The problem was not a lack of data. Indeed, Multispares enterprise resource planning (ERP) system – MomentumPro – recorded the passage of the thousands of products that moved through the company’s nine Australian and three New Zealand outlets. The trouble was that, once the relevant data had been extracted, it was often old and not reflective of present conditions: something which according to managing director Geoff Stewart, "was not conducive to effective decision making."
What was needed was a way to readily access and interpret data and to disseminate it such that its benefits to the company could be maximised. The answer lay in business intelligence (BI) applications.
Multispares turned to Markinson to integrate BI tools with its ERP system. A primary aim was to support the rapid analysis of sales information.
"The multi-dimensional nature of our business meant that we required a solution that could quickly dissect complex information and present the data in different ways and structures to aid decision making," says Stewart.
The development of a BI system to meet Multispares’ needs was not a straightforward process. As the system had to be tailored to his company’s needs, Stewart’s input was crucial.
"When you take on these projects you have to dedicate adequate resources. You don’t get out what you want unless you’re willing to put in," explains Stewart.
"In this respect, Markinson were instrumental in helping us clarify our needs. As a team we worked closely to build a clear understanding of what we wanted from the system."
Markinson integrated a Business Analytics BI solution into Multispare’s existing ERP platform. The BI solution offers a customisable, accessible interface that instantly provides insight on business transactions. According to Ian Whiting, chief executive officer at Markinson, the solution delivers two key advantages: it is interactive and can be delivered online.
"What the front end allows you to do is to tailor suites or compilations of data that let you view things in a number of ways, in a number of dimensions, and to do so fairly quickly," says Whiting. "You can, for example, look at a particular data set and quickly switch from seeing it in a revenue form to a gross-profit form to a quantity form. The reporting functionality is quick and simple to set up, and the solution can be rapidly deployed live."
Having ready access to analysis of business data has allowed the management team at Multispares to do more in their roles. "It’s made our information more transparent, and information is crucial to effective management," says Stewart. "This has made our managers more effective, there’s no question of that."
More importantly for Multispares, this dissemination of insight has had a flow-on effect, with the decisions and feedback of managers contributing to the company’s strategic direction.
"Rapid access to information for all management who are involved in senior positions and decision making is crucial for business success," says Stewart. "We embarked on the BI integration project because we wanted it, and now that we’ve got it, we are seeing many benefits. The new system is playing a pivotal role in decision making at all levels."
Looking forward, Stewart says the next step will be to add additional reporting functionality to the system. The company has been working with Markinson to further integrate BI analytics to deliver greater flexibility and reporting potential. These improvements will also help Multispares to extend its BI analysis beyond sales and into inventory and financial reporting.
"The ability to add and extend the database and have that reflected in the reporting dynamically rather than having to re-code it, will deliver time and cost savings for Multispares,"
In conclusion, Geoff Stewart says that the Markinson BI solution has changed the way that Multispares makes its important business decisions, ensuring that they’re based on up-to-date, relevant and properly understood information. "The Markinson designed system has been highly effective," he says. "I’m quite sure that we will extend our use of the system and therefore its involvement with our decision making will extend as well."