PODCAST

Rapid impact podcast series, episode 1

How you can improve EBITDA and put your business on the fast track to performance innovation

Podcast overview

Taking the first steps to assess performance improvement tracking and governance can shift a company’s trajectory quickly and significantly. The journey can help a company overcome a midlife slump, re-energize a business that has drifted into complacency, unleash a vibrant culture, or leapfrog ahead of the competition – and can raise EBITDA up to 50%.

Topics covered include:

  • The quickly evolving landscape
  • Accelerating your operational performance
  • Customizing a plan for your business
  • Driving operational improvements fast

Voiceover Introduction:

Welcome to the KPMG Elevate podcast series: Rapid Impact, Putting your business on the fast track

to performance innovation. In this first episode, you will have the opportunity to hear from Scott Rankin, Principle in KPMG’s Advisory Practice, who serves as the performance transformation services leader and works directly with clients in the role of Strategy and Operations Consultant.

Along with podcast host, DeLisa White, an Influencer Executive Visibility Lead for KPMG and the Elevate solution, they discuss topics such as:

What might cause a COO to consider assessing performance improvement

How KPMG and the Elevate solution best partner with COOs looking to start the performance improvement process

The details of the two-phased Elevate approach

Let’s listen in.

DeLisa White:

Welcome to the Rapid Impact podcast. Chief operating officers focused on achieving sustainable performance improvement across the enterprise take a holistic view of the business and can target reactive as well as proactive approaches to improve return on capital, revenue growth and EBITDA.

DeLisa White:

We are here with Scott Rankin, who is a principal in KPMG's advisory practice and serves as the performance transformation services leader. As a strategy and operations consultant, Scott works directly with client senior leadership and C-level executives to develop strategic growth plans and operational transformations. Thank you for being here, Scott.

Scott Rankin:

Hey, [inaudible 00:00:49]. It's great to be here. I'm dialing in from snowy icy, rainy Boston. It's pretty miserable here in beginning of February.

DeLisa White:

Well, I have to say I'm in South Carolina at the moment and it's not too much better. It's warmer, but it's just as rainy and gloomy out here. So we're sharing that on the east coast and may the time that our listeners be dialing in, be better weather for us both. So I'm going to get to the first question that I have for you. Could you talk to us about what might cause a COO to consider assessing performance improvement?

Scott Rankin:

Absolutely. So we've been fortunate to have a very strong economy over the last couple of years. As part of that, markets are evolving quickly, companies are investing a lot of money in building new capabilities. Obviously, digital is disrupting everything. I think in the last couple of years, we've made 5 or 10 years of progress in digital innovation throughout this period of COVID, obviously how people work, how people will shop, how they collect content and information has changed. And what that has resulted in is it's now become more complex for COOs and other executives to operate in this kind of environment. So assessing performance in market where things are changing so quickly is really hard to do.

Scott Rankin:

And if you think back to pre-COVID several years ago, companies used to set strategic plans on an annual basis. And just the speed at which the markets are moving now requires companies to set targets on a monthly basis, quarterly basis, reevaluate, change, fix, pivot. So they need more frequent, more rapid insights to stay competitive. And I would say that's really driving a lot of the impetus in the work we do around continuously assessing performance.

DeLisa White:

Sure. Sure. Well, I want to hear, especially from you about how can KPMG and the Elevate solution best partner with COOs looking to start the performance improvement process.

Scott Rankin:

Absolutely. So as markets and businesses become more complex and get more fragmented, it's harder for COOs and other executives to pinpoint specific areas of overperformance or underperformance. We've worked with a lot of different clients in manufacturing, in retail, in life sciences, who as the business shifts and evolves, they really need help figuring out exactly where and how they make money. As crazy as that might sound, they get P&L statements, but if they want to dig in two or three levels deeper across geographies, regions, countries, channels, brands, SKUs, that level of granularity is hard to get to.

Scott Rankin:

So what we've done is over the past couple of years, we've built up sophisticated data and analytics tools and engines to be able to ingest tremendous amounts of data from disparate sources and synthesize it into insights that actually matter. So Elevate and the tools that we've built is essentially a platform that's been purpose built to conduct this rapid data driven, comprehensive set of assessments, to identify ways to help companies and make more money either through commercial levers, like growing sales, entering new markets, reaching new customers, improving margins, reducing costs, or improving working capital.

Scott Rankin:

So that's what we've been up to over the last couple of years and really what Elevate is all about.

DeLisa White:

That is very clear and thank you so much for that explanation. Could you talk a little bit about the two phased approach?

