Consistent, Accurate, Cost Control with an On-Line Reporting Solution
Our client produces over 400 major brands in the food, personal care and homecare categories in 300 production facilities across 100 countries globally. To manage the business effectively it is essential for business and financial managers across the company to be able to access consistent up-to-date cost information and to enable them to analyze and forecast without specialist data tool training.
The client’s vision was to create a secure online reporting solution that delivered accurate, relevant and timely cost performance information to business and financial teams, enabling them to manage their business units better. The objective was to provide a universal reference point, accurate, immediate and dynamic as soon as the monthly accounting data was finalized.
The system would bring together financial reporting data and match it to the ERP and forecast data. The system would enable business and financial users to:
• measure performance - compare actuals to quarterly forecasts
• identify underlying trends using cost trend reports
• drill down to report at individual cost centres or cost groups
• review project spend (trade, restructuring or capex) against forecast
and be able to download to excel as a report for further line by line analysis, or to PowerPoint and PDF for sharing.
Fulfilling the Vision
Thorogood has developed a relational data warehouse using Microsoft’s SQL Server technology. Leveraging its Integration Services ETL tool enables data to be loaded into the database, and its Analysis Services capability provides a powerful analytic interface to the data. In addition, Thorogood developed a capability in Microsoft SharePoint to control data loads and communicate system status to users of the solution.
The implementation project had a strong focus on data quality. Activities to ensure that the information sourced from the company’s accounting systems was aligned to the solution were included; any issues or information gaps from the ERP solution were also flagged to identify areas of improvement in the source mapping which had previously been a manual process.
The result is a flexible solution, which reports monthly costs based on company hierarchies, by management unit, function and geography, and further splits costs by type and cost reporting group. Month-end close validation checks are also provided.
The system contains highly confidential information, so security is particularly important. A security model has been applied which masks confidential information from certain groups of users, whilst remaining available to users with clearance to view that information. Further security has been applied to ensure that information presented is relevant to those viewing it across business verticals. The customer is very pleased with the result.
For many stakeholders, this project has provided the first experience of an online reporting tool, bringing together data from a number of sources and providing drill down capability to individual cost centers. It has been a great help to many of them in their monthly reporting. The system has a strong and growing user base and in the future the tool will be available for more functions and verticals within the company.
Want to Know More?
If you would like to know more about what can be achieved with Business Intelligence & Analytics, and you would like to discuss your options with an independent specialist, please get in touch with: Evelyn Heyes in the UK (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Trevor Jones in the US (email@example.com).