When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Chuy’s, a Texas-based chain that owns and operates more than 90 Tex-Mex restaurants in 17 states, faced the same uncertainties as every other company in its industry. Off-premises sales surged. Restaurant sales have plummeted. Long term plans are gone.
Yet unlike many of its competitors, Chuy’s thrived. During the third quarter of 2021, the chain increased its overall operating margin at the restaurant level by 8.8%.
The steps Chuy’s had taken before the pandemic helped it respond quickly and effectively to rapid changes. Most importantly, the company had automated cloud-based tools in place for adaptive planning that helped its financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams optimize budgeting and improve decision-making in response. to the pandemic and an ever-changing business environment.
One platform to rule them all
In times of market uncertainty, agility is key. Yet too many FP&A teams still rely on disconnected spreadsheets and legacy planning systems for planning and decision making. This structure puts strategy and operational execution at risk: fragmented data, manual planning, and static reporting can lead to untimely reporting and incomplete, narrow analytics.
An uncertain world demands the ability to quickly and easily generate scenario builds, gain real-time insights, and access richer analytics. Aligning all teams on a single planning platform can help organizations navigate this growing complexity and help FP&A teams improve planning, budgeting and forecasting processes to drive performance, efficiency and the growth.
As a healthcare company operating on the front lines of the Covid pandemic, Delaware-based ChristianaCare had to make quick decisions early in the outbreak on everything from ventilator supplies to carers who were worried. for their personal safety and well-being.
In response, the organization quickly replaced its annual budgeting process with a monthly forecast. He started tracking all of his Covid-related expenses. And he prepared for several scenarios, from the best to the worst case.
It was a colossal undertaking that could have taken months. Yet ChristianaCare was already using a suite of financial products based on a single, modern planning platform, which greatly simplified and accelerated its planning and modeling. These radical operational changes therefore only took the company four days to implement.
From two days to 30 seconds
Years before the pandemic, The EW Scripps Co. was already facing a different kind of disruption: declining press business. Scripps responded to industry trends in the mid-2010s by moving away from print, once its core business, to focus on local television and national media. This decision led to multiple mergers and acquisitions and increased its financial complexity.
By abandoning its print heritage, Scripps realized that its own business would benefit from a digital transformation. The company began digitizing its operations in practices such as human resources, financial management and analytics, and deployed its multiple new solutions on a common platform.
The change gave Scripps a unified source of company-wide financial and HR data, as well as a framework to integrate the operations and finances of its acquisitions. The company has also dramatically reduced time and effort, cutting its monthly reporting process from two days to around 30 seconds.
Information is power
Another reason why spreadsheets are no longer a sufficient tool for FP&A is the emergence of Big Data. Images, documents, and audio and video inputs don’t fit neatly into spreadsheets the way numbers do in cells.
Organizations that can access this semi-structured and unstructured data can better shape their business models. Top performing finance functions spend 75% of their time on data analysis and insights. But 48% of finance leaders report difficulty working with multiple data sources and complex integrations.
The right modern planning solution can process complex data with machine learning to deliver richer insights and greater speed and accuracy. They can produce easy-to-use reports that clearly illustrate comparisons, trends, and metrics. And they can produce virtually unlimited scenarios for planning. These capabilities can help FP&A teams become more agile, adaptable, and strategic in times of uncertainty.
Leaders are inherently aware of the importance of agility and the ability to work with big data. Some 88% of executives recently surveyed say flexible and adaptive planning tools are “very” or “extremely” important for planning. And 91% agree that modern planning tools can help organizations become more flexible and adaptive in their planning.
But there is a gap between understanding and action: only 40% of executives surveyed say their planning is very flexible and adaptable.
This is where the opportunity lies. By bridging this gap and implementing modern planning tools on a cloud platform with a single source of truth, organizations can position themselves not only to survive, but also to seize new opportunities they discover in a rapidly changing world.
To learn more, read the HBR Analytic Services survey report Organizational agility requires modern planning tools.