MoneySuperMarket Group is a member of the FTSE 250 Index. Through its three leading and trusted brands, MoneySuperMarket, MoneySavingExpert, and TravelSupermarket, it helped UK consumers save an estimated £2 billion in 2017, shopping around for the best insurance, money, and home services products. As a business, technology is central to everything MoneySuperMarket Group does, and Shawn Ramsay, group operations director, spoke to Workday about how the organisation transformed its existing finance and people systems with Workday.
MoneySuperMarket is well-known in the UK for its advertising and strong brand presence, but could you tell us a bit about the business and how it has grown over the last few years?
MoneySuperMarket Group was originally founded in 1999 and we now have over 750 employees, with our headquarters in London and three other UK sites, in Manchester and Ewloe.
One thing we’re extremely proud of is the achievement of our mission to help UK households make the most of their money. In 2017 we helped UK customers save an estimated £2 billion, which is phenomenal. We compare over 140 motor insurance brands, 80 home insurance brands, and 60 different credit card providers and personal loan providers.
MoneySuperMarket embarked on a back-office transformation project in 2016. What were the key areas you wanted to focus on and the problems you were looking to solve?
Like all companies that started small and grew to FTSE 250 in less than 20 years, the back office tends to be left behind. We wanted to identify any areas we needed to make more efficient to enable our continued growth. There was a need to focus on how we could digitalise the back office. The aim was to strip out a lot of the administrative and manual processes we had in place so our managers could be more effective in their roles.
Could we drill down into some of those inefficiencies? What did that look like from a day-to-day perspective?
Our finance and people systems could not scale to support growth. In addition to being intensely manual, we also had a variety of processes for different activities, with very little standardisation. People data was predominantly paper-based, with recruiting done by email and telephone, while the finance system wasn’t fit for purpose and payroll was outsourced. Coordinating finance and people data to ensure accurate headcount planning was incredibly manual with multiple spreadsheets and endless hours. You need to be confident that you have accurate data and we just didn’t have that confidence in our people information and our finance info was difficult to report on.
When choosing new technology, your process was very much user-led. How did that work?
The finance and people teams chose Workday, not me. It was never just about choosing a piece of technology that could solve a set of business challenges today. The decision was based on future capability and our confidence in the vendor to deliver it. We also looked at what the relationship would be like with our vendor once we’d selected them, through the deployment process and beyond.
You hear many stories of vendors who disappear before the ink is dry on the contract and hand you off to a partner. We wanted to make sure that we chose a vendor that would help us through the transition of our existing ERP and payroll. Throughout the selection process, Workday often said they would not let us fail. I can confidently say that this is true. They will do almost anything to ensure you go live as planned and are a happy customer. They take immense pride in customer satisfaction.
You clearly did your homework during the vendor assessment process. What were some of the things that set Workday apart?
A key goal was better operational alignment between finance and people, and Workday was the only application that could provide that. The reporting power and single security model are fundamental differences between Workday and legacy systems. We were impressed with Workday’s views on continuous innovation. Bi-annual releases ensure that you are always on the most up-to-date software without a huge upgrade every few years costing millions and disrupting the business.
“Workday talks a lot about the Power of One, and once you go live you realise what that actually means.”
At a granular level, the opportunity to improve the close period (we reduced our consolidation timeframe by 50 percent) and implement a segregated security matrix across the organisation were fantastic benefits we could not ignore.
How is the reality of life with Workday and what are the benefits you are experiencing?
Workday talks a lot about the Power of One, and once you go live you realise what that actually means. For example, when we go through a recruitment process, that hire is immediately reflected in our financial numbers. Everything in the process is within Workday and fully auditable. From getting a CV to reviewing, commenting, and collaborating with the recruiting team, it’s all within Workday. There’s no separate communication going on outside of the system and it’s instant.
More broadly, having everything in one place is huge for us. We’ve standardised and improved all key business processes using best practice processes within Workday. We’ve also made improvements to our internal controls, reducing risk to the business.
You also changed the way you report to the financial markets. Can you tell us about that?
We announced earlier this year that we would change the way that we report business performance to the City. Anyone who’s done something like that before knows you need an army of consultants redefining your chart of accounts, business processes, and moving things around. If you’re lucky, you can get it done in three or four months. I’m proud to say we completed all of the work in five weeks, including reshuffling some internal teams to align to the changes, with no third-party support.
Finally, what were the key lessons learned and any advice for other organisations?
The part where you really need to think and work hard is around your processes, and in some cases, you will have to change your processes to align to the technology. The technology is best practice, so be ready to change if needed.
Next up is alignment. What was really important to me was that the finance and people teams, as well as the payroll people, were 100 percent behind Workday. They’re the ones who are going to use it every day. I got everyone involved from day one contributing to the RFP, being actively involved in the supplier meetings and demos, and most importantly, scoring the vendors.
I’d also advise that you make sure to resource appropriately—if you don’t you will not succeed. That means getting your A-Team together and putting them on the project. To get the most out of your investment, think about how to structure the team to ensure it will work both in the run-up to deployment and post go-live.