Partners For Growth:
How Marketing and Finance Found Common Ground at Hortonworks
“Allocadia has helped us overcome all the challenges we were having, while also creating the processes and visibility we need to run marketing more effectively."
– Carey Rutigliano, Director, FP&A, Hortonworks
We wrote this case study because it stands out as an example of a relationship between Marketing and Finance that’s more common than you might think. Even though it’s more newsworthy to talk about the apparent traditional strain between these two departments, this case study presents some ‘alternative facts’ -- only these facts are actually real.
Finance can be a staunch supporter and ally. Finance does want to see you succeed.
Together, you will own the conversation on Marketing’s impact on the business, and everyone else will listen. So if there’s one thing we want you to take out of this case study, it’s this: invest in your relationship with Finance, because you’ll get a lot more out of it than you’ll put in.
The Allocadia Team
You Can’t Prove What You Can’t Measure
“You’re moving money around based on a handshake?”, asked Carey Rutigliano, Hortonworks’ Director of Financial Planning & Analysis, one day back in 2014.
He had recently joined the company, and was talking with the manager of revenue marketing about planning and budgeting, and how Marketing and Finance could align better.
Budget transfers weren’t the only blind spot. There were other challenges with how Marketing was managing its finances, including a proliferation of spreadsheets used for planning, no visibility into actual spend and an inability to compare that against plan, and no insight into marketing ROI.
For a fairly young company - established in 2011 with initial backing from Yahoo! and Benchmark Capital - Hortonworks had a small and nimble marketing team but hadn’t yet fully developed the processes and systems that are typically found in more mature organizations.
All the same, pressure was mounting from the C-suite for them to be more accountable and to demonstrate how they were impacting the business. “Not only were our marketers operating in silos, but they also couldn’t offer any evidence as to the impact they were having on the organization,” recalls Rutigliano. “They were super-smart people doing great things, but they couldn’t provide any data as evidence.”
Rutigliano is from the breed of Finance people that seeks to be partners with the rest of the company, not overseers. He knows that through his role he can be a trusted advisor, and he wants to use his powers for good. In other words, he wants to be seen as an ally, not an adversary. As for the budgeting and reporting challenges Marketing was having, he saw two short-term opportunities for improving the situation: first, help Marketing gain better visibility and control over its budget, and second, connect the dots between the money and the activities to show ROI.
The revenue marketing manager agreed that they needed a dedicated planning and budgeting solution that could address these challenges. He took on the task of finding a solution that could help, with two key criteria in mind: it had to be cloud, and it had to connect to Salesforce.com, Marketo, and Netsuite if it was going to really make a difference. After some conversations with peers he discovered Allocadia, checked all the boxes, and brought it to Rutigliano.
A Win-win solution
“Aside from easily meeting our technical requirements, I quickly recognized that Allocadia was the right solution,” says Rutigliano. “From their quick response to our initial inquiry and through the sales cycle, we got the clear impression that they would be there to ‘hold our hand’. We believe in best-in-breed, and that’s what Allocadia is. Almost three years later, our initial impressions have been fully validated. Allocadia has helped us overcome all the challenges we were having, while also creating the processes and visibility we need to run marketing more effectively.”
But getting there wasn’t easy. Shortly after selecting Allocadia, the revenue marketing manager left Hortonworks, leaving Rutigliano holding the keys so to speak. So although it wasn’t true, the perception was that Allocadia was a Finance-mandated tool for the Marketing team. “That really affected the adoption rate in the early months, which can be the death knell for new technologies and processes,” recalls Rutigliano. “But I was so confident that this would make everyone’s lives better, I campaigned hard to demonstrate the benefits and address their concerns.”
Rutigliano only wanted to be a trusted partner with Marketing. He wanted to stand in Marketing’s corner and help prove the impact their plans were having on the company. He wanted to help them become better, more confident stewards of their investments. Once he patiently demonstrated Allocadia’s capabilities and how it was going to help them gain insight into their affairs, all resistance melted away.
“It came down to listening to their concerns, and addressing them head on,” says Rutigliano. “We explored the features together, including the integrations with Marketo and Salesforce.com, and that got a lot of people excited. The dashboards and analytics easily pushed things over the finish line.” The icing on the cake: when Hortonworks marketers realized they could ditch their spreadsheets and build their plans directly in Allocadia.
Working Together Toward A Common Goal
Today, Hortonworks marketers use Allocadia every day to plan their activities, map their spend against the budget, track their results and make adjustments as needed. Before Allocadia they had zero insight into ROI or other key performance metrics. Today, real-time answers to those questions are a just a few clicks away.
And about that early resistance, Rutigliano points out just how far things have come: “We recently had a brief problem with the company’s single sign-on system, and my inbox got absolutely overwhelmed by emails from marketers urgently demanding that access to Allocadia be restored. That’s when I knew we had taken root!” he laughs.
So what’s in Allocadia for Finance? The list is a long one, including:
- Automated mapping of POs and invoices to budget line items
- Real-time visibility into actual spend versus plan
- Available budget by activity type
- Full transparency for budget transfers and reconciliation
- In-quarter access to data on campaign and activity performance
- Spend by vendor (Allocadia contains both actual and forecasted spend, unlike Netsuite)
“There’s no other tool out there that can do what Allocadia does as cleanly and as efficiently,’ remarks Rutigliano. “I probably spend more time in Allocadia than I do in Netsuite because it has the full picture, from budget to actual to results I can’t get that elsewhere, certainly not in a meaningful timeframe. 10 days after end of the period doesn’t let me help Marketing make better decisions.”
One example is with Hortonworks’ demand generation activities. With the data he can access in Allocadia, Rutigliano can help Marketing pinpoint which activities are generating the right returns, and which aren’t. He can show what it’s costing to bring in leads, and whether or not that’s effective. He can easily demonstrate to the CEO, COO, and CFO what Marketing is doing and the impact they’re having.
Another example is when Rutigliano and Carole Gum, VP Corporate Marketing, once discovered mid-quarter that they were tracking to be 13% under-invested compared to plan. Prior to Allocadia, that information wouldn’t have come to light until well after quarter-end, by which time it would be way too late to put that money to use. But thanks to Allocadia, the Marketing team was able to adjust their activities to take full advantage of their budget and improve their ability to hit their numbers (which they did).
Rutigliano’s suggestion to marketers: “Challenge your misperception that Finance wants to be a watchdog, or if that’s really the case in your organization, work to change it through open dialog. We can help you tell your story to the rest of the company, and especially to the C suite. We want to be in your corner. Magic happens when you hitch Finance’s left brain to your right brain, so work together to make the whole company successful, which is what we’re all after anyway!”
Hortonworks, Inc.® (NASDAQ: HDP) is a leading innovator in the data industry, creating, distributing and supporting enterprise-ready open data platforms and modern data applications. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, Hortonworks employs more than 35 marketers spread across 7 offices in the US, UK, and Japan.