My ​​5 favourite partner stories from the Jedox Partner Summit

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On Tuesday, I shared some of my take-homes from the Jedox Partner Summit after hearing superstars, like Matthias Kramer, Rolf Gegenmantel, and Niklas Panzer. Today was the final day and I had the chance to hear Jedox partners talk about their work in different industries the world over. Here are 5 that piqued my interest:

1.     Not a dollar in diagnostic sight – Polymathic Systems

When you think of Jedox, you may be forgiven for thinking Finance. Budgeting. Consolidations.  Board reports. But Polymathic Systems apply Jedox as a performance management tool for radiologists. The radiologists used to go through a manually-intensive process for any analysis. Now using Jedox they have real-time analytics flowing from Diagnostic Imaging systems, instantly analysing resources and workloads to better manage systems and staff rosters that save lives on a daily basis.

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5 Messages From the Jedox Partner Summit

My first partner Summit was in Freiburg, back in 2012. Two years on, I find myself in sunny Mainz, a peaceful student town in west Germany, for yet another chance to interact with the people who are championing Jedox around the world. Let’s have a quick look at 5 lessons from the 2014 Jedox Partner Summit.

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CTO Matthias Kraemer delivering the technology update

1. International Flavour

With such a broad range of partners, it is little wonder the Jedox team have expanded the User Interface languages by such a degree. I’ve met people from the world over, from my own colleague in Finland to the hotshots of Washington to the South-American contingent, who are fuelling​ rapidly expanding economies by bringing Jedox to ​their growing markets.

2. Jedox 5.1

I can’t give away too many secrets at this stage, but I’m certainly excited for the release of Jedox 5.1. It always pays to listen carefully to your customers, and Jedox have certainly taken their advice. ​Jedox 5.1 looks great, has a very slick feel, with some powerful new analytics functionality. ​There’s so much in there, they could have call​ed it Jedox 6. And of course, there’s a few visually friendly additions too (hint: there will be colours).

3. Rapid Expansion

New partners everywhere. I feel as though I’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg here. Question time pops up and as always, you’ve got your long-time Jedox partners (Coker Solutions, Mazepoint, etc.). But this year more than ever, you’ve got your “Hi, we’re new Jedox partners, and we’d like to congratulate…” popping up more and more. There are now more than 100 Jedox partners globally, and Jedox has grown by an average of over 40% annually over the last 3 years.

 

4. The Buzz

There’s a real sense of progress here. You can feel the energy in all the Jedox guys. So many young, fresh faces, and you can feel their excitement at where the company is going. Jedox’s agility is really telling, and keeping them ahead of ​new technology ​curve​s;​ their ​new cloud ​edition is a great example. We’ve always been a flexible organisation at Naked Data, and it’s great to work with a​ team that adapt​s so quickly to changing markets.

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5. Hard Work Pays Off

It’s always good to see hard work recognised, and the BARC 13 results certainly reward Jedox’s constant emphasis on innovation. Jedox won recognition as a leader in 7 categories, including user recommendations, Self-Service KPIs, and Performance, implementation and self-service BI support. Earlier in the year, Jedox also took home the 2014 IT Innovation Award at the CeBIT 2014, the world’s largest information and communication technology trade fair.

Logistics intelligence

From little things, big things grow – how to manage consolidation complexity in a finance-friendly way.

In this interview we take a look at a ‘bread and butter’ Jedox use that you can see the world-over - Corporate Consolidations (yay!). However, this case is a little more complex than most and an example of how Business Intelligence projects often need to work in reality. Within a tight timeframe, the project team must live with a lot of ambiguity, and have with the confidence that their approach of continuous iterative efforts will gradually enable them to build up a comprehensive solution. The results are compelling. 

McAleese Group is a leading Australian provider of specialised transport and logistics solutions across Australia. The newly-formed group brought together over 2000 employees in 15 separate companies – each with their own financial systems and unique chart of accounts. In this interview, with Sam Perrin, the General Manager of Finance, Colin Petrie discusses how McAleese is leveraging Jedox to consolidate 15 separate ledgers structures into a single view to enable management visibility and empower decision making.

McAleese Transport use Jedox to consolidate across 15 separate and very different ledgers

Naked Data: What has been the main benefit of working with Jedox at McAleese?
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: The group had recently made a major acquisition, which introduced a number of additional companies and general ledger systems. There was no common way of reporting across the various businesses. There was a mix of general ledger systems with cost centre hierarchies and others with a flat design. We were using Excel for our reporting and also to perform manual consolidation. There was no common chart of accounts or automated consolidation across the 15 different general ledger systems.

