Working through weekends. 12-hour days. Tedious manual budget consolidations and a lack of trust in the numbers. Before Vena, this is what a typical budgeting cycle looked like for the finance team at Saddle Creek Logistics—one of the largest third-party logistics firms in America.
“We have about 50 warehouse locations, and each one would do their budgets on a different Excel spreadsheet,” says Paige Williamson, Saddle Creek’s Associate Director of Fixed Assets and Systems. “We’d try to consolidate those spreadsheets into a final budget for our CFO and President, but each one would have its own different formulas and formatting. Cleaning that up was a real nightmare.”
As a result, preparing the budgets for review took up the bulk of the finance team’s time, leaving little room for analysis or strategic updates to cost allocations. Paige says the company might’ve missed some chances to boost profitability because there was no fast way to determine how individual cost centers (transportation, warehouses, etc.) were actually performing.
“We weren’t able to do our budgets by cost center before Vena. It was all done by general location, so everything was pretty mashed up and we couldn’t go deep with our analysis,” she says. “By the time it was all consolidated, our executives didn’t have much time left to get in there and ensure it made sense.”
Saddle Creek is a massive company with dozens of cross-functional budget owners, so they were looking for a solution that was both powerful and simple to use. With Vena, Paige and her contributors were able to bring revenue planning, OpEx, workforce planning and CapEx into one database—all without sacrificing their natural familiarity with Excel.
“We didn’t want learning a new software to be a shock for our users. So when we found out that Vena actually utilizes Excel instead of replacing it, that was a huge win for us,” she says. “We’re looking at things a lot more accurately now, cost center by cost center.”
Another major advantage was Vena’s advanced workflows and audit trail, which made it easy for the finance team to manage the entire budgeting process from end to end. They also don’t have to email files back and forth or chase down budget owners for numbers anymore. Instead, all of Saddle Creek’s planning data is organized in one source of truth—and managers have complete visibility whenever anything changes.
“Tasks just flow from one person to the next without any manual intervention,” says Paige. “If John Doe hasn’t submitted his budget yet, we’re actually able to see that and I can send him a reminder. We know where we are in the process now instead of just flying blind.”
Now that Saddle Creek has streamlined those manual consolidations with Vena, the finance and accounting teams don’t lose sleep over budgets anymore. Templates are ready for review with 4 weeks to spare before submission day, which means executives can fill that time with more granular cost center analysis.
“Vena has given us evenings and weekends back. Our budget templates are ready ahead of time so we don't have to scramble to prepare them manually—and that’s been a huge relief,” says Paige. “I also think Vena has helped us become more of a partner to our locations and cost centers, because instead of just saying ‘this is the number,’ we’re having conversations about what they mean for the business.”
This is all part of Saddle Creek’s evolution into a more strategic, data-driven enterprise. With the power of Vena behind them, Paige and her teammates in finance are going beyond just reporting the numbers—they’re driving informed decision making across every individual cost centre.
“Let’s say you’re looking at depreciation expenses for forklifts in a capital budget,” says Paige. “If you’re asking for five more forklifts, are you replacing them? Are you ending your leases and purchasing? That’s just another example of the stories we can tell about our business now. You have to be able to understand those stories to guide your business where you want it to go.”