"Our reporting is for management and staff. Dynamics NAV does not merely produce lists of figures, but meaningful, reliable information in real time."
Folke Strobel, commercial director of REGIOCAST GmbH & Co. KG.
These days, even radio companies are faced with challenges arising from the extensive digitalisation of all areas of life. For the media as a whole and also for radio this means more competition through increasing numbers of available services, new companies joining the struggle for advertising revenue and changing audience behaviour. These structural changes in the media market have already led to significantly altered turnover for many established players: newspapers and magazines are losing revenue while new, online media services are expanding. Although this development is not yet as serious for radio as for other areas, the industry still has the task of making provisions for the case that radio must also plan for a decreasing financial base in the future.
Countering such a development with long-lasting effect requires innovative offerings and excellent products for radio listeners and advertisers. However, measures that address companies' expenditure are also highly relevant: one aspect of a successful strategy could be to pool resources, which would reduce workload and therefore make the company more cost effective. The radio company REGIOCAST demonstrates how such a thing works: in addition to its own stations such as Radio PSR in Saxony or R.SH in Schleswig-Holstein, the media company has shares in 18 national and international radio stations. Its portfolio also includes marketing companies and the German digital football radio station called "90elf".
"In view of the challenges posed by digitalisation and the anticipated increase in pressure on our financial position, our goal is to make our structures behind the scenes in radio as efficient as possible in good time to enable us to provide our listeners and customers with the same services or better in future — but at a much lower cost," emphasises Folke Strobel, commercial director of REGIOCAST GmbH & Co. KG.
As a result of cross-regional expansion REGIOCAST now has three different locations in Berlin, Kiel and Leipzig. The individual companies are legally separate from each other. While REGIOCAST Holding has already been using Microsoft Dynamics NAV for some time, the different broadcasters work with different systems. An internal efficiency program planned, amongst other things, for the financial accounting for the company's own radio stations to be merged at the Leipzig location. The associates remained with the decentralised accounting departments but the accounting data needed to be transferred more easily.
A further requirement was the introduction of profit centres, which promised a better insight into the economic success of the individual broadcasters. "The concept could not be implemented with the existing heterogeneous IT structure. We first had to harmonise all the foundations so that everyone was on the same page," recalls Folke Strobel. Supported by an external consultant, it was in the summer of 2009 that the search began for lean and efficient business software for all three locations. The choice was made for Dynamics NAV.
"The decisive factor for us was the option of depicting multiple dimensions, for example, for profit centres or cost units. In addition, adjacent applications such as our sales software could be integrated relatively easily," emphasises the commercial director. Other important aspects were the comparatively low implementation costs and the fact that it was possible to build on existing experience. On the consultant's recommendation, the Microsoft partner COSMO CONSULT took over the implementation.
The project began in September 2009. To reduce the broadcasters to a common denominator with regard to accounting, a project group harmonised account systems, cost centres, cost units and clients in advance. "The real challenge was the time factor. We gave ourselves the ambitious goal of setting up interfaces and accounting structures, transferring legacy data and training employees in little more than three months," explains Folke Strobel.
At the same time, they had to tailor Dynamics NAV to the structures of the media group. To this end the project team built different dimensions, adapted interfaces or added extra fields to input screens. A distinctive feature is the specially set up "replication client" that takes the accounting data from the 25 operating clients, processes it and forwards it to REGIOCAST Holding. This makes it easier for the radio company to consolidate the financial figures and maintain the individual clients.
It was particularly important for the project team to optimise the accounting processes and establish additional reports for group reporting. REGIOCAST uses the Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) system, which is permanently linked with Dynamics NAV, for most of its evaluations. The main advantage is that the data from the business software can be analysed together with the figures from Meridian — a sales and scheduling system for media companies. There is also a link to the "Saperion" document management system, which enables the staff at REGIOCAST to scan and allocate incoming invoices locally. The accounting entries are automatically transferred to Dynamics NAV.
Dynamics NAV helped the project team to convince all the managers responsible for the budget and involved in the accounting process from all areas of the company of the benefits of a modern accounting system. "Our reporting is aimed at management and staff. Dynamics NAV does not merely produce lists of figures, but meaningful, reliable information in real time. That is good, because it replaces the unpopular Excel spreadsheets, which everyone involved in the budget previously had to use to track the performance of his area," says Folke Strobel. Transparency within the company has increased significantly. "In the past we often had to spend a lot of time on consolidation and interface maintenance, but we can now deal with content while the accounts are updated on a daily basis. Now the auditor can come in any day," says Folke Strobel. Thanks to efficient processes, the time and effort required for postings and calculations has decreased significantly. REGIOCAST has faster access to relevant information and at a significantly lower cost. The investment has now paid for itself," stresses Folke Strobel. No wonder the system expansion is still continuing. The human resources department is to be added at the beginning of 2013.