For Bolt, “hypergrowth scaleup” isn’t a trendy tech-industry term—it’s a fitting description of the company’s swift ascent. Since starting out just a decade ago as a ride-hailing service in Estonia, Bolt has expanded into 500 cities in over 45 countries. In addition to ride hailing, Bolt now provides scooter rentals, short-term car rentals, and food and grocery deliveries.

Yet Bolt’s mission goes beyond simply transporting people and goods. “What we’re trying to do as a company is contribute to changing how we move around cities and making cities nicer places to live,” Andy Turnbull, Bolt’s head of people technology, said at Workday Rising Europe. In an average European city, Turnbull pointed out, 42% of trips are taken via private cars. To turn the tide on this wasteful and road-clogging practice, Bolt wants to help build cities for people, not vehicles.

But for years after its inception, Bolt’s finance and HR functions had been relying on manual, spreadsheet-based systems and processes that impeded the company’s ability to grow as quickly as they’d hoped, or to realise its mission fully. “Our disparate systems were made for a smaller market, and those systems couldn’t grow with us,” said Jacqueline Broderick, Head of Finance Technology at Bolt.

Bolt leadership decided that the company had to replace its multiple, siloed systems with a single, integrated, cloud-native platform that could work seamlessly across finance and HR. “That’s why we landed with Workday,” Broderick said. Bolt leadership also chose Workday because its cloud-based platform could better support the company’s growth, Turnbull added. “We wanted a solution that could meet not just the needs of today but also the needs of tomorrow.”

In addition, Broderick and Turnbull saw the value of Workday Community, a resource centre where customers come together to collaborate, network, and learn. “We can leverage this brilliant, strong community to make ourselves self-sufficient. And we can enable future growth by working together and sharing knowledge with other Workday customers and partners,” Turnbull said. An out-of-the-box API furthered that sense of self-sufficiency, as Bolt wouldn’t have to rely on external consultants to build future integrations.

Though the decision to choose Workday Finance and HCM felt momentous, it was actually just the first step. Next came implementing the enterprise platform. At Workday Rising Europe, Broderick and Turnbull shared some of the valuable lessons learned by Bolt’s finance and HR teams.

“We wanted a solution that could meet not just the needs of today but also the needs of tomorrow,” 

Andy Turnbull Bolt

Engage leadership.

Digital transformation requires not only strong relationships across finance and HR but also commitment to the process across the organisation—starting with those at the top. “Leadership buy-in was so key to the success of our finance and HCM solutions today,” Turnbull said. Their advice? Involve company leadership as you set and execute a strategy to accomplish the transformation. “Define a clear strategy for where you want to be with your new system,” Broderick said–and make sure the c-suite is fully aware of the game plan.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

While Turnbull and his team are passionate about finance and HCM technology, they realised that other employees might not be as aware of the transformative power such solutions might provide. So Turnbull’s team made sure to share with these employees the data-based value that Workday would offer, such as the number of transactions or person-hours that would decrease.

Turnbull also kept stakeholders focused on the technology’s benefits by “doing the maths,” he said. He shared with them not just the near-term cost of licensing the solution but also its long-term value over the next 10 years.

In addition to explaining the advantages of implementing new technology, it’s important to communicate the risks of sticking with the old tech, Broderick advised. “Highlight the risks of not deploying,” she said. Her team, for instance, relied so heavily on siloed spreadsheets that “the data accuracy was horrendous.” An awareness of that risk helped the finance team appreciate a unified system that provides a single source of truth for data.

Form a project team across functions.

“Involve the business, so it’s not only people in finance who deliver the product—it’s the organisation as a whole,” Broderick said. “Think about who’s going to use the product.”

The internal project team should have a clear understanding of what the overall initiative aims to achieve—and what each team member will do to help achieve it. “Deliver the message across the organisation of where you’re going and what you’re doing,” Broderick said. “It’s important to be transparent about responsibilities.”

Again, communication is key: “Make sure everyone knows what’s happening. Talk about it early. Talk about it often,” Broderick said.

Start before the start.

When organisations struggle with digital transformation, it’s often because they’ve made a common miscalculation, Turnbull said: “They don’t start thinking about many of the decisions they need to make until the project actually starts.” Turnbull’s advice? Plan out the rest of the process well before that starting point—in other words, institute “a long, extended phase zero,” he said.

During this phase, the project team should prepare as much as possible to avoid wasting time and money later. Before the project and licensing costs begin, answer as many questions as you can, like what the desired business processes should involve and what data the workbooks will need.

“Phase zero is so incredibly important. That’s the time to get your data right and to clean up any poor information, duplications, and redundancies,” Broderick said. “Garbage in, garbage out. So ensure that you don’t migrate bad data and that the data you’ll bring into the platform is the data you need.”

To end big, begin small.

To help ensure collective buy-in, Turnbull advised, the digital transformation team should pilot one small project—or a minimum viable product (MVP). Rather than attempting to deliver the entire solution with full functionality all at once, launch one complete feature that accurately and fully reflects the user experience that the solution ultimately will provide. “Deliver a small chunk of the desired solution architecture that you can 100% guarantee will produce the same brilliant design, usability, reliability, and functionality of the desired end state,” Turnbull said.

Why is it so important to deliver an MVP—and to deliver it quickly? “It builds credibility upfront,” Turnbull said. “You don’t damage your credibility on day one because you tried to deliver too much.”

“Because we no longer have a disparate system between HCM and Finance, the data flows freely and we’ve reduced inaccuracies between [these departments],” 

Jacqueline Broderick Head of Finance Technology Bolt

Riding into the Future

Since the implementation, in 2021, Bolt has used the Workday platform to deploy new functionality quickly, as and when needed, for maximum impact—including an advanced compensation roll-out in just one month, a speed that is impossible for many ERP solutions, and rare even within the Workday Ecosystem.

“Because we no longer have a disparate system between HCM and Finance, the data flows freely and we’ve reduced inaccuracies between [these departments],” Broderick said. “Our legacy systems didn’t really talk to each other, but now we can build integrations.”

Even the company’s most complex vertical, scooter rentals, has been transformed. Time-tracking is now smooth and efficient, despite the complexities of multiple worker types, shifts, and schedules. And inventory counts now take half a day, rather than weeks, with the rental team able to see inventory numbers in real time. “The speed at which we’re able to deliver for our rental team has been phenomenal,” Broderick said.

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