Using BI to improve visibility

Harboro Rubber is a UK-based rubber part manufacturing company that relies on the automotive industry for around half its business. Following a bumper financial year ending in 2008, the company has been hard hit by the steep fall in vehicle sales in the past 12 months.“We’ve had a huge crunch in terms of orders,” says CEO James Briggs.

Fortunately for Briggs, that crunch has coincided with the deployment of QlikView, the in-memory BI tool from QlikTech.

Having previously relied on reports that were time consuming to produce, the QlikView deployment has, according to Briggs, improved immeasurably the speed with which he can find management information and therefore react to challenging conditions.

“To do a recosting last year took me all of my spare time for a month, to collect and analyse all the reports,” says Briggs. “This year, with QlikView, it took me 25 minutes.”

But the QlikView deployment has also made available some vital information that was previously impossible to find using the legacy reporting system. This is made all the more impressive given Harboro’s database infrastructure: “We use a very rare system called SQLBase; I couldn’t even get Crystal Reports to run on it,” he explains. But the QlikTech reseller that approached Harboro “had hooked into the database within 15 minutes, and had produced a margin analysis within an hour.”

Key analyses, enabled by QlikView, have helped Harboro withstand its adverse conditions, include calculating what it stands to lose should a customer fold or defect.

“Our liability associated with a given customer is not just what that customer owes us, but also the stock that we have ordered in for them and what work there is on the shop floor. We created a report in about an hour that revealed the current stock, current work orders, current material orders and unpaid invoices, and therefore the total exposure for each customer.”

The margin analysis, meanwhile, has revealed which products are underpriced and which should be manufactured in a more efficient way. That information has helped in executing an efficiency drive that, according to Briggs, has improved efficiency overall by 20%.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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