To become a billion-dollar company, you need to do business like a billion-dollar company. To foster growth, Transcendia needed a better way to analyze and manage its finances at the group level.
Transcendia has transformed its financial performance management processes by replacing spreadsheet-based systems with an enterprise-class consolidation and reporting platform from IBM Analytics.
Acceleratesthe integration of new businesses into Transcendia
Completeda major acquisition one month ahead of schedule, optimizing costs
Interactiveanalytics capabilities reduce the need for static reports by 60 percent
Business challenge story
Supporting growth strategies
Transcendia is a leading player in the custom engineered materials industry, specializing in plastic film solutions and services. Its products can be found everywhere in everyday life: from the laminate on your driver’s license and the holograms on your credit card, to the packaging on your groceries, the windows in your envelopes, and the jackets of your books.
In recent years, Transcendia has taken its business to new heights by expanding its technologies, market focus and products, strengthening its European footprint, and investing in process engineers, research and development experts, and sales professionals.
These new capabilities have been supported by a series of significant strategic acquisitions, which have resulted in the company’s structure growing significantly in size and complexity over the past three years.
Anthony Powell, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Transcendia, comments: “The first of those four acquisitions took us from two legal entities to seven, and today we have 12. That kind of growth is wonderful for the company—but it also increases complexity, which raises challenges for the finance department.”
To keep business performance on track and ensure the company continues to hit its targets, Transcendia needs to consolidate financial data from all its legal entities on a monthly basis.
Steve Pasek, Corporate Controller, explains: “Monthly consolidations are critical to monitor performance over the past 30 days and see how each subsidiary’s figures are feeding into our business plan. We also need accurate consolidations to produce our year-end audited financial statements.”
The company’s existing consolidation process—based on manual collection and collation of financial data in spreadsheets—worked perfectly well when the company only had two entities to deal with. However, as the group expanded, the process was becoming time-consuming, and the risk of errors increased with the complexity of the organization.
Michael Sherman, Director of Financial Planning & Analysis, adds: “Consolidation wasn’t the only issue: we also wanted to re-think our management reporting processes. As Transcendia grew in complexity, we were getting to a point where using different sets of spreadsheets for different reporting tasks just wasn’t scalable anymore. We were spending too much time data-gathering and checking, which reduced the amount of time we could spend on analysis.”
Anthony Powell sums up: “If you want to be a billion-dollar company, you need to do business like a billion-dollar company. We knew we needed to invest in people, processes and technology. The good part was that we didn’t have much baggage in terms of legacy systems: we had a clear chance to start from a clean slate. We wanted to build a system that not only aligned with what Transcendia needs now, but also with what the company wants to become in the future.”
Building a platform for the future
When the finance team proposed building a new platform for financial performance management, Transcendia’s CEO and private equity sponsor supported the project immediately.
Anthony Powell comments: “The senior leadership team want data-driven decision-making, and it takes time and investment to achieve that. But we knew that once we got there, it would be worth it: it’s very exciting to have the power at your fingertips to make decisions based on accurate, timely data.”
The finance team worked with the CIO to evaluate the solutions available on the market, and selected IBM Cognos® TM1®.
Steve Pasek comments: “We were impressed with Cognos TM1 because it can do so much more than just consolidations—it’s a real platform for building Transcendia’s financial performance management capabilities over time.”
To help with the design and implementation of the project, IBM recommended eCapital, a Premier Business Partner that specializes in performance management and business analytics.
Michael Sherman says: “The eCapital team understood the nuances of our business. From the first phase of our project, we’ve always had an open dialog with them—they give good advice on how to do what we want, or how to change what we do to align with best practices. They always find a solution or a range of options, and give us the pros and cons, so that we can make solid, informed decisions.”
The project took place in two phases: first, eCapital helped the Transcendia team implement its new financial consolidation process in IBM Cognos TM1; then, the team reassembled to replace two legacy reporting systems with a single platform based on IBM Cognos Business Intelligence.
Anthony Powell looks back on the project: “We’re proud that we have worked with eCapital to design a solution for Transcendia that really aligns with our strategy. The IBM Analytics platform is light years ahead of what we had in the past, and we’re excited to have so much power and flexibility in our hands now.”
A solution that aligns with business objectives
The new solution is helping Transcendia’s finance team master the complex new group structure, and deliver accurate, timely consolidated figures each month to help decision-makers at all levels of the business track performance and make smarter choices.
Steve Pasek comments: “We have some new capabilities around consolidations that really fit well with the direction the business is heading. For example, the solution has powerful multi-currency functionality built in, which is becoming increasingly important as we continue to expand into new international markets. Currency conversion was always a painful manual process in our old model—now TM1 handles it automatically.”
Anthony Powell says: “Without question, the new solution is also going to save time on integrating new acquisitions into the business—the TM1 model is so much more flexible when we want to add a new legal entity or change the organizational hierarchy.”
Michael Sherman adds: “That’s true from a reporting perspective too. With our most recent acquisition, if we hadn’t had the new reporting platform, I’m not sure what we’d be doing today in terms of reporting. It would have been very painful to integrate that business into our operations if we were still using spreadsheets.”
In fact, thanks to the new platform Transcendia was able to exit the transitional service agreement (TSA) for its most recent acquisition a month ahead of schedule—and the company believes this might have taken two or three months longer if it was still relying on spreadsheet-based processes.
One of the reasons for the streamlining of the integration process is the fact that Transcendia has been able to simplify its reporting packages significantly—reducing report development and maintenance workload, while also increasing flexibility and insight for end-users.
Michael Sherman says: “We used to have around 60 static reports—now we’ve got that down to just 25, and they’re much more interactive. We can slice and dice the data in each report so that different groups of users can see the information that is actually relevant to them at a glance, and drill down to get more detail if they need to.”
Anthony Powell concludes: “We’re on a journey to become a much larger enterprise than we were three years ago, and the new analytics platform is part of that. For example, we transitioned to a ‘Big Four’ auditor, and they are pleased to see that we’re using an enterprise-class system, rather than spreadsheets.
“As we continue to grow both organically and through acquisition, we’re confident that our IBM Analytics platform will give us the capabilities we need to support that growth.”
Transcendia is a leading provider of engineered materials across a diverse range of markets and applications. Founded in 1913, the company today operates 16 production and warehouse facilities across North America and Europe, and serves companies in more than 30 countries.
- Cognos Business Intelligence
- Cognos TM1
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eCapital Advisors is one of the largest performance management and business analytics firms in the United States. Since 2001, eCapital has enabled hundreds of clients to make better business decisions through the delivery of high-level software solutions and services. The company has been frequently recognized with numerous awards, including Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies.
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