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Driving Consolidation, Budgeting and Forecasting for Faster Reporting to Stakeholders

Lawrence & Hanson is part of Sonepar, the global market leader in B-to-B distribution of electrical products, solutions, and related services. With over 150 national branches, Lawrence & Hanson strive to be the wholesaler of choice for knowledge, customer service, digital business solutions, consistent pricing and stock availability.
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67%
reduction in time to produce budgets and forecasts (from 9 weeks to 3 weeks)
250
mins saved by automating manual data loads from the ERP
Flexibility
to incorporate acquisitions into consolidation and forecasts

Benefits

  • Faster monthly close process and more timely reporting for stakeholders.
  • Time taken to produce budgets and forecasts has been streamlined significantly.
  • Leveraging multi-currency consolidation, enhanced management reporting and ad-hoc analysis capability.
  • Extensible Dimensionality® facilitates the unique requirements of Region and Branch-level budgeting.
  • Leveraging predictive capability using historical data to seed the forecasts.

Industry

Wholesale, Electrical Supplies

Location

Victoria, Australia

Solutions

  • Financial Close and Consolidation
  • Budgeting and Forecasting
  • People Planning

Maximizing Business Value

“The fact that we can now leverage our data very effectively to drive our consolidation, budgeting and forecasting processes for faster close and more timely reporting for our stakeholders is a significant advantage,”

– Trevor Childs, Finance Business Partner at Lawrence & Hanson.

But this hasn’t always been the case for Australia’s most recognized electrical wholesaler. For several years, Lawrence & Hanson used an on-premises financial reporting system, heavily supplemented by manual Excel calculations. In addition to providing little functionality for forecasting and analysis, their existing version was to become unsupported at the end of 2021. As a result, Lawrence & Hanson needed to evaluate alternatives.

For the Finance Team to support the business’s growth more effectively, it was deemed essential that the new system modernize and streamline their planning and reporting processes. It was important to have enhanced “what-if” scenario analysis capability, so data can be used quickly to react to shifts in a fast-moving business environment. Lawrence & Hanson’s challenge was to maximize the business value of their investment in a next generation financial reporting system, all while enabling a significant reduction in the effort and risk associated with time-consuming manual Excel-based data manipulation. 

“We knew that if we could more effectively leverage the data we had, this would allow greater use of time for analysis of insights to drive P&L improvement,” said Trevor.


The Future of Finance

Lawrence & Hanson undertook a market scan based on a leading analyst organization’s research and assessment of CPM/EPM applications. Lawrence & Hanson put together a dedicated Evaluation Team to define the key requirements and undertake the assessment process. This team worked with a short-list of market-leading vendors to determine their fit to the requirements and, as a key input to the assessment, surveyed the vendor’s current customers to gain insight into the customer’s experience with implementing and using the vendor’s products from the perspective of benefits realization. 

Key requirements included the preference for a platform that could easily be extended to provide additional value-add capabilities to the business, a move to the Cloud to reduce IT support and network costs, to automate manual processes where possible, and significantly reduce Excel-based data manipulation which was contributing to time-consuming and labor-intensive month-end reporting and budgeting/forecasting processes. Once Lawrence & Hanson saw the OneStream platform in action, it became apparent that this was the best fit for their immediate requirements and offered additional functionality and capability to further leverage the business value from the investment. OneStream’s unified platform approach, cloud-based (MS Azure) hosted model, and proven record of customer success provided the confidence Lawrence & Hanson needed to invest in the future of finance.

“Replacing our old system and the multitude of Excel spreadsheets we needed to use to get things done was challenging, but OneStream provided the platform we needed to do it effectively. Moving to a single, unified platform has changed the way Finance operates for the better, the organization is on-board with the benefits they are seeing and are happy with what has been delivered.”
Trevor Childs | Finance Business Partner | Lawrence & Hanson

Driving Business Performance

Lawrence & Hanson selected James & Monroe (J&M) as their implementation partner and is now live with the initial implementation and is happy that the transition was a success.

“Replacing our old system and the multitude of Excel spreadsheets we needed to use to get things done was challenging but OneStream provided the platform we needed to do it effectively,” said Trevor. “Moving to a single, unified platform has changed the way Finance operates for the better, the organization is on-board with the benefits they are seeing and are happy with what has been delivered.”

As part of the implementation, monthly trial balance data is now sourced via automated loads from their ERP, and employee data from the HR system via file-based integration. OneStream functionality has delivered multi-currency consolidation, enhanced management reporting and ad-hoc analysis capability, and planning, budgeting, and forecasting capability. The latter was previously undertaken in Excel and was time-consuming and carried risk around data quality due to the nature of manual Excel-based processes.

Lawrence & Hanson is taking full advantage of Extensible Dimensionality® to facilitate the unique requirements of Region and Branch-level budgeting and leverages predictive capability using historical data to seed the forecasts. By leveraging unique workflow functionality, user tasks are simplified, and the effort and time taken to produce budgets and forecasts has been streamlined significantly with a 67% time saving. 

“Extensible Dimensionality allows us to seamlessly roll-up our financial data and report externally to Sonepar,” Childs explained. “The platform provides us with monthly actual data along with a rolling forecast scenario which stores a current detailed dataset which is then used to seed other scenarios as required, which supports our local and global FP&A requirements. We also have the capability to run additional forecast scenarios whenever required. The data insights we were looking for are there and delivering value. With the results immediately available, we are very happy with the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of the new processes.”

In addition, Lawrence & Hanson took advantage of one of OneStream’s People Planning solution to enable integration of data from Lawrence & Hanson’s HR application to seamlessly drive key employee-related costs through the budgeting and forecasting processes at no additional software cost.

Benefits

Lawrence & Hanson are happy to now be leveraging a unified platform to achieve their objectives and deliver significant additional business value across Australian and New Zealand operations.  

The Finance Team is seeing significant time savings (250mins) through the automation of manual data loads from their ERP for financial close and the data quality improvements that automation provides. All the data sits in a single framework allowing for driver-based forecast modeling to be linked to, and driven by, actuals data and trends. 

Workflow structures are being used for actuals and budget/forecast preparation and reporting, which has quickly become a favorite feature at Lawrence & Hanson. The uniquely pre-defined workflows enable each individual user to complete their reporting cycle on their own, without requiring additional assistance. The step-by-step checkpoints provided by the workflow ensure data quality and standardize the collection process. Users are presented with a fully defined and guided process rather than being left to seek out the forms and reports that they need to complete their required tasks.

End-user reporting makes extensive use of dashboarding, supplemented by the option to interact with the system using the Excel add-in for actuals/forecast vs. budget reporting. The platform has enabled a significant improvement in the ability to adapt to changing business requirements around reporting metrics and data management. The automation of ERP data loads and improved data quality has resulted in near real time visibility of financial data. In addition, both Lawrence & Hanson IT support costs and 3rd-party application support costs have been significantly reduced because of moving to the unified platform hosted on MS Azure. 

“There are many areas I can see that are going to be faster for us and that will drive better outcomes for our business,” said Trevor. “We also have a solid foundation for future initiatives to extend the value of our investment. For us, OneStream was the right choice.”

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