Key Business Challenges
- Provide a common, easily accessible set of financial information and performance measures (financial data mart) to a broad spectrum of managers in a large multinational organization.
- Ensure the accuracy and usefulness of the financial data mart by placing a large part of the development and the whole management of the data model in the hands of controllers rather than IT professionals.
Key Business Results
- More than 50 managers from all levels of Bayer AG's Rubber Group use the RUBI (Rubber Business Information) System financial data mart to manage their global business.
- An intricate financial model, the RUBI system accurately reflects a complex business, providing detailed multidimensional information on product, regional and key customer performance measures. RUBI acts as a collection pool for actual, budget and forecast data, assuring that one system brings business information to all users.
The Delta ALEA practical financial data mart is a repository not only for financial data but also key measures calculated from that data. In the RUBI system these key measures drive the business enabling managers to "pro-act" instead of react.
Besides Bayer's operations in Germany, in 1998 the RUBI system will be also available to Bayer Rubber European offices. A roll out to the chemical division's US headquarters in Akron, Ohio, is planned for the first quarter of 1998.
Data Mart Architecture
- Source data: Various DB2 databases residing on an IBM 3270. Manual entry of plan and forecast data via MS Excel
- Data transformation software: Delta Import Master/Import Scripter
- Data mart server hardware: HP NetServer LX Pro with dual Intel Pentium 200 processors, 512MB RAM, 24GB disk space, Windows NT 4.0 operating system
- Data mart software: Delta ALEA Server version 3.1
- Front end hardware: Intel-based PCs running Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0
- Front end software: Delta ALEA Excel Integration, Delta Miner
With revenues in excess of US $27 billion Bayer AG is one of the largest German industrial concerns and a leading producer of chemical and pharmaceutical products worldwide. The Rubber Chemical.0 Group with more than $2 billion in sales is a leading supplier of elastomers and rubber chemicals to manufacturers of rubber products. Our mission is to hold our position as a leading rubber technology company at all locations worldwide.
The RUBI financial data mart has become a key tool in the efficient management of the growing Bayer Rubber Group. The data mart serves managers at all levels within the organization including top managers, controllers, R&D, production, sales and marketing. With the business model of the RUBI system they can plan, measure and drive the strategic progress of the business. Our concept is quality financial information for everybody by relying on fast and easy-to-use software. It's not the IBM host machine or the DB2 database. It's the RUBI-System with the multidimensional Delta ALEA software in a client/server environment.
In developing the system, we were faced with two key challenges. First the system had to accurately represent a complex worldwide business. Second, it had to serve a broad spectrum of users, each with highly individualized analysis needs. We first tested financial data mart software from nine different vendors from the US and Germany. Our team settled on the Delta ALEA OLAP database from MIS AG as the platform for RUBI. Delta ALEA certainly was among the fastest of the products we tested and definitely was the most user friendly.
Representing the Bayer Rubber business in a financial data mart was a complicated matter. We needed a software system that would allow controllers with little or no IT background to manage a large part of the design and building of the data model. We needed one system that incorporated their everyday knowledge of the business. And we needed a system where we could make changes without having to take up the time of an IS/IT expert.
The RUBI system encompasses worldwide consolidated financial reporting, the profit and loss statement, calculating estimates, sales and volume information, marketing and competitive data, inventory and our worldwide planning process. Part of the system is used to support the decision making process for investments and strategy development.
The multicube, multidimensional model takes into account consolidation rules specified by the central Bayer controller's department. These rules define in detail how different types of inter-company transfers must be treated and serve as a guideline for consistent management reporting across all divisions at Bayer AG.
In the past, there were several systems and there were always discussions about what information was the right information. And today that is the criteria for measuring our success--to say there are no discussions about where the information comes from. There is only one system to bring the information to all users.
Given the differing information needs, providing a set of standardized screens and analyses was out of the question. Instead our team chose to rely on Delta ALEA's Excel interface. A major benefit of the RUBI system is there are only a few special standard analyses and reports. Delta ALEA integrates an easy-to-use multidimensional data browser directly into MS Excel. It allows users to develop, store, distribute and reuse their own user-specific analyses and reports as dynamic Excel spreadsheets linked directly to the database. The user doesn't have to rely on standardized reports, yet the data in everybody's reports and analyses is unambiguous. The combination of Delta ALEA and Microsoft Excel is a major benefit. Top managers who never will be IS specialists, have no problems getting the information they need from the RUBI System Delta ALEA database.
Another advantage of Delta ALEA's Excel integration is that it allows users to enter plan and forecast data into the data mart simply by typing directly into an Excel spreadsheet. Since most users generally develop their plan and forecast numbers using Excel, this is an added convenience. And Delta ALEA's sophisticated access control ensures that users can enter data only in areas of the database they are authorized to change.
Seeking Out Variances
In first quarter 1998, our team plans to roll out MIS AG's Delta Miner as an additional front end for analysis. Rather than presenting finished reports or user-driven analyses, Delta Miner uses a number of advanced heuristics, algorithms and agents to actively seek out and alert controllers to significant sources of variance within the data mart.
At the beginning of a financial data mart initiative, it's important to designate a group or department to follow the project from start to finish--from data extraction and creating the multidimensional structures to the application running on the workstation. Instead of spending months in developing a data model, it's better to build a pilot in a few days. The results and improvements of using the pilot should be used to continuously optimize the data model. The Delta ALEA concept supports such a piloting process in a very flexible manner.
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