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Libby Marks

Transitioning From Spreadsheets to Runn for Resource Management (Interview)

Discover how Runn’s implementation team helps customers graduate from stifling spreadsheets to our powerful resource management platform.

Brian Naylor is the Senior Implementation Manager at Runn. Brian’s job is to help businesses graduate from using spreadsheets for resource management, to using our powerful resource management platform.

As part of a dedicated team of implementation and customer success experts, Brian has been helping businesses level up their resource management capabilities.

We caught up with Brian to understand the support – and success – new clients can look forward to when they choose Runn for resource management – from scoping and data migration, to training and adoption support.

When you are talking to people who've just come over to Runn from spreadsheets, how did they know it was the right time to make that transition? What are the pain points that have driven them to invest in a dedicated resource management platform? 

They’re typically frustrated by a couple of things. Firstly, they're finding that their current systems are spread out over a bunch of different platforms. So they might be using one system for timesheets, another for resource planning, and those systems don’t talk readily to one another. 

Or one department might be doing their resource planning in one spreadsheet and another department's using a different spreadsheet. And there might be shared resources between them, so they've got to collaborate on these spreadsheets. 

A lot of times, they don't have a way of just getting a quick glimpse of where they're at with a spreadsheet, compared to Runn which is very visual. There's a five-second rule where you should be able to look at a chart or a dashboard or a graphic and – right away, within five seconds – be able to glimpse at least one piece of information that you can take away. That’s definitely not the case with Excel. 

Plus, a lot of times, they're doing manual processes. This is all a very manual process. I've spoken with customers that are basically out of commission for a week at the end of the month just trying to get their data organized for the coming month or to report on the last month. So they don't have a lot of reporting functionality or ability to see trends on the spot.

So I would say the biggest things are: 

  • The time they're spending on resource planning is out of proportion to what it should be.
  • They have information in multiple systems and those systems don’t sync or work together.
  • They can’t easily get the insights they need to make confident decisions.

Is there a size that businesses get to – say 10 or 12 or 20 people – and they realize they can't do this in a spreadsheet anymore? 

Yeah, I'm amazed at the spreadsheets people are using. You know, if you've got a couple dozen people, you're probably OK to run things in the spreadsheet without it causing a lot of mayhem. But when you start to get into hundreds – or thousands – you're opening yourself up to a lot of room for error. 

Read more ➡️ Resource Planning in Excel Isn't Sustainable. Here's Why.

So when somebody comes to Runn and they've decided that they want to use the platform, what options do they have for implementation? Can they self-manage an implementation or does Runn handle the whole thing for them? 

We have a number of packages they can choose from depending on the size of the company, their in-house capacity for implementation, and their budget. They range from self-managing the onboarding process – where we’ll provide support documentation and can access our support team if needed – to having a fully supported implementation with our dedicated implementation team. In this case, you have an assigned onboarding team, your own project manager, a customer success manager, and we guide you through the process from start to finish.

I think that is a big differentiator for Runn over other resource planning tools - we actually offer the onboarding and the implementation. 

And which of those is more popular in your experience? 

It depends on the size of the company and their in-house expertise. If it's a small startup-type organization with just a few people, they'll often do it themselves. 

It’s usually when businesses have multiple sources of data – or large numbers of resources, or other complexity and customization – that they opt for our implementation support. 

A lot of the companies we deal with take resource management very seriously. They're looking to get ahead. There was a McKinsey report that found people who use data analysis to run their business are 20% more efficient than their competitors. So a lot of these people are looking for that edge –  and we're able to provide that. 

So what does that managed implementation process look like for an average organization moving from spreadsheets to Runn?

The process is generally that we go through a scoping session with them to understand:

  • What their pain points are 
  • Where they're struggling right now
  • If they've got any inefficiencies in their current process
  • The areas that they're looking to improve on

That's usually where we start out and we build a value plan from there with them.

At that first meeting with them, we want to identify some business goals that they want to get out of Runn. And we create milestones around those in the onboarding process. So later on, we can revisit once we onboarded that data and whatever that item is. Whether it's being able to report on something specific or just having everything in one place, we can revisit that and show them that value. 

Then we go through a data discovery session with them. We have templates that we use that allow them to put their data into our format. Often it's fairly similar to what they're doing, so it's not a big stretch for them to figure it out. But we walk them through what the data is. And we provide some guidance to them on how to best prepare their data for importing. 

Then we provide a project plan to the customer – a full project plan that has all the milestones, all the different phases of work that we're going to go through. And once we've had a look at their data and we understand how clean it is, we're able to put dates on all of that and usually follow through pretty well as long as everyone hits their goals. 

