by Alfred Nobel. Australia’s Incitec Pivot bought the company in 2008. Having a corporate parent increased pressure to track and manage budgets and financial performance, yet Excel wasn’t up to the challenge.

The Controller Group, led by then Assistant Controller Brian Currie, responded by bringing in Planful after a competitive review that included many of the other top providers in this space.

“We went through all the Gartner Magic Quadrants. We had multiple on site demos. We contacted multiple customers. It was a very detailed, thorough process,” Currie said.

Consolidating Finance
Scenario Planning
Streamlined Decisions

Challenges:

Before Planful, Currie and his team would spend 5-6 months of every year building a comprehensive budget in Excel. Much of that was spent accounting for the details, including the 5,000 to 8,000 SKUs of products Dyno Nobel sells to roughly 2,000 global customers.

To further increase complexity, each region was responsible for supplying its own budget to be rolled up into a consolidated plan.

“Trying to track everything and keep the data integrity in Excel ultimately did not work,” Currie said. “We lost a lot of time trying and gained a lot of stress and gray hair in the process.”

Currie said he would compensate for Excel’s shortcomings by making one-off adjustments or by adding overlays to normalize the data before presenting it to management. But even that got confusing.

At the same time, management and department heads were not as invested in the budget and numbers as they were being reported. Manufacturing teams, too, were frustrated by the tuning since every tweak in the demand forecast would influence production volumes. Currie turned to Planful and CFO Solutions to help restore faith.

Solution:

Consulting partner CFO Solutions implemented Dyno Nobel’s complex requirements for capturing both the finance and sales data pulled from Dyno Nobel’s SAP system. Unifying this data into a single source of truth in Planful allows for faster access to the data, which ultimately improves analysis and reporting.

“We think having [Planful] will really drive true changes in how we manage the business,” Currie said. “Our bet is that we can reduce that overall budget cycle from what had been five months with Excel down to two months or even less.”

"Flexibility is a key advantage of Planful. You can adjust assumptions and the forecast updates automatically. You can change scenarios without corrupting data. Adding more advanced reporting will allow us to track the business in ways we hadn’t thought of before."

Brian Currie, Finance Manager

Results:

Consolidation is already having an impact.

“Before, we’d have managers submit changes to be approved in Salt Lake [headquarters] and then reconciling to a new budget and forecast. All of that has been stripped out.”

Other benefits include:

• Scenario planning. Currie says that managers have come to rely on Planful to understand the consequences of actions before they take them.

“For example, if we know that there’s a planned price increase or price concession provided to a large customer, we can account for that in our forecast,” he said. “We can also test for the impact of cost cutting initiatives, gauge the impact on revenue by adding a certain type of customer, and a lot more. And we can save every scenario to compare outcomes.”

• Streamlined decision making. With Planful, budget managers have direct access to input their numbers and make changes. There’s no confusion over who owns what, and that increases accountability.

Said Currie: “With Planful, budget owners can go in and literally sign off on every estimate and subsequent changes.” Management’s confidence in the numbers is up as a result and departments are more accountable to their targets.

Looking ahead, Dyno Nobel plans to use modeling to perform what Currie calls “driver-based forecasting” in which external forces such as commodity prices are taken into consideration when forecasting revenue and margins.

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