Saucy little numbers

Saucy little numbers

BI was the answer to “spreadsheet chaos” at a major food manufacturer.

Cerebos is not a company most people would be familiar with, but most would have poured Fountain sauce or gravy made from Gravox over their dinners this Christmas past, or nattered to relatives whilst sipping Robert Harris coffee. The regional arm of the food manufacturing conglomerate behind these brands has had its share of stresses lately, with divisions in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The recent purchase of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite from Movex was a catalyst for change, causing the need for a single business intelligence implementation across all divisions.

Executives at the company needed access to retail and food service data, telesales reports, and summaries of promotional spending, leading to a large requirement for analysis tools to make sense of all the data. Adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Cerebos’s manufacturing had also meant new requirements from the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation to provide regular updates on their production for testing purposes.

”The CEO and the CFO were the drivers behind the project,” said Linda Hernando, business analyst at Cerebos. “They were sick of people coming to them with different figures. Three different people would come to them with three different figures. It was good to have their support, as it drove the project through the business a lot easier,” she said.

Ms Hernando said the Australian division had already been using Corvu and the New Zealand arm had previously chosen Brio. Ms Hernando said the company had evaluated its existing suppliers, along with Cognos and Powerplay.

”With Corvu, at the time we were using it, it was very much an IT tool, not end user friendly. Brio was far more end user friendly. We could deploy it across Australia and New Zealand across the Internet, or within our intranet,” she said.

The Movex implementation, based in New Zealand, already included extraction software to obtain reports, but data from the Australian operations still had to be collated through the new system. Reports on retail movements, taken from a “business performance warehouse” application from Intentia, had to be produced daily, with schedules automatically updated overnight, while summaries of activity in the telesales department and promotional area only had to be prepared weekly. All of this had to be done to coincide with the launch of the ERP system.

”Brio was a bit more dynamic and flexible. The Corvu system had six versions of one report for all business areas. With Brio, we got one report with variable limits, and we could publish wherever we wanted,” she said.

Finally, the extraction program for the GMO data had to include supplier information and details on raw material used in production so that consumers could get their questions answered on a telephone hotline. Ms Hernando said that Cerebos had taken a “proactive approach” to the ANSTO requirements.

”The new system gave us the ability to see what needed to be changed, and monitor the changes. It had previously taken five people on a paper-based system to do that. Now one person can run a report, on the most up-to-date system,” she said.

Ms Hernando said that while return on investment for the project was not quantitative, there was a “pretty good” return due to the software having already been used in New Zealand, and due to it being easy to implement.

”The development was initially done out of New Zealand. We set up a standard report for the CEO and CFO. It sets the standard, so that everybody is working to same numbers and the same reporting tool. It is taking people away from spreadsheet chaos,” she said.

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