Jedox 5.1 – A Consultants Perspective : Part 4 – Wrap up

jedox5-1-logo_blau1

A final note on some small(ish), cool features in Jedox 5.1. The new write back functionality allows you to directly write back to a cube via controls such as drop lists, hyperlinks and macros. If the target cell is a palo.data, Jedox will try to write the passed value into the intersection in the cube. Check out some examples here.

And web report fans will be happy (and relieved) to have available to them a custom colour palette and palette history:

2014-07-07 16_55_56-Jedox Web

The Jedox 5.1 release has been a solid step up from Jedox 5, bringing with it new  innovative features to make the Jedox consultant’s life easier. I have highlighted a small selection of new functionality which enhances your existing Jedox toolset. There is a lot more here as well, such as Data Driven Modelling and R Integration which I will focus on separately in later posts. In case you missed them, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 posts on 5.1.

 

 

 

Jedox 5.1 – a Consultant’s Perspective : Part 3 – Data Validation

Data Validation
One of the big changes for existing Jedox web users and consultants is the advent of Data Validation. This opens up a lot of possibilities for development of web entry templates and forms. The validation is essentially a format (like Excel), so therefore you can easily copy it across to other cells, or use in a Dynarange report. The list validation is similar to data validation in excel but with an important tweak: you can add additional columns to the validation array which allows you to display one value and enter another. I will run through a couple of example below:

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Make your manufacturing smart with Jedox

The 3 steps to improve how your people collaborate with information

Recently we published articles and interviews on how manufacturer GWA streamlines business planning and reporting processes with Jedox. Here are three lessons:

1) Don’t start with a long winded RFP (Request for Proposal). They rarely work. Instead, run a Proof of Value with a Bootcamp that delivers tangible results. You can build your capacity and deliver results, right now.

2) Your people aren’t stupid. Achieve more with less resource by empowering your business users. If you know Excel, you know Jedox. We call this ‘lean-BI’.

3) Don’t stop. Move beyond Data Discovery and recognise that any business process where you capture, consolidate and report data, is a candidate to streamline.

The result? You become an information entrepreneur who steadily replaces unstructured Excel-based processes throughout your organisation and transforms how people collaborate. Read this white paper to learn more about best-practice on collecting and collaborating with data.

This case study gives you an easy reference on how to do it right from the rapid and effective Bootcamp that delivers immediate results, to the ongoing visibility and efficiency through Jedox.

Download GWA Jedox Case Study      GWA Jedox Case Study

 

 

 

Enabling Session Limit per User in Jedox

images (1)Jedox doesn’t allow you restrict the amount of times a user logs in to the server, and if the amount of concurrent users you have is small; then you will have the need to limit the amount of connections per user.

Luckily it’s quick and easy to do so, by following these simple steps:

  1. Create a new element in the User Dimension: it will define the amount of sessions that the user has.
  2. Change palo.ini: add a new authentication method.
  3. Add a SVS script: php script that will handle the authentication.

Creating the new element in the User Dimension

We need to add an attribute to the _USER_PROPERTIES dimension (which is hidden for the normal user) in the System database, which in this case is going to be called “sessions”.
Since there’s no direct access to that dimension, we need to modify it through an ETL job.

Change the session values

Create a Paste View to modify the values for the users. The rule is that that cell for the user is blank, then the user has unlimited logins, otherwise you need to specify a number (starting from 1).
The Paste View should look like this:

session_paste_view

Add the SVS script to handle the sessions

Look for the current SVS script that is running, if you don’t have anything running then go to <Jedox Installation>\svs\ and save the following file.

Then the sep.inc.php file in <Jedox Installation>\svs\, needs to be changed to include the previously download file:

<?php
include './sep.inc.session_limit.php';
?>

If you already have a SVS script running, then you need to change/complement the OnAuthenticate function, with the one provided.

