As Retelit opened new lines of business and international operations, it realized its spreadsheet-based financial planning and reporting processes lacked the flexibility to support ongoing growth.
Retelit worked with IBM Silver Business Partner SB Italia to build a centralized budgeting model in IBM Planning Analytics, enabling the company to support its decision makers with monthly forecasts.
Acceleratesthe financial reporting process, enabling timely, better-informed decisions
Increasesautomation, helping to reduce the risk of human error
Offersdeeper insight into profitability and reveals areas for improvement
Business challenge story
Financial insights fuel growth
With a fiber-optic network spanning approximately 12,500 kilometers, Retelit is one of Italy’s leading providers of data and infrastructure services for the telecommunications industry. In recent years, the company has expanded its portfolio with managed services tailored to the needs of enterprise customers—and Retelit now aims to extend its cloud offerings into international markets too.
Marco Calzolari, Head of Controlling at Retelit, elaborates: “Our new services include solutions for cloud storage, backup and disaster recovery as well as endpoint and network security management. As we expand into new geographies, maintaining tight control over costs is more important than ever—and we must equip our decision makers with the insights they need to steer the business effectively.”
In the past, Retelit relied heavily on spreadsheet-based processes for financial planning and reporting, which made it difficult to deliver accurate, timely information into the profitability of its operations.
“Every time we sign up a client to one of our cloud services, there are a number of financial drivers that determine the impact on our bottom line,” explains Calzolari. “For example, the initial contract signing and onboarding process might deliver one-off revenues, in addition to the monthly income we receive throughout the life of the contract. However, we also need to factor in the variable operational costs associated with winning the business, servicing the account and delivering technical support.”
He continues: “Previously, we sent budgeting spreadsheets out to all our departments to complete, which we needed to collate manually for reporting purposes. As a result, building our annual budget was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and there was an ever-present risk of human error.
“We knew that delivering rolling monthly forecasts based on our budget would be extremely valuable for our decision makers—but we simply didn’t have the resources to devote to the task. To solve the challenge, we looked for a way to accelerate our reporting processes.”
Building a centralized budget model
Retelit selected IBM Planning Analytics (previously known as IBM Cognos® TM1®) as the centralized platform for its budgeting, forecasting and reporting processes. To fast-track its deployment, the company engaged expert assistance from IBM Silver Business Partner SB Italia.
“Of all the solutions we considered, we felt that IBM Planning Analytics offered the optimal combination of powerful analytics tools and flexible financial modeling capabilities,” recalls Calzolari. “Similarly, we were confident that SB Italia possessed both the technical expertise and the consulting skills we needed to effectively integrate IBM Planning Analytics into our financial reporting workflows.”
Working together with SB Italia’s dedicated Business Intelligence and Analytics team, Retelit designed an enterprise financial model to replace its spreadsheet-based approach to financial planning and reporting. Today, employees across the group submit their budgeting and forecasting data directly into IBM Planning Analytics.
“Our new budget model has a reporting horizon of five years, and is based on several fine-grained submodels,” explains Calzolari. “The model takes into account factors such as customer attrition, which helps improve the accuracy of our predictions. And because IBM Planning Analytics automates important processes such as financial consolidation, we can reduce the risk of errors and improve trust in our reports.”
He continues: “The new way of working makes it easy to combine revenue data on one-off and monthly payments with the costs of services such as technical support. Better still, we can switch between different views of our data in near-real time, which offers us deeper insights into our financial performance along dimensions such as geography, business unit, product line, client industry and more. Crucially, IBM Planning Analytics enables us to generate a rolling monthly forecast—providing the business with timely data for better-informed decision making.”
Delivering timely insights to decision makers
By transitioning to a monthly forecast, Retelit is in a stronger position to control its costs as it drives its international expansion.
“Previously, it took our team days to collate, cleanse and analyze our financial data, but thanks to IBM Planning Analytics we have streamlined and accelerated the process,” says Calzolari. “Our monthly forecasts are now shining a light on cost and financial drivers across our business—enabling us to uncover opportunities to improve operational efficiency and lift our profitability.”
In addition to its successful deployment of IBM Planning Analytics for budgeting and forecasting, Retelit has embraced the solution to support other aspects of its business.
“We see service quality as a key differentiator, and managing our talent effectively is vital to deliver a consistently high-quality experience to our clients,” comments Calzolari. “In the past, planning how best to allocate our resources to each client engagement, keeping track of the associated costs, and calculating reimbursements for employee expenses such as travel and accommodation was a major pain for everyone concerned.
“Today, our employees can input the time they spend at a client site and log their expenses directly into IBM Planning Analytics. After a member of the HR team has approved the data, we can feed it into our payroll system and our budget model—repaying expenses more quickly, reducing effort for HR, and delivering more accurate insight into our costs.”
He adds: “We are now also using IBM Planning Analytics to perform activity-based budgeting. By examining the costs associated with different activities across the business, we predict that we will be able to identify new opportunities to improve operational efficiency and drive leaner, more effective operations—especially for our international business.”
Calzolari concludes: “As Retelit continues to evolve and expand, insights into our financial drivers will play an even more important role in our strategic planning—and we are confident that our IBM Planning Analytics solution will enable well-informed decision making for years to come.”
Headquartered in Milan, Italy, Retelit is a leading Italian provider of data and infrastructure services to the telecommunications market. The company’s fiber-optic infrastructure covers approximately 12,500 kilometers, connecting nine metropolitan area networks and 15 data centers across Italy. Retelit offers a comprehensive range of services, from infrastructure, telecommunications and colocation offerings for network operators and service providers to cloud hosting and managed services for enterprise clients.
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Headquartered in Milan, Italy, SB Italia is a leading provider of consulting and solution integration services. An IBM Silver Business Partner with more than 20 years’ experience in the enterprise IT space, SB Italia has served more than 1,000 clients across the country. To learn more about products and services from SB Italia, visit: sbitalia.com