Karmarama is an independent group of multi-disciplinary agencies based in Farringdon. They’ve been using Paprika for their financials since 2004 but, following a merger with another agency, their systems had become fragmented and others had been inherited or brought in to manage some aspects of the business.
With its fully integrated job costing and accounting functions, Paprika software was more than capable of meeting the needs of the entire group. After carrying out a significant review of their systems, Karmarama decided to relaunch with Paprika.
In 2015 we began that process together and set about migrating Karamarama’s data into one single system:
“There was quite a lot of work to be done but we were helped through that process by Paprika every step of the way in terms of migrating all the historical data over – so it was actually a relatively smooth process” says Kate Kelsey, Finance Director, Karmarama.
Kate kindly agreed to be interviewed about the relaunch which saw 260+ Karmarama staff move onto Paprika. But let’s first talk about the before – what were the main challenges they were facing?
“From the accounting perspective we could see what had been invoiced and what cost has come in against a job but we had our time held in a different system and estimates in another - the information just wasn’t in one place. So that was the biggest challenge we had - we were looking in two different places if we wanted to look at how a particular job or client was performing.”
With the entire group now all up-and-running on Paprika, we asked Kate - what differences, if any, she’s experienced since the relaunch?
“The fact that all the information is in one place makes a huge difference. The fact that we now have a view where we can see what’s been estimated, what’s been invoiced on that job and the hours that have run against a job – it’s all in one place, it’s all live, it’s all up-to-date information. That’s all really powerful.”
As a result of the relaunch Paprika is supporting their whole process from end to end. It allows the group to achieve the high level of consistency they want. Every agency is now operating from the same structure and, when multiple companies within the group are working for the same client, their contributions are coordinated into a “Super Project”. The Super Project is overseen by a client lead with overall group responsibility for the client. The new process is now simplified for the client, who receives estimates and invoices for the project as a whole, while the inter-company aspects within Karmarama are handled transparently.
“The new way of billing means that we can be more standardised across the whole group. We treat everybody in the same way. We have the same expectations regardless of which part of the group they’re working for – so that’s good.”
The set-up of Karmarama’s data is another interesting aspect of this relaunch because they now have what we call a Single Data Multi-Company (SDMC) configuration. This means the group’s data is all in one place and the set-up enables them to report as a group or as their individual companies: Karmarama, Kream, Kaper, Krowd or Nice.
Another benefit of centralising all the financial data with time recording and estimating is the positive impact it has had on the quality of information they can get out of Paprika says Kate:
“We are now starting to get really good management information out of the system. There is still some work to be done but the bones of it are in place and we are working on it still with Paprika to improve on what we’ve already got. “
Since the relaunch, Karmarama also chose to join our hosting environment. With that comes the new web version of Paprika and some neat tools such as time planner, which is ideal for planning and resourcing agency staff.
“I think the resource management side of things is working very well with the people that are doing the resourcing. There’s much less double entry of inputs. They’re not having to do so many things manually. It’s all already in the system – so that’s a big step forwards.”
The introduction of the new web interface meant that we needed to undergo a re-training exercise for all 260+ agency staff. This was carefully planned in phases and the same expert trainers were used throughout. As part of their ongoing support package Karmarama decided to have regular site visits and Kate explains how important that is to her and the agency:
“The training from Melanie is absolutely invaluable. Because she knows the system and the set-up so well it means that she’s constantly challenging us actually. When she’s training new people, people who perhaps work with the system for a month or 6 weeks and then she comes in and trains them – she’s picking up on bad habits that are being picked up by people. So she’s raising that with us and we’re constantly being reminded of what good practice is. I feel that she has a fantastic understanding of how we work which is really important. Paprika isn’t just a standardised system, everybody has their own systems and processes, so that’s a real comfort.”
Kate talks of Paprika constantly challenging them and reminding them of good practice. For us the feeling is mutual. Working closely with clients like Karmarama is constantly keeping us on our toes, teaching us how agencies work today and this pushes us to find better solutions for all our clients.
Looking to the future, we asked Kate what’s next for Karmarama and Paprika?
“What I really value is the ability to talk to Paprika as and when we’ve got issues or when we want to make improvements to our system. It gives us that ability to work as a partnership to move the system forwards and support us in moving our business forwards… Obviously our needs and requirements will change as we move forwards but I think there is a willingness from Paprika to partner with us and to help us find solutions where we need additional information from the system”
The Karmarama relaunch is a fantastic example of the collaborative relationships that we want to build with all our client partners. Of course, like all good relationships, this is an ongoing effort and we look forward to many more years of listening, supporting and working with them to help them get the most from their system.
We would like to say a special thanks to Kate Kelsey, Finance Director at Karmarama, who provided the interview and quotes which formed the basis of this case study.
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