Fuelquip finds small business benefits from BI

Software enables the company to identify inefficiencies in its processes and to use its resources more productively, says project manager

Fuel industry support organisation Fuelquip has quickly realised benefits from installing a business intelligence system, demonstrating that BI is no longer just a tool for major corporations.

Fuelquip purchased the Business Objects Crystal Decisions software in March and project manager Steve Scott says it has already enabled the company to identify inefficiencies in its processes and to use its resources more productively.

Fuelquip maintains the equipment in petrol stations, from pumps to car-washes. Moving from a paper-based system to a workforce automation tool provided by AccPac last year, it could immediately get information on the progress of a job, entered in real time found by the worker. This brought more timely information, but the company found itself with a wealth of data and lacking the facilities to analyse and make use of accumulated statistics over time.

“We realised with the right tool we could use this data to figure out what we were doing well and what not so well,” Scott says. It could also identify where too much money and effort was being spent servicing customers for too little payback.

Crystal Decisions was the tool chosen and it quickly began proving its value.

“When we got the workflow data, one of the things we didn’t understand was why there were suddenly a lot of non-productive kilometres of travel,” says Scott. This hadn’t registered on the paper record.

The Business Objects analysis showed there were a lot of trips of unnecessary length, where someone would do two jobs in close proximity, but return to the depot in between. Because this was unproductive time, it was easy to forget to enter it on their record when they wrote it up hours or days later. The workflow system turned it up and the Business Objects BI system uncovered the cause and allowed jobs to be scheduled in advance to remove the unproductive travel.

Business Objects Australia-New Zealand managing director Rob Wells says small-medium companies such as Fuelquip, with 230 staff in New Zealand, and its parent ECL Group can now justify BI spending.

Staff at the company no longer have to come in to the depot every morning to pick up their jobs for the day. These are sent out to tablet PCs carried with them. The job is tracked as it is done, with part numbers being scanned into the tablet as parts are used.

Performance statistics nationwide are matched against each other by the staff who used to churn out paper reports. They quickly identify anomalies and drill down in the BI system to identify their cause.

There was a certain amount of resistance from staff initially, “a suspicion of Big Brother checking up on them”, says Scott, but they soon realised there were significant advantages in becoming more efficient and not having to fill in laborious paper reports. The interface to Crystal Decisions is designed to be easy to operate and allow front-line staff to examine their own performance.

The tool will also allow a worker to check the history of equipment at a site about to be visited, to see whether any other equipment there might be worth examining in advance.

Business Objects enters contested EPM world, mulls BI 2.0

Business intelligence specialist Business Objects is moving into the enterprise performance management (EPM) space with the release of a suite of applications called EPM XI.

EPM extends the concept of business intelligence beyond recording and analysing people performance into the mainstream finance side of an organisation’s affairs.

EPM XI is based on a core data repository that serves budgeting and planning, profitability and financial consolidation, as well as including traditional BI elements, says Business Objects Australia-NZ managing director Rob Wells. The suite will expand Business Objects’ market space in New Zealand and Australia, he says.

Centralisation of information, he says, ensures there is “one version of the truth” that everyone can work with.

EPM-XI draws on capability from Cartesis, acquired earlier this year in a $US300 million (NZ$408 million) deal.

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Tags business intelligencebibusiness objectsfuelquip

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