Zwilling J. A. Henckels was formed as a domestic knife-maker in 1731 and is an instantly recognisable household name. In order to provide a complete solution to its financial, distribution and logistics requirements, the company successfully implemented IBS Enterprise in 1999. Since then, Zwilling J.A. Henckels has seen a lot of change, not least as a result of acquiring the Staub and Demeyere brands in 2008. These acquisitions have allowed the organisation to move into the general kitchenware market, expanding its product portfolio and retail profile.
The Need for Business Intelligence
IBS Enterprise includes a standard report writer, which Henckels used to download data into Microsoft Excel. Sales staff and management used this data to create around 20 different sales quota reports that were required on a monthly and quarterly basis. “This was a long-winded and often tedious process, which took us a minimum of two days to perform 20+ different versions for each report,” says John Barlao, IT Manager at Zwilling J.A. Henckels, who is based at the company’s main US distribution center in Hawthorne, New York. “We wanted something to speed and smooth this process and turned initially to our head office in Germany, which uses SAP. Unfortunately, the Business Intelligence tools they offered us could not be localized for the US market so we needed to identify a system for ourselves.”
As a regular attendee at the IBS Symposium, John Barlao was introduced to IBS’ Performance Manager offering. “The presentations and webinars that I attended for IBS Performance Manager were excellent. The solution to our requirements was right there in front of us and we simply needed to talk in more detail with IBS to work out how to move forward,” he says.
IBS Business Intelligence creates a core repository of reliable, consistent and timely data generated from a pre-configured, centralized data warehouse. This data is ideally suited for reporting, score-carding and other performance management requirements. It is bundled with IBM Cognos 8 BI, IBM iSeries, and IBM DB2, which is supported by an integrated data repository and allows companies to access all its business data wherever it resides. It uses published interfaces across transaction systems, relational and OLAP warehouses as well as flat, legacy and modern sources.
“IBS Performance Manager integrates straight out of the box with IBS Enterprise,” says Barlao, adding, “It was very easy to implement because all the source tables and cubes needed for integration were already pre-defined.” After the final installation and training was carried out, IBS introduced us to Advectas who are specialists in maximizing investment in Business Intelligence.
Business Intelligence Benefits
The first and most significant benefit of introducing IBS Performance Manager tools was the immediate reduction in the time required to produce reports. “Our reports were very complex in terms of their variety and the number of audiences. We used to produce around 20 different reports each month and we quickly reduced this down to four or five. This has instantly saved us several man days each month,” says John Barlao.
In addition to the time saving, the new reports, which are now generated automatically using IBS Performance Manager, are much easier to use and contain even more relevant and up to date information. The system also allows salespeople and managers to easily set up and create their own reports. Peter Jonsson, Product Manager, at Advectas explains, “We set up detailed levels of security so that users could work on the data they required and adapt it into their own specific requirements. This provides them with the information they need to do their job better, making them more productive and more responsive to the market.”
The reports are also available to senior management, who can use the information to help improve business planning and decision making. “We are now able to present senior management with as much detail as they need, in an easy to use and easy to manipulate summary level format,” says Barlao. “This has had a hugely positive impact on the company, because many of the day-to-day questions about order or customer status can now be answered almost instantly and with greater accuracy allowing us to respond with better decisions.”
As Henckels continues to work with IBS Performance Manager, they can see many additional benefits that the system can offer. “We are now working on extending Business Intelligence more into the finance department. The IBS solution is particularly helpful by allowing them to drill deeper into general ledger data to dig out more item specific information to help them identify and resolve discrepancies faster and more accurately. We are also looking to create more detailed and advanced reporting in many other areas of the business to further improve the overall efficiency and profitability of our operations,” says Barlao.
He concludes, “IBS Performance Manager has already generated massive savings in terms of the time needed to deliver the reports and information required by the sales force and management. Accessing, manipulating and reporting key data quickly and accurately is very important to our on-going and continuing success. Thanks to IBS, we have the products and support we need to ensure we can meet these objectives and manage our business with the greatest possible efficiency and productivity.”