Swissport is the world’s largest provider of ground and cargo handling services in the aviation industry, moving more than 4 million tons of cargo a year in 48 countries. But as Kim Lanham, the director of FP&A for Swissport North America, found out, the U.S.-based operation had room for improvement in how it moved and managed financial data.
“I started at Swissport in February of 2015 and when I got there they said, ‘You are going to be consolidating 2,000 spreadsheets come budget season that summer,’” Lanham told me at our Planful World conference last May. “And I said, ‘Oh no, no, no, no.’”
With that, Lanham embarked on a journey to transform budgeting, consolidation and reporting processes at her new employer. After evaluating several solutions, Swissport selected Planful to modernize from labor-intensive Excel-based processes.
I spent about an hour with Kim to learn how Swissport uses Planful. Here are a few of my key takeaways.
A Two-Phase Implementation
Previously, Swissport struggled with about 2,000 spreadsheets, roughly two for each of its 1,000 cost centers. That meant a bottom-up view with no practical way to aggregate the data. “It was pivot table or bust,” Lanham said.
After choosing Planful in summer 2015, Swissport took a two-phase approach. First, it loaded ERP data into Planful for budget reporting, gaining decision-making insights not possible with spreadsheets. Next, Swissport built out budget templates and began doing forecasting, including reporting on forecasts vs. actuals.
“Now that we’re in Planful, we have that detailed level of data but we also have a higher-level perspective across the business,” Lanham said. And Swissport gained new trending analytics, important because of huge seasonality in the business: “Our executives were ecstatic they could look at trends year over year.”
Transformational Insights for Finance and Operations
Swissport now has breakthrough capabilities to make informed, data-driven financial and operational decisions. By incorporating both financial and operational data into Planful, Swissport can see how operational KPIs are driving financial results.
“It’s just opened up a world of possibilities and decision-making that was never even dreamt of. It allows us to make better business decisions because we can compare and contrast different locations, divisions, and regions, which we couldn’t do before,” Lanham said.
“It really has changed the direction of our business and how we’re able to manage our performance,” she added. “Now anything our executive team asks for we’ve got at our fingertips. It’s been fantastic.”
Ease of Use Drives Wide Adoption
Exceptional ease of use has sped adoption across a diverse 130 users, spanning finance, accounting, the centralized operations team, general managers at airports, and even cargo ramp supervisors. Some financial power users log in daily and conduct deep data dives. Operational personnel examine how revenue stacks up against operational metrics, identifying areas for improvement.
“Planful is intuitive and user friendly — it’s proven that over and over again,” Lanham said. “Anyone at any level of financial acumen can use Planful to get the job done.”
New Features and Customer Support
Lanham has been especially impressed by the Planful customer support team. For instance, the team noticed Swissport’s heavy workloads and proactively offered to modify the Planful instance to optimize performance. “We’ve been really impressed with how Planful has kept up with our needs, even before we knew we needed it,” she said.
And she’s delighted with new features rolling out regularly. “We’re excited every quarter when a new feature set is introduced,” Lanham said. “Since we went live, Planful has launched new features that just continually add value to our decision-making ability.”
To learn more about the Swissport story, check out a brief video of my discussion with Kim.