Noble Foods lay foundations for enterprise-wide Business Intelligence system
Noble Foods is the UK's largest supplier of eggs and egg products, supplying over 72 million eggs weekly to the country's major retailers. They also market their own leading brands, The Happy Egg Co, Eggs for Soldiers and Big and Fresh, supply egg products to the food manufacturing sector, own two dessert brands – Gü Puds and Didier’s Patisserie – and are specialist poultry processors and feed manufacturers.
A commitment to innovation and to providing insight to key customers for product and market development prompted demand for enhanced reporting throughout Noble Foods’ business. The ultimate objective is an agile enterprise-wide Business Intelligence (BI) system that will bring together information from a range of data sources and deliver it to key decision makers in a readily accessible format.
change++ were appointed to work with Noble Foods and asked to propose the most appropriate solution to deliver BI that will keep pace with fast-changing information needs and support the current business focus.
change++ recommended the IBM Cognos BI suite of tools as it delivers the flexible BI reporting and analysis capability Noble Foods require via a user-friendly interface. Comprehensive and flexible reporting for all users is a prerequisite but it is also important for certain user groups to be able to create their own reports and use PowerCubes for data analysis.
As Noble Foods have recently embarked on an ERP implementation programme centred on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution, the majority of the data for reporting will be sourced from that platform although historical sales data not likely to be made available in NAV will be stored in a new Microsoft SQL Server reporting database. It was agreed that the BI project be phased with Phase 1 being the development of a sales reporting system for the Shell Egg Division. A cube to provide key sales values and volumes information for analysis users is supplemented by a package giving direct access to the Microsoft NAV database for ad-hoc, real-time operational reporting. Dashboard screens feature summary and exception reports and enable users to drill through to more detailed flexible reports. It was acknowledged early that aspects of the system’s design would benefit from feedback from key information users so change++ advised that user groups be consulted after the first cubes had been developed to:
- Agree cube dimensions, hierarchies and measures
- Suggest reports for the dashboard
- Confirm what was needed in the standard reports
Says change++ Managing Director, Della Payne, “Getting users involved in development at an early stage not only helps to make sure all reporting requirements are clearly defined but also helps with ‘buy-in’ to the new system as everyone using it will have been able to influence the elements that most benefit their day-to-day activities.”
Noble Foods BI Development and Support Manager, David Griffiths, is the driving force behind the project within the organisation, co-ordinating the requirements of different user groups and matching those to the business’s strategic objectives. Says Griffiths, “A project of this size and scope needs to be managed with some sensitivity to competing demands. We had originally planned to focus purely on Shell Egg Sales in Phase 1 but are now developing a sales system for the Egg Products Division in parallel. Both divisions can already see the benefits offered by such powerful reporting.”
On completion of the corporate BI project Noble Foods will have a reporting system to meet the needs of a multi-divisional, fast moving, innovative food business. All the key BI requirements: flexible, ad hoc access to data, multi-dimensional analysis, self-service reporting and – above all, a single version of the truth, will significantly enhance decision-making and the ability to evaluate new opportunities within the organization. For example, a cube that monitors egg packaging usage and costs means the business can immediately respond to changes and protect margins while other cubes can highlight where sales of certain products might be improved.
Griffiths is impressed with the implementation of the IBM Cognos solution to date, “The change++ team have been very helpful in pulling this project together, are always available to answer queries and have excellent knowledge of the IBM Cognos toolset. It’s good to have such a skilled team to work with and we’re looking forward to their support as we roll the project out.”