Using planning analysts at the centre of brand development
A Kraft Foods UK case study

Page 1: Introduction

In a competitive market, the organisations most likely to meet their objectives are those that are capable of leading rather than following changes within that market. Managers therefore need to build a business that is capable of responding quickly to changes in both consumer requirements and the business environment. This means not only constantly developing innovations but also being able to...
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Page 2: Planning analysts

The word 'accountant' conjures up the stereotype of somebody sitting in a office, often on their own, inspecting and auditing books, from which they produce historical financial reports. In a fast moving commercial environment such as that at Kraft, the difference could not be starker. In order to achieve the corporate goals, Kraft employs accountants in planning analyst roles who work within...
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Page 3: Corporate goals, vision and strategies

The starting point for planning is to set a corporate goal or target. With this, a business sets out a vision of where it wants to be and how it wishes to be viewed by others. The Kraft vision is to be recognised as the undisputed leader in the global market for foods. In pursuit of this aim, Kraft has devised strategies that are intended to ensure that: its products become consumers...
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Page 4: Managing the product portfolio

One of Kraft's aims is to ensure that its products become consumers' first choice. To achieve this, Kraft has identified and developed a range of distinctive key brands which are known within the company as its Power Brands. Kraft concentrates on the innovation and rapid development of these Power Brands, with a view to having new, exciting products 'out there, now'. The major element in...
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Page 5: New Product Development

Every year Kraft introduces new products across a range of consumer markets, and this involves a considerable amount of investment and planning. Working within the product teams, planning analysts work together with Kraf's Research and Development Division to analyse market opportunities for the Power Brands and discuss how to introduce new products to the market. This means that they help plan...
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Page 6: Forecasting and evaluation

Having created an operating plan within the annual planning cycle, a business must monitor the plan to ensure that targets for growth, sales, profitability and cashflow are met. Using their analysis of variance between actuals, plans and forecasts, planning analysts work with the business teams to develop suitable plans of action. Where actual outcomes differ from forecasts built into...
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Page 7: Manufacturing and supply chain variances

In planning financial activities it is important to have a target or standard to achieve. Variances can be used as a way of checking the progress of strategies, corrections or changes to business activities to put the business back on track to improve performance. Within Kraft, variance analysis involves detailed reviews that are linked to activities across the business. For example...
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Page 8: Traditional financial controls

In order to meet Kraft's business objectives, its planning analysts work with other financial managers to ensure that transactional accounting and financial controls work efficiently. The budgeting process provides the basic information from which cash flow forecasts and balance sheet targets can be calculated and agreed. Having highly qualified planning analysts working across the business...
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Page 9: Conclusion

The strong link between the corporate strategies developed within Kraft and the performance of Power Brands is underpinned by the way in which teams comprising of business and well-qualified planning analysts work together. Kraft is building its performance around skillful managers who operate within clearly defined forward plans that are carefully developed. The plans are closely tied to...
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