Business Intelligence with Jedox

How Data Analytics can help aerospace industry to gain faster and better information

As a strategic partner for the aerospace industry, ARTS supports companies with more than 500 technical and commercial experts to optimize their business processes for production and personnel. At ARTS, business intelligence (or "BI" for short) is not just a buzzword, it is a lived practice. With the help of a multidimensional database and an innovative BI tool ("Jedox"), the previous systems (ERP system Odoo, accounting software DATEV, etc.) are unified. In this blog, you will learn about the challenges facing the industry, the advantages of introducing business intelligence software and the implementation methods that will help you maximize the success of your project.

ARTS supports, amongst others, the european aerospace industry with expertise: with people and their knowledge or turnkey solutions. With its expertise for the industry, ARTS helps its customers to come up with new ideas and additional capacities so that they can bridge bottlenecks and concentrate on their core business. Under the umbrella brand ARTS, three service fields are united: Experts, Processes and Solutions. Within the ARTS Group, each service field is managed by an independent ARTS company.

As a competent partner for tailor-made systems, manaTec GmbH acts as a preferred service provider for the introduction of the business intelligence solution at ARTS. In addition to IT consulting, IT support and ERP development, BI consulting is one of manaTec GmbH's core competencies. The following figure shows the different service areas of manaTec GmbH as well as an excerpt from the respective service portfolio.

The service portfolio of manaTec GmbH
The service portfolio of manaTec GmbH.

Lack of flexibility due to fixed information systems

Changing market conditions, increased cost pressure and the ever increasing battle for customers and market shares are now also leading to the increasing importance of ad hoc analyses and real-time evaluations of company key figures in medium-sized companies. Increasingly, medium-sized companies are also increasingly using business intelligence software, positively influenced by increasing competition among the providers of such tools.

Business intelligence can do much more: only the aggregation of multi-layer data evaluations supports corporate management on a strategic level. The preparation and quantification of data in so-called key performance indicators enables the measurement of success and the derivation of targeted measures. In this way, data analytics methods can develop into decisive success factors in business practice. The following figure illustrates the effects of rigid and inflexible pre-systems.

Fixed pre-systems limit flexibility

Fixed pre-systems limit flexibility

  • Inconsistent data storage through isolated solutions

  • Time-consuming ad-hoc evaluations

  • Slow responsiveness to management decisions

  • Missing connection of financial and ERP data

  • Excel-based business planning reaches its limits

  • Financial consolidation with existing tools is not possible

In practice, the initial situation is often the same: Excel lists often serve as a basis for decision-making, especially in medium-sized companies. As a rule, the data comes from different previous systems and is adapted manually. This is precisely one of the biggest weaknesses of the medium-sized system landscapes, which are often characterised only by the comparatively low use of modern IT solutions: apart from the risk of inconsistent data storage, spontaneous ad-hoc evaluations are not possible or only with difficulty due to rigid information systems. In particular, the spontaneous adaptation of reports and their enrichment of the information density are very time-consuming. This results in lengthy and error-prone controlling processes, delayed decisions and, ultimately, more difficult corporate management.

Data Warehouse opens up completely new perspectives

In the case of ARTS, the problems described were exacerbated by a restructuring under company law and the establishment of a group structure in connection with internal cost allocation. In particular, a parallel system landscape with various upstream systems (ERP system, accounting software, document management) meant that data generation for cross-departmental evaluations was often inefficient.

As a result, time-critical corporate management decisions were only rationally substantiated by facts to a limited extent. The missing link between data from the ERP system and the financial perspective from the accounting software illustrates data storage in isolated islands. In addition, the complexity of corporate planning was raised to a new level as a result of the corporate restructuring: while the previous Excel-based planning solution had already reached its limits at a single company, it was now necessary to develop an integrated planning solution for all ARTS Group companies. Likewise, it was not possible to present an adjusted annual financial statement of the ARTS Group (group consolidation).

Slicing and Dicing of the database opens up new reporting possibilities
Slicing & Dicing of the database opens up new possibilities for reporting.

The launch of business intelligence software offered several advantages. The rapid analysis and evaluation of multi-layer data leads to improved responsiveness at the management level. The ability to evaluate data according to different dimensions initially offers the possibility of designing reports according to the needs of the addressees. In addition, the ability to create ad hoc reports within a very short time improves the ability to react to changing conditions.

The decisive advantage of the solution, however, lies in the integration of the existing system landscape and the networking of the various previous systems: by compressing the data, completely new perspectives on the connected database are made possible. Whether margin or contribution margin analysis, or HR key figures - the possibility of viewing data similar to the functionality of a Rubik's Cube from different perspectives (Slicing & Dicing) opens up a holistic all-round view of your own company. By compressing data from different previous systems, the quality of decision-making in management can be increased immensely. Much more: through a central database, the BI system develops into a "single source of truth".

