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Tampa Bay Rays score freely with Adaptive Insights

Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays

My home baseball side the (San Diego) Padres and the (Tampa Bay) Rays share the distinction of seemingly forever holding up the rest of their leagues. Not that they’re unloved – far from it.

Variable performance aside, the company behind the team is showing a clean pair of heels to others in the all important financial performance stakes. According to the company, its use of Adaptive Insights for planning and budgeting is key to that success. Recently I chatted with Rob Gagliardi, CFO of the Rays to get his take on progress and insights into what makes for a successful implementation in a complex environment.

Demanding environment

Before getting into the meat of this story it’s worth noting that the MLB provides one of the most detailed and rich set of statistics for any sport in the world. That background can make Gagliardi’s life tough but equally rewarding:

50% of our expenses are baseball related, those guys have been the most receptive, but they are mostly the very tech-savvy people anyway. We have some of the sharpest analytical minds over there. They always want more and that’s OK. I really don’t mind them pushing us.

Again as background, the assumption is that MLB teams are multi-billion businesses. Gagliardi explained out that outward appearances mask a different inner reality; one where modern day challenges are no different to much larger organizations.

It’s a billions-of-dollars industry for sure, but we’re all just a small team. You can’t just go out and spend a lot of money on an Oracle or IBM product. Not only that, we don’t have the man-power to maintain that stuff. I held off for a good while while, eeking out what I could from the numerous spreadsheets. But there comes a point where it’s just not possible to meet the needs of the owner and colleagues who expect to see information at the snap of a finger.

On being collegiate

Finally on the background topic, I was surprised to learn just how collegiate the various team managements are. For example, Gagliardi told me that as he was going down his solution selection check list, he spoke with peers in other teams to get an assessment of their outcomes, even if that meant discussing a competitive product.

The Red Sox and the Rays is a huge match for both sides and passions surely run high but behind the scenes off the field I spoke with my counterpart there – they took Host (Analytics) – I guess my thinking about how analytics should work helped convince few of the other teams, too. Not just the capabilities, but that the price is right.

That collegiate environment was confirmed byPeter Woll, vice president of financial planning & analysis, New York Mets.

While our franchises compete on the field, as a finance organization we are aligned across the MLB in terms of best practices to deliver the greatest return for our owners and the MLB at large.

Fast track to success

Back to the implementation. The project started…

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