EROAD Interview

Connecting the Dots: Accelerating Forecasting While Increasing Governance and Productivity
EROAD, a fleet management solution and telematics company, were bogged down with manual monthly forecasting and budgeting process using excel.

In this session, key stakeholders from EROAD discuss the challenges they had on a day-to-day basis along with the increasing requirements for them to provide better visibility into the forecasting and planning process, improve efficiency and turnaround times, security and integrity of data, reduce the likelihood of errors commonly found in Excel and facilitate better analysis and reporting.

Margaret Warrington, Acting CFO, EROAD
Kim O'Hara, Financial Accounting Manager, EROAD
Sorupan Sivapalan, Client Executive, Tridant

Video Transcript

00:05 Sorupan

Good afternoon all, I hope you had a good lunch. It's not nap time yet, but thanks for joining us. As a quick introduction, my name is Sorupan. I work with Trident as a client executive. For those of you that are not aware of Tridant, Tridant is as a Anaplan implementation partner we started about 15 years ago, in the planning space and as an organization have grown to about 100 consultants across Australia, Singapore, South Africa, and I think Indonesia as well. We work across the planning space with technologies like Anaplan, Workday Adaptive, IBM, but also have a big focus in the data analytics space with regards to Tableau, Power BI, Alteryx, and warehousing. Today, I've got, you know, one of my first customers that I brought on with Tridant, with EROAD with both Margaret and Kim. So, Margaret and Kim, I'll let you introduce yourself and give us a bit of background with regards to EROAD and what your organization does.

01:11 Margaret

Hi Everyone. I said to my neighbor at the table, we're going to be, we're about to be the next people who talk to you and he's not back so I'm thinking, so someone wave if we're boring you guys at any point in time. EROAD is a tech company. It is currently listed on both the NZX and the ASX. Although unless you have fleet that you manage, you probably haven't heard of us. It's hardware enabled Saas services. So what that means is that we put a piece of hardware into a vehicle and it helps the company monitor that vehicle, whether it's from safety, quality, compliance with regulations. So examples of stuff in New Zealand, we got road user charging, so we help customers monitor all that. Other places, we're in the US as well. And we've got concrete mixers with sensors in them that help the customer understand the best point in time to get that concrete to the site so it's optimal for pouring. So it's quite a wide range of things the product enables.

02:11 Kim

And I'm Kim, I'm the Financial Accounting Manager. And part of my role is the forecasting, budgeting processes, which is why we're sitting here today.

02:22 Sorupan

Great, thanks for that. So let's start with, I guess that first conversation around the challenges and the issues that you were having and what you're trying to achieve with the tool.

02:33 Margaret

Sure. So we first reached out to Tridant following my first budgeting round at EROAD where the experience was we had 57 spreadsheets, and each of those spreadsheets had between 20 and 30 tabs on it. And they interlinked in between them. And the night before the board meeting to present that budget, we found a large error in the budgets, and we just went, we can't keep doing this, well, I went, I'm not gonna do this again. And so we got to the point we went, there's got to be a better way. At the same time, we were going through due diligence to purchase another group of companies. And so we kind of went Hang on, we'd had a very stable business model and commercial model for a very long time. And that was starting to change both with the acquisition, but also in the breadth of products we were looking at delivering. So we kind of went, something's got to change.

03:27 Kim

And it’s not just that budgeting process that was huge. We had this huge spreadsheet and this big process. But we also, of course, tried to forecast every month. And that had a completely different model. It was way simplistic and couldn't provide all the information we need for things such as metrics, etc. So we had, you know, things that two scales at the end, and neither of them tied up. So it was a bit of a nightmare.

03:51 Sorupan

Yeah, it was, it was an interesting, second call, I think when when Spencer, one of our master Anaplanners opened up one of the spreadsheets and said, “Wow, how do you guys do this on a on a day to day basis?” And I think Kim, I'm sorry, Margaret was a bit PG in how she responded, but we'll leave that there

04:12 Margaret

But we ultimately needed one a global solution that could help it because we've got finance teams in the US as well as in New Zealand. And we needed something that was robust enough it didn't matter if the architect of the spreadsheet left the business, we could all still use it and understand it.

04:30 Sorupan

And then I think what would be good for the room here is understanding how did you go through the process of selecting a tool How did you build out you know, the business case? And you know, just giving I guess the room and idea of that process.

