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In the first post of this blog series on my experiences of working with Power BI, I wanted to share a real-life story of a customer in the manufacturing sector.

Introducing the BI bottleneck

We recently worked with a customer that manufactures plastic products. They had difficulty monitoring their labour utilisation and wanted to improve their reporting in this area.

To stay competitive and innovative, the company undertook an initiative to better serve its business users by improving its BI. Using Power BI, they were able to eliminate a bottleneck in the finance department.

The company chose to implement Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. Part of the reason they selected this solution was because of the excellent reporting capabilities provided by the Microsoft platform.

Disparate data was causing production delays, prone to manual errors and lack of real-time information

Previously, the finance department had to manage multiple data extracts from several systems and then manually create excel reports.

This was a strenuous and onerous task for the team which involved manual manipulation of the data. The amount of time required to pull the report together meant that the service team struggled to have timely access to this key management information.

The knock-on effect of this was that workload was not been efficiently balanced, resulting in delays to production. The manual element of this task also meant that the report was prone to error.

Performing the task in Excel meant they were missing the capabilities to transform and merge data easily from multiple sources in a trusted and repeatable way. Therefore, they could provide only a fraction of the data that users needed.impact of disparate systems

Key managers didn’t trust the reports as various Excel workbooks had different interpretations of the same data and it was difficult to find the most up-to-date version. This led to unproductive and time-consuming report creation and challenges around local variations of report.

Keeping track of report alterations and making sure users were working with current data was nearly impossible.

The solution…

They approached Columbus for assistance in building a solution to address this key business issue.

After some quick analysis of the task at hand by our Technical Solutions Architect Martyn Bostock, we designed a solution using the features of Power BI to ingest data into a standardized model. I spent a day working with the provided requirement and we consolidated the data into the common data service.

Once that was done, the task of creating the labour utilisation report was very simple.

Microsoft Power BI gives the service team unprecedented insight into their resources, how they’re allocated and how that affects planned jobs. This report refreshes eight times a day so they have access to real-time information on the utilisation of their employees.

They now use detailed dashboards and customisable reports in Power BI to better understand the data behind resource allocation.

Benefits of BI for manufacturingPhoto by NESA by Makers

What the solution helped achieve

Just creating this single report saved them 15 hours each month and there are other reports due to be built in the pipeline. If one report saved them 15 hours each month, you can only imagine how much time the finance team will be saving once we are done with the other reports.

Following a two-day training session, they plan to use the same data model to securely enable self-service reporting for the wider business. The finance team can now concentrate on their daily task without intrusion from people asking them to build the labour utilisation report.

Discover the power of real-time analytics with Power BI

If you have similar problems and you’d like to know how Columbus could help you with your analytics needs, reach out to us today.

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