Manufacturing Company Creates a Culture of Data-Driven Decision Making with Power BI

Igniting a Movement of Data Analytics

Written By // Mary

Manufacturing
Midsize
Chicagoland

The company was relying on legacy tools such as Cognos and Excel sheets to analyze their data. These legacy practices were not only labor intensive but difficult for their team to maintain and interpret. It was important to the executives and management teams to have a tool that allowed them to actively see their data in real-time in a visually meaningful manner.

It was important to the executives and management teams to have a tool that allowed them to actively see their data in real-time in a visually meaningful manner.

A leading manufacturer responsible for producing a range of precision systems for both the automotive and powersports industries was facing challenges with how to make spending more efficient. With multiple manufacturing locations around the globe and financial data coming from various sources across multiple layers of business, it was becoming increasingly difficult to optimize manufacturing spend and improve efficiencies based on company-wide information. Not to mention, the manual effort of cross-referencing multiple reports was both time-consuming and prone to error. Without a single source of truth, business departments had difficulty comparing the actual spend with the company’s overall budget and forecasting. The first order of business was to bring their disparate data together.

Additionally, the company was relying on legacy tools such as Cognos and Excel sheets to analyze their data. These legacy practices were not only labor intensive but difficult for the company to maintain and interpret. It was important to the executives and management teams to have a tool that allowed them to actively see their data in real-time in a visually meaningful manner.

As the company continued to grow, they knew they needed faster and more reliable insights into departmental spending and expense allocation.

Partnering in Success

The company recognized the value of continuously innovating through technology and had already invested in the basic functionality of Power BI to build out some initial reports. They were ready to make these reports more usable by combining disparate data sources and enabling various departments to use them, and they were looking for a partner to help them along their journey to becoming a data-driven organization.

SWC Technology Partners was uniquely positioned for the job – as they are a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience in data warehousing and Power BI.

A Data Analytics Solution for the Entire Company

The goal of the project was to establish a robust, secure, and flexible Power BI platform to solve the problem of making actionable insights available to the entire company. SWC Technology Partners assisted in the transformation by addressing the need to extract and automate data from the company’s existing sources into a highly scalable data warehouse. Once the data pipeline had been created, SWC helped define the organization’s unique use cases to establish the architecture of their Power BI solution. Leadership teams needed to not only see how much budget was being spent but where that budget was being allocated.

In order to enhance analytics and reporting capabilities, SWC built a monthly customized report in Power BI to help the organization make faster decisions with real-time updates. With Power BI in place, employees across departments could drill down to uncover valuable insights through interactive dashboards. A click on a particular data item would automatically update all other items on the dashboard to reflect that choice.

Creating a Culture of Data-Driven Decision-Making

With the new technology in place, the manufacturing company was poised to start leveraging their data in ways that were never possible before. However, there was one critical final step before the company could deem the project a success – and that was to ensure the users are leveraging the solution to their full potential.

While the very nature of Power BI is to provide a user-friendly interface that puts data analytics in the hands of everyone, the company recognized that the initial transition would be a much different end-user experience. SWC implemented a series of user enablement trainings and resources to ensure that the adoption phase was seamless for the organization.

While users were able to quickly learn how to leverage the existing Power BI dashboards to understand spending and expense, one of the most impactful outcomes of the enablement training phase was the “dashboard of the day” workshop which showed users how to create insights in other areas of the business to which they didn’t have visibility before. This empowered employees to take control of their data by pursuing new insights that could improve decision-making without the need for IT intervention. This not only led to a better use of everyone’s time but also ignited a movement of data analytics that continues to this day as the organization looks for new ways to improve performance and gain competitive advantage.

Plans for the Future

Looking ahead, the company is excited about expanding a partnership with SWC – with plans to implement a “Power BI Community” within the organization that will continue to foster a culture of data-driven decision-making. Additionally, they are looking to develop a Power BI utilization report to further optimize their analytics by seeing how people are using the tools to make decisions around governance and enhancements.

With a strong foundation built in Power BI, the company is excited about continuing the movement towards becoming a data-driven organization.

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