Topps

Topps, IBM Planning Analytics Case Study with HAYNE Solutions

“I worked closely with Michael at HAYNE during the project – he was always friendly and professional to work alongside. Michael not only implemented fixes, but he did so whilst being very open about how he did it, ensuring that he passed on his knowledge and expertise to us as we went along. Helping us to build on our knowledge, learn new things and become self-sufficient – we have already been able to put our learnings into practice!”

Steve GibsonFinance Manager - Topps


Upgrading to IBM Planning Analytics brought Topps three key improvements;

Time saved, risks reduced

Automation of many timely and risky processes

Shared ownership, accountability

The capability of direct data upload from departments.

Accessible insight for all

Direct access to unique dashboards for the Executive Team & Sales.

Summary

For over 70 years, Topps has harnessed partnerships and licences with global brands such as UEFA Champions League, Premier League Football, Bundesliga, WWE, Pokémon, Doctor Who, Nat Geo and Star Wars to deliver over 900 products in 55 countries. Topps is known for delivering some of the world’s most loved collectables, from cards to stickers and albums to figurines.

Topps approached HAYNE based on a referral from a Topps colleague having worked with HAYNE during previous employment. Topps needed to upgrade their existing IBM Cognos TM1 system to IBM Planning Analytics and take their planning process to the next level.

Struggling to manage their large inventory over 55 countries, much of the planning process involved risky, labour intensive and manual data transfer across the business. Managed by two people, the planning process was exclusive, inefficient and clunky.

Upgrading to IBM Planning Analytics brought Topps three key improvements;

  1. Automation of many timely and risky processes,
  2. The capability of direct data upload from departments and
  3. Executive Team & Sales now have direct access to unique dashboards with which they manage their own planning process

These three things together delivered Topps a future ready, enhanced financial and business planning model that was efficient, automated and allowed data owners to have full responsibility for their own data. To empower Topps to maximise their investment, HAYNE delivered IBM Planning Analytics Training supported by suitable documentation.

About Topps

Founded in America by the Shorin Brothers in 1938, Topps Company Inc started off as a confectionery company. Inventing the world-famous Bazooka bubble gum in 1947 followed by leading brands such as Ring Pop and Push Pop. It was in 1951 when Topps created the first modern day sports trading card set, and the rest is history! Going from strength to strength they went on to deliver stickers, cards, albums, binders, magazines, games, apps and figurines. In 1994 their official Premier League football collection won rave reviews and became, annually, the world’s best-selling sticker collection. By 1995, the company’s progress was such that it won the prestigious Price Waterhouse/Independent on Sunday award for the fastest growing privately held British company.

Forming partnerships and licences with global brands such as UEFA Champions League, Premier League Football, Bundesliga, WWE, Pokémon, Doctor Who, Nat Geo and Star Wars – Topps continues to release some of the world’s best known and loved collectables.

The Challenge

Following a HAYNE health check of their existing IBM TM1 model, requested by Topps, it was discovered that there were various inefficiencies where code had been written using the wizard within Performance Modeller, rather than developing code directly. This led to limitations within the model e.g. hard-coded rules which were set only to only work until 2020 or 2021.

HAYNE also found no system documentation existed, which made it impossible to determine the flow of data or logic in any of the rules or processes. In addition, all forecast data, and some actuals, were being loaded in a manual and convoluted manner – data owners were not inputting forecast data directly into the system but were updating Excel spreadsheets that were then manually keyed into TM1. Actuals from certain markets, even though these resided in the same source system (Navision) as e.g. UK data, were not being loaded in through a TM1 process, but were again being manually keyed in.

Furthermore, parts of the model did not calculate properly, so Topps had to apply manual adjustments to the Budgets and Forecasts to reach the correct number. Topps were using both Performance Modeller and TM1 Application Web to manage, enter data into and report from TM1.

The Solution

HAYNE suggested Topps should look to upgrade to IBM Planning Analytics for two reasons;

  1. IBM Cognos TM1 was going out of support later in the year, leaving a fundamental business process at high risk and
  2. Topps could take advantage of the additional IBM Planning Analytics functionality, including the Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW), which would aid them in meeting a key objective of significantly improving their planning process

Following the HAYNE health check, a full 360° review took place, providing Topps with a clear path towards meeting their business planning goals. Updates included removing cubes no longer required, adding new cubes to meet new functionality requirements, re-writing/revising rules (especially with respect to rules limiting the model and inefficient feeders), redesigning processes to make them more efficient and writing new ones to e.g. ensure all actuals residing in the Navision system were loaded by Planning Analytics. The Performance Modeller and TM1 Application Web interfaces were deprecated and in their place Planning Analytics Workspace was installed. Workspace delivers on system management, data entry and reporting needs including functionality and centrally-managed security. Workspace allows all departments the ability to directly enter data into their forecast, chosen period and areas of responsibility.

Steve Gibson, Finance Manager at Topps says, “I worked closely with Michael at HAYNE during the project – he was always friendly and professional to work alongside. Michael not only implemented fixes, but he did so whilst being very open about how he did it, ensuring that he passed on his knowledge and expertise to us as we went along. Helping us to build on our knowledge, learn new things and become self-sufficient – we have already been able to put our learnings into practice!”

In addition to the work highlighted by the health check there were a number of other BAU/adhoc fixes that came out during the course of the project which HAYNE also completed. These included the automation of actual loads, resolving duplicate data and aliases and clearing out unrequired system files and objects.

To complete the project and to empower Topps in maintaining and maximising their investment, HAYNE delivered IBM Planning Analytics and Workspace Training and provided supporting documentation.

Benefits & outcomes

By the end of the project Topps had an enhanced model that no longer required manual adjustments to reach ‘one version of the truth’.

Steve Gibson, Finance Manager at Topps says, “A major improvement is that our Executive team are now able to get a high level view of the business, on-demand, previously this was a very manual process. Now we can create dashboards in PAW for the execs to use in real-time – so people are not knocking down the finance team’s door.”

Upgrading to IBM Planning Analytics brought Topps three key improvements;

  1. Automation of many timely and risky processes,
  2. The capability of direct data upload from departments and
  3. Executive Team & Sales now have direct access to unique dashboards with which they manage their own planning process

These three things together delivered Topps a future-ready, enhanced financial and business planning model that is efficient, automated and inclusive across the business.

What next?

Our reputation is well-known in the UK (and increasingly elsewhere) for our dedication and expertise in delivering best-in-class IBM Planning Analytics solutions. Our experience ranges from small to complex installs of IBM Planning Analytics and our services cover the entire lifecycle from Consultancy, Project Delivery, Training to Upgrades, Licence management, Maintenance and Support.

The combination of the HAYNE focus and the strength of IBM Planning Analytics delivers results for our clients time and time again. We are certified IBM Developers for IBM Planning Analytics and the UK’s largest and most experienced team delivering IBM Financial Performance Management solutions. We don’t just sell the software, we become your partner.

Contact us to:
  1. Request a DEMO, Free Trial or a call back about IBM Planning Analytics 
  2. OR Contact us to have an informal chat about your entire FPM/CPM needs.
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