“Now we have real data and facts to support big decisions.”
– Chethan Chandra, Senior Manager of Business Operations, VMware
Like many global marketing organizations, VMware’s team needed more visibility into how its marketing budget was being spent. Marketing leaders couldn’t effectively predict or evaluate marketing ROI. Because marketers were managing budget and investment information in spreadsheets, there wasn’t an easy way to see how money was being spent.
VMware’s marketing employees are spread across the world, with multiple teams across different geographies. Tracking budget and spend in many different spreadsheets meant important data was invisible to leaders.
In 2012, marketing leaders were tasked with creating a high-level report on global marketing spend. It took the marketing team 850 person hours to collect and consolidate spreadsheets and pull reports from different systems. The team knew they needed a better way to manage marketing investment data, so they started looking for a solution.
They needed to answer questions such as:
• How are we spending across the funnel?
• What are we spending on each product, segment and region?
• Does this look right?
• What benchmarks can we use for future spending?
The company had specific requirements for a marketing resource management tool, says Chethan Chandra, VMware Senior Manager of Business Operations.
“First, we wanted a tool in the cloud, not on-premise. Second, we needed a solution that was a cultural fit for us. Third, we wanted an ongoing relationship with a partner — not just the technology.” After reviewing multiple options, Allocadia fit the bill.
Putting Allocadia to Work: Change Management
The VMware team rolled out Allocadia for planning & budgeting in July 2013.
Marketers enter their bottom-up plan before a quarter begins. Then, Allocadia gives them one centralized place to enter expenses, coded by activity, funnel stage, product and segment.
When it came to implementing Allocadia, “the technical solution wasn’t the hard part,” Chethan says. “It was mostly change management. We answered questions, explained why we were using a new tool, and helped users when they ran into problems.”
To get marketing users on board, the implementation team showed the value Allocadia provided. For example, Allocadia helps teams create quarterly reports for division presidents, a process that was much more difficult and time consuming without a solution like Allocadia.
Results: Understanding Spend
Thanks to Allocadia, VMware is moving away from spreadsheets. And these days, reporting is much easier and faster.
“What took us 850 person hours in 2012 is now much more automated,” Chethan says. “In 2013, we created the same marketing spend report, and it took us less than 50 hours to get the information ready & reviewed for our leadership team.”
And, since Allocadia links data between systems, reconciling the numbers is much easier, he says. “Thanks to a unique identifier that’s recorded in Allocadia, we’re able to reconcile our ERP reports with Allocadia. Managers have visibility into where we’re spending our marketing dollars and how close we are to plan.”
Marketing leaders at VMware can quickly review reports showing how much was spent in a given time period by product, activity, funnel stage and region. “Before Allocadia, if we were requested to report against a question such as, ‘How much did we spend on demand gen in a specific region?’, we never could have answered that within a day. Now, with Allocadia, we can,” Chethan says.
Results: Staying on Budget
The VMware finance team’s goal is to optimize forecast accuracy and hit expense targets. This has trended very favorably over the past two years, thanks in large part to Allocadia, Chethan says. “Before we used Allocadia, we worked hard to hit that benchmark, but it took a lot of effort and man hours to share variance reports with our marketing managers.” Now, budget owners are more proactive about spending close to plan and users are automatically notified if they have budget left to spend before the close of the quarter.
Instead of chasing a money trail and having conversations about aligning spend to plan, the marketing finance team can focus on priority finance, planning, and analysis activities for the CMO.
Results: Improving Visibility
Allocadia has sparked a cultural change, too. Using a centralized budgeting and planning tool has helped the company find alignment. “Allocadia has built visibility and trust among our global marketing teams,” Chethan says. With Allocadia, teams can share their best practices and what’s working for them with other teams.
When the VMware team started its 2014 planning, Allocadia helped bridge marketing and finance, since all the data they needed was in one place. All of the marketing teams (including product, field and global teams) were reporting spend and plans in one centralized tool. “It’s helping people analyze spend patterns,” Chethan says. “Now we have real data and facts to support upcoming big decisions.”