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Weikfield Foods, an Indian retail group carrying brands of pasta, pasta sauces, green tea and mushrooms, has embarked on an initiative, called Prism, to create an enterprise-wide analytics ecosystem.
Through Prism, the company, which employs 500 people and has an annual IT budget of INR20m (US$264,950), has access to business key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics. These include supply chain insights to ensure stocks remain fresh.
The goal of the project was to enable the business to make timely decisions by empowering business and operations teams through real-time dashboards and analytics.
The retail group has a salesforce that covers some 200,000 retailers across India. They generate data volumes that run into the billions of records every month, all of which have to be analysed and compared. Without a robust analytics system, this would have been impossible.
The Prism platform, which was named “Retail Technology Project of the Year” in Computer Weekly’s Innovation Awards APAC 2022, enables data visualisation of key KPIs. This has led to a 60-70% reduction in the manpower that would have been needed to compile and present the data. And because it runs in a cloud environment with a resilient architecture, Prism is always available to crunch data.
It is also integrated via application programming interfaces (APIs) with multiple external systems, giving business users added relief and ease when they search for data.
In addition, since real-time data is now easily available, decisions are made based on recent patterns rather than past trends. Inventory-based operation reports also ensure business and supply chain decisions can be made based on the right level of stock and at the right place.
Securing buy-in through agility
Because it identified business users as the key stakeholders of Prism, Weikfield was keen to ensure they remained invested in the deployment.
The retail group adopted the agile methodology to roll out the analytics infrastructure, setting milestones at every 90 days. Tweaks were made during the course of the implementation to refine a few processes that had been implemented and adopted by users for some time.
There was some resistance from users, who were unwilling to adopt the new processes. To address this, Weikfield actively monitored progress and adopted an iterative approach to streamline new processes.
For instance, it used 20 new attributes in modelling its customer master data and attached these to the source itself. While the same was created in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, users failed to follow the new process of adding new attributes, despite agreeing to do so in the lead-up to the deployment. This resulted in missing attributes in the data warehouse.
The deployment team monitored such incidents and retrained users. Alert email notices were created and set to trigger daily if any master data management (MDM) procedures were not configured properly. These control alerts helped users familiarise themselves with the new processes.
Opting to go with smaller, successive deployments, rather than a big bang approach, meant it was difficult to establish a clear long-term path for the project. This prompted Weikfield to maintain a budget of INR1.5m per milestone, which was utilised in phases.
With each milestone set at every 90 days, the deployment team was able to keep within the timeline for the first scheduled one. This saw the establishment of the cloud infrastructure, data warehouse and APIs.
There were delays in the second and third milestones, though these were completed with just 60% of the allocated budget used. Costs were mitigated with close follow-ups, cloud monitoring and robust negotiations with partners.
Some 40% of the development work was done in-house, with the remainder carried out by external partners. Post-development, screening and validation of new models and measures continues to be performed internally.
The deployment was fully undertaken in-house, spanning role-based security creation, licensing and sharing of dashboards. Weikfield has an IT team of five.
The technology stack comprises mostly open source and cloud applications. APIs were developed with Java Spring Boot framework, while Weikfield opted to go with Power BI for its visualisation service and Amazon Web Services as its cloud partner. It chose PostgreSQL as its database.
Read more about CW Innovation Awards APAC 2022
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