Today Offers Unique Business Challenges
135 years of doing business is impressive, and an international packaging company had just celebrated that anniversary. With $4 billion in sales last fiscal year, they are a sizable company. Founded in the late 1800s, they have gone through it all: the great depression, too many recessions to count, and two world wars. You name it; they lived it and survived it.
Yet they’d hit a point that many successful companies do. A point where they either atrophied (losing their grip on the marketplace), or figured out a way to confront the new challenges of a global marketplace.
The Specific Problems They Had To Overcome
With slow and error prone processes to compile data from many global business units, information needed to make sound business decisions was scattered. For instance, there was no insight into global stock levels. Limited ability to manage their supply chain at the global level was problematic as well. Without being able to see into what was really going on at the granular level, planning and forecasting processes were impacted. Time to action was inconsistent. For accurate decision making, management had to have good data—current data—but didn’t, and that had to be addressed.
The Business Intelligence Solution
BII Consulting was given the opportunity to leverage their expertise. They excel in data modeling and architecture, Cognos 10 software, and ETL tools.
BII was tasked with:
- Designing the data warehouse architecture
- Designing and building ETL (extract, transform, load data) processes
- Designing and building Cognos 10 architecture (supporting ad-hoc querying as well as standard reports, dashboards, and OLAP cubes for business end users)
- Testing and validating a new DW platform (Netezza – a solution for top performance against large data sets)
The Global Challenges
During the first step of the project (design and scope), it became clear what obstacles would have to be overcome. Multiple global locations meant multiple time zones, different languages in use, and special characters within the languages. Currencies had to be standardized. All monetary values were normalized in USD and EUR for reporting purposes.
The system being built had to be able to handle multiple refreshes scheduled throughout the day. That way everyone would always be working with up-to-date data. Data was retrieved from multiple ERP systems such as ERP LN, ERP LX and BPCS. Due to the ERP variety, a need arose for cross referencing master data. The cross reference would ensure high level roll up capability.
Lastly, initial development was done on the Oracle platform, but in the meantime the Netezza platform was selected for when the system went live because of its more robust features. BII Consulting was tasked with handling the transition and maintenance of the new environment.
Success With BII Consulting
To provide environment that guarantees high query performance, data integrity, simple navigation, and easy maintenance, BII Consulting followed the best practice modeling in close alignment with Kimball's methodology of star-schema shared data marts.
The modular development approach led to the creation of data marts for subject areas such as sales and inventory. They were comprised of facts tables with data for orders, invoices, forecasts, budgets, and daily inventory snapshots.
On the end user side, BII Consulting built several dashboards and critical reports to serve those who needed them. Now about 30 global users use the system daily, and the knowledge to make key business decisions is firmly in the hands of the company leaders.
BII Consulting mastered the difficulties of the project and delivered what was promised in a timely manner and on budget. In short, they got results and did what they do best, transforming a mountain of data into usable, actionable information.