After customers get their plan, what happens next? 

So then we let them do their data extract. They get their data into that template and give it back to us. And then our team loads the data into the Runn platform and configures it for the customer. 

Then we go back to the customer and demo what their data looks like in our system and give them access to it so that they can validate it, and make sure that it's operating as expected. If there are any issues with the data or the way that it's showing up, we'll correct those. 

From there, we train them, we set up their user permissions. We've got a very good security system – which is something you don't get with a spreadsheet: security and permissioning. So, we're able to give people access as basic as just being able to see their timesheets, all the way up to being able to see financial data. 

And when people get their platform back from you, do you go into the granularity of things like preparing people's dashboards the way they want them, or is that something people create themselves? 

We do a couple of different things. It depends on what they want from us. There's a lot of change management that we can do with them. 

A lot of times, this is a very different system to what they're used to and they need to try to convince people to buy into it. So we work with the team to make sure that their strategy is in line. We have a customer success manager that's assigned to the customer. So they work with the customer to develop their training plan and their rollout plan. 

So if that involves building out certain reports or dashboards, then we can definitely create that with them.

I guess – for some customers – preparing the data could be an intimidating part of the process. What can you say to reassure people about that? 

The big thing about using the implementation team is that we have been doing this for a long time. We've been doing this for all kinds of customers, all kinds of industries, and we have best practices that we've identified around how to prepare your data, how to get your data looking the best that it can, and how to maintain that going forward. 

We get a variety of customers that have different levels of skill when it comes to working with data. Some of the IT companies are all over it and they're like ‘yeah, give us a couple days’ and they pull it all together and send it over.

For other people, you have to explain the nuances of working with spreadsheets to get the data into the right format. But it's very formulaic and it's fairly easy to walk through the steps. Basically what we're doing is we're mapping fields in their systems to fields in our systems so that the information displays properly.

How long does it typically take to implement Runn? Obviously, it's going to differ and this is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type question. But could you give us a ballpark figure – from a small startup with 10 people, to a larger business with say 100 people or more? 

It really depends on a couple of things. It depends on how clean the data is. And what kind of access the customer has to it. 

I've had customers where we've kicked off an implementation on Thursday, they’ve given us the data files on Monday, by Friday we've loaded it and they've started looking at it… It can be that quick. 

But I would say the average to get their data loaded is probably around four to six weeks.

Do you have any tips for making implementation go smoothly? 

I would say resource availability – having the right people to be involved in getting the data, validating the data. That really helps speed up the process.  

I’d also say making sure that you involve the end users in the validation and the setup of the system. They are going to be the ones that are ultimately going to determine its success.  

So if you involve them in the process – and they have some ownership of it and they actually see the benefits of it and how it's working –  they're gonna have a lot more long-term success. 

Yes. And they can then go out and be advocates for the new system when you're rolling it out as well, can't they?

Exactly. So we often do that with our training. We'll train the onboarding team or the project managers or the resource managers that are going to be running the system first. So that when we do the training with the end users, there's the rest of the team that they're able to act as a resource.

In terms of the validation process – when customers take the system away and look at it – is there a standard approach you give people for that or is it just up to them to work out what to do?

Yes, we do have some scenarios that we suggest that they test. Some use cases that they can go through and make sure that everything's operating the way they expect it to. We encourage them to reference their source files, the data that they originally gave us and just make sure everything's there.  

If you've got thousands of people, you’d do spot checks. You know, pick ten items and check those. If you find errors, maybe expand your search or dig into a certain area to see where that issue came from.  

I'm really interested in the customer success manager. How long do they give that support to customers?

The implementation team come in as a hit team. We get your data on-boarded and loaded and operating properly. Then we pass you off to the customer success team and they are actually assigned to you for the life span of the account. And they're often people that have worked in resource management themselves and understand.

So they stick with you and they get to know your data. The customer success manager actually goes through the onboarding process with the team. So they're able to answer questions as we go through about how their data is going to look and operate later. 

That person stays with the account and is their go to person if they have any support issues. For example, if they need to escalate a support ticket or anything in the future. 

They do business reviews with them. That’s to make sure whether those original business objectives that we set up are still a priority – or if objectives have changed and you want to focus on something else – and we can make sure that Runn is moving towards that. 

They're just a real go-to-person at Runn for the customer. 

Say goodbye to stifling spreadsheets – it’s time to graduate to Runn 🎓

Cut your resource management processes down to size with Runn. Perfect your RM practice with a powerful, fit-for-purpose RM platform trusted by hundreds of global customers. 

➡️ Discover how Runn can help you level up your resource management. 

➡️ Or start your free trial today.

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