Vinod Pandey , Head IT , GHCL Limited (Chemicals)

Business Information Dashboard requirement is growing every year by multiple folds among businesses. To deal with this, SAP provides a suitable software package called BusinessObjects and Business Intelligence which works great for businesses, if implemented accurately and effectively. In discrete manufacturing scenario, things are not simple as processes may turn lengthy and complex. Data is also huge, technically complex, and, therefore, fulfilling the requirement on Business Intelligence and Analytics is challenging.

Key Areas

  • Preparation by identifying the information sources versus data on Dashboard
  • Machine data transformation to data warehouse
  • Layout finalization for key data pertaining to technical areas/machine performance
  • Adoption of new technologies like IoT, Mobility, etc., for capturing data from machines/sensors/etc.
  • Setting up user base to increase the usability of data by training and one-to-one discussion
  • Regular follow up with users for their feedback and inputs

The Preparation

Industries and businesses in the manufacturing segment looking for Analytics can take advantage from software like SAP BusinessObjects and Business Intelligence with thorough planning. Jotting down all key points and keeping your team updated with long-term vision is the key to success. Analytics projects are focused on the requirement from top management and key users of businesses.

The key points to be taken care of for accurate estimation of total requirement and work to be done are:

  • Understanding the user's day-to-day working style and the type of information they use.
  • In what way the key user receives the required information, i.e., through system-generated reports, excel files through emails, manual updates, etc.
  • Prepare a list of these KPIs user-wise, collecting real-time sample data along with it.
  • At this point, the project team can easily understand the ocean of information which will be a larger scope of their project on Analytics.

Requirement Gathering and Discussions

This second step would give a clear idea on total scope of work for the entire project. Once we understand the key-user/HOD/top-management user's day-to-day working style, it is time to narrow down onto KPIs which need to be captured on Analytical Dashboards.

In manufacturing, often, it is difficult to collect and decide on presentation of a few KPIs as the data might be coming from sources which may not be connected to the ERP system. In such a scenario, different methods should be worked out to fetch data into ERP or BI system. This is where most people get stuck and sometimes try to exclude such KPIs from information Dashboard. One long-term solution could be mapping those processes in ERP through customizations or using an interface tool. Thorough discussions with users are useful to filter out unnecessary data from Dashboards and finalize the scope of Dashboard development. Based on the discussions, a mock can be prepared for the Dashboard. This mock must be discussed in detail with the concerned user for sign-off, and thereafter it can be considered for development. Here, it is important for the top management to have discussions with HODs on KPIs and top management's wish list must be considered as project milestone.

Team Formation and Consultants

It is necessary for each and every project team member including freshers to have a clear understanding of business processes. This will enable them to quickly understand the data and contribute to designing a meaningful information Dashboard. External consultants and subject matter experts are required to shape up the project and freeze timelines. Today there are many Analytical software and consulting firms available in the market. Best would be to select consultants who work on the technology which you are about to implement. Beware of false commitments from over-confident consulting firms. A detailed project timeline must be discussed with the consultant along with the mock copy of all the Dashboards.

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