Maxiprest Implements Information Management System With BiPS

Maxiprest Tyres, a leading player in the tyre and retreading industry in South Africa, is presently concluding organisational reengineering.

To improve the identification of key business performance issues it has, with the assistance of BI Planning Services (BIPS), initiated the development of an information management system which will form the foundation of a fully fledged business intelligence system.

Explains Peter van Boeckel, IT manager at Maxiprest Tyres: "Maxiprest employs over 2 000 people in a national and regional network of 16 retreading operations and 75 service centres. We rely on an ERP system that was developed in-house and, with only a financial reporting system in place, we needed a solution that would provide us access to information that would assist us to strengthen sales and marketing, and fix operational fundamentals."

Maxiprest initially investigated the purchase of a data warehouse in 2004 but shelved the idea after being quoted astronomical prices. At the time, the company was undergoing some structural change leading to a delisting in late 2005. In February 2006, BI Planning Services undertook to implement a data warehouse for Maxiprest in practical segments, starting with sales.

Says Jan Theron of BIPS: "Maxiprest needed to find a way to isolate information that would highlight business performance issues, identify opportunities for growth and help the company attain greater operational efficiencies. We designed a data warehouse using an SQL database populated with information from the company's existing Oracle database. Server upgrades ensured the system could handle the new reporting requirements and the existing Cognos 7.3 application was upgraded to Cognos 8, which was used as the front-end reporting tool."

The data warehouse was designed within four months and by August 2006, after lengthy consultation with all levels of business, basic reports were designed. Notes Van Boeckel: "Buy in from business is critical if the information management system is to be a success. These reports represent about 15% of the information we believe we can obtain from our data."

A business analyst spent five months carefully canvassing user requirements. The necessary information was mapped, approved at management level and 15 basic reports were built by Maxiprest's IT division. The reports vary in complexity depending on the user levels they are designed for - ie, management, regional branches and individual branches.

"Standard reports contain basic information such as daily sales versus budgets, while management reports will look at a broader spectrum of variables. We are now looking at refining the reports further," says Van Boeckel.

He believes the organisation is now in a user acceptance phase. "As we go further into the business re-engineering process, different focal areas will require new reports and new sources of data will need to be identified for cleansing and extraction into the data warehouse. We are satisfied that the data warehouse is flexible enough to accommodate our needs and, as users become familiar with the system, we will enable ad hoc reporting."

"Business intelligence is becoming ever more essential to doing business properly," he emphasises. "Physical application of the principles will proceed as the organisation matures. BIPS has given us a value for money solution, helping us translate our information into a powerful business tool. They had the right resources and responded quickly and accurately to meet our needs. We are confident that the information management system we now have will form a strong foundation for a fully fledged BI solution for Maxiprest.