P&G: Staying Current And Connected With Customers And Consumers

Laura Becker

Part of the “Digital CFO” series

In my tenure with P&G, one thing I have learned is that digital transformation is not a one-off project. It is the transformation of business processes, organizational capabilities, and a cultural mindset to fully accept the change by leveraging the mix of digital technologies.

P&G has been and will remain on a journey of transformation as consumers’ needs and the external environment in which we compete continue to change. Our objective is to improve data visibility and insights to enable P&G to succeed in this dynamic environment.

Making connections with digital consumers

The attention of consumers in the digital world is shifting in important ways. Their attention and experience are migrating to mobile at a rapid rate. In addition, we are seeing a shift in media funds from TV to online and mobile. In the world of connectedness and influence from social media forums, consumers can find a product, get a review, and click to buy, all from their mobile phones. Hence, reaching consumers means being present where they are, perceiving what they want, and then serving them in relevant ways. This requires being active on social media and online forums and improving engagement with consumers. Our digital transformation, thus, has focused on ways to execute in this regard.

With this evolution of consumer behavior, we are collaborating with our technology partners to bring the capabilities to continue to transform our end-to-end work processes and digitize them. One overriding aim has been to improve the visibility of data across the product lifecycle and the consumer journey. In e-commerce scenarios, this insight can help fine-tune cross-sell recommendations based on consumer profiles and other data. In-store, it can help retail customers optimize shelf sets and grow sales within a given category. In addition, automation and embedded analytics across our work processes will continue to enable us to meet consumer and retailer needs. For example, in selling, we are enabling our sales teams with data and analytics to make the best decisions for P&G and retailers.

The best options to drive performance

Today, my role at P&G is president of Global Business Services, and within this, also directly leading the Financial and Purchasing Shared Services & Solutions organization. I have worked in finance at P&G for 29 years across the Operating Divisions, Treasury, Acquisitions & Divestitures, and Shared Services. While some see finance as an accounting and compliance function – more or less “back office” – we see the scope of finance going beyond this, serving as a key strategic business partner for helping the business achieve its goals.

For example, when it comes to digital transformation initiatives, finance at P&G plays a key role in evaluating what opportunities to pursue in support of the business strategy and how to prioritize the associated investments. Today, there is an almost overwhelming set of digital opportunities for organizations to choose from for their transformation journeys. Driving portfolio choices to best support these strategies is a core responsibility for finance.

Finance, in fact, played a central role in driving P&G’s decision to invest in ERP transformation in the finance and supply chain systems, identifying value-creation opportunities to drive these changes. These projects are key enablers to providing timely data visibility for decision-making, optimizing process efficiency, and supporting our supply chain to best serve retailers and consumers. In addition, we are leveraging the ERP transformation to drive stronger compliance, information security, and resiliency, all of which are critical in today’s environment.

This implementation is already yielding dividends. Today, aspects of the finance implementation that have gone live are focused on budget management and local tax reporting, with forecasting and external reporting to follow. As part of the budget management implementation, we have transformed our business processes to drive simplification and standardization and to empower the budget owners to directly manage their budgets.

Now supply chain employees can compare actuals to their budgets without delays. Where do we stand with overtime? What is the picture regarding maintenance and repairs? In the past, answers to such questions required a finance person with expertise in the underlying data. Today, the information is automatically delivered in a dashboard format. Currently, we are rolling out similar capabilities to marketing – all based on a simplified data model and standardized processes that make global data visibility and insight a reality.

Letting go and empowering employees

Digital transformation typically comes with a healthy dose of cultural change. This is as true for P&G as for any other organization. For us, one important implication of empowering employees on the ground with real-time data and insight is that finance has had to learn to let go. No longer is it the role of finance to assist with pulling data and reporting. This capacity can be redirected to higher-level work, such as focusing on driving the business strategy and value creation for our shareholders.

What’s next

As for what lies ahead, we are currently focused on completing the ERP changes in our finance systems, while at the same time starting the supply chain ERP transformation, where the focus is driving the systems to ensure P&G can respond quickly and with agility to consumer demand. With the tens of thousands of products P&G produces and sells, the supply chain platform changes are significant. Unlocking the value creation requires state-of-the-art technology that can be well-integrated into the numerous systems supporting this complex supply chain.

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This article originally appeared on DATAVERSITY and is republished by permission.

Laura Becker

About Laura Becker

Laura Becker leads Global Business Services (GBS) for P&G, which operates and supports the infrastructure, operations, systems, and shared services that run P&G. GBS also discovers, develops, and implements technologies to accelerate and advance the work of P&G brands. A vast network of employees collaborate with one another and dozens of strategic partners around the world to disruptively grow the business, maximize efficiency, and drive scale. Laura’s leadership complements her day-to-day ownership of the Financial and Purchasing Services & Solutions organization. Laura joined P&G in 1990 in the Hair Care business. Over her career, she has gained mastery across F&A practice areas—including business operations, business development, mergers & acquisitions, treasury, and capital markets. She has thrived in multifunctional organizations, balancing breakthrough transformation, continuous improvement, and operational excellence, while bringing out the best in her people.