Pinja has experienced rapid growth with seven acquisitions in the past three years in addition to strong organic growth. With the growing demand for industrial digitalization, their future endeavors look very prominent.
However, growth is always featured with a variety of obstacles. Financing that growth, is one that should be least overlooked. Pinja wanted to be proactive in their growth trail and build a foundation that would fuel their future financing needs with the cash tied to their operations. This was seen as a win-win strategy as there would be less need for external financing and operations would become more efficient and streamlined in the process.
“As a company that has been built up from numerous companies and entrepreneurs, historically we haven’t had a lot of focus on working capital. Capacent was able to bring a fact-based methodology, a systematic approach, and the expertise needed to guide our top management’s daily decision making,“ says Merja Rantala, CFO, Pinja.
A Capacent working capital project always starts with a “define” phase in order to get a common understanding of the customer’s challenges and potential development initiatives. After the define phase is done, we know if there is a viable business case to further develop the desired initiatives.
The define phase with Pinja’s project team was conducted during 11/2019 – 01/2020. The aim was to provide an in-depth analysis of their working capital release potential and it was built up from the following steps:
To be able to construct a coherent working capital strategy, a dive into the financials of all of Pinja’s business units was necessary.
From the traditional working capital elements (accounts receivable, accounts payable and inventory), inventory was left out of scope due to Pinja’s revenue share of physical products being miniscule. The emphasis of the analysis was put on accounts receivable and the different revenue models that lie within. This is quite natural for a company who mainly produces professional services.
After a thorough analysis of transactional data and over a dozen interviews with key stakeholders, the next step was to assemble a list of potential sources and actions for unlocking tied-up cash.
From a traditional sense, quantifying working capital potential within accounts receivables is fairly straight forward. The bigger the account the more emphasis you should put on negotiating payment terms.
However, when dealing with multiple revenue models (e.g. fixed priced projects, hourly based monthly billing, billing based on completion milestones, SaaS, upkeep fees etc.) you have the option to make larger strategic decisions such as altering billing cycles or invoicing logic. These can have a greater impact on your working capital, but on the other hand can be more difficult to implement. This is why we first started with a long-list of potential sources for freeing up capital to make sure any potential development areas don’t go unnoticed, even if their complexity to change or implement is fairly hard.
Most of top management (excluding finance and the CFO) do not have much to do with the balance sheet on a daily basis. That is why when talking about working capital it is always good to spare some time for theory and training. E.g. What is the balance sheet and what is it’s strategic function in our line of business.
With 15 years of working capital optimization, our balance sheet expert, Mikko Myllys, is the go-to man here. He conducted a training sessions with very practical examples for Pinja’s top management after which the team better understood and was very much convinced about the impact of efficient working capital.
4. Prioritize next actions together
Once the facts and data was presented to Pinja’s top management, potential actions were laid out and prioritized together in a management workshop. Having all stakeholders present and up for debate is crucial when planning what areas to focus on and in what order.
5. Planning the exection phase
After the key improvement areas were pinpointed the final step was to plan the execution phase in greater detail. This includes designing different streams, appointing stream leaders and responsibles, listing concrete action points and trying to forecast what kind of results can be achieved in what time period. Set your goals high enough to for them to have significant impact but realistic enough to be motivating.
Capacent presented the facts and educated us about the balance sheet in a very clear and understandable manner. The importance of working capital grew within our management team from the training sessions which is definitely a valuable asset for us going forward.
“It is fair to say the project repaid itself almost right away. We were able to implement a few quick-wins on the spot, which helped release a few hundred thousand of our working capital. In addition, our top management agreed on which improvements areas would be focused on next to achieve our full potential of a 30% reduction from our current level,“ says Rantala.
“As we continue to grow, that 30% will convert into several million euros less external financing needed. That really puts you thinking. Let alone to mention how much more financing we would need if our relative working capital would start to develop in the wrong direction,“ summarizes Merja Rantala.
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