Unified FP&A at Service Express
Automating key processes and increasing the efficiency of budgeting and reporting
An unnecessarily complex and lengthy budgeting process that relied entirely on spreadsheets caused technology support provider Service Express to seek a more efficient approach. The business chose the Board decision-making platform to standardize its performance management activities, resulting in greater visibility and control, a much more streamlined budgeting process, and the flexibility to expand the solution to meet changing requirements.
- Industry: Information Technology, Professional Services
- Department: Finance
Service Express is a leading third-party maintenance (TPM) provider of hardware support for data center infrastructure focused on mission-critical server, storage, and network equipment. In addition to post-warranty maintenance, the company offers hardware system solutions, sales and upgrades, OS support, IT asset recovery, and data center relocation services. Founded in 1993, Service Express maintains multivendor data center equipment for hospitals, manufacturing plants, universities, financial institutions, government agencies, and other mid-to-large companies worldwide.
The Challenge: Complex spreadsheet-based processes causing budgeting delays
Service Express operates with around 25 functional budget owners who had been traditionally been producing executive reports and budgets using multiple Excel spreadsheets. Due to the complexity and unnecessary length of this process, the executives were finding issues in the spreadsheets, causing confusion and delays in the budget cycle. This drove the team to find an enterprise-wide solution that could consolidate multiple spreadsheets into a centralized performance management system that would consistently deliver dynamic reporting in a cost-effective and more efficient manner.
The Solution: A single source of truth in a unified platform
After carefully evaluating Cloud-based performance management solutions from companies that included Host Analytics, Adaptive Insights, Domo, and Board, Service Express selected the Board decision-making platform as the best solution for its budgeting needs. Service Express was particularly drawn to Board’s all-in-one Business Intelligence, Planning, and Predictive Analytics nature and the fact it was available as a Cloud-based solution that works off a central data store and provides all departments with a single source of information. Service Express is not only able to streamline budgeting and reporting processes in Board, but can also build multiple applications for its needs, from analytics to business planning.
"Board has proved to be a very powerful platform. If we can design something and think about it, we can build it in Board if we need to," comments Chad Botbyl, Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Service Express.
The Results: Greater budgeting visibility and control, and the flexibility to expand with changing requirements
Service Express began by building a budgeting system within Board that allowed it to take the entire process out of Excel, enabling individual users throughout the company to access and work with the data. This provided Service Express with complete visibility and control over the budgeting process, enabling more efficient forecasting and business planning.
After acquiring a company a few years later, Service Express rolled out a new budgeting system within Board that could handle the significant changes to the company’s infrastructure and processes. The flexible nature of Board made it easy for Service Express to redesign and rebuild the database to handle all the new aspects of the process they hadn’t originally planned for. This included such new initiatives as an office expansion data model, headcount planning, and a budget approval queue. The FP&A team now uses a Board dashboard to track potential new office locations in conjunction with the growing customer base to evaluate, in real-time, where it makes sense to invest in new office space. Board’s interactive platform also automates revenue and headcount targets based on historical performance data, creating a realistic and achievable projection that the entire company can access and work against.
"Bringing our budgeting process into Board has been a huge time saver for our FP&A department. It's a great way for them to really monitor the budget and work towards a rolling forecast where it's not just one budget cycle. They can monitor the actions of all the users, what they're doing with the budget, and how they're tracking for the year, all in one spot," concludes Chad.
00:00:07My name is Chad Botbyl, I am a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Service Express. I am responsible for doing a lot of data integration, developing in Board, as well as developing in a couple of other languages a lot of SQL, a lot of data analysis, and kind of dashboard building - stuff along those lines. We are a third party data server maintenance company. You buy a server from HP or IBM, it comes with three year warranty. When that three years is up we come in and try to take over that service contract.
00:00:37Why did you choose Board? I think the real driving factor was how long it took to put these things together, to get through a budget cycle, just to aggregate all the data and get it together.
00:00:47Can you describe the implementation? We had Board come in with one of the support people, they came in and helped us design the initial applications. So, they were really close to their financing. We built the budgeting application, rolled it out with the help of Board.
00:01:00How are you using Board? We have actually built a couple of other modules in Board. We have rolled out a brand new budgeting system. We acquired a company a couple years ago, there is a couple of major things in the company that the initial model did not really handle, so we redesigned it. It is one of the great things about Board, we were able to rebuild it, redesign the database to handle all these new things that we were planning for. So, we are actually using that system now and then we are also using it for our office expansion planning.
00:01:34What benefits is Board bringing to your company? If we can design something and think about it, we could build it in Board if we need to. We are using it to plan ahead for a headcount for our sales staff. We are saying, "To hit this number in 2025, we know that these things have to happen, and to make these things happen we have to have a headcount that meets this number." And then we can check and see is that realistic? Does the headcount of that meeting this number match historical performance - is this even a realistic projection?
00:02:01That projection was done on Excel Spreadsheets. The spreadsheet is always kind of lingering for the last five years, so we kind of use it to check, they need to check each other, so yes, it has definitely been a huge time saver for our FP&A departments. The way they used to have to work on this spreadsheet all the time and do only that. A lot of manual adjustments in the spreadsheet, a lot of macros and stuff like that.
00:02:23It is just an interactive platform that we can do those projections on and everybody can have access to it. It is a great way to have our FP&A team really monitor the budget and have it, we are trying to work towards this rolling forecast where we are always, it is not one budget cycle... it is always a rolling forecast.
00:02:41So, it is a great way for them to monitor the actions of all the users, what they are doing with their budget, how they are tracking for this year, all in one spot. In this new system, we have prevented some really cool 'approval in denial' queue stuff, so a user will make a change and it goes to the FP&A team, they can then look at it and push it through to be pushed to the final budget or to the new projection, or they can deny it - there are reason codes, they have note fields, we can log it to record in the database on the server to say, who actually took this action? What did they change this number to? That stuff has been a huge benefit.
00:03:19What are you looking forward to most in future? The biggest thing would be upgrading to Board 11, so we can leverage some of that functionality. We have a new kind of database design that I'm really excited to get somebody else developing in Board at our company, instead of mostly just me and one other person right now. So, we can expand the team that actually works in Board which will then generate some new ideas. That is kind of the biggest thing.
00:03:45What do you think of Boardville, our user conference? We have been coming back every year. It's a great networking event, I love seeing people from Board that I know. I have talked to Jason I'm here because he was there five years ago when we initially implemented it. It has been great to get to know you guys and get to know the some of the partners that you guys are working with, some of the other developers and just get some ideas. It is nice to pick peoples' brains.