As a privately owned holding company of meat processors, the client develops and produces custom food products for the world’s leading food service and retail food brands. This Midwest-based company has grown to a $6 billion operation with more than 20,000 employees and a global network of more than 65 facilities in 17 countries.
From 2003-2017, the client doubled in size and more than tripled its customer count through both organic growth as well as an aggressive acquisition strategy. Accounting transactions jumped from $3 billion to $15 billion annually. Despite the enormous growth, they continued to use the same instance of its SAP system that was implemented in 1999, leaving them with manual, inefficient accounting and finance functions. Additionally, while business tripled, the finance and accounting department in North America increased by just 40%, which confined employees to day-to-day tasks instead of strategic planning. The company needed a plan for organizational transformation that would allow them to keep pace with its phenomenal growth and position the organization for future success.
Our client needed to revisit their business goals, understand their new challenges, and foundationally change the way their finance and accounting functions operated. Baker Tilly laid out the project in three steps. Throughout the entire engagement, a large cross section of finance and accounting team members, as well as key internal customers were engaged to ensure the full organization had a hand in building their future.
First, Baker Tilly helped the executive team get a foundational understanding of current business operations, pain points, challenges and potential areas for improvements. The Baker Tilly team visited some of their US plants to learn firsthand what processes were and were not working and to ask plant management and operations what they needed but weren’t currently getting from finance and accounting. One of the break-through findings was in regards to the amount of time that was spent manually “creating and re-creating” data passing documents for approval. Automating these processes could reduce approvals from weeks to hours, cut the time to generate reports from days to minutes and reduce the cost per invoice by over 50%.
With an understanding of the issues and challenges, the next step laid out the future state of business operations from a people, processes and technology perspective. The Baker Tilly team facilitated workshops to understand what processes and tools were essential versus “nice to have” in order to determine what a best-in-class organization would look like to them.
At the same time, Baker Tilly also benchmarked the organization’s maturity and capabilities across each area of financing and accounting against others in their industry. Baker Tilly helped the client determine what key roles and skills were lacking, and how they might upskill existing employees to do more strategic work while automating transactional activities.
The next step addressed an overarching operating model that the client would like to move towards. This involved not just organizational design, but determining how finance and accounting works as a function of the entire organization and identifying key interaction points with the rest of the business. Baker Tilly helped the business leaders develop an overarching construct that recommended which of the finance and accounting activities could be moved to a shared services model, which finance functions should stay with the plants, how they would serve their internal customers and how to effectively interact with operations, pricing and customer service, among others.
Baker Tilly took the overarching construct for the new business capabilities and operating model and bucketed them into logical projects and initiatives that could provide the biggest impact in the shortest time. A portfolio of 25 different initiatives that encompassed over 100 organizational, system or process changes was developed, which the client began to implement this year. Transforming the organization will require active change management, so Baker Tilly collaborated with the team to create a change management assessment and development roadmap with the help of the client’s executives, directors and the involvement of 30 finance and accounting staff members, in order to support the transition. With the help of Baker Tilly, the client now has a defined a plan to serve as a foundation for their future.