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Board – Q-park
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Board at Q-Park
Created to combine business intelligence, corporate performance management and business analytics, BOARD is a full-featured business intelligence system. The user-friendliness of BOARD and the lack of coding skills needed allows a fully customizable experience.
Q-Park had been using a planning solution for years. When this tool became outdated, the organization needed a new solution for both the operational and the financial planning. The new planning solution BOARD integrates the planning process with graphical reports. The solution saves time and simplifies the internal communication.”
The previous Performance Management solution that Q-Park used was outdated. Reason enough for Q-Park Nederland to change to a new solution. “From 2005 onwards we worked with Cognos Planning, but the product had reached the end-of-life stage; support from Cognos stopped and there was no longer any development. We even had a separate server for Cognos Planning, because it only worked with Windows 2003,” says Tim Reinards, Business Controller at Q-Park Nederland.
Q-Park is one of Europe’s largest providers of parking lots, with more than 835,000 parking spaces in over 6,100 parking garages in 10 countries. The head office and call center are in Maastricht, Netherlands.
Quick and Flexible
Q-Park Nederland chose BOARD. “We wanted a web-based tool that can be used remotely,” explains Tim. “Additionally, we were looking for a solution that suited our business; not too big, but not too small either. We needed a flexible solution. BOARD turned out to be quick, flexible, and reliable.” With the toolkit approach of BOARD, Q-Park is also able to perform maintenance tasks without the need of IT involvement.
“You can easily drill down to get better insights into your figures”
The solution also offers user-friendly BI capabilities. “The graphical features are definitely a plus,” says Tim. “This tool has a very friendly interface,” adds Eije Wiersema from Sonum International. “BOARD uses a toolkit; you don’t need to learn scripting or specific commands. It’s a drag-and-drop environment.” Eije was closely involved with the tool selection and the subsequent implementation of the new planning tool
from the Sonum International side.
Q-Park and Sonum International have been working together for a long time; the earlier implementation of Cognos Planning was done by Sonum consultants in 2005. “The collaboration works well: I get good support and they are always available when I need them,” says Tim. “They’re skilled and solutions-oriented and think with us about the business case, for example.””
Integrated planning and reporting
The implementation went well. “It was set up quickly and smoothly,” says Tim. “The basics were in place within a week.” “The installation was done within a day,” says Eije. “We copied the structure of the solution from the old application in two days and then added additional improvements. My colleagues at Sonum already knew the planning process well, of course, which was a help.”
In the new solution the planning process is fully integrated with the reports. “The tool isn’t just used for collecting data, but also for sharing the data with the head office,” says Sebastiaan Bijl, also from Sonum International.
“The data entry and reporting are incorporated in one package. The data are entered per parking garage, so plenty of details are available. You can easily drill down to get better insights into your figures.
” Both the operational planning and the financial planning are done with the new planning solution. For operational planning, each parking garage provides a plan for the week. How many visitors do they expect? Are these long-term contracts or daytrippers? Are there any public holidays or vacation periods this week and what impact will these have? And how many staff hours should be allocated to each location? Next, the financial components – costs and investments – are added to this operational plan.
Q-Park Nederland is positive about the results of the new planning tool. “The new system is highly graphical. You can easily make cross-sections, for example selection by region or type of parking lot or garage. This improves insight,” says Tim. “On top of that, it’s good for the reliability.”
Another benefit of the graphical options for reporting is the communication with the Executive Board. “It is easier to communicate with the Executive Board,” says Tim. “We put BOARD on the screen and together we can see what exactly is happening in the budget. It’s more flexible for making data crosssections, so if there are any questions we can view the details immediately. We don’t have to come back with an analysis later on.”
“It is a lot quicker. The focus is now on analyzing and no longer on getting the correct figures”
The explanation feature is also used a lot. “For explanations by our operational managers about growth or decline in turnover, and also for comparison with historical data. Are roadworks causing a temporary dip in turnover? Have subscriptions been added or canceled? The trends for each garage can be clarified using the explanations, which makes the budget more transparent: the story behind the figures is recorded, including the underlying assumptions. Before, we also used explanations for the operational figures, but those were supplied in Word. Now the explanations are entered in BOARD together with the budgets; that saves a lot of time. On top of that, it’s less susceptible to errors because it stays within a single system.”
“In addition, we now have the system make a statistical budget proposal based on the actuals and trends from the past, and we then adjust it where needed. That saves a lot of time. We used to have to build the budget from scratch each year. We had reference years back then as well, but in separate Excel sheets. We looked up the turnover for a certain week in Excel and copied it to Cognos. Now we upload the actuals and, at a glance, we can see the previous year, this year, and the budget year listed in three rows.”
The end users are positive too. “It’s a lot quicker. They also like the fact that they get more support; the actuals are already in there, just like the budget proposal. They only have to make a few changes instead of having to create it from scratch. The seasonal turnover pattern is also automatically copied from previous years, so the budget phasing is correct straight away. The focus is on analyzing and no longer on getting the correct figures.”
Not unnecessarily complex
A frequently heard dilemma when setting up budget processes is the level of detail. “At Q-Park we deliberately choose not to make it unnecessarily complicated,” says Eije. “Keep it simple,” is therefore the advice Tim would give other organizations that are considering implementing a new planning solution. “It’s really easy to make models, so you have to be careful not to make it too complex. In our case the weather has a huge impact, for instance, but you can’t forecast that. You can predict seasonal influences, but if it snows a lot in December
nobody will go out to do the Christmas shopping. Let the complexity depend on what type of business your organization is.”
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Below a selection of some interesting projects we did that helped our clients to bring their processes to the next level
FTE planning model
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