Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

arcplan Customer BI Best Practices: Spotlight on DFS


We have so many best practice customers to spotlight that it’s hard to keep up! This time I’d like to introduce you to Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (DFS), an air traffic control corporation with 5,600 employees in charge of the safe navigation of about three million flights across German airspace. In addition to managing the control towers of 16 international airports in Germany, DFS is also a global provider of consultancy and training services, and develops, markets, and implements air traffic control, tracking, and navigation systems. It’s for this purpose that DFS implemented arcplan in mid-2009 as a decision-support system for the prioritization of sales projects.

What is DFS doing with arcplan Enterprise that makes their solution one to emulate?

1) Their BI solution answers questions.

It may seem simplistic, but really, isn’t business intelligence, first and foremost, about getting your questions answered? In the case of DFS, their primary question was “How do we proactively and systematically develop the market, rather than wait for potential customers to come to us?” This led to a Market & Competitive Intelligence System (MCIS), created with arcplan Enterprise, where all sales and marketing information is stored. DFS employees can now get the answers to any conceivable question, from “What are the planned investments at this particular airport?” to “How many competitors have installations at this airport?” The answers to these questions help staff to prioritize projects so that the ones with the highest probability of closing are at the top of the list.

2) Their BI comes to them.

You may have heard someone say “sure, your BI does take-out, but does it deliver?” Any BI system can crunch numbers and wait for you to come along and get them (take-out). But not all BI is created equal when it comes to data delivery. DFS’ arcplan solution (in fact, any arcplan solution) allows users to schedule the delivery of reports and dashboards, removing the need to run the application or pull up a URL on your browser. Employees on the go – especially road-warrior sales people – need their BI delivered to them at a certain time. You may want a particular report emailed to you every other day at noon – that’s possible with arcplan, and DFS takes advantage of it.

3) The right KPIs improve decision-making.

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Business Intelligence Dashboard Best Practices


arcplan DashboardDashboards are like snowflakes: I don’t think I’ve ever seen two enterprises with identical dashboard designs. Which isn’t a bad thing. Dashboards should be tailored to your organization’s identity and the way your employees work. We have a client in the auto industry whose dashboards look like the, well, dashboard of a car – full of speedometers and gauges. We have other clients who like to deploy their BI dashboards in SharePoint because that’s where they house all of their corporate information. But the business intelligence dashboards our clients create have a few things in common that I consider best practices:

1) They incorporate data from more than 1 source.

I’m betting that not all of your data sits in the same location. You’ll only get a holistic view of your organization’s performance if you’re integrating data from various sources. Whether it’s ERP + sales data, or marketing data + finance data, or Essbase data + SQL Server data, your dashboards need to support fast, easy integration of your various data sources.

Best practice BI dashboards pull data from internal and external sources (when necessary) to create entirely new views of performance. We have clients integrating data from Standard & Poor’s with their accounts receivable information to match up delinquent clients with their S&P credit rating. We have insurance companies putting claims data on top of Google Maps. And we work with several enterprises that are integrating product revenues from their financial system with customer data. These are examples of mashups – web applications that make existing data more useful – and they’re extremely helpful on performance dashboards, even if only for quarter-long tactical analysis.

2) They provide at-a-glance views of performance.

Dashboards are for busy people who can’t dig deep every day to spot issues. Your dashboard might benefit from incorporating stoplight indicators that tell users if data is entering into dangerous territory without having to drill down. In arcplan, thresholds can be set separately for each KPI – meaning you set when the light shows up green, yellow, and red, giving users a quick visual cue that focuses them on the areas that need attention.

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arcplan Customer BI Best Practices: Spotlight on Hailo-Werk


It’s time to introduce you to another one of our customers’ best practice BI solutions, created of course with arcplan software. Today we’re putting the spotlight on Hailo-Werk, a leading manufacturer or ladders, safety equipment and waste bins that are sold in more than 60 countries around the world to DIY enthusiasts and trade professionals.

What is Hailo doing with arcplan Enterprise that makes their solution one to emulate?

1) Employees have access to company data through a web browser – making it widely available without the need to have specific software installed.

Hailo’s employees in virtually every department, including management, controlling, sales and marketing, have access to the data that helps them make better decisions. Deploying their arcplan solution in a web browser makes it possible for the team to have unprecedented access to information whenever they need it. And it allows the company to easily deploy their arcplan applications on mobile devices in the future.

2) Ad-hoc reporting is easy enough for employees at all levels to do without IT.

Software that’s easy to use is likely to be more widely adopted than software that’s cumbersome to learn and operate. Hailo’s users need to be able to segment their data from Oracle Essbase and IBM DB2 without heavy programming. arcplan’s Web Pivoting (“ad-hoc reporting in a browser”) is fully drag-and-drop enabled, which makes it appropriate for regular business users who need to create reports on the fly – without help from IT. One popular request from Hailo’s users is how well a particular product is selling in a specific region at any point in time; another is what color product sells best to a specific target group. The answers are easy to find with just a few clicks in arcplan, which pulls together financial and sales information on one screen.

3) Employees use their BI system to auto-generate estimates, saving them time and ensuring price accuracy.

Have you ever met a sales person who enjoys putting together estimates? Hailo employees use arcplan Enterprise to do the heavy lifting for them. The system calculates price suggestions based on customer and product codes. If the user decides to accept the suggested price, the system generates an offer letter with the appropriate pictures in MS Word. This fully automated process brings huge time savings and is a non-traditional use of a BI system, but incredibly valuable to Hailo. The use of their arcplan-enabled estimates has also brought an unexpected benefit – it’s now easy to track planned prices vs. actual costs, ensuring that the company is charging enough to make a profit.

For a more in-depth look at why we think Hailo is a best practice customer, check out this case study [PDF] – no registration required.


arcplan Customer BI Best Practices: Spotlight on Delkeskamp


From time to time, we’d like to introduce you to one of our customers’ best practice BI solutions, created of course with arcplan software. Today’s we’re putting the spotlight on Delkeskamp, a German corrugated board manufacturer. Their arcplan-based BI solution integrates data from multiple sources and brings transparency to their production costs — showing them where and when to take action to reduce costs in certain areas. These are 2 best practices any organization implementing business intelligence can benefit from. Okay, maybe we all can’t relate to production costs, but what about cost of sale or cost to obtain a new customer?

Let’s take a look at Delkeskamp’s BI solution.

The Requirements

With more than 30,000 individual production orders per year, managing Delkeskamp’s supply chain depends on an efficient business intelligence system that can process large amounts of data related to those orders and provide management with complete information. Managers need to be able to look at the company’s production by location, product line, supplier, and customer in depth and over time. In addition, the company’s divisions run different ERP systems that need to be integrated by their BI tool. One of those systems also houses financial data, and there’s yet another system that records and stores data from production machines. Having all of that data available for reports and analyses would certainly help the company make more informed decisions, cut costs, and boost efficiency.

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