Reporting solution that matches the sales pitch

Oras, a leading European kitchen and bathroom taps company, was looking for a reporting system that could guide the future direction of the business, not just collate historical data. Until recently, sales, finance, manufacturing and other functions each had their own reporting systems and relied heavily on Excel spreadsheets. The information provided by these reports was at a very general level. Requisites for the new tool included flexibility, user friendliness, integrated data modeling and various business specific requirements, such as obtaining information on product costs. Qlikview was selected as the tool.

“It easily impressed us. And I can see now, that their sales pitch was a true reflection of reality”, says Juha Hanni, Business Controller at Oras. Qlikview is a reporting tool that is based on inmemory architecture. Its main strengths are ease of use, speed and the visual interface.

In the selection process, criteria set for the service provider included such important aspects as: a good sales approach and business expertise, appropriate company size and local support. Qlikview has been rolled out incrementally since May 2010, gradually covering one legacy system after another. The biggest benefits and heaviest use to date have been in sales statistics and reporting, with the sales people using the system on a daily basis. Reporting now provides accurate information right down to invoice line-item level. The previous tool could only supply summary sales statistics. In addition to the sales team using the tool, the CEO and country directors also actively access the system. The final development phase is a supply model for manufacturing, which is expected to direct improve the supply chain at a European level. End users have given very positive feedback about the tool. “People can focus on smart working. Time is used analyzing, not for reporting”, said a satisfied Juha Hanni.

Dedicated resource – a critical success factor

It was clear from the beginning that Qlikview needed dedicated ownership within the company. The business owner of the solution, Juha, is supported by a main user. The responsibility of the competent main user is the technical use of the system, as well as future definitions with the different business functions. Fully centralized ownership is partly a risk, which is mitigated by being shared. There is now a need to expand the level of main user knowledge, since the system is being used more and more, thereby increasing the workload. “This must be done in a controlled way, to guide it carefully and create an approval process for the reports”, Juha says. Oras creates the reports internally, whereas in many Qlikview projects these are the responsibility of the service provider along with data loading and processing.
Qlikview was used to create a data warehouse i.e. a data storage location for Oras, which hosts all historical data. The main user has been through Qlikview’s training, and Juha is also planning to attend the training to support his self-directed learning. With this in place, Qlikview enables both the main user and the business owner to manage the majority of situations by themselves.
There is regular telephone and web meeting contact with Ineo, and face-to-face meetings are scheduled quarterly. “The wonderful thing is that the supplier not only has the necessary technical skills but also a sound understanding of the client’s business needs. We’re not just telling our service provider what to do – they are proactive and suggestive, and this very positive aspect can be further deepened, in time”, Juha hints.

Corrective move in all functions

The new reporting tool has improved the quality of the master data. In some cases the database has shown itself to be too flexible – for example, commas and dots causing confusion and the field lengths are not fixed. At a general level, the quality of master data is very good, and the transparent reporting tool does not hide errors as with previous systems. With further internal discussion and feedback the tool can deliver even higher levels of efficiency. This implementation of Qlikview is guiding business reporting, allowing the collection of information about how the various internal business functions, like operations, are controlled and managed. Although the solution is easy to use, training adds a lot additional value for users, and so the level and breadth of training amongst users is planned to increase. It is important to deepen product knowledge, so that the users understand that Qlikview is not another ERP system, but a complementary solution.

Looking back at the implementation experience, if the project had to be rolled out again, there would be no major changes required. Perhaps there would have been some more focus on the early preparation work. Adding clear milestones to the initial project definition would maintain focus on the key project deliverables. One important development is the introduction of a release model which, now it is in place, clarifies development. As fixes and new features are scheduled for each release, it’s then possible to move ahead and work on the next set of deficiencies. Now a lot of data, which is not used for anything, is available via the data warehouse and the business owner has a clear vision of how to use this in the future. “This gives us ad-hoc opportunities as new needs come to mind”, Juha concludes.