Bert Matser, Business Intelligence Manager
You are in the process of rolling out MS Dynamics AX 2012 across all your branches. Can you tell me something about this?
‘Our branches and production facilities work with various ERP packages. This is of course not ideal, particularly as there is a great need for unambiguous information. We took a close look at our process model and at the same time also paid attention to control. That is why we are now working on the foundations for Business Intelligence. We are building the basic version of the Data Warehouse and the Cubes (the Business). When this is solid, we will start focusing on the KPIs (the Intelligence).’
You are early to implement BI, what is the reason for this?
‘During the development process of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 we already started to create the technical architecture and the first set of cubes together with Hillstar. This way, we are future proof. We were aware of the fact that AX does not supply as standard all the information we need for business operations and it is exactly this information that is critical to us. We thought it would be better to invest in a flexible reporting tool in the initial stage which the users themselves can also work with (self-service BI), instead of setting reports in stone. This will pay for itself and more in the long run, as future information requirements are already largely covered. The trick is to provide now what is important later.’
What exactly do you use BI4Dynamics for?
“For us it is a way to flexibly provide unambiguous information needed to run the business. Not only for the monthly reporting but also as part of our day-to-day business operations. It is vital that the information that is reported is based on the same definitions. With our first set of Cubes we know for sure that the monthly reports are based on the correct data and that it is safe for users to generate reports themselves on an ad hoc basis. You just know for sure that it is correct.”
BI is often still a matter for the IT department: what is your view on this?
That is correct, but in that case the added value is too small. The power of Business Intelligence lies in the fact that it matches the information requirements of the business. We are aiming to achieve that on every level of the organisation. BI is not just meant to close the gaps in the reporting possibilities of AX; it is a much wider platform that generates the correct information on a company-wide basis. In short, this is the case: we now have AX2012 and on top of it a Business Intelligence environment that is now defined by the business. For example, sales can request a certain information requirement from us. This we can easily provide; all the information is there, we only have to extract it. This also allows for a great deal more interaction within the organisation. You see, it is important that the organisation trusts the figures. Management will use it for operations and during internal and external meetings. We must see to it that we announce the possibilities and ensure the reports are correct. The business is critical and demanding and is quick to form an opinion, whether it is founded or not. If the idea forms that the information does not fit or the quality falls short, they will be quick to part with it and develop their own reporting methods. That is why we test the solution thouroughly in advance, so that we can guarantee the quality. Then it becomes alive and an integrated part of the business.’