“I don’t have to worry about data management because with ZAP Data Hub it’s rock solid and trusted. Which means you can focus your mind on other stuff without having to constantly worry about ‘is this data correct?’”
|Requirements:||To replace a database that habitually crashed overnight and whose reporting was not up to scratch, which was resulting in different people extracting different info and ending up with different pictures of the business.|
|Data Sources:||TargIT, Dynamics NAV, in-house SQL database, Power BI|
Smiffy’s is a long-established fancy dress company, founded in 1894, the oldest and largest family-owned fancy dress company in the world. The fun element of the offering masks a complex business with over 7,000 products in its portfolio. Its 5,000 customers are spread across 40 countries and it employs 200 people. Keeping this enterprise reliable for next-day delivery and fully compliant is no small task.
Chris Smith, business analyst at Smiffy’s, returned to the company for his second stint after moving back to the UK, to find that not a lot had changed – and in the IT world that was bad news.
Smith began his second stint at the business four years ago and found that its business intelligence implementation was in roughly the same state as it had been when he left it 3-4 years previously. It was using a Danish BI tool called TargIT and a core ERP of Microsoft Dynamics NAV “The team were having to rely on getting reports out of Dynamics NAV and hooking directly up into the NAV database, which causes problems in itself with accuracy. You just don't get the same version of the truth when you've got two or three different people having to constantly go into the NAV database.”
One step he had taken during his first sojourn was to get his in-house experts to build a bespoke database. This consisted mostly of customer, items and invoices so there were none of the data warehousing functionality from which a company of that size would benefit. He wanted to ramp up the efficiency on reporting and how to present data.
“To reinvent our data management and analytics, I had to submit two offers to the board. Either to go ahead with automation software like ZAP Data Hub, or to build a data warehouse from scratch using sequel developers. We went ahead with ZAP and we’ve never looked back.
If we’d built a SQL database ourselves, who was going to maintain it? Would we have to go on SQL courses? So choosing ZAP Data Hub instead was an obvious decision really, and a viable alternative.“
As with a number of ZAP Data Hub users, commercial and organisational change – in this case Covid-19 - became a driver. The ability to report extensively when people are not physically in the business was an important element, but not the only one. The sheer speed of reporting was an improvement, says Smith: “We became able to create reports within hours instead of days or even weeks,” he said. “It’s critical – if you’re taking a week to produce a report it’s probably out of date by the time you have it.”
“With ZAP Data Hub, our management and teams can get any bits of data within the business at the drop of a hat. We were able to create reports within hours instead of days or weeks. That’s critical, isn’t it? Having access to an up-to-the minute and trusted source of data, across all areas of the business, has been a godsend really to us.”
“Implementation was seamless, he confirms, and he was immediately certain of the integrity of the company’s data. “We could have built our own, maybe gone on SQL courses, but that would have taken ages – and anyway, everyone at ZAP is so easy to deal with.”
The other major step forward has been how tailorable the data has become, and there is more to work on as yet. “How one person and another interpret data is probably completely different, so we’re working on that now.” All of the data coming from the same version of the truth has been a game-changer for Smiffys.
- Clarity on whether data is accurate or not. This in turn saves time in meetings as people don’t hold them up to ask where data came from.
- Time saved: reports that would previously have taken weeks to prepare now emerge from the system within hours
- Integration with other data sources