The business intelligence (BI) deployment at the Mahindra Group was part of a large, big bang project, Harmony, which was aimed at establishing a common IT platform across the group. The mission of the BI project was two-fold: to enable better decision-making for the users, and provide a consolidated group-wide view to the top management. Project Harmony platform has been, in fact, used as foundation for common BI architecture. Employees from 40-plus Mahindra Group Companies across various functions and many suppliers are using SAP business warehouse (BW) as the de-facto reporting and analysis tool.
“The BI project was recognized for the rigor followed right from conceptualization to system implementation through to the phased roll-out approach planned across the group. Through this implementation, we have been able to provide users with a single point of entry to information, provided an improved end-user experience and facilitated improved knowledge sharing and best practices across the group,” says V S Parthasarathy, Group CIO, EVP-Finance & Accounts, M&A, Member of Group Executive Board.
Desideratum of the BI project:
The team narrowed down KPIs and their performance measures for three functions: financial, human capital and operations along-with the need for insightful drilldown required for each business function. The common business intelligence architecture catered to following business needs -
- Establish single version of truth across Mahindra Group
- Improve users’ ability to make speedy, insightful decisions
- Provide users with a single point of access to information
- Improve end-user experience with easy-to-use solution with rich functionalities such as drill-downs, graphs, easy navigation
- Facilitate knowledge-sharing and best practices implementation
- Foster the ‘analytics’ culture
Mahindra and Mahindra deployed analytics solution using SAP Business Objects which pulled relevant data from the SAP BW deployment:
ormation and analytics: Number of days and team members working on creating BI reports was large. Prior to SAP BW, Excel and PowerPoint were used predominantly as the reporting tools. These required considerable information consolidation and processing efforts.
On-time visibility of information and analytics: Accurate information compilation across different Mahindra business units and locations was time-consuming. Details about best procurement rates, inputs for vendor negotiation for procurement teams across the Group were not available. Simultaneous view and analysis of production data, inventory figures and sales data were not available.
BI capabilities of small business units, new acquisitions of Mahindra Group: Newly acquired businesses of the Group and small business units used to spend lot of time and efforts adopting to the SAP BW implementation and developing BI capabilities.
Methodologia of the BI project:
Mahindra and Mahindra first undertook the task of defining the enterprise business analytics strategy and followed the ensuing methodology:
At the first step was built a common analytics platform for integrated intelligence. Here the information requirements were divided in three broad categories:
- Information Insight: Summary view of key indicators driving business operations (the what part)
- Information Investigation: Guided analysis by providing data against the key indicator performance (why of the what)
- Information Analysis: Detailed view through Ad-hoc Analysis
It also included identification of the right tools to suit above purpose and the qualification of right target audience to get access to this information.
As the next step, a proper sizing exercise to procure adequate hardware was conducted. It also entailed drawing up the BI architecture and landscape. High level architecture was built on a three-tiered BI landscape, which comprised deploying the test, development, and production environment.
The BI project involved meeting with individual business units to confirm the BI metric framework, understand the visualization design pattern and to access the data design patterns. This entire exercise was carried out with individual business units by the IT department as a part of an eight-week BI Strategy Workshop which consisted of:
Week 1-2: Current state analysis
Week 3-5: Envisioning and metric framework
Week 6-7: Gap analysis and alignment
Week 8: Deployment plan
Based on the interaction with the senior management across the Group, a diagnostic reporting frame work was adopted.
Governance and training
The user authorizations were built in using a mix of Master Role and Derived Role structure. This structure provides adequate authorization to the person working with the information. The entire authorizations were controlled through SAP GRC module by the business users themselves.
Training sessions were planned for the trainers (BI coordinators/ business unit nominees), group executive board, the “C Level” executives at Bus, and lastly the business analysts.
The BI project has impacted organizational analytics processes in a positive way. Major benefits can be seen in terms of building strategic capabilities for information and analytics availability, process and productivity improvement.
Also, the deployment has resulted in reduced reconciliations and better management of the billing process leading to quicker payment. Moreover, analysis of sales data has helped reduce the lost sales revenue due to delays in order fulfillment. Timely reports are now available in minutes rather than a week. Different vendors supply commodities at different Mahindra plants and with different payment terms. The difference in supply rates was understood through detailed analysis, which helped the sourcing team. This SAP BW project provides inputs for vendor negotiations for various material categories, yielding substantial savings to our Group companies.
Significantly, the biggest beneficiaries of this implementation are smaller business units and new acquisitions of Mahindra Group - who on their own would not have been able to opt for the entire range of solutions. BI Joining Kit consisting of Finance, HR, Operations related dashboard and main reports has enabled their decision support right up to the field level.
This was first published in December 2011