Labatt pours data into holistic management system

Labatt Breweries of Canada is now serving its sales and marketing personnel the same information by moving to corporate performance management software from Cognos Inc.

Labatt

used to divide its data by territory, making it difficult to gain a holistic view of the beer company’s performance. Over the last year, Labatt has deployed corporate performance management (CPM) throughout its organization, creating a single view that can be shared across the enterprise.

“From an efficiency perspective, it’s a huge change. People aren’t looking off into five or 10 different reports. It’s all under one house,” said Mike Ali, change management and enterprise business intelligence manager at Labatt.

Labatt’s IT infrastructure consisted of 11 different systems and 76 transaction sets. Data came from various sources such as HR, ERP and CRM software, as well as external reporting from partners like The Beer Store.

“A lot of these reports had grown regionally and functionally, so you couldn’t compare apples to apples,” said Meg Dussault, director of CPM market strategy for Cognos. “It was that old scenario that when you go into a meeting, you spend the lion’s share of the time talking about where the numbers came from instead of what you’re going to do about those numbers.”

The CPM tool is designed to link various data sources and provide a common framework through which to generate reports. CPM is a mixture of business intelligence analysis tools, as well as scorecard and predictive elements.

“People didn’t want just where they’d come from, but they wanted a snapshot of how they were tracking right now. As well as an understanding of what the future should be with things like their plans for production, revenue, headcount, etc.,” said Dussault.

Labatt first employed consulting and systems integration group BearingPoint Inc., which in turn selected Cognos to be the software provider. BearingPoint and Cognos began to build out the system for Labatt in January 2004 and deployed Release 1 in September.

Jeff Bowman, managing director of BearingPoint’s middle market consulting group, said that the company initially provided teams of about six people to serve on the integration project, then scaled back to about two.

“The bulk of the benefit is coming through improved marketing and sales capability,” said Bowman. “They’ve got about 300 sales people. What this solution allows them to do is start at a national level and identify which of their brands, territories (and) outlets are increasing (or) decreasing in market share versus their competitors, versus a year ago.”

With such a dramatic change in data keeping and analysis, Labatt wanted to make sure it was well received by staff.

“You’ve got stronger technical users and weaker technical users,” said Ali. “What we’ve tried to do is make it as simple as possible and very intuitive. By doing that, we’ve been able to get it out in from of them. What are the 10 magic clicks for that individual and how do they work through that information?”

There’s an appreciable difference in the way the company operates, he said, but it’s too soon to tell how the software will affect the company’s overall performance. Ali wouldn’t comment directly on what impact the NHL strike would have on the beer business but “like any trend — weather and all that stuff — that just shows up in your data,” he said. “It’s your ability to pull that out of your data.”

The value of the data is ultimately up to the choices you make, he said. But by using CPM, Labatt is able to provide sales and management with a common set of data and draw a clearer picture of the company’s national performance.

“Our focus right now is really on performance management and getting people aligned to seeing the same information and getting people to react and make decisions,” said Ali.

Labatt moved to Release 2 of its CPM deployment in January of this year and is planning a move to Release 3 next month.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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