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) was the first UK publisher to launch an online offering. The launch of a digital subscription model in 2016, with clearly defined open and premium content, has enhanced the media company's 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.
The Challenge: Manually intensive budgeting and reporting processes
Telegraph Media Group was struggling with a plethora of interlinked spreadsheets that were becoming increasingly unmanageable. There was a significant amount of manual effort required to collate and consolidate information in preparation for planning and reporting activities, leaving the finance team with less time for more value-added activities. As Andy Nash, Finance Director at TMG, recalls:
"Rebecca Peach, Financial Reporting and Planning 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 budgeting cycle was undermined by numerous errors, caused by inefficiencies in the process and limitations of using spreadsheets.
"That was definitely the catalyst for thinking we couldn’t proceed like this," highlights Rebecca Peach, Financial Reporting 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."
The Solution: A single platform for Budgeting, Planning, Forecasting, and Reporting
To drive greater accuracy across budgeting and planning activities, TMG's management team 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 search for a solution began, and before long the Board decision-making platform - which unifies Business Intelligence, Planning, and Predictive Analytics capabilities in a single interface - became the front runner.
"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."
The Benefits: A more structured approach which saves time and enhances decision-making
The implementation of Board has transformed TMG's finance processes, replacing the legacy spreadsheets with a single point of truth for all budgeting and planning activities. 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," says Rebecca. "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. 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."
TMG now uses the same model for everything, from weekly and monthly reporting to forecasting and budgeting. This single 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."
Board has enabled TMG to digitally transform its finance approach and enter a new era of efficiency. Andy concludes:
"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."