Automotive Logistics Company Dominates Industry with Spreadsheets

Automotive Logistics truck from PrixCar

Automotive logistics company PrixCar Services is finding itself in an industry-leading position with a range of services powered by Calc123 and Excel spreadsheets.

With a growing appetite for real-time access to data, companies like PrixCar are finding new ways to breath life into their static spreadsheets and opening up an almost endless range of possibilities for business growth and expansion.

Background

Until a few years ago, PrixCar Transport (a division of PrixCar Services) would have been considered a classic “spreadsheet-driven company”, according to National IT & CSC Manager, Patrick Kashani.

“We had one, maybe two people in the commercial department of our automotive logistics division who kept all the rates as up to date as possible, including vehicle data and transport lane information that outlined the costs of running the operations.

Quoting and rating was done directly from within the Excel spreadsheet and, to further complicate matters, the spreadsheet was shared throughout the organisation and with key Customers too.”

With the need for more collaborative decision making and distributed workforces, such a reliance on spreadsheets, both operationally as well as strategically, was unacceptable for the 400-person automotive logistics operation that services both corporate and consumer markets through a nationwide vehicle transport network.

PrixCar’s frustration with spreadsheets is not unique.

According to research conducted by Ventana Research in Pleasanton, Calif., when it comes to doing analytical tasks, nine out of 10 people use spreadsheets. Spreadsheets really are the default tool and have been since the 1980s.

“Timely pricing updates are a big deal for us and our industry and we have to get that pricing out to the market as fast as possible or the sale will go to our competitors,” Kashani says.

Challenges

Maintaining the spreadsheet was not the problem.

In use for over 10 years within the company, the processes for analysing and updating transport rates were pretty well streamlined. The biggest obstacle was in the reliable and secure distribution of those rates into an essentially, uncontrollable environment.

It wasn’t unusual to discover that the data was out of date well before it reached those who needed access to it most. Not only couldn’t we respond to the market fast enough, we also found different users were using different versions of the same spreadsheet with different pricing. It was chaos!Patrick Kashani (National IT & CSC Manager, PrixCar Services)

Manage, Protect And Share Spreadsheets

Frustrated by several previously unsuccessful attempts to reproduce the complex rate calculation logic in the form of RDBMS-based ERP solutions, Kashani opted in favour of a software-as-a-service offering from Semantia.

The new solution, powered by Calc123, used their existing spreadsheet and provided support for thousands of real-time calculations per minute – substantially more than his company needed at the time and for the foreseeable future.

“That single spreadsheet is processing more than 80,000 quotes every month through our websites, our Affiliate Partners (PTXchange) and is being accessed by more than 1,100 registered users across 590 of our commercial customers. There is absolutely no way on Earth that we could have achieved that level of reach without Calc123,” says Kashani.

Kashani says the dynamic nature of the tool has improved his division’s ability to impact both the top and bottom lines.

“It used to take between 10-15 minutes to create a quote for our customers and the only way someone could get that quote was to call the 1300 number and speak with a Customer Support Officer,” says Kashani.

Two-thirds of all quotes are now completely automated through web services. Being able to scale to such levels has meant we are no longer constrained by spreadsheet technology”, he says.

With the ever-growing need for scale and velocity, the days of creating a spreadsheet, emailing it to colleagues, then manually updating and re-sending don’t just seem antiquated, they no longer make business sense.

Whilst some companies are tossing aside traditional spreadsheets in favour of more targeted software and services, PrixCar Transport found a way to make its massive investment in spreadsheet-based intellectual property available, online, as a service.

With Calc123, companies like PrixCar have succeeded in changing how their customers, partners and the market gain access to the data they need to make timely decisions and, in doing so, have retained and preserved the years of investment made in forecast models, rating calculators, quoting generators and intellectual property captured in spreadsheets.

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