It started with the production of hand-wrapped chocolate kisses in a rural area of Pennsylvania in 1894. Now, The Hershey Company is a global entity with 18,000 employees, 70 locations, and 80 brands of candy and snacks — including the 70 million Hershey’s Kisses it produces every day.
For a company with ambitions to grow on a global scale while increasing market penetration in North America, financial operations have to be smooth and reliable. But after years of expansion, Hershey found its systems and processes, which tracked approximately 4,000 general ledgers across one chart of accounts, required a lot of work to get the insight it needed.
Reconciliation of accounts was particularly problematic, with 4,104 active account reconciliations, prepared by 121 people, and 77 people approving them — all with varying styles, formats, and deadlines. Data was kept in spreadsheets, on paper, and in emails, and was stored in shared drives, local computers, and file cabinets rather than in a central repository. It was clear that Hershey needed a different approach to account reconciliation.
“As a global organization, having visibility to the entire balance sheet is a need,” says John Zimmerman, Director of Financial Data Systems at Hershey for the last seven years. “The more global we became, the more oversight we needed into the chart of accounts. We were looking for process efficiency around balance sheet control, preparation, and reconciliation.”
Looking ahead, there are plans for the continued in-tandem rollouts of BlackLine functionalities and the central finance deployment as well as other SAP S/4HANA products through the 2020-to-2021 time frame. “Success for us is enhanced efficiency through a combination of technology and process improvement that provides better visibility into our financial processes,” Zimmerman says.