The Warehouse, one of New Zealand’s leading retailers, is making sure every Kiwi gets a bargain in more ways than one: Thanks to its adoption of sophisticated South African budgeting software, its finance staff are spending less time adding up numbers – and more time planning and testing scenarios for the company’s future.
“We’ve been told idu-Concept budgeting software is the best thing Finance has done for the business in the past five years,” says Finance Manager Tim Mangold. “It’s an excellent budgeting and forecasting system that is also really intuitive and easy to use. It means all our managers, whether they have finance training or not, can complete their budgets on their own.”
idu-Concept’s point and click navigation is a big part of its success, says Mangold. “It’s incredibly intuitive – nowadays everybody is used to finding information on the internet, so the web interface to the system is familiar and easy to use. It’s reduced a lot of unnecessary back and forth between business and finance. In the old days we had four people working solidly on the budget for two months – now it’s one and a half people for three or four weeks.”
As a result, adds Mangold, “the whole dynamic has changed. Instead of spending most of our time doing budget recons, we’re now working at a higher level doing forward planning, modelling scenarios and testing them. It’s taken us away from the pain of making sure numbers add up, to a situation where we’re helping to come up with new strategic scenarios for the company.”
Managers can also use idu-Concept to track their spending, says Mangold. “It has essentially become our reporting system for monthly and quarterly actuals,” he says. “We do the month-end accounting; push a button and people throughout the company can go in to see how they’ve performed against their budget. We’ve linked idu-Concept to a document management system, so if there’s an anomaly in their figures people can drill down in three or four clicks to the actual invoice.”
These abilities are not just theoretical, either: “As system administrators we can see who’s logged in and when, so we know people are using it every day,” says Mangold.
This means that although officially designed for budgeting and forecasting, idu-Concept is also proving to be an effective cost control tool: “It makes all the information about budgets and actual spend very visible, so it helps to maintain accountability – people are more aware about how they are managing their costs.”
“The whole line of sight from capture to presentation is easy to see, simple and understandable,” says Mangold. “It provides a great level of certainty: Whenever I am presenting information about the budget I am confident that these are the real, accurate numbers.”