ERP Implementation for Advertising Agency

Introduction

Update Advertising runs a Narrowcast Platform that provides a platform to Marketers to run their advertising campaigns at places where even the Internet cannot reach. Update Ads over the past two decades, create a network of 600+ Local Cable Operators running 2500+ Channels across India. Along with the wide network they have mapped each Channel with its view demographics, allowing the Marketers to Geo-target their campaigns.

../../_images/update-ads-office.jpg

Source: Update Advertising’s Website

Results

With ERPNext Implementation and other Custom built Applications, Update Ads were successfully able to manage complete Business Process digitally, which included the following

  1. Digitally generate Business Documents like
    1. Proposal/Quotation
    2. Internal Release Order (similar to Sales Order)
    3. Network Release Order (similar to Purchase Order)
  2. Manage Customer Support activities digitally
  3. Generate and provide Proof of Delivery digitally

Specifically, Update Ads was able to

  1. Generate 3x more Proposals as compared to earlier, increasing their chance of winning more business
  2. Reduced time to generate Release Orders by 50%
  3. Reduced workload on Support staff by 40%

Overview

Update Advertising has grown immensely with its own organic efforts, the next challenge for them was to drive sales digitally. In order to drive sales, they decided to transform the organization digitally to be able to handle the scaled operations with deft and ease. The major challenge faced by Update Ads was they could not operate at scale due to operational bottlenecks like Creation of Release Orders in mass.

Challenges

Update Ads used to maintain their data and generate Business Documents in Excel Spreadsheets. With the growing number of Service Providers, Channels and Volume of business, they realized that Excel was not a scalable solution.

../../_images/excel-hell.jpg

Source: Your data outgrows Microsoft Excel

The challenges faced by Update Ads is described below in detail:

  1. Large Volume of Data: Maintaining data of 2500+ Channels, Markets served by these Channels, 600+ Service Providers, Customer Data and Relationships among various data points was turning out to be cumbersome. Using Excel was making the process slow and the data was scattered all over, making it difficult to maintain one Source of Truth.
  2. Complex Business Logic: Business Logic like Pricing Logic was complex involving various parameters. Calculating these values using Excel was becoming difficult, leading to using a simpler Pricing Logic which did not capture all the factors affecting the Pricing.
  3. Manual Errors: Since all the Business documents were generated manually on Excel spreadsheets, it involved a lot of manual work like fetch Customer Data manually, Channel details manually. Manual errors often led to poor customer service.
  4. Data Silos: Since all the data was in separate Spreadsheets, this created data silos. It was difficult for the management to derive any actionable insights from this data as the data was disconnected in these data silos.

Decision-Making Process

  1. Business Understanding: We spent about 4 meetings, 3-4 hours each, just understanding Update Ads business. We sat down with the Managing Director and other Senior members of the team including VP of Operations and Chief Strategy Officer, who explained their business in detail to us.
  2. Business Challenges: In the next 2 meetings, Update Ads team explained certain Business specific Challenges, main challenges amongst them include the following
    1. Large Release Orders: When Update Ads received orders for running ads Pan-India, it took them 2 days to just create Network Release Orders for their Vendors, this led to loss of business since the 2 days when ROs were being generated, Ads could not be run.
    2. No cookie-cutter approach: Update Ads’ innovative Business model meant that it would not fit into any readymade solution. Customisations would be required to make any ERP work for a business like Update Ads.
    3. Need to Automate other functions of Business: It was necessary to automate other business functions like Monitoring the Ads run by Service Providers on their channel and integrate this Application with an ERP.
  3. Solutioning: Based on the client’s requirements, Fafadia Tech went to the drawing board and sketched a Solution that would solve Update Ads’ problems. We did a Proof of Concept (P.O.C) that showcased the conceptual solution to the client.
  4. Scoping: On reviewing the POC client was confident that Fafadia Tech’s recommended solution would solve their problems. Fafadia Tech then prepared a detailed Scope of Work document which was duly signed by the client and work commenced on the Project. on the combination of Right Product and Right Implementation Strategy.

Solution

Solution for Update Ads consisted of multiple Custom Applications along with ERPNext at the Core. High Level Architecture of the solution is explained in the below diagram.

../../_images/update-ads-architecture.png

Source: Your data outgrows Microsoft Excel

Component of the Solution are as follows:

  1. Proposal Builder: Custom Web-Application built in React JS that helped Update Ads Sales Team
    1. Fetch Master data like Market, Channel List, Channel Metadata including Channel Type, Genre,MSO (Multiple System Operator) etc from ERPNext via API
    2. Select Filters for generating a Proposal
    3. Calculate various parameters like Pricing based on pre-defined Business Logic
    4. Export the prepared Proposal to Quotation Module of ERPNext via API
    5. Amend existing Quotations at a future date
  2. Buying WebApp: Custom Web-Application built in ReactJS that helped the Media Buying Team (Procurement Team) to
    1. Know the details of sold Ads and Channels
    2. Negotiate best deals, enabled by presenting data in a format that enabled them to buy in bulk
    3. Push Buying Rates to ERPNext Purchase Order/ Network Release Order module via API
  3. Call Center Report: Custom Report in ERPNext that organised data for the Call Center/Support team in a format that made their tasks of follow-up with the Service Provider/MSO easier.
  4. ERPNext: Core ERP Application used to generate and store Business Documents like Quotations, Internal Release Order, Network Release Order and Monitoring Data. ERPNext was chosen as it is a complete open-source solution with API architecture, allowing us to build the custom applications around it and connect via API. Also 100% open-source meant, No Licensing Fees, making it a cost-effective solution for the Client.
  5. Monitoring Application: Monitoring Application was built to Monitor the playout machines of MSOs and send Logs to extract Spot Listings which were provided to Customers as a Proof of Delivery. It consisted to following two sub-components
    1. Custom Windows Service Utilities written using Python library, to copy the Logs recorded by the playout machines and send it to a Cloud Server for further processing
    2. Custom Parser to extract information from the Logs to deliver Brand Spot Listing as a Proof of Delivery of the Advertisement. It consisted of information such as Caption Name and Spot Timing which was collated together to generate Brand Spot Listing.
  6. Customer Portal: Custom Web-Application which allowed Customers to login using system generated Login to view Reports relating to their Advertisement. This portal was built in ReactJS and fetched data from ERPNext via API.