Kettle Foods chips away at reporting time with Logicalis and IBM Cognos Express
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Originally founded in 1978 in Salem, Oregon by Cameron Healy, Kettle Foods has become one of the leaders in the premium potato chip industry, launching in the UK in 1988 with headquarters in Norfolk. By 2008, its main brand, KETTLE® Chips, was the 6th fastest growing grocery brand across the UK (The Grocer), and the KETTLE® brand is distributed around the world.
In the process of building this successful brand, the business found that it had developed a reporting headache. Its antiquated system consisted of 70 to 80 spreadsheets, which were constantly being updated and sent back and forth between departments. The reporting process took at least eight weeks, and if any modifications needed to be made, it took a minimum of two days.
People also had difficulty creating their own reports, and would have to rely on an IT software developer to do the job for them. This ended up taking most of the developer’s time, which would otherwise have been spent on other pressing IT needs.
Shaun Richardson, IT Manager at Kettle Foods Ltd explains: “Our old system consisted of spreadsheets that were emailed out to sales team members across the country. They would then fill in the spreadsheet and email it back to finance, which would then assemble the individual spreadsheets into a central model.
“However, if the sales team added additional rows to the spreadsheet, then the macros the finance team used to consolidate the data just wouldn’t work.”
The decision to get a new business analytics solution was made when board members at Kettle Foods Ltd found they were spending 60 percent to 70 percent of their meeting times figuring out which data from the reports were reliable and current. Consequently, a set of requirements was drawn up; the new system had to give end users the tools they needed to generate their own reports and consolidate them on one, easy-to-use, secure platform. It also had to be able to produce a single report that board members could trust, so that they could spend their time making business decisions rather than arguing over spreadsheets. After a long search for a solution, Kettle Foods Ltd chose IBM Cognos Express, along with Logicalis UK as their IBM Business Partner. “We spent a year looking at the relative merits of a variety of Business Analytics software solutions,” Richardson recalls.
“We selected IBM Cognos Express because it combines the planning and modelling strengths of IBM Cognos TM1 and the reporting strengths of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence in a value-for-money offering; providing a complete planning, reporting and scenariomodelling toolset.”
Kettle Foods Ltd selected Logicalis not only because of their expert knowledge of IBM Business Analytics solutions but also because they were prepared to go that one step further; “One of the reasons we chose Logicalis was that the team were prepared to mentor us rather than put us through the standard training programme,” Richardson explains. Logicalis worked with Kettle Foods Ltd to create a reliable, updated, standard reporting model which includes a budgeting report model that is accessed via a web browser and immediately reflects updates to users in multiple departments (sales, finance, production and management).
Sales reports are generated directly from the ERP system, eliminating time consuming updates to spreadsheets and providing instantaneous revisions.
The new IBM Cognos Express solution has transformed Kettle Foods’ reporting procedures; the time taken to generate financial reports has shrunk from eight weeks to less than three. Meanwhile, making changes to a report has been cut from two days to just the time it takes to input the data into the new system.
Unsurprisingly, Richardson is delighted. “The sales team now has a rolling budget and at any point during the year it can press a button to see the latest view of the business and make forecasts,” he says.
Users, such as sales; finance; production and management, are now able to create their own reports, relieving IT of this responsibility, whilst the data in the reports is now reliable enough to be used by the board, enabling them to make business decisions and spend less time deciphering data.
“We found IBM Cognos Express to be simple to use, easy to configure and innovative in being able to mold a model specifically tailored to our specific needs, with help from the Logicalis Business Analytics consultants, who made the process even smoother,” Richardson comments. “We look forward to continuing to utilise IBM Cognos products and taking advantage of Logicalis’ expertise.”