04:47 Margaret

So we, after that budgeting process and with all those frustrations we were having a forecasting, we felt like we wanted to stop spending our time on the process but on the actual numbers, that was a big thing for us, we're spending our time hunting where a number had come from not looking at the number and what it meant. So we reached out to, via one of the team members had a had a family member who worked in a place that were getting rid of spreadsheets all together. That was their motto in the finance system. They were going, sorry, in their finance team they wanted to use no spreadsheets and have no reliance on spreadsheets. And so I immediately went ‘Well how are they going to do budgeting without a spreadsheet?’ And they introduced us through that contact to try it. And in Anaplan, actually, is where we got to. And so we got and Tridant came in and demoed for us, we spent quite a lot of time on the due diligence process with them we did, they did a number of demos, they did a number of conversations with us to understand our business model, we have some quite weird accounting treatment, we have to do by the nature of the business because we didn't really run effectively a rental model, but we stay in control of the assets. So that drives some quite unusual treatments that we have to do. And so we want, I really wanted to make sure that they understood what we needed, and the tool could do, do what we wanted. So having done that, and having done that due diligence, with Tridant, we actually then didn't go much further than that, we knew that there would might be other products out there that could do the same thing. But we could see that this one meets what we, Anaplan met what we needed it and it was what we needed and we went, there was not a lot of point going investigating 10 more products. So we from that point, we went into a business case to demonstrate the value. And ultimately the value is from that taking the noise away from the process and back and looking at the value of the numbers and what it's been what's been produced. And what that means.

06:41 Kim

I guess one of the big factors we had on the back of our heads was the time constraint. So we were heading towards a budget deadline, obviously, to get the budget out. And, you know, we were looking for people who could work with us to meet that deadline. That was important.

06:58 Sorupan

Great. So looking at, you know, going through that build on what the solution looked like, where do you believe you're currently at from from a solution point of view.

07:09 Margaret

So we intentionally were going to try and build minimal viable product. So we focused only on the finance end of planning. So effectively budgeting and forecasting, our intention longer term is to work out how much further we can bring the Anaplan tool through our planning process. So we have manufacturing, we have external supply chain management, as well as our own internal manufacturing processes. And then we have the SaaS charging component, the other end. So we have a reasonably end to end commercial model overlaid with that we have different variations and how we build what we do and variations in terms of our product. So we were after our internal planning system as a process of looking at what products we're developing, because we're a SaaS company, it's fairly fast moving, what products we're developing through to what's the demand for those products through to what's the supply and the global supply chain challenges we're having at the moment into financialization and what we're trying to look to is use Anaplan to be able to financialize each of those steps as they're happening live. So we can kind of start talking about what we're going to do about it as opposed to how we financialized it.

08:18 Sorupan

So from a from an outcomes point of view, do you believe that you have the skill set the team to I guess, drive this forward as an organization?

08:30 Kim

I mean, when we went through the project, we did a cobuild model. So that involved Tridant as part of the project plus, EROAD provided, we provided three team members. So like we said, we had a quite a tight timeframe but we quickly trained three of us up is builders model with level one and two model builders. And so we built part of that model with it. So it means that coming out of the other side of the project, we're actually quite confident with the model with making improvements, understanding the inputs and what the model is doing behind the scenes. So that's been a real advantage to EROAD, to come out that other side.

09:16 Margaret

And I mean, we all look to put in systems and have people that have systems that go beyond people leaving a team and actually having tried and involved it's been really useful because we actively chose to do three people on the team so that we could read, we can read the skill in the team. But if I know if they leave at any point in time, Tridant also understand the model. Yopi who was one of the most outstanding people I've met in terms of implementations. He can, he can also, we pick up the phone ringing all the time. I don't know that he loves it but we love it.

09:51 Sorupan

Also another good point to look at is I think for those that are maybe looking to implement a tool within their organization. What were the lessons learned? You know, we see a lot of organizations implement tools across the board. But it's not always as hunky dory and perfect, or a perfect implementation. So what were some of those lessons that you learned throughout the process?

10:13 Margaret

That we were sitting in a position, I mean, I've always already described a little bit of what EROAD was going through. But we also did a very large acquisition that was set on the first of December. So we had all those spreadsheets with described and come the first of December, we've done $188 million deal to settle this company. And we had about eight to 10 weeks to produce a joint budget for the board. And so when we said, said to Tridant, and we want to do this, but we're going to do it in what would have been eight weeks, 10 weeks. And that's part of the reason we chose minimum viable product and narrowed it to just the finance and forecasting element. We, we kind of went Goodness me. And it was fair to say Yopi spent a bit of time trying to manage our expectations. So we had to step into that and go, No, we're committed to this timeline. And we will give you whatever resource you need, and make sure that we're there to deliver our side of it and and do the co-build. So that meant Kim had no, I think she got Christmas Day off that Christmas period. Every other day she worked through, when they said to me, I think they were testing me. And they said to me on New Year's Day, we want you to come to a go no go meeting. And I was like “Okay, I'll be there”. So there was quite a lot through it. So. So we were very clear on our scope and what we're trying to deliver, we're very clear on the timeframe and we were very dedicated to making sure we did our part in that process to make sure it was delivered. We didn't, not everything went perfectly in hindsight, we effectively replicated what we were doing on those spreadsheets to some degree. And some of that was driven by the fact that we did have a very short time. If I was doing it again, I would try and step back and go is there a different way of thinking about this, rather than try to replicate what we were doing in spreadsheet. So we're starting to do that thinking now.

