Industrial Equipment Manufacturer

This company is a leading manufacturer and supplier of specialized equipment components.  It ranks among the top three in worldwide market share in its target markets.  Headquartered in Europe, the company has offices around the world.

Client Challenges

The client’s IT department and business users alike were frustrated and disappointed by the company’s business intelligence (BI) infrastructure. Business users reported that some of the data they needed was missing, and questioned the accuracy and reliability of other data. Furthermore, reporting tools were slow and cumbersome to use.

Faced with skeptical and dissatisfied users, limited adoption of BI tools, and a backlog of unmet information requests, the client's IT department realized that in order to effectively address the failures of its current BI infrastructure, it would need to look beyond fixing a specific process or tool used for a particular application.  IT managers sought a broad understanding and assessment of the stability, scalability and usability of its whole BI environment—in terms of both processes and technologies and current and potential future capabilities. They also wanted to identify best practices and recommend best steps for increasing the value and utilization of its BI tools. 

Senturus Solution

Senturus business and technology experts studied the client’s operations and BI infrastructure to understand and prioritize user requirements, identify issues related to technology and use, and develop a high-level proposal for improving the BI architecture.

Key steps included in Senturus’ proven methodology:

  • Assessment of all levels of the current BI environment, including hardware, operating system, application configuration, ETL processes, database design, metadata models, cube transformer models and design/deployment process.
  • Interviews of technical, sales, management, purchasing, finance and logistics and planning staff to identify gaps between the current functionality and use of the client's BI system and user requirements.
  • Discovery, identification and prioritization of key business requirements to be addressed by the BI architecture and reports.
  • Identification of improvements and best practices related to technology implementation and processes.
  • Design of a preliminary BI architecture and proof of concept.

A number of issues were identified by Senturus, including:

  • Disks on all servers were very fragmented, indicating that proper administration and maintenance was required.
  • Outdated technology was not scalable or adequately maintained.
  • Insufficient levels of detail were provided by existing reports.
  • Users with similar information needs each repeatedly developed their own data marts, resulting in duplication of effort and inconsistent results.
  • Multiple silos of relevant data remained “out of sight” of users.
  • Business rules and logic transformation was lacking.
  • Conformed dimension tables, clean fact tables and star schema were missing.
  • Model was suitable for an advanced technical report writer but not user-friendly for business users.
  • Multiple environments were difficult to support.
  • Users had little or no access to ad-hoc reporting and analysis tools.

Based on its assessment and knowledge of BI solutions, Senturus recommended that the client take a pragmatic and cost-effective approach to improving its BI architecture. Instead of investing in piecemeal, incremental improvements to the existing system, the client would be able to more effectively manage risk, avoid disruption and reduce costs by staging implementation of improvements over multiple, short, two to three month-long phases. At each phase, prototyping, implementation of best practices and ongoing evaluation of impact on business requirements would play critical roles.

Deliverables included:

  • Documentation of the current system and presentation of findings, including prioritization of corrections and improvements for short-term, medium-term and long-term implementation.
  • Recommendation and preliminary design of a high-level BI architecture that provides reliable acquisition of data, standardized reports, flexible ad-hoc reporting and metrics, identifies the role that different technologies play in the infrastructure and builds a scalable and extensible foundation for future BI initiatives.
  • Prototype of BI components, including ETL, metadata and OLAP layers, to evaluate alternative architectural approaches to develop proof of concept.
  • Prototype of reports and dashboard for proof of concept.

Furthermore, Senturus recommended actionable best practices:

  • Utilize conforming dimensions and ETL routines.
  • Standardize data to ensure integrity, scalability, flexibility and self-service capabilities.
  • Develop standard reports for quick distribution and validation.
  • Build ad-hoc capabilities for easy ad-hoc analysis.
  • Create a portal to provide a dashboard and improved security.

As a result of the BI optimization assessment, the client gained a deep understanding of the shortcomings, capabilities and potential of its current BI infrastructure, as well as a roadmap to realizing significant improvements in functionality and user satisfaction. 

Business Intelligence Infrastructure Optimization Assessment provides expert assessment of current BI architecture, preliminary design of a BI architecture and prototype of BI components, reports and dashboard.

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