Would you like to change an airplane engine while in-flight? Business Intelligence and Performance Management materially improve your corporate planning and reporting processes. But sometimes you expose problems that no one realised you had. Be prepared to shake things up.
Always up for a challenge, our team worked with GWA Bathroom & Kitchens to initially deploy Jedox deep within the budget cycle. What we found may surprise you. GWA Group designs, manufactures, imports and distributes domestic and commercial building fixtures and fittings and employs over 1,600 staff in Australasia. If you’ve ever been to a bathroom in Australia, you probably know their brands. GWA have been using Jedox intensively for over 4 years, including for Enterprise Budgeting & Forecasting, Daily Sales Reporting, Stock Management/Product Claims KPI’s, Consolidations & Management Reporting, and Inventory Analytics. In this interview with GWA Bathroom and Kitchen’s Commercial Manager, Malcom Dagg, we discuss the journey from before Jedox, the issues that surfaced during initial implementation, and the results today.
Making manufacturing more agile with Jedox
Naked Data: You mentioned Malcolm, that there was an absolute lack of data before Jedox. It was inaccessible?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: Yes, – your typical scenario with an ERP system. End-users had limited access to queries that IT had written to run a particular report to give them a filtered dump of information. There was no structure to that, other than what was there, and it was a limited data set.
Naked Data: Did you find that before Jedox there was controversy over the actual source of truth? Were you getting different answers when you read the data?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: Oh absolutely. We got different outcomes with respect to interpretation of sales numbers. One version would include something, another version wouldn’t. Nobody really understood. Other than the person who wrote it, nobody would understand what drove that difference.
Naked Data: So when Jedox came along, and you got access to data. Did that make an immediate change?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: We were literally in our budget cycle as we were finishing initial deployment, so for the first time it actually enabled us to get both a customer and product view in one data set. The other thing – and I think this was critical – is that ERP systems (often by the flexibility that comes with them), can allow for a lot of unconstrained data relationships. In other words, you can freely enter values into specific fields. While the field might have some validation and make sense on its own, when you look at it in the context of other fields, it doesn’t make sense – there’s no hierarchy or structure to it. Because of the structured approach Jedox demands you to start validating that data, we saw immediately that there were source data integrity issues.
Naked Data: So when the data validation initially popped up, what was the response? What actions were taken?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: It forced us to change some internal processes, particularly around product management, and coding of things like state codes and regions, product grouping and categories, so they were consistent. Previously people didn’t appreciate why this was important. All of a sudden they saw the data popping out in the wrong place on reports. They expected a product to fall in under a particular hierarchy, and instead it was under a different hierarchy – one that didn’t make sense. We were able to demonstrate very clearly that that was the outcome of poor source data.
Naked Data: 4 years ago now, you conducted a big study on different BI [Business Intelligence] options including Jedox. What did you consider?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: We looked at a range of products and technologies, from Microsoft Analysis Services through to Jedox. I was familiar with TM1 which had become part of the Cognos IBM BI/PM portfolio. I had a lot of knowledge around the traditional Cognos product as well. We looked at all of those. Then there was substantial internal debate. We assessed the product options and ran with Jedox.
Naked Data: What motivated you to choose Jedox?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: There were four things: Total Cost of Ownership was a consideration. Performance was another. Flexible writeback capability was paramount – that was a drop-dead decision point, and fourth, the confidence in the implementation [Naked Data] team. Because Jedox was in-memory and in many ways similar to TM1, (and I was very familiar with TM1) I knew that we weren’t overpaying for the same functionality, but we were easily getting equal technology.
Naked Data: So with Jedox, you’ve been able to achieve what you would have been able to with comparative products of a much higher price?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: Absolutely. It’s about the level of optimisation that you get and the performance in the technology is absolutely paramount. There is no point using up all your budget on software and leaving nothing for the implementation. The implementation is where to the software’s potential into a solution for your business. You need people who are skilled in not just cutting basic code, but really working with you to optimise the business outcome. So for me, that’s the value you get from Naked Data’s expertise.
Naked Data: Looking at the changes Jedox has made in your business over the few years – obviously there have been huge gains in terms of data access and the planning you can now do with that data – what has that meant for the company?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: I’ll give you an example. We integrated two businesses about this time last year, and we haven’t integrated the two ERP systems. However, we’ve been able to bring the data together in a unified model by importing and translating data into Jedox. This enabled us to effectively manage and run the business as if it was operating on one platform. So that’s greatly aided our ability to manage a much larger consolidated business. We’ve also found from a product/sales/customer analytics point of view that we get much deeper insight than we were previously able to get.
On a more human scale, I had an experience the other day, where someone had to get hold of information very quickly. They said “I normally get it out of another platform, I have to go through a few different steps” and I said “Well, let’s just see if we can do this with Jedox”, and within a couple of minutes we had a live Jedox spreadsheet. The user said “wow, that makes my life so much easier”.
Naked Data: And how many people work at the back end? Maintaining the Jedox system, running the budget cycle, addressing other people’s queries?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: One. Not even one full-time employee. There are two business people, both combined less than one full-time equivalent, supporting the product.
Naked Data: So IT support is minimal?
Malcom Dagg, Commercial Manager, GWA: IT play an important role in BI implementations and BI applications are an opportunity for IT-shops to reduce business demands on them for data extraction and report writing. Once data structures are in place, BI should largely be an end-user application. Mature IT shops look at self-service BI positively and see the demand from users for information and reports diminishes because it is now easily available, particularly finance and sales teams. Importantly, you get one version of the truth.