12:02 Kim

Yeah, and one of the other learnings from this project, but also other projects I've been in, it's always around that data. And you know, if I was going to say anything, start looking at your data now and make sure it's clean. Because every project I've been in, we're normally moving dirty data, and you move it across as dirty data, and that always influences everything. And so that's one of my key learnings from all the projects I've been on.

12:25 Margaret

We have also stolen some of Tridant’s processes and how they do things which kind of might be considered normal project management practice. But for us, they worked, they really worked in a very condensed timeframe. So there's a few things we've stolen from them in terms of how we've done stuff subsequently.

12:44 Sorupan

So I guess going through the journey with where you've got to today with Anaplan. Would you, would you look back at any other tool? Are you, are you happy with what you have at the moment?

12:54 Margaret

We love Anaplan! And I haven't ever said that to them, it's not why they've got us on stage. As with any tool, does it do exactly what we want in the moment every time? No, we've got to do development over all the time and think about our business model and what we need. But do you know the conversations we had through this last budgeting round have been “What's that number mean? And why” not “Where did you find that number?” And then the forecasting, you know, if our board says to us, hang on the forecast says X and the budget says Y, we know everything’s consistent we know everything's been run consistently. We know that was one of the big things with the spreadsheet is you would, you'd then do your forecasting, the board would say “How does that compare to the budget?” and we couldn't answer that question. If we remap stuff now. So we're just looking through how we with the new commission models we've got, we're looking through how we remap to present different pictures to our board. And of course, the tool enables us to remap the budget, the actuals and the forecast all the way through the process. So, you know, the first time I ran it, and I could go in myself and I could run a dashboard that showed me the group result, and I could do that by region by currency by, you know, by company, by resource center, by cost center, even like I can choose what I want as dropdowns. And it's very simple to use, you know, I was sold.

14:11 Kim

Yeah. And I'd reiterate that confidence in the numbers that's coming through. So we're confident we understand where the numbers are coming from, what the modeling is behind the numbers. So if we're questioning a number, it's around the assumptions that have been used to build it, but it just moves us streets ahead from where we've been

14:29 Sorupan

Great. And I think it was that drill down functionality that just wasn't there.

14:34 Kim

Yeah. And it's so quick to look at a number and go well, that looks a bit strange. And yeah, the drilldown function just takes you right back to those key assumptions.

14:44 Sorupan

Right. So let's talk about the future. What does it, what does the future hold with Anaplan and EROAD?

14:51 Margaret

So we're, as we talked about, we've got an integrated business model. We're keen to get to a point that we're updating our product roadmap and we can financialized that then we can financialize the demand live as the sales guys are giving us information. So, so I was listening to the Accenture lady earlier and thinking we're streets away from where they've described, but we do have pipelines, we do financialize them, it'd be great to get that integrated and linking through into Aplan so and then that automatically feed into our, into our supply chain and our planning for that.

15:22 Sorupan

And how are you going to bring your supply chain team on that journey?

15:26 Margaret

Slowly… Actually, that's not fair. They're actually chomping at the bit. The interesting thing for me is usually you bring in a new piece of software into the business and you find people, particularly if it's a finance piece of software, people bury their heads in the sand and go, no thanks. Don't wanna hear about that. We've kind of almost from the word go had people outside of finance going, Oh, I've heard about that tool and I've heard it's really good. And they're, they're kind of seeing what they're getting and seeing the improvement and what they're getting from the finance team. And kind of going can we use that in our own space so, so I joke about but the supply chain guys really do want to take the opportunity to use it as well.

16:07 Sorupan

Oh, great. Thank you both for your time today. And you know, we enjoy the partnership and we hope to continue it over many years and thanks for listening, cheers.

16:19 Margaret

And if anyone’s got any questions, particularly more than happy to help.

Book a Discovery Session Today

Speak with our Tridant specialists today and unlock the full potential of your data.

Contact Us

Copyright © Tridant Pty Ltd.

Privacy Policy