„All data is available in an ERP system, somewhere and in different tables. But if you need meaningful reports, you have to hire someone to program this.“
Ronny Richter, Head of IT at PREBENA
Founded 60 years ago in Schotten, Hesse, PREBENA Wilfried Bornemann GmbH & Co. KG has developed into a leading company in the fastening industry with an extensive product range of pneumatic nailers, compressors and magazine-loaded fasteners. To this day, Schotten is the main production site, where all technical innovations in compressed air equipment and production facilities for the manufacture of staples, magazine-loaded nails and screws are also designed in-house.
From its large product portfolio, the company supplies a wide variety of specialist trade sectors and branches of industry, from large-scale industry and professional craft businesses to dedicated hobby home handymen. PREBENA products are sold in over 60 countries worldwide and fastener production facilities now manufacture in a wide variety of factories around the world. The company's own production facilities also ensure a global presence. Service and sales are guaranteed by over 30 international sales companies.
PREBENA has been using the ERP standard Microsoft Dynamics NAV since 2003 and has been receiving advice from the experts of the COSMO CONSULT Group since then. Ronny Richter, Head of IT, emphatically emphasizes how satisfied he is with the ERP system and the IT partner, but still sees a deficit: "All data is available in an ERP system, somewhere and in different tables. But if you need meaningful reports, you have to hire someone to program that."
Thus, it has always been difficult for his department to present data in a comparative or multidimensional way, because the standard reports in the ERP system do not provide this information without customization, for example, to compare sales per month or year per customer and item. "We used to do this with Microsoft Excel and Power Pivot, but again, you're very limited," Richter laments. Updating the data and accessing the Microsoft Power Pivot data structure was only done by the IT department, which had the relevant expertise. A solution was therefore urgently sought.
"I had had my eye on Microsoft Power BI for some time," admits the IT manager. Two appointments were therefore arranged with the long-standing IT partner. At the first appointment, the COSMO CONSULT product cc|bi dynamics was presented, a Power BI tool that contains many dashboards preconfigured by COSMO CONSULT specifically for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and other data sources such as CRM, and also enables consolidation of data from additional systems and heterogeneous data sources. "These preconfigured dashboards not only refer to sales comparisons to the previous year, for example, but also to the presentation of contribution margins to customers, one can filter sales down to areas or product groups, as well as perform item analyses. There are a lot of key figures that the sales department needs and that we could otherwise only create with a lot of effort," the IT manager specifies the possibilities of cc|bi dynamics.
The second appointment was then already a so-called SIB(Seeing-Is-Believing) workshop, where the system could be extensively tested with PREBENA's own real data. "Everything was very well prepared by COSMO CONSULT, so that we could immediately connect our own database from Dynamics NAV and start after minor changes in the interface and adjustments to the security roles," recalls Richter, adding, "Actually, that was already the implementation phase. We were able to use the program fully without delay."
Last but not least, the decision criteria also included the platform independence of the BI software. "Regardless of whether it's on an iPad, an Android device, or in a browser on a PC, the sales department can get to its data anywhere, even on the go," Richter explains. He also counts the self-service BI options among the highlights: "Colleagues in the IT department can create their own Power BI dashboards," says Richter. If there is a specific requirement, they sit down with the IT department to define the concrete goal. After a final critical review, the IT team implements the developed plans.
While there used to be a dashboard for each individual client for sales, the IT department defined a new dashboard for management with total group sales, comparative figures and the new geo-analysis. A few new dashboards have also been created in the production or purchasing areas. "With Microsoft Power BI, we have completely different options for visualizing data, and there are no limits to our creativity," says Richter. Whereas previously requests from sales for figures from specific areas always had to be analyzed and answered individually and anew, today every sales employee can independently access daily updated figures from anywhere, whether from prefabricated dashboards or from company-specific, self-created dashboards. A significant time saving for the IT department.
For Ronny Richter, one of the major advantages of cc|bi dynamics is the extremely short implementation time, including company-specific adjustments. "Many analyses are immediately available in validated form, practically at the push of a button," says Richter. The dashboards prefabricated by COSMO CONSULT in cc|bi dynamics are available for many departments such as sales, purchasing, financial accounting and controlling, warehousing and logistics, or production and manufacturing. "We started with sales because sales analysis was the most important topic for us. In the foreseeable future, we will then deal with financial analysis, naturally together with our partner COSMO CONSULT, who had prepared this project so well and whom we have known since 2003 to listen to us and whose reliability we have always appreciated," Richter gives another concluding overview of the BI project.