Chris Feeney, Chief Financial Officer at Delaware North Companies, discussed his business’ internal finance transformation during his keynote presentation at the 2018 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in New York on November 28. In his presentation, “Project Maximization Finance Initiative,” Feeney explained how Delaware North revamped its finance operations.
Delaware North is a global food service and hospitality company with more than 55,000 employees. Yet the business had a dispersed workforce – something that made it difficult for the company to accomplish its goals.
“We have an extraordinarily dispersed workforce that was suffering from heavy manual processes and we have heavy turnover at our field locations,” Feeney stated. “We are basically in the midst of an initiative to address those needs.”
Delaware North wanted to find the best ways to help its finance team innovate and grow. Also, Delaware North sought ways to drive transformation across all departments and ensure that different departments could work together to achieve common business goals.
To streamline and improve its finance operations, Delaware North launched Project Maximization (Project Max). With this initiative in place, Delaware North has transformed the everyday operations across its finance team, as well as various internal business departments.
Project Max was designed to support Delaware North’s immediate and long-term goals. At the same time, the project was built around the ideas of driving efficiency, streamlining the company’s everyday operations and leveraging automation whenever possible. That way, Project Max could help Delaware North employees maintain constant contact with one another so they could deliver the best guest services at all times.
“Everything we do in finance supports our company’s vision, goals and values,” Feeney pointed out. “[We] want to make it easier for our associates in the field to concentrate on guest service.”
Technology is a key tenet behind driving organizational efficiency, yet not all technologies are identical. At Delaware North, the company previously used myriad technologies across all departments, but these technologies sometimes caused problems.
Delaware North’s use of technology led to fractionalization and missed revenue growth opportunities at times. Conversely, Project Max allowed Delaware North to revamp its technology strategy.
With Project Max, Delaware North focused on finding technology that it could use to drive consistent growth and transformation. Once Delaware North found the right technologies to support its employees, the company was better equipped than ever before to achieve its short- and long-term aspirations.
“When we deployed technology, it was being used in an inconsistent manner throughout because of our heavily dispersed footprint,” Feeney said. “This led to a lot of conversations about how we can accelerate growth and led to transformation.”
As Delaware North put Project Max into action, the company performed an assessment across multiple departments. Then, the company explored ways to gradually implement Project Max and monitor the initiative’s results.
“The journey started with a strategic assessment of finance, HR, IT and procurement,” Feeney noted. “And we determined it would be best to start with a pilot.”
Delaware North sought a shared services function, too. By fostering collaboration and communication across different departments, Delaware North could discover innovative ways to keep pace with client expectations.
To create a shared services function, Delaware North established Project Max milestones. The company also revamped its day-to-day work processes and utilized technologies to support these processes.
“Establishing a shared services function would definitely help us achieve synergies,” Feeney stated. “So we designed our own benchmarks and used our own common sense, reorganized how our work was going to be done and supported it with technology.”
Going forward, Delaware North is focused on effectiveness, scalability and automation. These primary tenets of Project Max support the company’s mission, goals and values. And as such, the tenets likely will play major roles in Project Max’s success in the years to come.
“Effectiveness is what we’re trying to achieve, and we’re trying to drive scalability and automation wherever we can,” Feeney indicated.
Meanwhile, competition for top talent among global organizations is fierce, and Delaware North is committed to doing everything possible to find and retain highly skilled employees. To keep pace with industry rivals, Delaware North continues to revamp its human capital strategy.
Delaware North is committed to employing top talent who can grow with the organization. Furthermore, the business wants to add finance, accounting and other talented professionals who can support Project Max. If Delaware North can accomplish its human capital strategy goals, the company could reap the benefits of a dedicated workforce that constantly explores innovation and improvement.
“We built a human capital strategy through a new operating model,” Feeney pointed out. “We want to attract higher-caliber finance and accounting talent across the organization. We want to retain high-performing and high-potential talent and provide clear pathways for development and succession planning for the organization.”
Christopher J. Feeney is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Delaware North, a global leader in hospitality and food service. With more than $3 billion in annual revenue and 55,000 employees in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Delaware North is one of the largest privately held hospitality companies in the world.
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