We implemented Jedox in a few months and reported the whole of the previous year, running Jedox parallel through that period. Then we used Jedox for the year-end consolidation and close.

Naked Data: It sounds like you had some fairly complex business challenges to solve!
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: We identified that we didn’t have the systems or processes to report the larger group results on an ongoing basis in a timely manner. We saw Jedox as a tool that could enable us to quickly establish a common platform and consolidation process across the group. First priority was to scope out the project and engage a business partner to assist us.

With 15 different ledgers, maintained by separate IT and Finance teams, it was clear there was going to be a significant amount of technical work to extract data from these systems. The mapping process would involve a considerable amount of work, due to the different account structures used across the multiple systems. We also identified the need to develop a new common chartered account structure across the group. We also wanted to develop reporting to enable both statutory reporting and for use and production of our management reports.

As an approach, we wanted to make the project as efficient as possible and minimise the interruption to the day-to-day processes within each business. We assembled a small project team to work on this as a dedicated project and engage with relevant people within the business.

Naked Data: What was it about Jedox that initially got your attention?
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: The larger McAleese group had just been formed, and we needed a common platform, but weren’t in a position to deploy a single ERP system across all businesses. We were therefore looking for a solution that could sit across the various General Ledger systems and therefore provide us with a common reporting platform.

What I liked about Jedox was it had depth to help us manage our complexity but was still intuitive and finance-friendly. Having had exposure to other products, I largely knew what we needed. I’d previously had exposure to TM1. With the complexity of disparate chart accounts and a lot of business processes to map and bed down, I knew we needed a solution similar to TM1 that provided flexibility at a comparatively low operating cost. However, I also needed to ensure that we weren’t hit with high licence fees and ongoing maintenance costs.

Our vision wasn’t simply a consolidation tool at the group level, but to enable management reporting for each distinct business, so it was critical we had both a fast and easy to use tool; complemented by a sustainable licence model that didn’t hold us back us from rolling out across the organisation.

The McAleese Jedox model does some heavy lifting to bring all the data together

Naked Data: How did you go about selecting Jedox?
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: We needed something that was easy to use and could grow with our business and quickly adapt to changes and which we could support internally. We initially lined up a demonstration with Naked Data. Naked Data were very quick to turnaround a sample model using our own data, which was really helpful because it provided tangible proof of what we could deliver with Jedox.

We conducted reference checks. I was familiar with the environments and systems which two of the referees provided, and I was able to gain comfort that they had been able to successfully deploy and use Jedox in their organisations. This gave me a lot of comfort and really reinforced my confidence in the tool.

Naked Data: Were there challenges getting IT on board?
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: No. Installation of Jedox was supported by a management team and our IT department. Our IT team were part of the project team and worked closely with the Naked Data consultants.

Naked Data: A project that defines new business and reporting processes sounds like a challenge to scope upfront, especially on a tight deadline. Can you tell us more about the implementation itself?
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: We engaged a Naked Data consultant (Angelo Ho) on a full-time basis throughout the project, working alongside our internal project team. We engaged regularly with Angela and Chris (Naked Data director Chris Mentor) on the project and project deliverables. We also recruited and trained a person experienced in BI that could support us and manage Jedox on an ongoing basis. The selected candidate had previous experience with TM1 and was able to quickly get up to speed with Jedox.

One of the best things about the implementation was that the mandate from the CFO meant I didn’t have to deal with bureaucracy. Initially we scoped the broader project with Naked Data. With ambiguities in many areas, we agreed to work on a time/materials approach that enabled us to refine what we did iteratively. Angela [Naked Data consultant, Angela Ho] worked alongside us constantly onsite. Angela liaised with Naked Data principal, Chris Mentor regularly on timeline and budget, but we ran the project as if Angela worked for us. From then on, the project hung on two things – knowing what we wanted and Angela’s proficiency in delivering that.

