REVIEWER: Melisse Merrell, assistant controller and treasurer for New Belgium Brewing Company.
BACKGROUND: New Belgium Brewing Company, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, has a unique company culture and history that is as rich and flavorful as any of its 12 brands of beer. Growing from its humble beginnings in the basement of Kim Jordan and Jeff Lebesch, company co-founders, New Belgium is today the fifth-largest craft brewer in the nation and distributes its beer to one-third of the United States. The company's culture is defined by its passion for the environment, its employees, innovation and great-tasting beer.
PLATFORM: Windows 2000.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We needed a business performance solution that could improve our reporting tactics and support open book management. Tired of creating and distributing reports with spreadsheets, we sought a solution where we could create financial reports quickly and post them electronically for easy employee access. In addition, as a provider of high-quality craft-brewed beers, our reporting and budgeting processes are dictated by the commodity market. This makes budgeting and planning an important part of calculating revenues per region and determining costs each month. Before implementing Microsoft Business Solutions for Analytics-FRx and Microsoft Business Solutions for Analytics-Forecaster, we had a manual-based financial management process that involved using spreadsheets to gather information from each of our 14 departments to produce monthly reports and develop rolling forecasts. I was tasked with gathering data from each area manager and creating a master budget document. The spreadsheet-driven budgeting process often took several weeks and was inflexible. Because changes in production had to be reworked and recalculated, it was often difficult to create accurate projections quickly. FRx enables us to automatically pull information from our general ledger and create valuable reports for area managers, including profit-and-loss reports, balance sheets, cash flow analysis and budget variance reports. Company reports are then posted for easy employee access allowing all employees see how their efforts - in every area - can affect the company's bottom line. Because of the positive results stemming from the use of FRx, we decided to implement Forecaster to extend our budgeting capabilities and gain better insight into our overall forecasting process. The integration capabilities between FRx and Forecaster made the decision easy because FRx can report on the budget information in Forecaster, which decreases our workload.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With FRx and Forecaster, we create more accurate budgets quickly and with less effort. Today, we have the ability to quickly adjust to commodity price changes. With Forecaster, changes automatically ripple through our entire plan, speeding the budgeting process and allowing for more iterations when necessary. With a shorter budgeting cycle, our accounting team has more time to analyze data, perform valuable "what-if" scenarios and make more accurate predictions regarding expenses such as salary, vacation accruals and 401(k) contributions. I believe Forecaster has cut two weeks off the company's budgeting cycle.
STRENGTHS: With both FRx and Forecaster as our reporting and budgeting foundation, we have an accurate picture of our financial health and can create higher quality budgets with goals that are realistic, achievable and more predictive of the future.
WEAKNESSES: Forecaster doesn't provide the ability to graphically display information and relies on Excel for this capability.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We were previously a Microsoft Business Solutions for Analytics-Great Plains customer, and we were happy with FRx as part of the whole package. When we were ready for a budget-planning system, we investigated other products, but because of the integration with current system, we went with Forecaster. The two applications work very well together.
DELIVERABLES: FRx enables us to fulfill our mission of open book management. Employees are up to speed on how New Belgium is performing in every aspect of the business. With Forecaster, we are able to create flexible, precise projections that include commodity goods used in the production and packaging of beer.
VENDOR SUPPORT: I was particularly impressed with the support I received during the Forecaster implementation. The FRx Software technology team quickly helped me set up and deploy Forecaster within three days.
DOCUMENTATION: With hands-on assistance from the FRx Software implementation team, I was able to understand the processes to implement the applications.
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