The pioneer of steel retailing in India, Essar Steel has the largest network of 550 steel retail outlets under Essar Hypermart deployed SAP BW. The company manufactures flat carbon steel products ranging from iron ore to finished goods targeted at automotive, white goods, construction, engineering, and shipbuilding industries. Its market footprint spans across India, Canada, USA, Middle East, and Asia.
The company has set expansion plans in India, Asia, and the Americas, aiming to achieve a capacity of 14 MTPA by 2011-12. Recently, it implemented SAP CRM for its marketing team. Given the gamut of operations and the growth prospects, the CIO’s office felt the need for business intelligence (BI) solution that could amalgamate data and reports from such diverse business operations and selected SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW) for this project.
“SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW) has immense value in the integration of mining-to-retailing business environment as well as performance analysis and day-to-day decision making,” says Suneel Aradhye, CIO at Essar Steel.
Need for SAP BW
Essar Steel has a complex application-architecture with multiple software products running simultaneously. It has been using ECC 6.0 to coordinate all the resources, information, and activities. JDA-MMS ERP was chosen for retail business due to its ability to enable warehousing features along with retail capabilities. In addition, i2-Performance Manager was used to support the planning operations. SAP CRM was implemented to support the marketing team.
SAP BW was deployed as it was difficult for business teams to get overall visibility of various performance indicators. The need to efficiently manage the supply chain process between the sales channels (retail and original equipment) along with stock transfer and production processes was strongly observed. A need to analyze the buying patterns, to reward loyal customers, ensure excellent service for repeat-buyers, and thus, maintain a steady clientele led to SAP BW implementation.
Why SAP BW?
Essar felt the need to evolve a common platform to stage, integrate, and present information to the users as a one-stop solution to all its data requirements. SAP being the major source of data, SAP BW was the obvious choice for analytics, SAP Enterprise Portal (EP) for the interface, and SAP BusinessObjects (BO) for other presentation options.
Business buy-in was attained easily because complex report generation integrating the data from JDA, i2, legacy systems, flat files, ECC, etc, and dashboards were not possible with any of the existing transactional ERP-based reporting.
SAP BW was also zeroed in as:
- It provided seamless integration with ECC 6.0 and thus, could help reduce the overall implementation time.
- SAP BW could handle huge volumes of data and provided analytical capabilities in its presentation layer.
- To extract and transform data from non-SAP systems, SAP BW provided multiple channels like DB connect/ UD connect/ flat file/ BO Data Integrator.
- With SAP EP as its presentation layer, SAP BW provided a uniform, single-window access to SAP and non-SAP reporting.
- SAP BW had an authorization model to ensure security of data.
- It provided seamless integration with tools like Xcelsius and Crystal Reports.
SAP BW implementation
Prior to SAP BW implementation, Essar Steel identified KPIs by organizing workshops for business managers. A proof of concept (PoC) was conducted and a mock report was presented based on flat file data sources and a dashboard, leading to a full scale development on SAP BW.
SAP BW was to be implemented within two years covering Essar Steel’s global operations. The first phase focused on CRM, sales, inventory, and product costing, covering retail and original equipment sales.
The key tasks for SAP BW deployment were:
- Defining business analytical process, which included raising business and report requirements for each area.
- Creation of dashboard mock-ups to let the users get a feel of the tool and seek their inputs on the design and aesthetics.
- Test case identification for each report from the development system.
- Identification of data mapping in terms of the tables, fields, joins and filter conditions on source system data.
- Identification of individual data structures and how they would integrate to provide the requisite level of reporting.
The final phase involved end-user training and acceptance test sign-off of SAP BW.
The business yields
The SAP BW implementation at Essar Steel improved the overall process stability and also addressed critical reporting issues. The benefits included:
- Access to executive dashboards for monitoring and measuring performance.
- Establishing consistent KPI definitions company-wide.
- Critical reports with operational status and long-term performance measuring KPIs can be made available to the users immediately.
- SAP BW deployment has helped in providing one version of the truth and cross-functional transparency.
- Ad-hoc reporting needs are supported via multi dimensional reporting.
- End users have become self-sufficient on reporting applications.
- Reconciliation and integration of data between SAP and non-SAP business systems.
- Reduced total cost of ownership for the management information system teams.
(These inputs were gathered from an interaction with Mr. Abhijit Bhalerao, Practice Head - Business Intelligence (SAP BI, BO & EP), Essar Information Technology Ltd)