Manually collecting, updating and analyzing financial data has many retailers struggling with inefficient and costly planning processes. Best-in-class merchants such as The Container Store, however, are harnessing the power of the cloud to get real-time access to performance data, leading to more efficient and frequent budgeting and forecasting execution.
By leveraging cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) solutions from Adaptive Planning, The Container Store successfully has eliminated the need for manual updates across cumbersome spreadsheets, and lowered costs. The move allows quarterly, as well as monthly forecasts, rather than annual reports. Moreover, the retailer has automated the entire CPM cycle, which includes the following phases: budgeting, reporting, analysis, and re-forecasting. In doing so, the retailer now is equipped to update financial reports and forecasts far more easily and get a comprehensive view of financial plans and forecasts, Michael Lambeth, Director of Finance for The Container Store, told Retail TouchPoints.
“Using a cloud-based CPM solution allows us to make more frequent updates to our financial plans, an important ability that we’ve desired but never had,” Lambeth said, “We used to only focus on financial planning at the beginning of every fiscal year, and never made any updates to these plans and forecasts, simply because we were held back by the manual processes in place.”
Since implementing Adaptive Planning in December 2011, The Container Store has recognized a variety of benefits, including more efficient and streamlined expense planning and forecasting processes, allowing the company to eliminate manual, time-consuming spreadsheet-based processes completely.
Now, team members can roll out plans, conduct expense planning and execute forecasts at any time, according to Lambeth. The CPM solution “has saved our team the considerable amount of time previously spent consolidating spreadsheets,” he said. “We have real-time consolidation where all of our plans roll-up into a single view of the business.”
Because The Container Store doesn’t maintain a dedicated team that focuses on financial planning, the retailer requires a solution that “is intuitive and easy to use for all team members,” Lambeth added. “All of our planning and forecasting responsibilities rest on team members across departments, from IT to marketing,” he explained. “Therefore, we also need a solution that is easy to use for employees unfamiliar with complex financial processes.”
Employees now access the platform directly through the cloud, which is more efficient and user friendly, Lambeth reported. “And because it is cloud-based, the solution doesn’t require any additional maintenance or manual updates by IT: everything is automatic. This not only makes our employees’ lives easier, it also means extreme decreases in costs.”