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Case Studies
Efficiency with future in mind as a concept of effectiveness

The initiative consisted of two types of changes in business perspective. Solving existing problems was definitely the main target, although not the only one. The second, even more important one, within a long-term perspective, was implementation of basis for a new technology that is going to be used in a much broader context. Setting up this basis was a prerequisite for all future improvements of analytical system (BSC, CRM & KPI).

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Situation

Magma d.d. covered the need for business analyses by using several hundreds of reports prepared with Crystal Reports and edited in Excel when necessary. Source for the existing reporting system is a specially prepared database structure (“staging”) comprising most of the transactional system data of central warehouses and Magma’s own stores all around Croatia and abroad.

From the very beginning, Magma does not uphold its reports on the upper (top management) level only. On the contrary, reports are being used on lower levels too - in places where “small, routine decisions” occur.

Faced with common problem of implementing reporting system in a contemporary market-oriented company, where the key words “as soon as possible”, “in a more complex way”, “with larger databases” and “on more location” are habitual demands, Magma decided to find the right answers.

First, custom made, solutions provided dynamical implementation of reports, report calling, filling-up the parameters through a wizard and all that with different locations of data sources.

In the second step, limitations of reporting tools were overcomed by preprocessing of data for most of the reports (preparing complex aggregations, source combinations, etc.). The first benefit of such preprocessing was speed increase. Second benefit was a possibility of making more complex reports not possible before. In spite of all enhancements, the problem of integrating all necessary data was the primary reason for implementation of a new analytical reporting system.

Second motive was the slowness in creation of new reports as well as in change of existing reports. The problem originated from the fact that creation of a new report required similar action in preprocessing. Of course, the same thing happened during a trivial modification of an existing report. Over time, users’ demands overloaded capacities as well as possibilities of existing technology.

Third, there’s complexity and consolidation of information from many areas. It’s true that those kinds of reports significantly shorten human’s work (from couple of hours to couple of minutes). Nevertheless, they can also initiate server congestions decreasing concurrency of other users.

There is also a growing need for dynamical data analysis and use of all analytical and graphical methods. Today, appropriate visualizations can emphasize important and essential parts within huge data structures. With interactive interfaces, modern tools provide research and analitical capabilities focused in the right direction.

Finally, particularity of this situation was customer’s request not to change anything about staging area. Five years of business history was on disposal in staging. The real data warehouse shall be implemented gradually as a second phase of this project.

Driven by these issues and backed by strong management support, Magma d.d. decided to implement OLAP system and introduce the SoftPro Manager 4.0 application suite to the end users.

Solution

Initiative consisted of two types of changes in business perspective. Solving existing problems was definitely the main target, although not the only one. The second, even more important one was data integration and introduction of an entirely new technology that is going to be used in a much broader context.

SOLVING EXISTING PROBLEMS
System based on OLAP with appropriate software solution solves specified problems. When specialized OLAP structures are applied for reporting and analysis instead of existing data source, business data organized in such structures can be analyzed much faster with appropriate software support giving more business information.
Development of the analytical system for this retailing industry covers the sales process, purchase process and warehouse inventory, solving their reporting problems. Analytical database was implemented on Microsoft Analysis Services, while SoftPro CubePlayer 2.0 application suite was used as an end-user platform.

NEW TECHNOLOGY IMPLEMENTATION
Except for its speed, OLAP system also provides a new viewpoint for the existing business data. In combination with suitable software support, users of that system have dynamical data analysis, business analyses and a variety of other characteristics on hand that missed existing reporting system.

Benefits

The new system accomplished the following key objectives:

  • Partial replacement of existing reports (Crystal Reports)
  • Simple creation of new, complex reports (OLAP)
  • Implementation of analytical capabilities not possible in existing system
  • Partial integration of existing reporting system into integrated working environment

The new system enables parallel use of existing Crystal Reports and previously developed custom extensions. Yet, it also enables a replacement of one part that started to show signs of weaknesses in terms of delays.

The new functionality focuses on immediate graphical information, table data manipulations, drill-down and drill-up capabilities on levels, members and sets and much more. Replacement of existing reports was not the main issue. Most of the expectations were based on new functionality.

Using Microsoft Analysis Services and SoftPro CubePlayer 4.0, Magma d.d. succeeded in implementation of system that significantly reduced the response time and increased the overall quality of IT support to the business decision making process.

Using provided functionality, managers have the ability to rapidly access information making business decisions even faster and more efficient.

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