Driving Key Supply Chain Insights Through Improved Data Visibility

The Challenge

In support of their development and growth across Canada, Lindt recognized the need for improved business intelligence and data-driven decision-making and became an IBM Cognos customer over 20 years ago. Although Lindt’s usage of Cognos has significantly evolved over the years, they have primarily focused on developing analytics solutions for their sales and marketing functions. After a recent review of their use of analytics throughout the organization, it was clear that the supply chain team had been underserviced. John Walter, IT Director at Lindt Canada says, “the supply chain team was using legacy reporting tools that required them to gather data from various sources, drop it into a big Excel spreadsheet and manually slice and dice it to produce some form of analytics.”

The supply chain team had ultimately created their own data warehouse in a massive Excel file, filled with complex calculations and lookups. In addition to the time and effort involved in maintaining such a le, this siloed approach to data management resulted in a number of problems, including the inability to easily share and visualize insight across the organization, minimal integration with other data sources, limited data quality and governance controls and a lack of automation.

Lindt saw an opportunity to collaborate with key stakeholders on the supply chain team to identify key priorities and then migrate some of their solutions out of the legacy applications and move them to a modern analytics tool set. This would provide the supply chain team with their own dashboards and analytics and their own data sets, while leveraging the same Business Intelligence (BI) platform used by the rest of the organization.

Our Solution

Knowing the scope of the project, Lindt immediately selected Converge Technology Solutions as their preferred partner. John says, “We’ve worked with them for many years. They are a trusted provider for us, for both resources and solutions.” John goes on to describe his consideration factors when selecting third-party advisors for analytics projects. “Having CPG experience, technical abilities and communication and collaboration skills are all the hallmarks of a good consultant. They have a team of qualified consultants and are successfully able to recruit, retain and develop professional services resources that do this type of work.”

Converge’s approach for this analytics project involved working with the existing technology stack at Lindt, including IBM Cognos Analytics, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft Server SSIS. While Lindt’s existing technology relied heavily on legacy Transformer cubes, the proposed solution involved leveraging more modern Cognos Analytics 11 functionality, including Data Modules and the Dashboarding Tool.

Converge worked closely with the Lindt supply chain team, interviewing the business users to gain a better understanding of the source data and the required outcome. The delivered solution ingests numerous at le data sources, integrates them with ERP data and then processes several calculated metrics to provide a consolidated view within Cognos. A dashboard is used as the focal point for tracking high-level KPIs using the data. John describes the process, “It involves inbounding new data feeds from our transportation providers, from our warehouse, making sure that we’re able to link and join those right to our master data, our customer and product data and then present the information in a meaningful way to draw insights.”

As the ability to manually modify inbound data les prior to ingestion was required, Converge introduced strict protocols and sophisticated error handling and notification to assist the Lindt team when processing inbound data. John explains, “There are a number of components that have to come together in a project in order for it to actually work and it requires a rather broad and pretty deep set of skills. The Converge consultant who worked with us on this project is a great resource. He’s someone who is very trustworthy, very smart, well-spoken, a good collaborator and ultimately gets things done, which is amazing.”

The Result

The solution deployed by Converge was successful in helping the supply chain team reduce their reliance on Excel for managing and consuming data and minimizing the time and effort required to work with the data. The data ingestion process has significantly improved data quality and governance. Data quality has also improved through the introduction of automation, designed to eliminate user error in manually merging and preparing calculations. The consolidated view of data that is now available through the enterprise data warehouse and Cognos, has dramatically increased the speed of insight and the ability of the supply chain team to share and visualize high-level KPIs from their own dashboards and data sets. “Giving the supply chain team the ability to drill in and better understand their data will allow them to make key business decisions that will have a positive impact on the Lindt business.”

Building on the success of this project, Lindt continues to work with Converge to improve their supply chain analytics with a project focused on designing a new planning and reporting process leveraging IBM Planning Analytics and IBM Cognos Analytics. John reects on Lindt’s long-term partnership with Converge; “What keeps us going back? It’s about trust. It’s about doing what you say you’re going to do. It’s about delivering value and ultimately, getting things done. Consistently.”

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