In addition to reporting actual data, a business intelligence solution also offers the advantage of mapping corporate planning by adding a new data type.

Exemplary web interface of the Jedox tool
Exemplary web interface of the Jedox tool.

The implemented solution with the help of web templates enables an efficient planning process and the integration of decentralized sales units without the cumbersome exchange of Excel sheets. Working with Web templates offers several advantages. By using dynamic areas, the entire template remains scalable without the need for manual adjustment. At the same time, you can use a role and user concept to map an efficient workflow within the planning process and thus increase its efficiency.

With the help of web reports, reporting can also be drilled out. For example, you can add combo boxes to ready-made reports. This enables the business user to create analyses and reports independently of the power user ("Self-Service Business Intelligence"). Subsequently, it is possible to automatically send reports through a previously defined workflow.

Design as critical success factor for the implementation

The implementation of a business intelligence tool requires the creation of a strategy or a concept. The extent to which the software is to be rolled out within the company (reporting, consolidation, planning) must be determined. The most detailed possible definition of the requirements prior to implementation (ideally in the form of a requirement specification) is the most important prerequisite for successful implementation.

Far-reaching changes in the defined structure of the system can only be implemented with great effort over the entire database (problem of "slowly changing dimensions"). In this context, it is already necessary to check during the selection phase of the BI tool whether any restrictions exist. ARTS has opted for the BI solution of Jedox AG . An advantage of this solution is the Excel integration of the front-end area, whereby already existing know-how can be used to create reports without extensive IT integration.

ETL routes combine multiple data sources
ETL routes combine several data sources.

The data stored in the data warehouse is first connected to the system via ETL links (extract), converted in several transformation stages (transform) and finally loaded into the database (load). The loaded data is then merged into data cubes. One of the biggest challenges during the implementation was the efficient master data management within the system.

In order to guarantee a high data quality, special ETL routes were created, which already check in a first step whether corresponding master data is stored in the system. If this is not the case, an error message is issued. Poor data quality in particular can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the efficient use of a BI system.

Project organization of the Jedox implementation at ARTS
Project organization of the Jedox implementation at ARTS.

In order to be able to guarantee as constant a project progress as possible, it was decided to adopt a Scrum-like approach to project management. In a regular Jour fixe current development progress was discussed and new goals were defined. The further development took place agilely in short project sprints in close cooperation between ARTS and manaTec GmbH. All development progress was recorded in a self-created BI manual to ensure know-how transfer between the users. Strategic development goals were worked out and prioritized in a steering committee with the management.

Lesson learned: Agile development ensures your project success

Business intelligence has arrived in the innovative middle class. At the beginning of a successful and efficient implementation there is a well thought-out concept. One of the biggest dangers is to implement Business Intelligence for a general purpose. Without a concrete use case and the definition of individual system requirements, the implementation quickly runs into nothing. It is therefore essential that you define concrete scenarios and use cases before implementation.

Another sticking point: business intelligence cannot be implemented "on the fly". Allow sufficient time for initial implementation, development and training of the appropriate user groups. Ideally, you should define milestones in the project plan during the initial implementation and make the further development of the system agile in order to be able to react flexibly to changes within the company and new requirements. This point is important because a lack of change management within the project can quickly develop into a showstopper. Define clear guidelines and goals for changing and new requirements (lean project management: who does what until when?) in order to prevent project delays. It is often only during implementation that it becomes clear that the previous system landscape is inadequately documented.

The coordination and integration of the previous systems can therefore be more difficult than originally assumed. Make sure that you have written documentation of the BI system solutions you have set up so that you can optimize the transfer of knowledge between employees. Small and medium-sized companies in particular benefit from the comparatively high homogeneity of the previous systems. An often underestimated point is the data quality. Ensure efficient master data management from the previous systems right from the start in order to avoid the presentation of faulty evaluations. At the same time, it is important to link the knowledge gained with the BI tool to measures in order to derive maximum benefit from the use of the software.

In order to be able to guarantee a profitable use of the BI software in the company, a high acceptance of the evaluations in the company is a basic requirement. Therefore, pay particular attention when implementing your BI solution:

  • Detailed definition of requirements and areas of application (specifications)

  • Sufficient time frame for initial implementation and user training

  • Documentation of development results as detailed as possible

  • Ongoing change management during the development

  • Efficient master data management

Are you planning to implement a business intelligence solution in your company? Then contact us now and we will be happy to help you!