Increasing accuracy and delivering a 75% reduction in forecasting cycle time

Optimized Budgeting and Planning Processes at Harry & David

We're able to complete a forecast cycle a lot more quickly than we were able to before. It used to be that a bottom-up forecast would take us a full week to complete and we're really able to do it now in just a couple of days.

Adam August
Vice President, Finance

00:00:07Harry & David is a specialty foods retailer, vertically integrated. We started as a mail order catalog company, in 1934, selling as our signature gift the Royal Riviera pear - a variety of a Comice Pear - and then it is just growing over the years and evolved from being a mail order company to largely an eCommerce company now. We also have a retail presence now, some retail stores. We grow the pears, we make a lot of the products that we sell: Moose Munch, cheesecakes, bakery products. We do all of the packing and fulfillment, marketing, merchandising.

00:00:44How has the Board application benefited Harry & David? The Board application has changed our processes by just really making us more flexible, more dynamic. We are more quickly able to answer questions that arise without having to invest a lot of time in building a new report. We can really sort of drag and drop and drill down on an existing report and understand the drivers of our business and what's going on. We're able to complete a forecast cycle a lot more quickly than we were able to before. It used to be that a bottom-up forecast would take us a full week to complete and we're really able to do it now in just a couple of days.

00:01:21What are the specific cases that you use Board for? I think we've done a good job of getting all of our GL data in and use it for our month end, for variances, for reforecasts. But more and more, we're trying to pull in some of the business drivers and the underlying data behind the financials, and roll that into the system so that we can use it more on a driver-based planning. We get package volumes in, so we can look it costs for unit and manufacturing volumes, and headcount. We recently rolled out a headcount planning model so it is linked into our payroll system and we can actually, down at the individual headcount level, plan vacancy rates and merit increases and things like that.

00:02:03How did the implementation process go for users? The implementation process for users is pretty straightforward. There was a week long session where Board sent out a training partner and walked us through it at a pretty granular level of detail. How to set up the databases and how the data relationships work, and so forth. And then after that, it largely became hands-on learning. Especially for the core day-to-day user that isn't actually maintaining the databases or the data relationship. They are really just using the data and trying to build models. It doesn't require a lot of technical expertise. You just kind of are able to, if you're able to use Excel or any other software tool, you're pretty much able to just sort of figure it out. So I think more and more people really dove in and tried to use the tool to improve their processes.They would get pretty excited about it and realized like, "Wow! Look what I can do."

00:02:57How pervasive is Board in your company? We have pretty much everybody within our finance division using it, especially everybody in the FP&A teams, which is about 12 people and then across the rest of the finance division there is probably 30. We are additionally rolling the tool out a little bit more cross functionally today, implementing an S&OP for our wholesale division, so the sales team will end up using it, the inventory team, and some folks in marketing will also be using the tool to understand just the customer-level data, and order curves, and response rates, and things like that.

00:03:38Would you recommend Board to another company? I would recommend Board, definitely, from our experience, especially the customer service has been very responsive. They are there when we need them. If we have a question, it's pretty quick to hop on a Skype call and walk us through, or even log in and help us literally walk through how to accomplish something that we're trying to do. A couple of projects that we have underway right now, we are actually using the consulting services that Board offers too.