Virgin Active Kicks Technology Expense Management into Touch with Apex BI

Virgin Active South Africa (VASA) has revealed how it has taken control of its technology expense management (TEM) through its partnership with TEM specialist, Apex BI.

Virgin Active – one of the oldest and arguably the most successful Health Club chains in South Africa, took its promotion of a healthy lifestyle mantra and applied it internally to its IT and Telecoms environment. “We drive our members to strive for a healthy and balanced way of life – there is no reason why exactly the same attitudes cannot be implemented in the running of a business which, as with all companies today, is hugely dependent on technology,” says Chad Rodinis, Head of IT Service at VASA.

Rodinis notes that VASA’s IT and Telecoms environment form the backbone of the company’s customer service offerings. “These are the tools that enable us to run our business effectively and provide excellent customer service to our members. It is equally important to ensure expenditure is carefully monitored and kept to a minimum, thereby preventing unnecessary increase in costs to our membership fees,” says Rodinis.

Apex BI’s TEM platform not only enabled VASA to make informed decisions but it also helped the group to flatline its Telecoms expenditure whilst the business continued to reflect organic growth.

“In addition to yielding direct financial benefits, which included reducing our direct and indirect costs by several million Rands, the Apex BI solution also revealed and enabled the reimbursement of sizeable credits due. We have also experienced increased operational and infrastructure efficiencies,” confirms Rodinis.

He adds that the group faced a number of challenges including: keeping track of the amount of Telecoms infrastructure it had deployed at each one of its clubs; who the service providers were and whether or not VASA was getting maximum benefit from those services. “Being SA’s oldest health club chain also means that we have a long history with many suppliers who have provided us with a multitude of services over the years. It was crucial for us to confirm that not only were we not overspending but to ensure we were not procuring more than what was actually required.”

Rodinis says acquiring a clear objective view of the group’s Telecoms costs at month end was difficult. “We needed to see how our Telecoms costs align with budgets and also how they relate back to our general ledger (GL) codes and respective clubs. Apex BI’s product, Clarity, has automated this process for us, thereby reducing the time and resources our finance department invests in this area each month.”

According to Neil Buckley, MD, Apex BI, managing telecom costs, services and consumption is key to any company’s ability to contain expenditure and maximise profit.

“Our relationship with VASA commenced in 2008 when even then it became apparent that it was no longer feasible for the group to manage these costs in the traditional manner via internal systems. VASA elected to partner with us as its preferred TEM provider,” says Buckley.

He notes that over the past eleven years the Apex BI team has provided VASA with the visibility and resources required to optimise, understand and control its entire Telecoms landscape across each one of its 140 clubs.

Rodinis adds: “Our business is constantly growing and evolving. The way we report and allocate costs and consumption internally is changing. We are adding new services and vendors, into the mix all the time. Remaining a leader in our sector is only achieved by constantly improving the member experience. Supporting our business objectives in this regard often requires upgrading existing systems and processes by embracing and deploying additional and sometimes completely new technologies.”

“This means more vendors, services and greater complexity. Rather than taking a ‘buy now, fix later’ approach we are currently expanding our use of the Apex BI platform to encapsulate not only the Telecoms aspect of our technology spend, but the entire scope of IT and telecom services that we procure.”

Rodinis concludes: “We are confident this latest upgrade of our engagement with Apex BI will not only provide us with complete control over IT expenditure but will dramatically increase our ability to more accurately: budget, allocate and optimise, all areas of our IT & Telecoms spend. We need a partner that can keep up with us, without breaking the bank, each time a change is required. Apex BI continually demonstrates its willingness and ability to flex as we do.”