We talked to Terry Hogan, Managing Director of Compas, a cloud-based EPM software that helps you run your business better without relying on spreadsheets. This is what he had to say about it:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Terry Hogan: We are well, thank you for asking. Fortunately, none of us has caught Covid-19, and we have been able to work from home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Compas.
Terry Hogan: I started off in Management Consultancy (A T Kearney, Oliver Wyman) before leaving to found Golden Orb, with a view to applying the same sort of advanced data modelling techniques used in Financial Services to other sorts of companies. Recently, we have developed Compas, an award-winning planning and reporting system on the cloud for businesses that have been using spreadsheets as their primary management tool but have really outgrown them.
How does Compas innovate?
Terry Hogan: People are given a lot of freedom to come up with ideas and spend a bit of time working them up – as long as they fit within the overall direction of travel of the product.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Terry Hogan: It has been a mixed bag. We have moved to remote working, which has been pretty successful. Some clients, particularly in the food and drink sector, have prospered, whilst some leads have dried up entirely (for the time being). One of our primary methods of lead generation is trade shows, so of course, that has not been possible for the past year. Virtual shows are not so good for us, as we need to be able to interact with interested prospects to show them features of Compas that are particularly relevant to them.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Terry Hogan: We cut back on unnecessary costs as far as possible, including moving to a purely virtual office, but so far have managed to avoid laying off any staff. We are fortunate in having low fixed overheads, apart from staff costs.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Terry Hogan: We make extensive use of AWS virtual servers and other cloud-based services. Other than that, we have an excellent VoIP system that allows us to present a virtual switchboard to the world and keep in touch with each other, wherever we happen to be based at the time. We have a regular weekly management meeting using Google Meet, but other than that, just keep in touch on an ad-hoc basis without too many meetings.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Terry Hogan: Compas has two main types of competitor – simple campaign planning tools like you might find in Salesforce, and bigger ‘EPM’ (Enterprise performance management) systems, such as those provided by big players like Oracle. The former tend to focus most on basic campaign planning and reporting, including the various workflow elements of bringing a marketing campaign to fruition. Compas really belongs in the category of EPM software, as it is aimed mainly at the needs of management and provides an integrated view of all of the implications of the marketing plan (full P&L, supply chain, customer service requirements etc.), as well as budgeting and modelling capabilities. However, the big EPM tools tend to be expensive and offer a ‘one size fits all’ solution that takes a lot of work to configure to a company’s own requirements. We believe that many businesses have unique planning requirements, reflecting the uniqueness of the business and that trying to fit those into a pre-existing model is a significant constraint. Compas aims to fill that gap by providing a low-cost, lightweight solution offering bespoke customisations for users, allowing them to get the benefits of bespoke software for the price of an off-the-shelf product.
Your final thoughts?
Terry Hogan: The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of flexibility and responsiveness in business planning and forecasting. Creating a budget by copying last year’s results and adding an allowance for growth might work for a bit but breaks down when this year is nothing like the last. Compas allows driver-based planning, where users plan the things that really drive the business (e.g. active customers, order frequency, average basket size/composition), and the system turns that into a set of financial and operational forecasts for the business. Then, when those drivers change, the system can instantly recalculate and build a new forecast based on the latest data. If the basic forecast starts at the level of revenue, then there is no way to see what is causing the difference if targets are missed (or exceeded).
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