Royal Horticultural Society

Ana Pierrotti

With no government funding and reliant on financial support to deliver its varied programmes, the RHS has a duty to track restricted funds and spending so that it can assure sponsors that donations are being spent appropriately

Their Challenge

_DSC7013_LWThe sheer size of the RHS with an annual revenue of GBP 65m and a complicated infrastructure spanning four companies, ten divisions and hundreds of cost centres made the production of monthly reports to the board a logistical nightmare. The RHS finance team faced a monthly struggle to extract data from the Microsoft Navision system in a process that involved ‘cutting and pasting’ and according to David Wilson (one of five divisional finance managers) was ‘painfully slow’. There were some useful fixed reports written by IT specialists in VBA, but in most cases the analysis would then need to be manipulated in spreadsheets. Spreadsheets represent heaven and hell with most finance people loving them as a tool because they are flexible and easy to learn. However, when spreadsheets are used to extract, join and consolidate data from multiple sources, they are inefficient and often error laden. When the RHS team started to look at how the extraction of data could be improved, initial thoughts were based on the integration of its five separate databases into a single BI cube. However, this looked like being very costly and as discussions were taking place, by chance, PrecisionPoint approached a key member of the IT team.

It’s quick to implement and you can rapidly produce useful reports that you know are correct

David Wilson Finance Manager - Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

The Benefits

David Wilson, finance manager, takes up the story. “We initially didn’t believe that PrecisionPoint would allow us to meet our objectives but when we saw it demonstrated, we realized that it would allow our finance managers to write their own reports and we would be able to get everything working as we wanted and at a lower cost.” The out-of-the-box nature of the PrecisionPoint solution meant that the RHS would not have to deal with the expensive, complex and time consuming set up procedure associated with traditional BI projects and the decision was made to implement the software with installation in 2010. He said: “We can write new reports very quickly from the general ledger. It takes only a few minutes to produce a simple report, or modify a previous report, with more complicated reports taking rather longer. So it is easy to produce and modify standard (budget versus actual) reports, but we also have the ability to respond to ad-hoc requests for information or for trend analysis.” Board reporting is very much a priority and PrecisionPoint produces the detailed reports along with additional schedules for the monthly meetings. Because the software integrates data from the general ledger and sub-ledgers into a single transaction level database and OLAP hypercube, the finance team can be confident that all numbers and reports reconcile to each other. David continued: “In the retail side of the business, we can analyze gross margins by different product lines and the operational management gets to see numbers cut many ways. We are confident that the numbers will always add up to the total.” PrecisionPoint is also used to review budgets and forecasts. The budgets or forecasts are prepared on spreadsheets, and this data is then pumped into the Navision system, and then pulled out again using Precision Point into a number of tailored reports for the formal review process. The time saved from using the software allows the RHS to more closely analyze all aspects of the organization and provide more information to operational managers, which helps them to react more quickly to changing requirements.

The Results

Over the last two and a half years, PrecisionPoint has delivered meaningful BI to the RHS. The self-service nature of the application allows the finance team to fulfill their own requirements without having to turn to the IT department whenever a report needs to be produced. In terms of ROI, David estimates that the software costs less than an additional head and it has allowed the finance department to be ‘much more flexible and accurate’. In term of usability, David is full of praise. “It’s quick to implement and once you get to know how the software works, you can rapidly produce useful reports that you know are correct. PrecisionPoint is very good and the training is good.”

Key Benefits

  • Ability to produce and amend reports quickly
  • Board can see numbers cut in many ways and all adding up to the total
  • More analysis possible because there is more time available

Company

The RHS is unique. No other charity unites and invests in all aspects of gardening, from showcasing the latest in garden design to exploring the science behind plants and gardens, to enabling children to plant their first seed. Drawing on over two centuries of experience, the aim of the RHS is to make gardening relevant today through its 400,000 strong member network, education and community programmes, inspirational gardens and annual shows

Project

  • PrecisionPoint for Dynamics NAV
  • PrecisionPoint Advanced Inventory
  • Reporting using XLPublisher, Excel add-in

Challenges

  • Fixed reports dependent upon IT specialists restrict flexibility
  • Time consuming to produce monthly reports and budgets
  • Struggle to extract data

Results

  • Delivery of meaningful BI
  • Self service reporting
  • High ROI