Telegraph Media Group - Case Study
Leaving spreadsheets behind in favour of a more innovative approach
Founded in 1855, the Telegraph Media Group has built a diversified commercial model, with equal strengths in advertising, subscriptions and circulation, commerce, and events. In 1994, The Telegraph Media Group (TMG) launched an online offering, the first UK publisher to do so. The launch in 2016 of a digital subscription model, with clearly defined open and premium content, has enhanced its ability to offer both scale and engagement to support this diversified approach. TMG’s portfolio includes The Telegraph website and app, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph print titles, and The Telegraph Edition app which offers a digital replication of the newspapers. 27.2 million Britons consume content across the portfolio monthly, with a growing global digital audience through 107 million browsers a month enjoying TMG’s perspective on the world. Additionally, The Daily Telegraph is the UK’s best selling quality broadsheet newspaper.
Telegraph Media Group struggled with a plethora of spreadsheets which were all interlinked and as a result were becoming increasingly unmanageable. As Andy Nash, Finance Director at TMG, recalls: “Rebecca Peach, Financial Reporting Manager, was spending a huge amount of time creating and updating those spreadsheets to get ready for every planning cycle that we went through.”
The budget cycle was undermined by numerous errors. “That was definitely the catalyst for thinking we couldn’t proceed like this” highlights Rebecca Peach, Reporting Manager and Planning Manager at TMG. “We were spending a huge amount of time creating Excel models: they were inefficient, they didn’t allow multiple users to be working at the same time, they were very reliant on one person to administer and they were very fragile,” she added.
To achieve a better and more accurate budgeting and planning process, TMG management decided they needed a solution that would bring all their data together and offer a completely different, innovative set of reporting capabilities, helping them move towards real digital transformation.
The Board solution
“I was constantly being inundated with partners calling up and suggesting I take a look at the Board software!" says Rebecca. "My first experience of Board was on a demo over the phone and I was impressed with it straightaway. It seemed really innovative and it was new - it felt modern in comparison to a lot of the other systems that we had seen.” Rebecca manages a team of 12 management accountants, ensuring that all their inputs are present and that the numbers that they’re providing to the business are relevant, meaningful and validated.
“That’s one of the real benefits of Board. Previously we were spending so much time with the input and the management of the models that we really didn’t have enough time to add value,” says Rebecca. “Now as the reporting manager I can add the value by analyzing, reviewing and giving appropriate comments. Therefore, we’re completely on top of our numbers. Now we have built real structure, routine and familiarity into the reporting process which didn’t exist before.”
Now TMG uses the same model for everything, from weekly and monthly reporting to forecasting and budgeting. The same model controls up-to-date information about how this current month is running and how current forecasting is expected to turn out. Based on that performance, everybody around the business knows exactly where they are and who is responding to that performance in order to ensure that they hit forecasts and business targets.
“I am quite a frequent user of Board. I go in on a regular basis to see how we are tracking against our forecast and our budget. Every week we have a refresh of the data and all the finance users work on the same sets of updated data,” adds Andy. “I am using that data to make decisions about resource planning, upcoming projects, how much we are going to drive advertising and what kind of advertising contracts we should deal with over the coming year. It does power quite a lot of decision-making.”
“It is quite interesting because when you look back over time it’s difficult to remember what things were like before. Actually, in talking to you I realized how much has changed," concludes Andy.