The challenge with most ERP and enterprise systems is that they don’t include flexible reporting capabilities. They offer limited ad-hoc reporting at best and these custom reports can’t be scheduled, nor run on demand. As a result, business managers are stuck with legacy reports which provide minimal insight into all areas of the business.
Organizations logically turn to more robust solutions to handle their reporting and analysis needs. However, if they select a BI tool that doesn’t balance ease-of-use with the required functionality, these organizations are left with three approaches to support management reporting:
- Hire a consultant programmer to write custom reports. Trying to develop detailed reports using SQL to pull information from multiple locations and datasources requires employing someone with that expertise. At $200-300/hr., this is an expensive proposition because it’s time consuming to fully define use-case scenarios to get each report right. The bigger problem with this approach is, custom reports don’t offer the flexibility for users to make necessary changes to support management requests.
- Have in-house staff compile information manually for reporting purposes. For example, they would run a report for each warehouse to extract the necessary information, then they manually transfer each of those reports into a spreadsheet and somehow pull together the information to create a consolidated view. This is very time consuming and prone to errors.
- The third approach is really not a solution at all because, in this case, organizations just live without the reporting capabilities.
From a business perspective, upper-level managers often prefer to see summary information versus the details. Data aggregation is often used to project future trends and plot changes over time. Informer 5’s Aggregate functions enable you to quickly and easily summarize data from within Informer Datasets to return single values that provide more significant meaning. These functions are often used to perform calculations on a single column that could include millions of rows of data.
According to Jesse Owsley, a Project Manager at SMC Electric, a manufacturing and distribution company, “It was a breeze to query on products in multiple warehouses, sum the quantities on hand, report the average of all the average costs and also select the most recent invoice date from multiple records.”
Jesse provided three real business case examples.
Business case 1:
The VP wanted to decide whether SMC should start stocking non-stocked (special-order) products in order to provide greater customer service and reduce costs. He wanted a daily report that looked across their 12 warehouses with a 6-month view to see how many invoices included non-stocked products and the quantity sold. SMC had 50,000 stocked parts in their inventory file and one million items listed in their catalog. He contacted Jesse, who used Informer 5’s Aggregate Fields and Criteria Filtering capability, to report on the number of special-order items they were selling across all their warehouses.
Before purchasing Informer 5, SMC did this reporting manually – taking 400 hours/year
(10 minutes x 12 locations x 200 days/year). It took another 100 hours/year to gather and pull into their ERP system, all the information on non-stocked products that they wanted to stock. In total, SMC saved 500 hours a year while increasing accuracy thanks to Informer 5’s Aggregate Fields and Criteria Filtering capability.
Business case 2:
The manager said, I want to know, by vendor and vendor type:
• The total quantity of products by warehouse
• The average cost of all these products
• The last time we sold these products
This entailed determining the stock status by vendor, including where the product was located and where it was staged. Informer 5’s Aggregate feature made it easy to quickly pull all this information into a report for analysis and make changes to the criteria.
Business case 3:
The director was considering establishing a VMI (Vendor Managed Inventory) agreement with a vendor. To determine the viability of this business opportunity, he wanted a daily vendor report that showed:
• Every item sold from each of their 12 locations. He did not want to see each separate invoice line. Instead, he wanted to see each product number consolidated as well as an aggregate of the number of times it was sold in a day and the aggregate quantity.
Informer 5’s Aggregate Field feature enabled Jesse to quickly and easily get the number of transactions the product was sold on as well as the aggregate quantity sold.
Informer 5 balances ease-of-use with solid functionality to make reporting and analysis straightforward and enjoyable. Sometimes managers don’t know exactly the information they want, however with Aggregate Fields and your entire curated Dataset at your fingertips, you can quickly slice and dice the data for all sorts of views. Simply select the field-column of interest and then select from the drop-down list for how you want it aggregated, and you’ve got your answer.