Commercial Forecasting and Reporting Transformation at Quorn
Increasing reporting efficiency by 75% and driving planning agility
With the production of a bottom-up P&L taking four to five weeks and the sales team spending more time forecasting than selling, meat substitute manufacturer Quorn Foods set out to find an alternative solution. Using the Board decision-making platform, Quorn has created a more efficient, agile planning and forecasting process that is used to manage the commercial side of the business. Month-end reporting can now be completed and analyzed 75% faster, and decisions around promotions, distribution, and investments have been improved thanks to insights gained from detailed scenario planning.
- Industry: Food & Beverage
- Department: Finance, Sales
Quorn Foods is an ambitious, fast-growing CPG company which, through its market-leading Quorn and Cauldron brands, focuses on bringing people delicious meat substitutes that are good for both them and the planet. Quorn designs, manufactures, and sells its healthy protein products worldwide and has an annual sales turnover of around £220 million. The ethical, health, and environmental benefits of Quorn put corporate social responsibility at the heart of everything it does.
The Challenge: Manually intensive, spreadsheet-based forecasting
Faced with time-consuming sales and financial forecasting processes that relied upon a huge number of spreadsheets and manual input, Quorn embarked on a project to find a better solution. Richard Garner, UK Sales Director at Quorn, explains:
"The tension of missing forecasts drove it [the project], but the time it was taking to produce a forecast also drove the decision. I think on average it took us four to five weeks to produce a proper bottom-up P&L, looking out to the end of that year. We spent more time forecasting than selling as a team."
Quorn took the decision in 2012 to implement the Board decision-making platform, which unifies Business Intelligence, Planning, and Predictive Analytics, to overcome these planning issues and hasn't looked back since.
"The Board platform is now integrated into everything that we do in running the commercial side of the business," says Martin Lofnes, CFO at Quorn Foods. "The sales team uses it to put in place a promotional plan and check whether it is going to work before it even comes anywhere near Finance. They rely on it to get information about their customer performance, both to feed back to customers and to make decisions internally about the business. From a financial point of view, it’s the one version of the truth – it's where we go to make sure our financial information is accurate. So Board is at the heart, commercially, of how we plan and report at the business now.”
The Benefits: Increased accuracy, agility, and insight
Quorn now has a much more agile, efficient planning and forecasting process with Board as well as a single version of truth for business information, meaning decisions can be made with confidence. Benefits have been realized across multiple departments and members of the Quorn team describe their experiences below:
"I find that the Board application is very easy to use, it’s Windows-based with drag and drop facilities for setting up reports and screens." Zoe Franks, International Commercial Accountant
"We’ve got to the point now where we can probably complete our month-end reporting process and understand performance within about two or three days, whereas previously it took probably eight. Even then we were never sure we really got to the right answer, so it’s made a big difference." Jim Darton, Head of Commercial Finance
"When Richard and I sit down to review a promotional plan every month the sales team already knows what the returns are going to be, so they stop recommending promotions that aren’t going to work. They don’t have to rely on Finance to get that, so it’s freed up my team to do better analysis and to do more. All in all, sales forecasting is so integral all the way down the chain and it leads to improvements in business performance." Martin Lofnes, CFO.
"Probably the biggest benefit for us is that Board helps us plan better with our customers. Every year we go through joint business plan negotiations and several times a year those plans can be tweaked and renegotiated between us and our customers. What’s really useful about this system is that we can produce scenario models, so we can make changes to promotions, distribution, or investment and see a live view of what profit number that throws out at the end. On a personal basis, it’s allowed me to make better, more informed decisions and has given me more time to try and add a more commercial spin to the new product development process." Richard Garner, UK Sales Director
The Partner: Simpson Associates
The Board project was implemented at Quorn by partner Simpson Associates, and Martin shares his views on the collaboration:
"I think the Quorn and the Simpsons team worked very well together. They gave us good advice all the way through, they saw the project through to the end, and to be honest they stuck to the original cost, which we were delighted with. So, very happy with Simpsons as an implementation partner."
"We benefited from the project management skills that Simpson Associates brought to the project itself. They certainly helped keep us on the straight and narrow," added Richard.
00:00:15My name is Richard Garner and I am the UK Sales Director.
00:00:25Why did you implement Board? The tension of missing forecasts drove it, but also it was the time that was taken to produce a forecast that drove the decision. I think on average it took us probably four to five weeks to produce a proper bottom-up P&L, looking out to the end of that year. We spent more time forecasting than selling, as a team, would be my headline.
00:00:49Has the Board application made a difference? I'm Martin Lofnes, I am the CFO of Quorn Foods. That means that I'm responsible for business partnering and organization with commercial and supply chain. The Board system is now integrated in everything that we do and run in the commercial side of the business. The sales team use it to put in a promotional plan. And indeed, they use it to check whether the promotional plan is going to work before it even comes anywhere near finance. We rely on it for information about the customer performance, both to feedback the customers but also internally to make decisions about the business. And from a financial point of view, it's one version of the truth. It is where we go to to make sure that our financial information is accurate. So, Board is at our heart, commercially, of how we plan and report the business now.
00:01:46I am Zoe Franks, my current Role is International Commercial Accountant at Quorn Foods. I was the project manager for the Board implementation project. I find that the Board application is very easy to use. It is Windows based with drag-and-drop facilities for setting up reports and screens.
00:02:08Jim Darton, I am Head of Commercial Finance at Quorn Foods. We have got to the point now we can probably complete our month-end reporting process and understand performance within about two or three days, which previously took probably eight - and then we're never sure we really got to the right answer.
00:02:33How has the system benefited Quorn? It has made a big difference. Richard and I sit down to review the promotional plan every month. The sales team already know what their returns are going to be, so they stopped recommending promotions that are not going to work. They don't have to rely on finance to get that, so it's freed up my team to do better analysis and to do more. Probably the biggest benefit for us is it helps us business plan better with our customers. So, every year we go through a joint business plan negotiation. Several times a year, those plans can be tweaked and renegotiated between us and our customers. What is really useful about this system, we can scenario model in the system - so we can make changes to promotions, we can make changes to distributions, we can input changes to investment, and that gives us a live view of what profit number that throws out at the end. All-in-all, it seems forecasting is so integral all the way down the chain, it leads to improvements in business performance.
00:03:44Has the project made a difference to you? On a personal basis, it's allowed me to make better informed decisions. What this has allowed me to do is it has given me more time to try and add a more commercial spin to the new product development process. If I go back in time, I was probably lucky to make one screen meeting a quarter. I go to every screen meeting every month now. The implementation the Board operation brought us helps me sleep at night. I no longer have to worry about producing a forecast and issues around disconnect between volume and spend. We understand the performance drivers. Yes, it has made a big difference.
00:04:31How did you find working with Simpson Associates? I think the Quorn and the Simpson [Associates] team work very well together. They give us good advice all the way through. They saw the project through to the end and, to be honest, they stuck to the original cost - which we were delighted with. So, very happy with Simpsons as an implementation partner.
00:04:45We benefited from project management skills that Simpson Associates brought to the project itself. That certainly helped keep us on the straight and narrow as well. We haven't let it stand still. We are continually challenging to find better use for the data that we get out of the system.
00:05:19Would you recommend Board? Teams are moving from massive-link spreadsheets to a properly integrated tool. Absolutely, go for it!