Change palo.ini

Once the SVS script in place, now it’s time to enable SVS (if not already done) and the authorization login in palo.ini.
For that, we add the following lines (if they didn’t previously exist before) to palo.ini:

workerlogin authentication
worker "<Jedox Installation>\svs\SupervisionServer.exe"

Disadvantages

There’s no information in the login screen that will reflect that the user has reached the number of concurrent sessions. It will say “Incorrect Username/Password”.
However, going to the SVS log file, the information will be stored (in case it’s necessary to identify how many users are trying to create more sessions than allowed).

Jedox Apps in manufacturing & wholesale

Lean-BI

Recently we interviewed GWA on how Jedox initially highlighted source data issues and helped them drive a culture that took data more seriously. 
One of  my favourite quotes was the answer to how many people in the business supported their Jedox:  “One. Not even one full-time employee.”  We’ve heard of lean-manufacturing but what about when you apply this to your information-based business processes? To help illustrate how efficient GWA have been, we’ve summarised just some of the business applications they use Jedox for. 

Corporate Consolidations

Post organisational restructure meant reporting Financials for other businesses. The changes meant four businesses which require detail reporting in their own chart of accounts and complex mapping and consolidated reporting for the GWA Group for P&L Balance Sheet and Cash Flow.

Enterprise Budgeting and Forecasting

Comprehensive budgeting process from payroll, expenses, revenue drivers, sales and automatically calculating direct costs including customer freight accounts and line haul freight accounts.

Stock Management System

Monthly and Daily products claims, and information related to it, like customer, dates. The daily model is to support the operational view, including what is outstanding/pending, and what was closed yesterday. Every time a customer returns a product, this tracks the action. The monthly model generates KPIs by customers, warehouses, products, including claims by user, customer, processing days for each stage in the process, and days to be returned.

Inventory & Stock Management with Jedox

Inventory & Stock Management with Jedox

Sales & Inventory Analytics

The sales model details daily product analysis including by customer, currency, division, sales type.
By analysing historical sales pattern and stock consumption, you can improve their stock allocation in warehouses across the country. Stock turnover rates provide invaluable information on best-seller and order priorities.

GWA Caroma  Inventory & Sales Analytics with Jedox

Sales Forecasting

Based on customers’ historical purchases across various channel, forecasting algorithms produce a sales plan which would which becomes the input for the manufacturing schedule.

Users enter their monthly plans by product group. It enables collaboration across the organisation for sales plans and a group consolidated view. Planning is for both individual manufactured products, and for products collections sold as a separate product, called an ‘assembly’.

 
Jedox is flexible, so it often ends up streamlining all types of business processes in a way that is easy for users, because you don’t eliminate Excel – just the drawbacks. 
If you have some interesting ways your company uses Jedox, we’d love to hear from you!
 

Jedox 5.1 – a Consultant’s Perspective : Part 2 – Security

Blue Doors LockedSecurity is critical in any Jedox implementation. Efficient ‘lock down’ of your models are just as important to an organisation as the data they contain. There has been a need for an additional layer of security in Jedox’s database architecture for a while now.

Pre-5.1 , you could lock down cubes , dimensional elements, even cells. But you could not actually hide or restrict databases themselves. This is a hugely important step – now you can hide all assortment of databases from certain user groups. A great example that has come up time and time again for me is around Payroll models. Even though Jedox security stops unauthorised access to cubes and dimensions within a Payroll database, the fact that unauthorised users could ‘see’ the database folder name made administrators nervous. This is now a thing of the past with the Jedox developers re-writing the security model to cater for  databases. There is now a separate security object (#_GROUP_DATABASE_DATA) that allows admins to restrict by group access to a database.

This new security development also opens the door potentially to a more multi-tenanted approach to model development. I have updated our security templates for database restriction and made them available :

Web Security Template

Excel Security Template (pw:jedox)

Enjoy!

GWA use Jedox for Performance Management

The one thing you should do before you implement Business Intelligence

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

GWA use Jedox across the organisation

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.

Consolidations & Management Reporting, and Inventory Analytics.

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.

GWA use Jedox for Performance Management

To make your bathroom shinier, just add Jedox

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.

 

GWA Use Jedox