A sound relationship with CodeBlue meant PFI and Schwartz knew exactly where to look for the necessary expertise. “They do a good job of our IT support, so we asked if they could help with a data warehouse and analytics solution… and the answer was yes,” she notes.
While there is no shortage of options available for a data warehouse, SQL Server was selected as the preferred option. This provides an ingestion platform capable of consuming data from the ERP solution, as well as any additional external feeds for further depth.
“As we’re on a journey to collect more data, we wanted a flexible solution. Again, this surpasses anything we might have within the ERP system, casting the data net a bit wider”.
In the absence of APIs, a ‘partially automated’ process – established with CodeBlue support – feeds data into the system from the daily ERP database backup.
Schwartz says delivery of the necessary structures, which includes SQL Server Management Studio and PowerBI on the front end took several months. “Most of that wasn’t architectural or functional challenges, but instead working out and optimising performance and licensing issues,” she states.
With a growing appetite for insight and information across PFI, 50% of staff now enjoy direct access to information without working through team members, pulling reports on demand. “Development is ongoing as we look to roll out more reports focused on specific individual needs and business deadlines,” Schwartz says. An improved reporting system replaces excessive reliance on Excel spreadsheets, frustrations with delays in reporting, stale data and manual processing. More than that Schwartz adds, “There’s a real and growing appetite for insights… and better reporting is fuelling that appetite”.
of staff receive at least one report from the analytics solution.
time saving thanks to process improvements
With CodeBlue’s effective support and delivery, Schwartz says sound foundations are now established. Schwartz observes that getting the technical infrastructure in place, along with initial change management and user buy-in is among the first, and most crucial components. “That includes discipline in data capture, so we’re developing custom forms. Sometimes, you don’t know what the questions are that you want answered. Casting the data net wide and capturing accurate, appropriately structured data, sets the scene for future analysis.”
The business has responded positively to the introduction of the solution – moving from initial reluctance to capture extra data to enthusiasm, as the PowerBI reports started hitting desks. Through it all, she says the quality of IT support and expertise from CodeBlue has proven invaluable. “It’s gone well, and it’s a successful relationship,” she concludes.
“Once people realised, they no longer need to cobble stuff together in Excel, but spend time instead thinking about the results… that’s when it got exciting and perceptions changed”.