“I had many, many spreadsheets that we were dealing with… probably north of 50 or 60 different individual files saved on multiple different servers,” Johnston says. “Some were in New York, some in New Jersey. It made for a very slow process.”
Lost Excel links and an ultimatum
When Johnston arrived at LT Apparel in 2014 from the clothing company PVH, budgeting involved capturing everything in a networked Excel workbook that took so long to open it would crash his computer. Downloading the file and working in a copy, then merging data later, was the best of a short list of bad options.
To make matters worse, Johnston says the Excel file was riddled with “ghost links” to files that had long since been deleted. Fixing those errors and accounting for the inevitable version control problems made dealing with Excel “a nightmare,” Johnston says.
The budgeting process he began in September 2014 dragged on until mid-February of 2015, and that’s after managing one mid-year forecast that published a month after the June deadline. “I vowed at that point to my boss, the CFO, that if we have to do it again the same way next year, I’ll quit,” Johnston says.
Partnering for long-term success
Following a competitive review that included five different providers, Johnston selected Host Analytics over Adaptive Planning in March of 2015. “The deciding factor was really the partnership versus vendor relationship. I felt very strongly and very confident that Host Analytics had my best interests at heart and was going to partner in order to make me successful.”
What’s that look like now? Rather than suffer with a mid-year forecast that’s out of date by the time it arrives, or a complicated annual budget, LT Apparel now generates a rolling forecast updated with monthly actuals and informed projections for the ensuing 27 months. Integration with the company’s general ledger and ERP systems means the data is always up to date.
Looking ahead, Johnston plans to change how executives retrieve and consume corporate information using Spotlight and Host Analytics Modeling. That way, managers can run scenarios on their own and get answers using a familiar Excel-like interface.
“Instead of being reactionary we’re able to have good insight into what’s coming and then determine how we’re going to allocate our resources. We’re not making decisions in hindsight anymore,” Johnston says. “You can’t put a price on being able to make sound decisions as early as possible.”