Scott Rankin:

Sure. It's actually somewhat simple. So the first phase is really all about ingesting, cleansing, structuring and synthesizing data into a series of recommendations. And we can do this at scale with rapid speed. So in a retail example, we can take retail point of sale data. So literally every transaction, every store, every day, over five year period. So billions and billions of rows, bring it into our data sets, combine it with other data, marketing programs, supply chain, logistics, loyalty, pricing, promotions, discounts, and essentially use that to arrive at a series of recommendations to say, "Here's where you can make more money."

Scott Rankin:

And that's done in collaboration with management to ensure the initiatives and ideas that we come up with are executable and not just some academic exercise that goes on a shelf after we leave. That's step one or phase one. Phase two, the more important phase, honestly, is working side by side with clients to implement the change. We know all of our clients have day jobs, nights and weekends jobs, lots of things going on. And they often look to third parties like KPMG to help them accelerate the speed to value of things that they want to do, but don't necessarily have that time or resources to do, given just, it's so hard to operate in this complex world we live in.

DeLisa White:

That sounds really key to me. And thank you for explaining that. I think that second part is really the difference maker. So I was wondering if you could tell us about a specific client engagement that stands out to you, that you could share about the surprises and/or successes that a client has experienced.

Scott Rankin:

Sure. It's a tough one. It's almost like asking me if I have a favorite child, which they both ask me and I, of course, refuse to answer the question. That will go with me to my grave, or maybe I'll tell my wife. But all kidding aside, we've been really fortunate to work with great clients on a whole host of topics. But if I had to pick one over the last couple of years, it would be work that we did with a global manufacturer and retailer. And in this particular case, it was a very complex business, more than 40 countries, multiple brands, multiple channels.

Scott Rankin:

So they sold wholesale into other retail stores. They had their own stores, they had their own e-commerce site or sites. They had their own shop and shops in Asia. So multiple channels, really, really complex business. As a result of COVID going through challenges early on, as many retailers did, and over the years, their business had grown up through a series of acquisitions and coming into COVID, they hadn't necessarily integrated everything.

Scott Rankin:

So their business and the P&L structure and the way they a reported and analyzed the business was a little bit different around the globe. So it was very hard to, in one place, understand the performance of all the different business units that I talked about and collect the data to make very specific recommendations in an urgent way to get the business moving in the right direction. So over a period of a short, rapid diagnostic, and then through implementation or execution assistance, we really help them define, develop, and implement a series of profit improvement programs or levers to help them figure out what customers to focus on and grow, what brands to invest in to accelerate growth throughout the pandemic.

Scott Rankin:

And honestly, what brands to start to let fade away a little bit and pull investment from them because they just didn't have resonance with consumers and what SKUs to exit, because they were long tail SKUs that weren't making money. And we did this across the portfolio, across the globe and in a very rapid way, helped them very quickly get to making more money, which was obviously, it is a primary objective among other things for C-level executives in industries. So that for me was one that was really rewarding because we helped them identify and capture significant value in a really expedient way.

DeLisa White:

Oh, well, thank you so much, Scott. And thank you so much for the time you've spent with us today. As we close out, is there anything else you'd want to share with our listeners?

Scott Rankin:

Sure. Maybe one last thing. We've talked a lot about big data sets and billions of rows, and people may think, "That's really daunting. That's impossible. It must take forever." And I would say, the technology advancements in the industry over the last several years are astounding. So with the technology and the tools and the capabilities we have today, all the exercises that I'm talking about, the data captured, synthesizing all of the different information, literally now can be done in weeks, not months or years. When I started in consulting, I'm embarrassed to say how long ago, but more than two decades ago, we used to do things in spreadsheets and at the time Excel maxed out at 64,000 rows.

Scott Rankin:

And if you wanted to do a simple formula in Excel and that many rows, you would literally hit enter on the keyboard, walk away, get a cup of coffee because it took forever to run. And now just with all the processing power, we can do things like this just at tremendous speed. So while some of this may seem overwhelming and complex, we can actually now boil the ocean in just a matter of weeks. So that's what I would leave the audience with.

DeLisa White:

Well, that's good to know. And super exciting sense of the context of these innovations. For those who want to know more about Elevate, keep tuning into this podcast. And also you can sign up for our C-Suite Elevate Perspective Series, and you can get some interesting insights and updates in your email box. Check the description for the link. And that's us signing off from bad weather and hoping for good weather for you.

Voiceover Conclusion:

Want to know more about Elevate? We offer several ways for you to connect with the content you want and take the next steps.

Be sure to check out the whitepapers available on this and other topics.

Sign up for the Elevate C-Suite Perspectives Series.

Listen to the second edition of the Rapid Impact podcast. Links to all these resources are available in the podcast description.

Thank you for engaging with our podcast today.

Speaker

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

Principal and the US Strategy Service Line Leader, KPMG LLP