When Belgian steel manufacturer Intersig N.V. wanted to create a customer centric reporting platform guaranteeing quality and service, the company reached out to TimeXtender.
The company knew of the value of data for decision-making and became enthusiastic consumers of Qlik’s BI dashboard and reporting capabilities. In the past, quarterly figures and monthly reports needed by management were adequate, but now needed daily reporting.
Intersig had tried to upgrade and migrate ERP within an existing BI setup using Qlik™ front-end and Microsoft ERP (Dynamics AX) source data. However, 80-90% of the BI system would need to be modified and this required skilled technical expertise with experience on both fronts. TimeXtender solved the challenge, easily delivering Qlik code files and scripts, while nurturing the BI system through the ERP migration.
Data Backbone Constantly Changing
Other sources and local ERP systems existed in the organization however, and these sources needed to be included to provide better analytics.
“Our data backbone has been changing constantly. When your goal is to deliver on-time information, this becomes a challenge. Managing data change becomes key to delivering on-time results,” said Luc Van Dessel, IT manager at Intersig.
“High-performance Business Intelligence like Qlik™ required us to rethink management information. Our BI vision is to adapt customer centric reporting, which involves an unbelievable amount of data,” said Thomas Truyens, Intersig’s Change Manager.
Part of this data came from ERP sources, but in order to deliver value to customers and to offer a holistic view to management, Intersig needed to be able to work with as much data as possible.
“With regards to plant operations, daily reports are often the first thing on the agenda. Without those daily figures it is hard to guarantee a profitable operation,” said Pol Lavens, Plant Manager of Intersig France.
Difficult Hiring Someone with Both Business and IT Skills
Although Qlik software allowed for fast distribution of data and reports, being able to maintain the information flow underneath proved much more difficult. This became apparent when Intersig decided to upgrade the ERP system and add more sources to management information. The upgrade of the ERP system came with a new data structure.
“We have the business knowledge and data management skills, but the change in ERP data structure forced us to reach for outside help.
“At first, we tried finding a new IT service provider capable of helping us on both fronts, but that proved impossible. Some providers may have some technological knowledge, but they lacked a feeling for our line of business, or vice versa. In all fairness, I believe it would be difficult for anyone to be excellent at both. Furthermore, we have learned that when you depend on such resources, they tend to get in the way of our data delivery and time-to-action objectives," said Luc Van Dessel.
Not a Traditional Data Warehouse Experience
A Data Warehouse is a best practice for handling multiple data sources. It is the only practical method for handling historical data changes. From past BI experience, Intersig already knew about the Data Warehouse, but disqualified this component for lack of business agility.
“In traditional, manually built Data Warehousing, you need to work with teams of developers, which tends to be slow and costly. When we found out about TimeXtender and Data Warehouse Automation, we immediately scheduled a demo – which looked and sounded very promising,” said Intersig’s IT manager.
Together with TimeXtender partner Ad Ultima, who had the knowledge and experience in manufacturing and the associated BI, as well as being a top Microsoft ERP partner in the area, Intersig set up a test implementation.
“Like most Microsoft ERP partners, Ad Ultima focuses BI delivery on the Microsoft portfolio, and they even had the business knowledge required. The initial TimeXtender demo showed smooth automation, easily generating Qlik code files and scripts, but we also needed to make sure this platform would be capable of nurturing our BI system during ERP migration,” said Thomas Truyens.
BI Vision Delivered
TimeXtender delivered. From the initial contact and demo, and the test implementation carried out by Ad Ultima early on in April, Intersig signed a TimeXtender license by the end of that month. By the time the company finished the ERP migration, they were ready to go live with BI reporting.
“Time to result has been spectacular! TimeXtender simply helped us automate the technical process, just like Qlik has helped us deliver striking visuals. I can testify that TimeXtender, together with its partner Ad Ultima, have been true to promise. We have been able to deliver on our BI vision, which has left us with time to focus on other strategic change projects. It is reassuring to know that whatever future change may hold, our team will be ready to handle it,” said Thomas Truyens.
Note: Truyens now sees Intersig’s Data Warehouse as a central hub of continuously updated data, not only providing information to management, but also facilitating other data driven processes, such as budgeting and forecasting. And Intersig’s BI team is delivering consolidated information once every day now, or more frequently when needed.