Naked Data: How did you find Angela’s work?
Colin Petrie, General Manager Finance: Angela was good. The project wouldn’t have succeeded without her. She was able to understand the business structures, and what we were trying to do. We did the account mapping, and the team was able to take a concept that I had and design the Jedox model, create the automated load and extraction processes and build in checks and balances. The iterative approach meant we could rapidly refine the design as we discovered more, and Jedox lends itself to this type of approach perfectly. The documentation Angela wrote was great which made it easy for our team to take ownership. As a solution Jedox has provided us with much needed visibility and reporting. Angela’s role was instrumental to the success of the project

Naked Data: What’s next for Jedox and McAleese?
The various Finance teams from each business are coming on board now that we have started producing management reports. Next we need to build forecast models and create a forecast environment. That’s going to be relatively straightforward [Jedox enables forecasting out of the box]. The next significant project is getting sales and transactional data, then expand into the detail budget modelling. We will build all the budgets in Jedox.

 

Business function: Corporate consolidations with Jedox
Industry: Transport & Logistics. Source system: MAPICS, S2000, MYOB, Freight2020

Macros : Manipulating Worksheets

macro_flash_tube_prototype

hmmm….. not that type of macro…

In macros, the Worksheets object allows you to manipulate individual worksheets inside a workbook. This can be advantageous when you are doing things like running a macro to prepare a management briefing book which might be spun out via a customised batch printing process to Excel. You can take existing sheets and add new, delete , rename as required.

Here are a few examples:

Example 1: Returning the name of the current worksheet

$value = ActiveSheet()->name();
return __msgbox($value, 'Worksheet Name', 'Info');

Example 2: Renaming the current sheet, and display the value in a message box:

$RenameWorksheet = ActiveSheet()->Range('E10')->value;
$value = ActiveSheet()->name($RenameWorksheet);
return __msgbox($RenameWorksheet, 'Renamed Worksheet', 'Info');

Example 3: Adding a new worksheet to the workbook, and display the value in a message box:

$AddWorksheetName = ActiveSheet()->Range('E13')->value;
$value = activeworkbook()->WorkSheets()->add($AddWorksheetName);
return __msgbox($AddWorksheetName, 'New Worksheet Added', 'Info');

Example 4: Count the worksheets in the workbook, and display the value in a message box:

$value = activeworkbook()->WorkSheets()->count();
return __msgbox($value, 'Worksheet Count', 'Info');

You can download a copy of the above here

Automating automotive reporting and planning in China

To create a self-service information culture, look at your approach not just the technology

Working at Naked Data has a very international flavour and consulting takes our team to all places – even to the wintery climes of northern China. Here we find a joint venture between a global manufacturer of high-performance and prestige vehicles and a local automotive firm. Operations include production, sales and after-sales services of cars across China.

Last December, the Manager Controlling commenced their Jedox project with Naked Data consultant, Halim Joe. I really like this project because the organisation and people share our philosophy of empowering business users – we prefer to teach people how to fish and become self-reliant, so they can become brilliant Jedox users. In this interview, we discuss their experiences in the first few weeks with Jedox and Naked Data.

Naked Data: You’ve just commenced your Jedox project. How is it going?
Manager Controlling: The Jedox project has been going now for a couple of weeks. Halim, (our Naked Data consultant) has done a great job. It’s not so much an implementation project – instead I really wanted Halim to teach our people so that they can help themselves – so they can work on their own, without consultant support after the implementation.
We had our Naked Data consultant leading the room – he demonstrated the concept, and our team worked on it afterwards themselves. The amount of implementation he’s done without the teaching would have taken three or four days, but the teaching and the discussion delivers much more value than just the implementation. We’ve been really happy with Halim and having a Chinese-speaking consultant has helped a lot.

Naked Data: What attracted you to Jedox initially?
Manager Controlling: Regarding Jedox, I started ten years ago with SAP Business Warehouse and Strategic Enterprise Management, and then we implemented Infor’s PM10 [MIS Alea] on a project. Since I’ve been in China I’ve wanted to implement something like this solution.

Jedox was similar to MIS Alea, and I knew MIS Alea very well. The products are designed to solve the same types of business problems, but the Excel integration has a different look-and-feel in Jedox. As long as I have a multi-dimensional database, with Excel integration, I know what I can achieve. The Web and the ETL on Jedox are very nice.

Snow1

Another brilliant day to be in the office

Naked Data: What is this project’s goal?
Manager Controlling: To have consistent data within the organisation, so that we can have one source of truth with a convenient reporting function.

Naked Data: And are you confident that Naked Data will be able to deliver?
Manager Controlling: I don’t have to be confident – I can already see the results. The initial reporting has been very good quality work. I probably could have done this implementation myself, but it would have taken much longer. And with the input of Naked Data, I’ve been able to deliver a much better solution and a much more robust solution that I could have done by myself.

