Yarra Trams – Global Transport Networks

Yarra Trams operates the largest in tram network in the world, in Melbourne, Australia. The network covers 1,763 tram-stops and over 180 million boardings every year.

Owned by the State Government of Victoria, Yarra Trams is operated by a joint venture which includes Keolis, France’s largest private-sector transport group, which operates transport networks across the world, including in the United States, UK, Canada, and China. Yarra Trams generates annual revenues over $400 million and employs over 2,100 people.

Challenges – Excel hell

The extensive tram network made for planning complexity. 10 divisions, separated into 200 cost-centres, used 54 unique and linked templates, and over one million formulas. They needed a holistic view of the organisation and one version of the truth.

Bi-annual budgeting blues

Yarra Trams budgeted twice a year. The plans projected out four years into the future at a granular level. In total, budgeting took about 5 months of the year. Much time was spent on extraction, reconciliation, entry, calculation, and consolidation. This included ensuring spreadsheets linked correctly and manually deleting errors. There was little time left to provide considered analysis. The Finance team needed a smarter approach. They needed to eliminate manual steps and gain insight to make high-value contributions to the organisation. Ian Hamilton, Operations Accountant, says:

“It got to the point where we were saying ‘there HAS to be a better way of doing this’. We needed a solution.”

Long lasting, quantifiable results

Empowerment: Yarra Trams’ finance project began with a Bootcamp. This was an intensive oneweek session that included setup, automating the GL from Microsoft Dynamics GP, and rigorous hands-on training and guidance. This empowered Yarra Trams to create their own business models in Jedox, and adjust them independently to suit their needs.

Following the Bootcamp, Yarra Trams built labour costing revenue, projects and financial year models in less than a day, without external consultation. Every department head now plans independently, with Jedox calculating salaries, awards, and bonuses automatically.

Quantifiable savings: During the budget cycle, Yarra Trams saves up to two hours a day per-person on manual data processing. Simply being more efficient saves up to 640 hours a year, removing $32k of budget admin costs. And that’s before even quantifying the value of liberating the Finance team to focus on strategy and provide insight.

“It makes life easier, and it’s fast. There’s no sitting around waiting for anything. That low-value add is completely gone, there’s much more time spent on high-value analysis.”

Reporting that used to take fifteen minutes using a SAP Business Objects tool now takes seconds, as does consolidations. Using accurate information, the CFO can make better, faster decisions into the organisation in real time.

One source of truth: Yarra Trams now use a unified planning approach, which eliminates errors and version control issues, and delivers one trusted source of truth. All data from the most granular plans is instantly consolidated, eliminating any debate around data validity. Yarra Trams now forecast four years into the future with clarity, and multiple reporting hierarchies mean they report back to the Government and to parent companies with confidence.

“There’s so much more confidence in the data. Confidence that it’s all working as expected.”

Looking ahead Yarra Trams are now looking to create a more interactive month-end analysis, delivering more insight. They are extending their models to support EBA negotiations (Enterprise Bargaining Agreements), which projects detail costs out six years into the future.

And they are furthering a thriving BI culture, through cost-driven budgets completed and managed by accountable managers, and empowered as Jedox experts.

Author: Diana Kuch