How Ramp operates 20% more efficiently and saved $8M in costs
Ramp is the fastest-growing corporate card and expense management platform for the mid-market. To scale that quickly, Ramp needed to automate its operations with custom tools.
Fintech saw incredible growth in the past few years. Fintech, a combination of the financial industry and the tech industry, is attracting eager investors. Ramp is the fastest-growing corporate card and expense management platform for the mid-market. Their product is focused on saving companies time and money, both by simplifying complex manual processes like closing books, and by using spend data to eliminate wasteful spend. Their focus on operational and financial efficiency is what brought them to Retool.
The fintech industry traditionally has massive pain points around data management because its complex tools depend on robust internal tools to operate. These pain points can be solved by easy-to-build, low-code internal tools like the kind Retool provides. Geoff Charles, Head of Product at Ramp, talked to us about how Retool has helped make business operations at Ramp up to 20% more efficient and contributed to Ramp saving an estimated $8M in costs across the company.
Retool helped Ramp avoid the most common pitfalls of a fintech company because Ramp started using Retool from day one. Fintech companies succeed by processing large amounts of data quickly, which means they need a plethora of internal tools. “When you think about financial services,” Geoff says, “especially B2B financial services, there are a lot of different functions that need to run on our core applications.” The companies need tools that can do a multitude of tasks: view and change customer data, perform acts of service for a customer, analyze data, etc.
The problem? These tools are costly and time-consuming to build. Ramp used Retool to build every important internal tool they’ve needed, saving them from purchasing expensive software or wasting engineering hours. Modern financial companies usually need to choose between using outdated technology, trying to Frankenstein other apps (like Salesforce) to work in their verticals or building tools in-house — which comes with a hefty price tag.
Leaders at Ramp knew that internal apps were important for the success of their business, so they looked for another option: a low-code, customizable solution. But that decision didn’t come easy.
“We built our own internal tool system, and that was very painful.”
Geoff learned the challenges of trying to build and manage an in-house internal tool the hard way when he worked as a Senior Product Manager at a previous FinTech startup. “At my previous job, we built our own internal tool system, and that was very painful,” Geoff says.
The tool was an internal CRM that pulled customer data when they called in for support. Unfortunately, no one wanted to work on the tool — neither engineers nor PMs. It was built with outdated tech and eventually became very slow. Once it became unusable, the product teams had to rally an initiative to update the internal tooling, but the customer support team was already suffering with a broken tool.
Geoff likes using Retool better because Ramp has to worry only about building customizations on top of Retool’s platform. Retool keeps all the tech updated and all the processes efficient so Ramp can worry about one thing: providing a great experience for their customers. Since Ramp first launched around a year ago, they’ve built over 100 apps with Retool; the most used focus on underwriting, fraud analysis, and risk management. Let’s take a look at one of Geoff’s favorite tools: the risk management tool.
Of the hundreds of tools that Ramp built with Retool, the one most important to them, as a company that lends money via corporate credit cards, was their risk management tool. Ramp’s databases hold all of the customer data and their backend does rigorous calculations to determine the risk level of every customer. Before Retool, Ramp’s support agents couldn’t access the calculated risk signals. Ramp used Retool to build an interface that allowed the operations team to view that risk.
Now, if one of Ramp’s customers wants a credit increase on her corporate card, she calls the operations team to ask for the increase. Ramp needs a way to view the results of the tool that calculates her risk signal based on factors held in Ramp’s databases. The operations team logs in to the Retool risk management app and views the risk signals. If it’s green, that means she’s eligible for an increase.
One of the best parts about the risk management tool is that it doesn’t act as just a read-only interface. Customer support agents can also perform actions for the customers from within the same tool. So in the scenario above, when the customer is approved for her line of credit increase, the agent can click a button to allow the increase. Once the button is clicked, the information will be updated in Ramp’s back end.
Retool has helped Ramp build tools quickly to increase the efficiency of their customer service agents and enabled their engineering team to focus on building the product. Ramp was able to build over 100 internal tools in less than a year. Building those tools from scratch would have taken much longer. Even if an engineering team took two days per tool, that’s 200 days to build out the current suite, which translates to roughly a full year of company time and engineering effort saved. Geoff calculated this to be close to $200,000 in costs in the first year of using Retool alone. And since using Retool, the cost savings are estimated to be $8M for the company.
The tools also changed the daily work of the support agents who use them. Without access to the tools, their work would be more difficult, more technical, and sometimes even impossible to get done. If Ramp agents had to wait 200 business days to receive a custom risk management tool from the engineering team, would they have been able to launch as quickly as they did? Geoff doesn’t think so.
A full year of company time and engineering effort saved.
Since building internal tools with Retool is so easy to do, the engineering team at Ramp has been able to focus on building core product features. Most updates to internal tools can be done by the end users themselves. “We like Retool a lot because you don't necessarily need a computer science degree to make changes on Retool,” Geoff says. Retool’s low-code setup has empowered teams to build and maintain their own tools, which gives them autonomy. No more waiting around for another team to get familiar with the use-case and build it out for you. Instead, everyone is able to focus on work that is truly impactful.
Geoff loves Retool because it puts internal tool ownership into the hands of people who are actually using the tools, shortens the feedback cycle for improving the tools, and makes the end users more efficient. “If you think about those three value propositions,” he says, “it’s at least 10-20% improvement to operational efficiency.”
Next, learn how Ramp turned product and financial operations into a competitive advantage (part 2).