Providing BI expertise to support ambitious objectives at Unilever

Case study

With an ambitious long-term, cross-functional BI initiative underway, Unilever wanted to ensure quality and consistency and needed BI experts to help them orchestrate this. They chose Thorogood as part of the team.

The Challenge

The BI programme at Unilever was ambitious – multiple new reporting and analytic systems for 17 areas based on a global enterprise data warehouse; best-of-breed technologies were chosen to meet these demanding requirements. The programme needed to address delivery of multiple components using Microsoft SharePoint, PerformancePoint, Excel PowerPivot and SQL Server, Tableau, and a Teradata enterprise data warehouse. Unilever selected Thorogood as their analytic and reporting partner.

For the programme to deliver success it needed to align development across all of the many projects within the wide-ranging programme. Key objectives were:

  • Productive ways of working
  • Fast performance
  • Consistency in look and feel
  • Shared design principles
  • Future supportability

These would only be achieved if the programme was co-ordinated as a whole, but this would need a combination of skills from across the wider programme team.

Meeting the Challenge

Thorogood provided a core BI team to provide analytic and reporting expertise to the ‘tower’– an overarching group addressing the above areas. The Thorogood team took on three key roles:

  • Tower Lead: co-ordinating analytic and reporting work streams with other project work streams.
  • Technical Architect: working as part of the wider programme architecture team to define, monitor and actively manage standards.
  • Technical Subject Matter Expert: bringing deep technical expertise in support of the governance and development teams.

The core team was able to call on additional Thorogood experts when needed to resolve key technical issues with the potential to affect multiple projects.  This supplementary expertise was sourced from across the Thorogood global practices as and when it was required.

The team was able to advise on BI considerations key to the project – areas such as:

  • Guidance on when to deploy relational versus multi-dimensional OLAP architectures
  • Performance optimisation for Microsoft Teradata ROLAP solutions
  • Best practice guidance on the use of Microsoft versus Tableau as a front-end tool
  • Approaches to developing Teradata semantic business logic layers to best support a wide range of use-case scenarios
  • Recommendations for delivering Business Intelligence through Microsoft SharePoint
  • Approaches to consensus on business requirements for the user interface

Next Steps

Having already delivered applications for a number of areas including Supply Chain, Procurement, Customer Development and HR, the Unilever programme continues at an impressive pace.

Greg Swimer, BI Centre of Excellence lead at Unilever sees the value of the roles:

Thorogood have brought deep technical expertise and strong process and guidance standards to the tower. They have shown their value through proactive initiatives that have ensured we are able to deliver quality solutions to the application areas.

Find out more

Contact Prakash Palanisamy.  Prakash is a Data & AI Consultant, and India Managing Director at Thorogood.