Integrated Business Planning and Reporting at Brenntag
Replacing legacy systems to increase efficiency and deliver greater transparency of performance
With its legacy financial consolidation and reporting system no longer being supported due to reaching end-of-life, chemical distributor Brenntag embarked on an ambitious project to find a replacement that was sustainable, future-proof, and matched the company's vision for the business moving forward. Brenntag chose the Board decision-making platform, which has replaced four disparate consolidation systems to deliver all data and KPIs in a single solution, leading to huge time efficiencies and greater transparency of information.
- Industry: Chemicals, Distribution & Wholesales
- Department: Finance
- Revenue: €12.8 billion
- Employees: 17,500
- Countries: 77
00:00:10I'm Kathryn Frosdick, Group Accountant here at Brenntag and I was project manager on the Board implementation.
00:00:25Why did you commission the project? We have never had a budgeting and planning tool at all, we have always used Excel, and it is just a huge, huge process to go through.
00:00:34My name is Martin Gratton and I am the Group Finance Director for Brenntag UK and Ireland, and also for the Multisol Groups. We really needed something to take us to another level. We did not just want to get to where we were, we wanted to buy a product that was capable of giving us more than we have at the moment and also making us future proof.
00:01:01We have got a very bespoke way of reporting. A lot of other systems that we looked at were already very tailored, whereas Board - one of the reasons why we went with it - we could do whatever we wanted. When I first saw Board, I was very aware of how visual it was. Board looked like it was very easy to use, the graphs look good, the figures that were coming out actually looked good, which is very different to what we were used to.
00:01:24 Why did you choose Simpson Associates? I am Ian Meek, Head of Finance and I look after finance! We chose to work with Simpson Associates simply because they installed Cognos with us, produced a very good system that went on time and on budget, and by being very robust and flexible - two things were looking for - they provided good support over the past decade. They have never let us down, they have some very good people there and I think without that quality of person it would have been very difficult.
00:01:59How has the project benefited Brenntag? I am Dan Welbourn, Group Accountant for Brenntag UK. The Board project has given us massive time savings. Previously, we had four different consolidation systems that Board has allowed us to consolidate into one package, which has meant that there is no time delay of waiting for one bit to be completed before you can copy it to the next. Everything is there at the same time and you can start work on things simultaneously.
00:02:32The implementation we have done so far has certainly been successful in taking a clear full day out of our quarterly reporting. Where we have benefited most from Board, and the drill through, is from our two different reporting structures.In our old system, they were completely separate. You did not know where if one number was in one set of accounts, you did not know where it sat in the other one. With Board, we can look at either P&L and we can drill straight through to where it is on the other one. Specifically, where that has benefited is probably in our transportation reporting. We are very focused at the moment, being a distribution business, on transportation costs, so we can now drill into our transport costs and see exactly where they are.
00:03:21How have you found adopting the new system? I have seen the confidence grow, in the relevant people, to the extent that they will go off and design, spec, write, and demonstrate their own little subsection. For example, the top-down, high-level forecast that we do four months into each year, Kathryn has pretty much done that from scratch herself and presented it to the team who are more than delighted with it.
00:03:46Would you recommend Board to other businesses? We obviously had a look at several types of software provider when we started but I think that what we have delivered so far, and what we can see on the horizon, we are happy that we have made the right choice. The reasons that we have set out on this journey also embrace a lot of the changes that they were living with for a very long time. So I do think that, particularly now, we are in a very positive part of the project. Everything we do now enhances what they are getting out of it. Obviously, when you start, you are putting a lot of effort in to get somewhere back to where you started. I think we have gone past that now where we are very much in, what I would call, the glory phase of the project.