Unified Consolidation, Analysis, and Reporting at ImagineX
Automating financial processes and digitally transforming access to information at Asia’s premier fashion retail group
The finance team at premier fashion retail, brand management, and distribution group ImagineX faced several challenges related to manual financial reporting and consolidation processes. The company chose the Board Intelligent Planning platform to drive digital transformation of these activities, replacing a plethora of spreadsheets with a single point of truth. ImagineX now benefits from complete transparency of performance, self-service access to sales and operational data on-demand, easy KPI monitoring through interactive dashboards, and the flexibility to expand the platform with ongoing transformation initiatives.
- Industry: Fashion & Luxury
- Department: Finance
- Founded: 1992
- Points of Sale: 259
- Brands Managed: 16
ImagineX is part of The Lane Crawford Joyce Group, a retail group that has been operating in Hong Kong for over 170 years. Having established a strong history in Asia, it is now the premier fashion retail, brand management, and distribution group across the China and South East Asia.
The group operates as a holding company, while the company itself, through its subsidiaries, provides diverse and customized services for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands such as Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Aveda, Augustinus Bader, and more throughout Asia.
The Challenge: Overcoming manual financial reporting processes
Finance teams at ImagineX were spending large amounts of time compiling reports from disparate systems into outdated platforms. Financial reports were all in Excel format, requiring the accounting team to transfer data across spreadsheets, while Point of Sale (POS) data, from the sales team, existed in PDFs – necessitating further time-consuming data entry into spreadsheet-based reports.
Heading up the digital transformation project to overcome these challenges, Gordon Chan – Senior Finance Manager, FP&A – discusses this point:
“Our existing financial reporting and consolidation process was very manual and cumbersome. All financial reports were in Excel format. Accounting teams spent countless hours compiling reports from one Excel to another. POS information was always static in PDF format and user-unfriendly. We had to pull data from two different systems, [Accounting and POS systems] which had no direct link, and consolidate it all in Excel manually. This resulted in time-consuming and inconsistent results.”
Desiring a more efficient financial reporting and consolidation process to overcome these challenges, ImagineX sought a solution that could:
- integrate data from sales and accounting teams into one consolidated financial report
- enhance management P&L reporting and consolidation, including:
- eliminations and brand/group adjustments
- sales & operational reporting and dashboards
- sales, operational, and financial planning processes (such as forecasting and budgeting)
- approval/rejection workflow processes
- map the process linking sales and accounting teams’ data
After considering several vendors, including IBM, FlexSystem (already the existing accounting system at ImagineX), and several local Hong Kong-based businesses, the Board decision-making platform was selected as the solution to deliver on the above. Combining Business Intelligence, planning, and predictive analytics in a single interface, Board would provide a single point of truth for ImagineX’s finance activities in a flexible platform that could adapt with the business.
Talking about why Board was selected over other vendors, Gordon states:
“The following factors tilted us in favor of Board:
- an integrated, all-in-one solution for our decision-making needs
- flexibility and ease of use
- a proven track record and experience in the retail space, especially fashion and luxury retail
the Board team gave us the confidence during the pre-sales and sales engagements that they will cater to our business requirements.”
The flexibility offered by Board was a particular advantage during the selection process. ImagineX were looking to start with a smaller idea and add new functionality and capability over time. This was something that other major providers were not able to do, instead adopting an “all or nothing” approach, as Gordon astutely puts it. With Board, as was desired from the very beginning, ImagineX could put a phase-by-phase development plan in place, scaling up as needed.
The Solution: A flexible, all-in-one platform to enhance decision-making across a fast-paced industry
In choosing Board, ImagineX has gained impactful, wide-scale benefits across its management reporting, dashboarding, financial consolidation, and planning processes, which have now been unified in a single, user-friendly platform.
Taking full advantage of the Board team’s expertise in retail, particularly, in this case, across fashion and luxury retail, the Board platform was swiftly implemented. ImagineX Group was able “to quickly see the small steps of success,” as Gordon highlights. He continues:
“The flexibility and ease of use was critical to a fast-paced business like ours and that was most appealing, apart from being able to do both reporting and planning in the same solution. But most importantly, it is also critical that the solution can be deployed and implemented properly - the Board team gave us that confidence. They can deliver a solution and not just provide a product or tool.”
As a result of the Board implementation, ImagineX’s technology landscape has evolved significantly. In its legacy setup, the organization was operating with two core systems: FlexSystem for accounting and a POS system delivered through ChainStorePlus. Neither had any connectivity with the other, leaving the accounting and sales teams operating disparately. The only way to transfer data from either system was to enter it into Excel spreadsheets manually, a laborious and time-consuming challenge ultimately offering little-to-no extractable insight. With Board in place, these issues have been overcome entirely.
ImagineX now benefits from a single version of the truth, with Board automatically pulling data from both the FlexSystem accounting system and the POS system into one location to provide near real time visibility of the business. Board allows intelligent mapping between the legacy systems to properly link financial and sales data in one consolidated report, enabling greater, cross-departmental insights to be uncovered through the comparison of information from different sources.
“Since the system’s launch, our management has gained easy access to data and analyses that previously required manual compilation,” highlights Gordon, in relation to the significant improvements in management information access that have been achieved.
Interactive dashboards highlight key KPIs at a glance, making it easier for managers to understand the company’s current position, while Board’s self-service nature enables them to perform their own analyses, answering their own questions instantly.
As the consolidation and intercompany elimination of financial data is managed automatically by Board, P&L accounts are now produced at the click of a button. This accurate view of the finances is also combined with sales and operational data on-demand, giving the management team complete transparency without having to rely on others to compile and present it. The ability to drill down to greater levels of detail instantly, if required, delivers further insights, enabling more-informed management decisions to be made in a faster timeframe.
“The all-in-one approach of Board, combining management reporting, consolidation and planning [both Financial & Operational Planning], matches our vision of having an integrated platform for all our decision-making processes” states Gordon.
The Future for ImagineX: Taking Board to the next level
With a significant improvement to financial and sales processes achieved, ImagineX is keen to maintain momentum on its digital transformation journey.
“The initial goal was to build a system integrating financial and operational data into one online platform which management can easily access. This goal has been achieved and our management is interested in investing more into the system, even in this tough economic environment.” says Gordon. “The digital transformation initiative is critical to our business as we move from old traditional methods to a more dynamic and digital era catering to our challenging and fast-growing organization.”
With this in mind, the group has already launched plans to expand Board to incorporate:
- management consolidation: to automate the process of producing an accurate balance sheet in an easy-to-digest format
- cash flow planning and reporting: to provide greater insights into sources of income and monitor the current cash flow position
- demand/merchandise planning: to balance supply and demand, ensuring overstock and stockouts are minimized
“We are working towards ensuring all these systems and solutions work cohesively and seamlessly to provide us with a single version of truth,” says Gordon.
In a final comment, Gordon discusses what he would say to others who might be interested in investing in the Board solution:
“Board has the perfect blend between solution and…an experienced implementation team who can translate our requirements easily into the system. I would recommend the Board solution and we have already started mentioning it to our industry peers as well as our parent company, Lane Crawford Joyce group.Board has always listened to our needs and requirements. Whenever we faced challenges, we have found someone at Board with innovative ideas to find a solution with us.”