Naked Data: What are the long-term benefits for your organisation that you see coming from this project?
Manager Controlling: Faster reporting cycles, consistent reporting and an improvement in data quality. And since Jedox is flexible, we can extend it to other areas. At the moment we do cost-centre reporting, but soon we can do material cost controlling, and Long-Term Planning, can build more and more models and get them integrated. And since we have one consistent master-dataset, we are sure that the reporting is consistent over the whole data landscape.

Jedox is used in China for automotive manufacturer for planning and reporting

Another day in a city of a few million you’ve never heard of

Jedox model: Long Term Planning, Cost controlling and reporting from SAP. 
Industry: Automotive, Manufacturing.
Location: China

Jedox Migration – Moving from one Server to another

You will find Jedox migration a lot easier than these wilderbeasts' annual journey across the Serengeti

Let’s imagine that we want to do a server upgrade to our current Jedox installation; that is, going from Server A (which is our current Jedox environment) to Server B.

Let’s start with Server B

1. Install everything necessary for Jedox to run (i.e. Java,).

2. Install Jedox (guide).

The beauty of this, is that the installation is a completely new one; so you can even upgrade to the latest version.
Remember to enable the same features that your current Jedox environment has (i.e. Drill Through).
Also, at these point, there’s no need to worry about the Licence yet.

3. Check that Jedox is running, and all of the services are up.

4. Stop Jedox, so we can change some of the configuration files later.

Let’s go to Server A

1. Grab a copy of the following folders:

  • Data folder (including all of the folders inside, specially the System folder).
  • ETL folder
  • Web folder

If you don’t have a backup folder, you will need to stop the services in order to make a copy of these folders.

2. Copy the following lines from palo_config.xml and config.php

<Jedox Installation>\httpd\app\etc\config.php:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<palo_configuration xmlns="http://www.jedox.com/wss" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
  <server>
<host>127.0.0.1</host>
<port>7777</port>
  </server>
<secret>sometext</secret>
  <subset_cache size="500" treshold="50" timecheck="1000" disabled="no"/>
</palo_configuration>

<Jedox Installation>\core\palo_config.xml:

// shared secret - needs to be 16 chars long
define('CFG_SECRET', 'sometext');

// palo
define('CFG_PALO_HOST', '127.0.0.1');
define('CFG_PALO_PORT', '7777');
define('CFG_PALO_USER', '_internal_suite');
define('CFG_PALO_PASS', 'some_password');

3. Copy the Data, Web and ETL folders from Server A to Server B (replace what’s necessary) to Server B.

Let’s go back to Server B

1. Change the CFG_SECRET and CFG_PALO_PASS in both palo_config.xml and config.php files to match Server A details.

2. Remember to copy any other files with custom configurations, for examples: sep.inc.php, httpd.conf or any other manually modified (just remember the ones originally changed).

3. Start Jedox.

After that, the Server B will have the same Databases (including all of the cubes), ETL projects and Web Reports. Also, it will carry on the users, groups and roles already setup in Server A, implying that all of the security rules are already in place.

Note: It might be an issue with the Web Reports, which have an internal connection that are unique to every Jedox Installation. In that case, it might be better to export them from Server A and import them to Server B.

Jedox Touch – Designing HTML Combo Boxes for Mobile Devices

Jedox Touch is the skin that replaces the Jedox Web when you browse to a Jedox page on a mobile device.  The optimised view of the Jedox Web report allows users to pinch , zoom, enter data and a lot more while browsing their data on  phone or tablet.

Generally, combo boxes look like this on both the web and on the Mobile Touch skin:

mobile drop lists1

This can be fine depending on the application you are building, but sometimes a different type of list format is required. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to use a standard HTML drop list? Well, with a bit of macro code, you can.

Download the example here.

Basically, what we are doing is using a bit of macro magic to pass parameters to a widget that contains the hmtl code to generate the drop list. We are passing the parameters (in this case a dimension name and a list of elements) and the widget is using this information to generate the drop list.

mobile drop lists3

We can then retrieve the information (ie the selected element) back from the widget to do something more with it. for instance, we can pass to a variable or named range.

What you end up with is a nice mobile style drop list that the user will see on their phone or tablet:

mobile drop lists2

Have fun! If anyone has any further examples of this type of customised coding for mobile pages, feel free to share.