Transforming finance reporting using ShareFile and Podio workflows

My name is Brett Morrone, a Customer Success Engineer in Citrix Cloud Adoption Services, helping our customers improve and automate how they work. Recently, I have been working with CRH, a global leader in building materials, to help streamline their financial reporting processes using Podio and ShareFile workflows.

CRH engages in the manufacturing and supplying of a wide range of building materials. With a history stretching back to the 1930’s, CRH was founded and evolved through a succession of mergers and acquisitions; and it currently ranks top in the industry – as well as being the largest company in Ireland.

With operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia, the Group Finance team based in Dublin was looking for a way to improve the way that they managed financial reporting between their headquarters and the local teams across the globe.

I caught up with Board and Executive Reporting Senior Manager, Toni Donnelly, to learn how ShareFile’s secure document sharing features plus Podio’s customizable apps and workflow automation helped CRH transform their reporting; and how it took advantage of the integration between these two Citrix cloud products.

What brought you to Podio and ShareFile? What use case needs did you need to solve?

I first encountered ShareFile in 2015 when I was looking for a secure document distribution solution that was user-friendly and accessible on mobile devices. ShareFile met both of these requirements in addition to delivering many other benefits.

Subsequently, our team was looking for a tool to manage a review process that involved collaboration with finance teams globally. We needed a way to easily manage a query and response process in an automated manner that would also be user-friendly and easily scalable. I reached out to my Citrix contact in the U.S., who had been very helpful during my ShareFile onboarding. After explaining our needs, Podio was recommended for their customizable apps and workflow automation. These features, coupled with user-friendliness and the integration with ShareFile, led us to explore a proof of concept.

 

Did you look at other products? Which ones? What made Podio and its workflow automation capabilities stand out from the crowd?

When considering the document distribution problem, my instruction was to find a suitable business partner to assist us in building a customized app; however, I believed that there must be existing ‘packaged’ solutions that would meet most, if not all, of our requirements. I looked at Amazon WorkDocs, but it didn’t quite fit what I was looking for. Ultimately, the “eureka moment” came when I was introduced to the ShareFile mobile app and led to the implementation of ShareFile for a significant number of our document sharing processes in Group Finance.

The positive experience with ShareFile sparked an interest with our team in other Citrix products. Specifically, for the query and response use-case we were looking to automate. This was where Podio stood out from the crowd – it meets all of our needs in terms of a live process, automation, user-friendliness, flexibility, and reporting.

 

Who is using the solution today? What is the projection for the next year?

Managing reporting from across our operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia means we have teams from across the globe using Podio. It is used within the financial function across the company, spanning over 40 business units. We have finance, tax, treasury, accounting and IT departments using Podio meaning at any one time there could be CRH analysts, business / country controllers, managers, or senior managers logged into Podio.

 

What workflows do you already have in place? What are their main functions? How did you manage this before using Podio and ShareFile?

Our main functions now managed on Podio include:

  1. Query process for management, budget and financial reporting (12, 2, 2 cycles, respectively):

In Podio, we manage the raising of and responding to queries related to the financial/management/budget data submitted by different business units to Group headquarters. Podio’s workflows allow you to automate deadlines and reminders and to automatically assign tasks to specific teams or users based on certain conditions, such as geographic location or type of query. We also have daily reports generated automatically in excel and/or PDF format, as well as, exported to ShareFile thanks to the integration between ShareFile and Podio.

This is notable improvement compared with the way we managed the query process before. In the past, queries were organized in a MS Access database; MS Excel files were distributed by email from Group headquarters to the business units with responses returned by an Excel file or email. This made the whole process difficult to keep track of and very cumbersome from an administrative perspective.

 

  1. Manager’s review of management and budget reporting (12, 2 cycles):

Following their review of the reported information, Group managers also raise their queries on Podio. Previously, the manager’s review was done on the hard copies of the documents–with any queries that needed further information to be gathered from the businesses noted therein. Having this managed in the cloud means we now have a live process, expediting the flow of information between the different users.

 

  1. Team calendars:

We now use one of Podio’s packaged app options to manage our team calendar, capturing all out of office days together with team meetings and deadlines. This has improved the ability to manage the team’s time effectively; because it’s now easy to see who has availability over busy periods, or who’s away on vacation, and so on.

Before Podio, visibility of activities for the wider team was a key issue, particularly with regards to shorter absences such as company meetings. Out of office days were tracked in Excel and deadlines were done in a memo format using Word or PDF documents.

 

  1. Sharing of information:

We also use Podio apps to capture information that needs sharing with and regular reference by the team. Using Podio has improved the way we create, categorize, distribute, and store information and has enabled us to move away from a dependence on email for the distribution of information.

 

Where have you seen the biggest improvements to your team’s performance since implementing workflows on Podio and ShareFile?

Podio has transformed the way we manage our review processes. Having a live process with automated workflows, means that deadlines and reminders are set automatically, while daily reports are created automatically in our reporting app which is also connected to ShareFile. We have improved transparency within our function since all queries raised are now visible and trackable within the team. Likewise, it has helped maintain segregation at the appropriate levels, as outside of Group, local users can only see those queries assigned to their business unit. Ultimately, It has contributed to a reduction in the number of queries raised.

The ability to customize the apps and workspaces on Podio means you can easily organize and categorize data in a way that is specific to your business and team’s needs. The same is true for workflows; there are many tasks that are possible to apply to automation as well– ranging from automatic emails, report generation, reminders and tasks, just to name a few. These automated workflows have reduced the time taken on administrative activities and enabled the team to move their attention to more “value-add” activities.

We are really happy with our decision to adopt Podio and ShareFile within our team; and we look forward to expanding our use-cases in the future as we can see enormous potential to streamline more reporting functions within CRH.