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Episode 1: Why do so many mining companies struggle with EOM Cost reporting?

For years management and finance teams have looked for smarter ways to do reporting. But the problem is tools have always been expensive, and incredibly complex.

Luke Wundke: Welcome to Episode 1 of the Ramesys Global Podcast. My name is Luke Wundke, and joining me here today is Ramesys Global Managing Director, John Goodman. John is a chartered accountant with over 30 years' experience as an accountant and cost management consultant to the mining and resources industries and has worked with the who's who of mining CEOs and CFOs, not just here in Australia, but around the world.

Welcome, John.


John Goodman: Thanks Luke, great to be here.


Luke Wundke: John, we were talking earlier off air about how many mining companies out there really struggle with the time taken to deliver cost reporting at end of month. Why is that do you think?


John Goodman: Look, great question Luke, and really this is one of the biggest issues that we find facing many of our clients. The biggest problem is, so many organizations are relying on Excel to get the reporting out, which means it's a cut and paste process at the end of month. They've taken data dumps out of their trial balance for their actuals information, and they're having to go and find their Excel spreadsheets for budgets and cut and paste. And then the reconciliation process, fixing up all the charting and the reporting and so on. It's often well into the second week of the new month before a lot of clients are getting reporting out to their management teams.


Luke Wundke: There must be a lot of frustration John, caused not only within the finance department but within the company as a whole. What are the implications of this slow end-of-month reporting?


John Goodman: Well, Luke, firstly, it's just a lot of wasted time for the accountants and business analysts. The preparation time, the frustration of having to do a lot of almost meaningless work to get the reports up, and a lot of checking and balancing and so on. So, time-wise frustration. I guess the second probably important thing other than the value of data is the timeliness of it. So, most executive teams want to be analyzing their performance within the first few days of the month end, because that's when it's meaningful to them. That's what they've done in the last month, they want to understand that and analyze it there.


John Goodman: And I guess, thirdly, it's also a little bit about the team, the management team, having confidence in the data that's coming out. And as you can understand with the complexity of cutting and pasting Excel things together, there's not always that confidence in the answers that are presented.


Luke Wundke: Yeah, so lack of confidence in the data, the timeliness is not there, which is obviously key with making informed and timely business decisions. What other issues do slow end-of-month reporting cause?


John Goodman: Look, I guess really critical to users is, what's the value of the data that they're getting? And to be able to get meaningful analysis, they need to be able to drill into the data. So, the problem with the standard approach is, it's really hard to actually get behind the face numbers and see what's really going on. And so therefore, getting to root cause analysis is not something that easily falls out of the monthly reporting process.


Luke Wundke: Yeah, so really limited drill-down when it comes to Excel end-of-month reporting. Does it really need to be this way, John? There's got to be a better way.


John Goodman: Look, great question. And here's the crux of it. Reporting used to be really hard, but things have changed so much. We're delivering Microsoft Power BI-based solutions to our clients. We're delivering them very cost effectively, they're cheap. They're very quick to stand up. And basically, reporting is dropping out as soon as the month-end is closed, which means operations management can be reviewing reports with senior management within days of the month-end. And because of the amount of information that's contained within these reports, powerful drill-throughs become seriously meaningful tools for actually analyzing performance improvement opportunities. That's what data should be for, is actually how do I do my business better?


Luke Wundke: Yeah, right. This seems really like a quantum change when it comes to the way mining companies use their data. Is that fair to say?


John Goodman: Ah Luke, for years management and finance teams have looked for smarter ways to do reporting. But the problem is tools have always been expensive, and incredibly complex. Well, seriously, technology has caught up. Putting powerful dashboard reports on every key user's desk is now not just affordable, but it's a quick and easy process. We're delivering this to our clients in a matter of four to six weeks. So, we're transforming their reporting journey in that amount of time. We're finding many clients now are doing their monthly review live. The 50-page mail-out report pack is gone, it's becoming redundant. All of that information is now available through simple online dashboards. So really, the finance team's role is changing from having this process of manipulating large chunks of data into Excel reporting. Now they're becoming the people that actually help their users understand and analyze their costs, and very often in a live environment.


Luke Wundke: Yeah. So now a lot of the data reporting is actually being pushed out to the field to the owners of the data. Is that fair to say, John?


John Goodman: Absolutely, that's the outcome. And they're the people that need to understand what their actions have delivered in terms of cost performance. So, that's where it should be.


Luke Wundke: Thanks very much, John. I hope everyone's enjoyed this episode of the Ramesys Global Podcast.


Ramesys Global's goal is to make it easier for mining companies to achieve a transparent understanding of their cost performance, develop a cost-conscious culture, and create a single source of truth that helps leadership make better decisions, faster.


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