Dairy industry body is able to eliminate infrastructure costs and improve budgeting accuracy.
“We really appreciate the adaptability of this application. We don’t have to work around it – it adapts to our exact needs.”
– Fabienne Lepers, project manager, Maison Du Lait Services, CNIEL
The dairy industry plays a key role in the French economy. In 2012, it turned over more than 39 bn Euros and employed approximately 250,000 people across the country.
The Centre National Interprofessionnel de l’Economie Laitière (CNIEL) is an association representing the major organizations in the French dairy industry. Founded in 1973, CNIEL promotes the economic development of the sector by facilitating relationships between different groups, with the goal of improving the quality of dairy products and promoting their consumption.
To ensure that the association’s budget is used in the best possible way, CNIEL has a strict financial monitoring system. At the start of each year, the board of directors votes on the organization’s departmental budget allocation. Each department is responsible for a variety of activities, covering areas including economics, communication, organisation, research programs and more. This budget allocation is not always accurate as CNIEL takes into account not only invoices, but also quotes and contracts. While invoices require the immediate payment of a fixed amount, quotes only require a budget reservation, as the definite amount is unknown.
CNIEL’s budget allocation was managed through a single Excel sheet that was sent back and forth between departments. “Everyone was doing their own thing and the data wasn’t consolidated and tracking was difficult,” said Fabienne Lepers, project manager at Maison du Lait Services.
“There was a clear lack of a consistent view and as a result, errors were frequent,” he added.
In 2010, CNIEL decided to migrate to Google Apps as part of an effort to reduce costs and improve organizational flexibility. Following the migration, CNIEL contacted Google Apps reseller, Gpartner, in search of a cloud-based solution to improve the accuracy, timeliness and control of its budgeting process.
The first version of the application was developed in 2011. At the start of 2013, CNIEL approached RunMyProcess looking for help in extending the application to include more complex data collection. The new version of the application was launched in 2013 and manages the submission of expense reports, order forms, suppliers’ contracts and short-term employment contracts. Through a range of functionality, the application ensures that appropriate budgets are allocated at the right time, to the correct department. The application also recognizes and adapts to the differences between requests – which merely ringfence budget – and those which require immediate payment.
The application launches a range of different processes dependent on the form submitted. To submit an order form, the CNIEL manager launches the process by opening the application. The user is automatically identified with Google Open ID. The manager fills out the details on the order, including the information on the supplier, the expense amount, and the responsible department. When submitted, the application notifies the general secretary of the new submission. The manager is required to print out a PDF-generated version of the expense request and validate it with the director of department. Following approval, the application sends the form for further validation to the general secretary. Once validated, the application provisionally subtracts the order value from the action’s budget.
The application also allows CNIEL managers to submit expense reports. As these are submitted for a fixed amount, the application automatically subtracts the sums from the appropriate action’s budget. The application can also be used to request budgets according to contracts with suppliers. As the contracts do not contain the final invoice, the application simply reserves the budget, but doesn’t subtract it until an invoice is received.
Expenses related to short-term employment are also managed through the application. To register a request for an employee’s salary, the CNIEL manager launches the application and completes the information of the employee, indicating the salary and the contract duration. Once submitted, the application notifies the HR manager and following approval, the application reserves the indicated amount from the action’s budget.
The developed application has helped CNIEL achieve higher transparency and much improved control over its complex budget management workflow, while also saving time and eliminating errors. CNIEL managers now have access to exact information on all contracts, expense reports and invoices they receive. “The application allowed us to centralize the process and gain control of the budget allocation at all times,” explained Fabienne Lepers.
“We have detailed information on the differences between the estimated budget allocations and the actual expenses, something that helps us to greatly improve the accuracy of our budgeting.”
The application also helped CNIEL achieve significant time savings in budget management: “We used to manually integrate information on over 4000 invoices per year, and now this process is almost completely automated,” he added.
CNIEL can access the application from any location and also benefitted from the elimination of server and infrastructure costs. “Because it is cloud-based, our users can access the information from any location, and we have real-time tracking of the changes…it is a time saver for everyone involved,” said Fabienne Lepers.