Nampak, the world’s most diverse packaging organisation, has implemented a solution from MicroStrategy to convert corporate strategy into operational outputs.

“The alignment of strategy and performance is, ultimately, a people issue,” says Nampak business systems manager responsible for business intelligence, Andrew Brown. “But you can’t persuade people to change the way they do things without giving them rational information about why the change is necessary. MicroStrategy exposes information you didn’t have before and it presents the data you’ve always had access to in a context that is relevant to the objectives of your business.

“So, as a change management enabler, it’s almost impossible to beat.”

Nampak chose to go with a version of MicroStrategy that was pre-packaged with the JD Edwards enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution being implemented by the company in 2002 – in order to extend and deepen the analytical and reporting capabilities of the ERP system and ensure maximum integration between the ERP and BI systems.

In moving to a BI system, Nampaks’ business priority was to implement a management information tool that would give managers insight into key performance indicators. “That meant enabling them to see trends in their operational information so that they could spot gaps and inconsistencies along with opportunities in the data – and then drill down into the data to find reasons and remedies,” Brown says.

“Also, we wanted to standardise key performance indicators across the entire enterprise to enable consistent reporting across divisions and, thereby, ensure a single version of the Nampak truth.”

But, with 19 divisions and multiple business processes from which to gather data as well as more than 1 000 users at over 100 sites to whom to supply analytical and reporting capabilities, Nampak was looking for something different.

“We needed a solution with exceptional robustness and scalability,” Brown says. “And, we were looking for a BI solution pre-packaged for JD Edwards. There are only a couple of products that claim to meet all those requirements, so we didn’t have far to look.”

According to Brown, although implementation of the full MicroStrategy solution is not complete and enterprise-wide benefits therefore cannot yet be fully measured, Nampak is already seeing a number of critical strategic and operational benefits.

“Management has far greater visibility of data, enabling better decision-making.  Managers can spend more time analysing rather than trying to find and compile data. As a result, operational issues that were invisible before can now be found easily and addressed quickly.

“Also, because of the cross-process reporting that MicroStrategy enables, we’re finding trends in data that we’d never have picked up before.

“And, being able to establish a common set of KPIs has created a common language across the divisions, which makes the promotion and achievement of corporate goals easier."

The MicroStrategy roll-out was timed to coincide with the JD Edwards implementation – with divisions being brought on to MicroStrategy one at a time. By mid-2006, 15 divisions had gone live. The last four will be live by March 2007.

MicroStrategy South Africa’s country manager, Sean Wainer, says that Nampak’s implementation of MicroStrategy constitutes a world class, point-perfect approach to industrial-strength BI. “The Ralph Kimball methodology applied by Nampak is best practice and Nampak has been faithful to both the letter and the spirit of the BI principles contained in it.

“The MicroStrategy international consultant we brought in to help Nampak validate their implementation therefore gave it not one, but two thumbs up. It’s a good example to follow for any organisation wanting to apply BI in a similarly complex, demanding environment.”

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