Piehole.tv is a successful video production company with offices in Latin America, Europe, and Africa. They provide kick ass (in their words, no ours) explainer videos for trendy tech startups and multinationals looking to garner some cool for themselves.
Trouble in Eden
Explainer videos are a hot topic. There is a lot of demand for Piehole.tv’s services and keeping all of the many productions up to speed, quality and budget is not a challenge for the faint of heart. With an award winning background in the creative industry, founder and chief executive, Priscilla Groves, was producing first class work for happy clients.
There was trouble afoot, however.
Each project was run using the excellent basecamp.com. Basecamp serves as an excellent tool to smoothly bring clients through the process of creating their awesome videos.
Some clients paid a deposit up front along with staged payments as the project produced. That in combination with a selection of outsourced creative talent needing payment, including sound engineers, composers, animators and voice overs, made the finances complicated.
While project management was done using the very modern Basecamp project management tool, the money was managed in a decidedly 1990’s era spreadsheet. Who was due to pay whom and who authorised what was … let us call it, not as tightly managed.
It worked, until it didn’t.
It worked though until it didn’t. Priscilla took some maternity leave for a few months and on her return, she found that projects were being sold and managed at an effective loss. Overpayments and miss-payments were being paid to suppliers. Although she was only away for a few months, it was enough to almost sink this award winning, successful company.
There were several key problems:
- Suppliers were being commissioned to supply extra work without fitting that extra work into the project budget.
- Who had been paid, by whom and when was managed by the finance team, but they didn’t always know when delivery had been taken. There were sometimes delays on projects which were fine when Priscilla was there, but when she stepped away, there was no way to get an overview of the expenditure.
- Some suppliers were late in sending in invoices, resulting in gaps in cash flow.
To make matters worse, the company works across three continents. Ironically, while external communication was excellent, internal communication and approval were not always so.
Since the company started to use ProcurementExpress.com to manage project expenditure, life has become a lot more transparent. There are no more unexpected payments to be made, project profitability is more tightly monitored and even their suppliers are happier given they have a better idea of when and how they can expect to be paid.
There are several key features that helped piehole.tv to achieve these improvements.
- When a new project comes on board, a budget is set up and the relevant suppliers are invited to that budget.
- The lead producer can create purchase orders for the project, which are automatically sent to Priscilla for approval. Once they are, purchase order numbers are sent to suppliers.
- Suppliers now have a clear idea of the budget they have been allocated and what is expected of them.
- For live action shoots, additional budgets are set up. Given that ProcurementExpress.com is mobile compatible, even when producers come across last minute expenditures while out on the road, they can easily have these approved and maintain a clear view of the impact on the budget.
- The second a project finished, Priscilla can see exactly what the cost of that production was (instead of waiting for an accountant to come in a month later to count up the receipts.)
Simply put, I could not go back to managing our company as it was before rubberstamp. I sleep easier at night and avoid a lot of worry around how our producers are coping with the changing requirements of our clients.