Streamlining Sales and Promotion Planning at GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy
Forecasting sales, managing promotions, and optimizing investments with a single Intelligent Planning Platform
GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy wanted to evolve its Customer Business Plan (CBP) with a unified solution capable of managing and controlling both forecasts and actual data relating to volumes, revenues, promotions and trade spending. Using the Board platform, the company has gained a CBP solution as a strategic tool utilized by the Field and Headquarters to create, manage, and display customer business plans in the form of complete annual budgets. Thanks to a multiple-planning model and its advanced features, Board is used by GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy in a way that cuts across all their channels as well as the various process stakeholders within the organization.
- Industry: Pharmaceutical & Healthcare
- Department: Marketing, Sales
- Global Revenue: £9 billion
- Countries: 160+
- Employees (Italy): 500
GSK is an international research-based pharmaceutical company with a truly special mission: to help people live longer, healthier, more active lives. The company consists of three main global business divisions dedicated to researching, developing, and manufacturing drugs, vaccines, and innovative healthcare products respectively.
Listed on the London and New York stock exchanges, GSK has operations in Italy where it makes a substantial contribution to generating value both locally and for the fabric of the national economy.
In the pharmaceutical sector, the group has an extensive portfolio consisting of innovative drugs and major classic brands, with revenues of £17.6 billion. In the vaccines sector, GSK has an extensive portfolio and an innovative pipeline aimed at protecting people of all ages, across more than 160 countries, and generates revenues of over £7.2 billion.
The new GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy, formed in 2019 by the merger of GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy and Pfizer Consumer Health, is dedicated to the development and commercialization of wellness products and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. On the strength of a portfolio of iconic brands, such as Multicentrum, Polase, Sensodyne, Voltaren, and Polident, it generates revenues of over £9 billion.
GSK Consumer Healthcare in Italy has its headquarters in Milan and a production facility in Aprilia (in the province of Latina), and is:
- No. 1 in Italy’s over-the-counter drugs and Consumer Healthcare market
- No. 1 in Italy’s Oral Care market
- No. 1 in Italy’s food supplements market.
The Aprilia plant is one of the group’s flagship sites because it is one of GSK's biggest production facilities worldwide, producing OTC drugs, food supplements, and probiotics. The plant operates with a workforce of over 400 staff, a production capacity of over 100 million packs per year, and more than 400 SKUs. 90% of the Aprilia plant’s production is for the EMEA Region.
“At GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy, we are committed to building a company based on five key qualities:” explains Vincenzo de Renzis – Sales & Business Development Manager, GSK Customer Healthcare Italy – “a growth mindset, aimed at developing ever more value, both for the business and for people; an agile approach, that can adapt quickly to customers’ requirements; a close focus on execution, in line with the group’s strategy; and a digital heart, based on the opportunities offered by data analytics and digitized information assets to underpin effective decision-making. But the pivotal point around which all this revolve is the customer, consumer, or patient.”
Harnessing the trends of digital transformation in one, user-friendly environment
To achieve its mission and to stamp these five key qualities on its business processes, GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy wanted to evolve its Customer Business Plan (CBP) with a unified solution capable of managing and controlling both forecasts and actual data relating to volumes, revenues, promotions and trade spending. The aim was for the CBP solution to be a strategic tool utilized by the Field Force and Headquarters to create, manage, and display customer business plans in the form of complete annual budgets.
“GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy already had a CBP solution, but – before the advent of Board – this was based on a whole range of disparate spreadsheets,” recalls Vincenzo de Renzis. In fact, the CBP process used various Excel worksheets for each phase, from the management and control of information on product volume & values, to product expo/displays phase, and the new product listing phase.
de Renzis continues, “There were just too many exchanges of Excel worksheets going on between process stakeholders – consultants, account managers, and colleagues at headquarters – and this took up a huge amount of time every month, carried a high risk of error due to the manual consolidation and alignment of data, and resulted in insufficient transparency and information-sharing between the parties concerned.”
GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy’s management had set itself the goal of simplifying the CPB, in order to free up more time for value-added activities, by cutting time spent on creating macros and dealing with tools and Excel files. To this end, the project managers benchmarked their “Excel-based” CBP against the opportunities the world of technology and innovation was offering businesses:
“We realized that, with the “old” CBP, we were unable to follow key trends that were accelerating digitalization and bringing innovation to every modern sector of industry. I’m talking about four aspects in particular: Big Data, which makes it possible to understand and predict the behavior of customers and competitors more quickly; technological capabilities, which open up highly advanced analysis options; the simplicity of applications, which are becoming ever easier and more intuitive to configure and manage; and the security of the IT infrastructure and architecture, which is both more robust and less costly,” explains de Renzis.
GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy also considered Gartner’s FP&A Magic Quadrant with a view to identifying the solutions best matching their financial planning and analysis needs. Before long, they were increasingly leaning towards Board, requiring a platform that was both robust and flexible on which they could easily replicate the logic of the CBP while enjoying all the benefits of the latest technologies. In order to achieve full control of performance alongside the FP&A solution, the software selection managers evaluated other vendors in Gartner’s BI Magic Quadrant:
“This was when we noticed that the only vendor that had the same platform in both the FP&A quadrant and the Business Intelligence quadrant was Board! Following a series of local and international assessments, involving various business functions and with the support of our partner SDG Consulting, we therefore opted for Board,” explains de Renzis.
Integrated Sales Planning & Analysis
“You can think of the Customer Business Plan in Board as an interactive “container” of processes that takes the form of integrated sales plan & analysis. Starting from three basic processes, i.e. defining the baseline of volumes and pricing, the part dedicated to promotions and expo/displays, and the part on new products, Board creates a profit & loss account by customer and product,” explains de Renzis.
Initially, the planning cycle is fed by a startup determined by the site (Commercial Excellence) and the input of key account managers, who each enter their own plans. The next stage involves an exchange of information with an external trade promotion management application – which provides Board with the actual data of the promos – and with the group’s enterprise report planning.
“Board also potentially communicates with the customer sell-out applications, and with any other type of information source relevant to our sales planning process,” adds de Renzis. “Thanks to a multiple-planning model and its advanced features, Board is used by GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy in way that cuts across all our channels as well as the various process stakeholders within the organization.”
GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy competes on the market through two main channels: the mass market, i.e. major retail chains, including OTC pharmacies in shopping centers (Wellness & Corners); and the dispensing pharmacy channel. The company is gradually developing integrated planning for both of the main channels, including all the channels that the pharmacy sector is divided into, from pharma chains to independent pharmacies; wholesalers to cooperatives; and all the remaining channels, such as online players and hospital pharmacies.
“For us, each channel or sub-channel is a self-contained planning model that we manage and monitor on Board, thanks in part to the platform’s flexibility. But at the same time, we manage to keep all these models so as to standardize our processes on the basis of a single point of truth, by conveying the information into a single database that we then use to conduct analyses and make decisions and forecasts,” explains de Renzis.
The Board solution takes a fully-fledged Integrated Business Planning (IBP) approach, which, as de Renzis points out, has the following main benefits for GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy:
- IBP becomes the driver of business decisions
- The process is collaborative and increases information transparency
- Planning is more effective and there are fewer unforeseen issues
- The sales forecast calendar is aligned with the business planning calendar
- Forecasts of all channels are unified into a single planning process, on a single platform.
On this point, de Renzis notes:
“Thanks to Board’s customer-based planning with IBP approach, the interaction between the functions has undoubtedly improved, thanks in part to the greater visibility of information, which is available to each profiled user at all times, according to their role. In the past we had to draw upon different sources and then deal with the difficult task of trying to knit the various sales forecasts together. But now, with Board, we have taken out the complexity: all the channels are unified into a single tool, and the alignment of sales forecast scheduling with the business planning calendars has enabled us to streamline the deadlines for all the stakeholders in the sales process. All this has increased the percentage of business targets that we are achieving
If we take a closer look at the CBP process implemented with Board at GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy, we can think of it as being divided into four key steps:
The first step involves defining the initial parameters, i.e.: customer hierarchy, product pricing, input of contracts and setting sales targets.
The second step is dedicated to product volumes, including the input of new ones: “Our company is committed to releasing new products onto the market on an ongoing basis, so it is essential for us to have a CBP tool that enables us to manage the volumes of products that have been launched in the reference year,” explains de Renzis.
In the third step, the volumes are valued, taking account of promotions and investments. The last step is reporting, which includes analyses and reports on customer revenues and profit & loss for the entire year, promotions, spending control, including an analysis of Return on Investment (ROI), and assessments and comparisons of various business scenarios, including comparison of the forecasts submitted by sales key account managers during the year.
Sales key account managers directly determine the volumes and promotions, the data for which can also be consulted by stakeholders in demand planning and supply chain, as well as by the finance team.
The reporting part has been made accessible to everyone: the CBP application in Board was designed according to a “segregation of duties” approach, where every business function can view all of the information but they can only modify it if their user profile allows them to.
“One of the most significant and useful reports we have created with Board is the Promo Intensity Index & Distribution report,” continues de Renzis. “By inputting the key sales account managers’ promotional plans, we can represent the impact that promotions have, or will have, on sell-out in terms of promotional intensity. This means we identify the weighted points of groups of customers planning to launch certain promotions in specific periods and – by comparing this representation with the one for the previous year – we collaborate with the marketing area to work out where to focus the effort of campaigns, external communication and advertising.”
In summing up the benefits that Board has brought to GSK Consumer Healthcare Italy, Vincenzo de Renzis was keen to emphasize the fact that the Intelligent Planning Platform, “Combines two features that are rarely found together in the same tool: power and flexibility. Board can be adapted to both current and potential needs and is scalable according to the new product portfolio and new business logic. And at the same time, Board is a stable, reliable, high-performance platform.”