Held back by overwhelmingly manual planning, analysis and reporting processes, Hunter Industries found it difficult to provide business decision-makers with timely insight into company performance.
Hunter Industries teamed up with Data41 to implement an IBM planning and analysis solution, freeing staff from laborious data collection and validation tasks, accelerating time-to-insight.
Supportsdecision-making and strategic planning, adding value to the business
32 hourssaved per month in forecast preparation time, freeing up time for analysis
Eliminatesthe risk of manual error, resulting in more accurate, reliable plans and reports
Business challenge story
Founded in 1981, Hunter Industries has grown to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of irrigation systems, outdoor lighting and custom molding. The company’s core business interest is in manufacturing products that allow irrigation professionals to create solutions that use as little water and energy as possible to create optimal landscape function and ambiance.
Employing around 2,000 people across sales and manufacturing plants around the world, Hunter Industries offers a diverse line of products. Hunter Industries’ international growth has been significant. To continue that growth, the company recognized the need to rethink the way it managed critical budgeting, forecasting, analysis and reporting procedures.
Mick Ferguson, Finance Manager at Hunter Industries, takes up the story: “We relied very heavily on spreadsheets to compile financial results and future forecasts. There would be hundreds of different files in circulation at any one time, all going back and forth between employees. Not only was this a very laborious and time-consuming process, it also compromised security. For example, salary spreadsheets would go from finance to managers, from managers to payroll, and from payroll back to finance—potentially putting sensitive information and passwords at risk.
“Unsurprisingly, sending spreadsheets all across the department resulted in a large number of errors—entry errors, formula errors and user errors to name just a few. It also meant that we were spending a lot of time compiling data and not much time actually analyzing that data.”
To better support strategic decision-making, Hunter Industries wanted to give business users better, faster insight into company performance.
Out with the old, in with the new
After evaluating several planning, analysis and forecasting solutions, Hunter Industries decided to implement IBM® Planning Analytics on Cloud (formerly known as IBM Cognos® TM1® on Cloud). “We chose to deploy a cloud-based application because it meant that we would truly own the application and the data assets within it without having to manage or worry about the underlying infrastructure ourselves,” says Mick Ferguson. The company partnered with IBM Business Partner Data41, who built a solution perfectly suited to Hunter Industries’ needs.
Mick Ferguson recalls: “Data41 ran a two-week proof of concept to demonstrate how we could replace all kinds of manual processes with the IBM solution. We’ve developed a close relationship with the Data41 team since. If we ever have any questions or if an issue pops up, they’re there for us—no matter what or when, so we really appreciate their commitment.”
By consolidating its finance-related data sources to IBM Planning Analytics, Hunter Industries gained a single point of control for all its financial planning processes. “Instead of having different spreadsheets flying around the company, there is now a single source of truth,” says Mick Ferguson. “Business units enter their financial results directly in Planning Analytics, so we no longer have to worry about data integration errors.”
He adds: “In the past, financial reporting used to be buried in a complex BI system that only a few people knew how to operate, which further slowed down analysis. We now use the Cognos Analysis for Excel (CAFE) tool to do all our financial reporting—at the click of a button, all of our financials are automatically updated and consolidated, so we can see how each business unit is performing. Consolidating this information would have taken three or four days in the past, but with Planning Analytics we can do it in just five minutes.”
The CAFE functionality has evolved to the new IBM Planning Analytics for Microsoft Excel interface that is part of IBM Planning Analytics powered by TM1.
Hunter Industries also uses the IBM solution to project future financial performance, as Mick Ferguson explains: “We run a rolling forecast every quarter, giving us deep insight into future performance. It’s this kind of insight that supports critical business decisions, such as resource allocation and workforce planning.”
Supporting strategic decision-making
With IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud, Hunter Industries has transformed its financial planning processes, freeing staff from tedious manual work and giving business a real boost.
“One of the key benefits of Planning Analytics is that we no longer have to spend time laboriously compiling data,” remarks Mick Ferguson. “Every quarter, we would spend two whole weeks compiling and checking data for forecasts. Because we now capture and consolidate everything directly in Planning Analytics, we save around 32 hours per month in forecast preparation time and there is no risk of manual error. That time can now be spent actually analyzing the data—enabling us to deliver actionable insight to business users to support decision-making, adding real value to the company. Furthermore, because everything is handled inside Planning Analytics, we can be sure that sensitive data is kept secure.
“By providing business units with accurate, reliable financial reports, we’re giving managers and leaderships a much better understanding of the business. They’ve been so impressed that we now do all of our manufacturing planning in Planning Analytics too. For example, the CAFE reports show business users how many units we need to build in each business unit every quarter to sustain growth and increase profits.”
He concludes: “We’re delighted with IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud; it’s become the one-stop shop for all of our finance and accounting needs. We’re very excited to build on our success by creating new presentations and providing new analyses for our end-users.”
Leading manufacturer Hunter Industries produces a wide range of irrigation systems, valves and landscape lighting, as well as custom molding products. Headquartered in San Marcos, CA, Hunter Industries operates in more than 125 countries and employs around 2,000 people worldwide.
- Cognos TM1
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Performance management technology and consultancy firm Data41 delivers solutions that integrate vital finance and management functions and transforms data into information and actionable insights. To learn more about products and services from Data41, visit: www.data41.com