Until a few years ago, Thule Group's North American division would have been considered a "classic spreadsheet-driven" company, according to Mark Cohen, vice president of finance.
One person in accounting kept all the data as up to date as possible, but it could take a week to consolidate cross-company information, and it wasn't unusual to discover that what managers were looking at wasn't the final spreadsheet.
Out-of-date sales and manufacturing numbers were unacceptable for Thule Vehicle Solutions North America, a 400-person operation that makes products like roof racks and bicycle racks. "Budgeting and forecasting are a big deal for us. We're a seasonal company, so we have to have product ready to go or the sale will go to our competitor," Cohen says.
Frustrated, Cohen abandoned spreadsheets application in 2008 in favor of a software-as-a-service analytics offering. Now users can create, edit and view real-time business data and generate reports through a browser. Cohen says the collaborative nature of the tool has improved the timeliness, accuracy and accountability of his division's reports because each person is now responsible for inputting his or her own data.
Cohen's frustration with spreadsheets is not unique.
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