Case study

Presto: Leveraging your data

Where to start?

Client’s challenge

Presto manages 11 independently run transit agencies across the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa. Presto unites the transit agencies together into one powerful system, so that people can move through the system using one transit card. As a part of its commitment to service excellence, Presto recently recognized a need to develop a strong self-service analytics capability. While they had examined the specifications associated with creating a data warehouse, the large upfront costs associated with developing solutions led to decision paralysis. Presto knew that it urgently needed help.


When the PwC team realized that the client was stalled by a lack of information, it set up a meeting with key Presto staff to discuss the art of the possible – what information was needed and what issue or issues had to be resolved. Presto’s answer was twofold: it wanted to understand the fare card exceptions, and they wanted to know why some financial transactions were taking longer than expected to settle with service providers.

PwC’s solution

1 - Ongoing collaboration

The PwC team obtained data from disparate client systems and integrated these sources into a single dashboard that could be used in discussions with Presto’s management team. From there, the approach involved a high degree of collaboration and feedback. The team hosted four agile collaboration sessions, each between 60 and 90 minutes in length, in order to give Presto’s team enough time to review the information and ask questions in real time.

2 - Finding the root cause

By the time the four collaborative sessions were finished, the team was able to answer Presto’s two most urgent questions. It turned out that the majority of exceptions were being caused by a small percentage of fare card reader devices that were configured incorrectly. This meant that by resetting or replacing faulty machines – which were identified during the engagement – Presto could eliminate most exceptions. At the same time, the PwC team discovered that, although most service provider transactions were in fact being settled within the next banking period, the period was affected by weekends and holidays, which was something that could create the perception of delays. These answers allowed Presto to immediately address the majority of the exceptions and provide clarification over a sticky issue with their stakeholders.

Impact on client’s business

Presto was open-minded, so it allowed the team to begin designing business intelligence (BI) dashboards that could provide immediate insights into its most pressing questions. The quick and collaborative approach offered by the team, which was supported by the QlikView tool, provided significant benefits almost immediately — not just to Presto, but to its stakeholders as well. The former was able to:

  • Break the paralysis

The approach allowed Presto to break the paralysis associated with having a wealth of information but little certainty on the best way to approach analytics and create a solution that could readily meet all of its needs.

  • Create a paradigm shift in management thinking

The approach toward data analytics not only allowed us to find answers to key questions that had long plagued our client, but it also helped us create a paradigm shift in their management’s way of thinking. The data that we provided to the decision-makers enabled them to make very clear decisions. Through our work, Presto was able to shift its focus from finding ways to manage exceptions to eliminating them altogether.

  • Address stakeholder issues

The information provided through the dashboards allowed Presto to address stakeholder concerns around settlement procedures, which led to more positive stakeholder relationships across the board.

  • Create capacity

Following this project, the data analytics team worked with Presto in an effort to help it develop their own internal agile analytics capacity, providing training and coaching to key staff members and thereby ensuring that the function will be sustainable in the years ahead. Presto now has a powerful, completely scalable platform that it can adapt to meet future needs.

Presto believes that the agile approach that our team embraced saved it both time and money. Using Microsoft technology as well as PwC analytics techniques, we were able to turn the analytics not only into a decision platform, but, more importantly, an action platform as well.

How can this case be applicable to your business?

Our team of data analytics experts in Montréal has developed an extensive value proposition and a solid track record in data analytics with specific tools and dedicated methods focusing on taking an agile approach that can be applied to many different types of businesses and industries to leverage data and create value.

The agile approach we use with clients offers a wide range of benefits. These include:

  • Reducing the financial and stakeholder acceptance risks associated with system development, as you are involved iteratively throughout the process and have more opportunities to make adjustments or seek clarifications;
  • Leading you to a solution that meets your actual needs, not just your initial impression of what you think you want;
  • Helping you find answers to questions by creating a prototype with real data rather than a mock-up, even as you identify new questions you want to solve; and
  • Not only documenting requirements, but using them to create dashboards to show you the information you want. This allows you to provide us with immediate feedback on what works and what does not.

As we started to work on this project, it became clear to us that it would make for an ideal case study on how leveraging data can improve client satisfaction and business efficiency in the transportation market. To learn more about PwC’s BI and data analytics solutions and how we can help your organization understand its most pressing data questions, please contact Ramy Sedra.

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