How cloud fine-tuned planning at the speed of sound
Analysis of new business opportunities now takes place in the cloud, with assessments informing planning and budget taking hours instead of weeks.
Most drivers get in the car and switch on the radio without a second thought. They likely aren’t aware of the complexity of the audio systems that channel their favorite tunes. Yet Italy-based ASK Automotive Industries Group—which supplies antennas, amplifiers, acoustics and cables for affordable city runarounds and high-performance supercars alike—spends years developing and producing a single product. Despite ASK’s global success, the company had a limited ability to analyze and evaluate new requests for quotations (RFQ) from automakers.
Assessing RFQs took days or even weeks, with multiple departments around the world aggregating and analyzing data via email in spreadsheets. This didn’t always yield accurate calculations, and left no time to explore alternative, what-if scenarios that would help determine the true value of opportunities.
ASK’s RFQ analyses are complex for two key reasons. First, one production line might make antennas for multiple car brands, so adding new products and parts brings cost and logistical complexity. Second is that different products vary in their intricacy and production lifecycles. Antennas might comprise a few part numbers, take a year to develop and stay in production for five years. By contrast, an acoustics product might have dozens of parts, take three years to develop and have a decade-long production run. The more new products ASK agrees to manufacture, the more complicated end-to-end planning gets.
ASK’s disconnected RFQ evaluation process meant that the company might be passing on good opportunities while assessing and pursuing contracts that, with full visibility into the long-term impact on cost structure and profitability, it didn’t actually want to win.
The Accenture team, made up of practitioners from the CFO & Enterprise Value practice, was tasked with reimagining and rebuilding the RFQ assessment process so that analysis of every new opportunity would take hours, not days or weeks. This would also translate to a future sales budget, providing valuable insight into long-term planning, business development and product management strategy.
First, the team redesigned and standardized ASK’s planning process—globally. All stakeholders’ contributions to RFQ analysis were reprioritized, each were given specific variables to manage and the approval processes were adjusted to fit the new workflows. Also, the team selected a cloud-based technology platform, Anaplan, that could enable this new system and also automate several complex what-if calculations.
For example, Anaplan factors in several shared assumptions, such as exchange rates, commodity prices or alternative solutions that might affect the profitability of a new piece of business over the long term—tasks that previously required days of gathering and analyzing data, then manually plugging and playing in spreadsheets. The platform was configured to give each stakeholder access to their own unique sets of features and steps according to their responsibility levels. However, key departments such as Business Development, Product Management and Finance, were given full visibility and access to provide a clear, end-to-end planning picture.
The team relied on ASK’s CEO (Alberto Bianchi) and Group Controller (Enrico Righini) to set out a clear vision of what the company wanted: an entirely new business-planning process with quick RFQ analysis linked with the sales budget as the key driver of meeting targets and ensuring long-term profitability. Setting that goal allowed people—as much or more so than technology—to drive the project to successful completion.
From the beginning, there was no distinction between ASK and Accenture employees as they worked together toward the objectives. This helped the team capture and respond to a constant flow of feedback from the departments and geographies who would be working with the new process, and ultimately deliver an optimal user experience—and develop buy-in from ASK’s entire user community.
Throughout the project’s duration the team regularly showcased new developments, delivering real, working models in Anaplan. Sharing and training sessions took place in all of ASK’s geographies (including Brazil, Germany and China), and were customized by department. For example, the Sales Budget team quickly got a working minimum viable product version that, as they used it, allowed the project team to configure the system and add new functionality based on real usage.
This department-by-department, prototype-based approach allowed ASK’s stakeholders to feel like they were part of the project and invested in its success.
The new Connected Planning Processes and Anaplan rollout—consisting of several go-lives along the way—were completed in less than a year and on budget.
ASK now has a connected planning framework, encompassing RFQ, sales budget, investment budget, financial budget and the strategic plan. Anaplan users can now collaborate simultaneously across multiple departments around the world and keep the planning process under control.
The time and effort of RFQ analysis was vastly reduced, so now ASK can quickly and accurately assess the long-term impact of new business opportunities—and decide whether or not to bid.
Consolidation of the sales budget, which previously required a week of work, now takes less than a day. And calculating what-if scenarios associated with an RFQ, which used to take a full day of work, now takes just seconds. The calculations are proven to be spot on every time.
The new system has freed up employees across the various departments and geographies from data sourcing and crunching to instead analyzing results and making strategic decisions. Best of all, no additional personnel were hired to manage or maintain the system. Instead, this new platform is run by one person on ASK’s Finance team, part-time.
Developing audio components for cars may be complex, highly technical work. But evaluating new business opportunities in that space is now nearly as simple as switching on the car radio.
“By teaming with Accenture, we now have a connected planning framework and analyses done in seconds with Anaplan, with zero risk of mistakes.”