One of our clients came to us with a problem recently – he had a pricing tool for a key line of business, built in Excel, which wasn’t fit for purpose anymore. The tool had been around a long time would no doubt have been cutting edge when first implemented; you know the type – lots of VBA hidden away in the background to integrate with this and that. Plenty of dialogue boxes and user forms, to drive the user through the model. A web of formulae so complicated, it could bring a tear to an Excel modeller’s eye. And the colours. Oh, so many colours!
Sadly it hadn’t stood the test of time.
Apart from the challenges that come with maintaining something that is passed from Excel modeller to Excel modeller over some years and within the constraints of a fast moving business, there were some more fundamental business challenges around its use. It wasn’t very efficient for the sales or finance teams to use for one. Its integrity and control created concerns (it would be very easy to take the pricing logic out of the business). The ease and timeliness of information it produced – for example, integrations with other systems for things like approvals and reporting – left a lot to be desired.
We discussed some options for addressing these problems and bringing the tool up to a level which more closely met the requirements of the business given where it was in its lifecycle. We knew that refreshing the model in Excel just wouldn’t cut it. At the other end, we considered a bespoke tool built from scratch – but then we thought why reinvent the wheel when there were potentially other options that we could implement more easily? In the end, we decided to use an existing platform in a novel way to complete the project.
To do this, we chose the Tagetik Corporate Performance Management (CPM) platform. Most well known as a budget, forecast, disclosure and analytics tool, it’s powerful in-memory engine, ETL module, and replication of Excel formulae and logic made it easy to re-platform and update the pricing tool. Also, the ability to run the tool as a web-app and centrally manage the model, user access and approvals was also an important improvement that addressed some of the key concerns of the client. Out of the box, Tagetik also has a Collaborative Disclosure Management module which integrates with the Microsoft Office Suite of programs – allowing the users of the new tool to produce customer facing collateral quickly, with the most up-to-date and approved pricing figures.
With the project now complete, we’ll begin to explore the potential to implement more standard budgeting, planning and forecasting features of the Tagetik platform to help transform the Client’s business further.