BI reporting tool improves forecasting at Alfa Laval India

Manufacturing player Alfa Laval India opts for a BI reporting tool; reduces accounts receivables, improves control over inventory and procurement.

Alfa Laval India, the Swedish manufacturing company’s subsidiary, has around 17 branch offices as well as three factories in India. The company was finding it difficult to manage the wide range of reports which were generated on a daily basis, but implementation of a business intelligence (BI) reporting tool now helps it on this front.

 

According to Kishore Daryanani, the general manager of information systems at Alfa Laval India, a lot of time was being spent earlier on preparing statutory reports mandated by the government. Due to this, employees were losing focus on the actionable and proactive reports which helps management to take better business decisions. The decision to go in for a BI deployment was therefore made around four years ago (in 2006). As a result of this, the IT team began looking for a BI reporting tool vendor to meet the company’s business requirements.  

 

“We had already implemented an ERP package from Movex which used to take care of the operational reports to a large extent,” says Daryanani. “But we did not have proactive reports like the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) focusing on forecasting and simulation. Such reports were missing in our ERP, so the right BI reporting tool became a must.”

 

The company decided to go in for a BI reporting solution offered by Pune-based Prosys Infotech. The Alfa Laval IT team had already worked with Prosys on some projects in the past, so they were familiar with the work and solutions of this vendor. “We did not conduct any special evaluation. We had this vendor in mind, and its solution suited our business requirements,” informs Daryanani. 

 

About the customization of the BI reporting tool, Daryanani says that although the architecture was not customized, the requirements required changes. This new BI reporting tool takes care of all the necessary reports. “Our KPIs are not fixed. For example, if our business is focusing more on inventory, then the parameterization will change. We have a set of almost 30 KPIs. At any given point of time around seven KPIs have to be monitored. Last year, the focus was more on a profit protection plan due to recession. The business scenarios keep changing, and the BI reporting tool helps us to create reports as per the required KPIs.”   

 

The BI project went live in early 2008. The implementation took around one and half year to complete, and was done phase-wise. It was a massive exercise for the IT team because the BI reporting tool covers almost all processes including data warehousing, finance and inventory management. “The BI reporting tool had to be in line with the organization’s existing technologies. Pulling data from the ERP was challenging. The other challenges were loosely-defined KPIs, consolidation of data, and mapping of customer numbers,” says Daryanani.

  

In addition to this, the CIO had to deal with change management issues. Though the IT team organized a few training sessions, it took time for the employees to get used to the BI reporting tool. The final reports were in Excel, so the users did not face many problems. There are now around 100 users across India working on the BI reporting tool.  

 

Daryanani did not face any problem in meeting the expected ROI. For him, a BI project is successful when the process owners are involved. “The business reporting cell in our company was involved during the entire implementation process. They were interested in creating a mechanism to monitor their own processes. The project was driven from the point of view of the organization’s requirements. If the process owners know exactly what they want, then the project can be driven to the path of success,” he says.

 

Speaking about the benefits provided by this BI reporting tool, Daryanani adds, “Our account receivables were quite high before the deployment, but came down drastically post-deployment. Our forecasting process was also streamlined. 70% of our cost is inventory. Today, the stock in hand has gone down because the BI reporting tool gives us information about the amount of inventory lying in warehouses. Forecasting reports help us to buy the right quantity of items, and this eventually saves on costs.”

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