Founded in 1947, Golden State Foods is a multinational foodservice supplier to the quick service restaurant and retail industries generating over $5 billion in annual sales. Chunks of that growth have come from international acquisitions made in recent years to expand GSF’s footprint, which includes 7,000 associates serving over 125,000 restaurants from 50 locations on five continents.
Corporate Controller Brad Tingey and his team are responsible for consolidating, reporting and analyzing the moving parts that contribute to revenue, profit and cash flow, yet Excel was the only tool he had when starting at the company in fall 2013.
“When I started at GSF, we had just completed four acquisitions in the previous 12 months, two of them international, and we were really struggling with our old way of doing things, which was very manual and very time-intensive,” Tingey said. That old Excel-based model required manual updates to formulas and joint-venture ownership percentages with every acquisition, with results reconciled manually.
More broadly, Excel wasn’t well suited for growth plans at the Irvine, Calif.-based company. Tingey seized on the opportunity to outline a set of requirements for an FP&A platform. Chief among his concerns: the close process could take 8 to 12 hours of overtime in each four-week period, or up to 156 hours a year. The team couldn’t easily account for significant changes in the business using Excel, and lacked a framework for consistent reporting across the enterprise.
“For example, if you wanted to figure out how much the FX rate in a various currency impacted the results overall, or look at the company in a constant currency, we could perform the analysis but you’d need to manually build the model in Excel,” Tingey said.
Trouble was, the model kept changing with business growth and new demands from management. Every change would take “at least half a day” to implement properly, making it difficult for Tingey’s team to keep up. GSF identified Planful as an ideal solution after an evaluation.
With Excel out of the picture, Tingey’s team uses Planful to consolidate and automate core reports that had been built by hand — from the P&L to other standard financials. GSF has eliminated the 8 to 12 hours of overtime previously needed every four-week close, as well as two days of work in final reporting. Beyond time savings, Planful is helping executives identify which levers to pull to maximize performance and profitability.
“Our international leadership needs to see everything across the globe for groups they’re responsible for, as they’re reported in either local currency or a constant USD basis. With Planful, we can see it from one perspective and follow up where needed and not have to sift through seven and eight different reports from division controllers,” Tingey said.
With Planful, GSF has expanded reporting to include operational data from its logistics line of business, improving data accuracy and insights. GSF logistics has also moved from Excel to Planful for budgeting, gaining new transparency and consistency; other business units will follow in the next year. Other benefits include:
• One source of the truth. As the reporting system of record, Planful provides intelligence to managers in every area of the business.
“Everything is standardized now,” Tingey said. “We have one way of looking at things across all of our subsidiaries now, which we didn’t have before.” That’s prompting new requests to dig deeper on different elements of the business across the world, yielding new insights.
• Ongoing flexibility. Planful is evolving along with GSF. As Tingey puts it, acquisitions and other balance sheet changes are accounted for with a few tweaks of existing templates.
“We’ve added new companies and purchased minority interests while also selling an equity-method investment,” he said. “Planful has flexed to match as these transactions change the structure of our organization.”