REVIEWER: Eric Boerboom, project leader at Coram.

BACKGROUND: The Coram group has a strong leading position in the European market for sanitary ware with four solid brands, Sealskin, Tiger, Geesa and Dinotec. Our products and concepts can be found all over the world. The average number of employees within the Coram group is 630.


PLATFORMS: The solution is based on a central data warehouse with decentralized data marts for each region. The server is a Win2003 machine with a Microsoft SQL Server database. Initially about 10 million rows were loaded.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The operational holding “Coram International” has a strong need for cross-group information. The process to define this cross-group information has been a very intense and time-consuming job. Of course, IT had to be used to address the challenges. Coram understood that a data warehouse environment with business intelligence software as the top layer is the best way to realize this strategic objective. From the start, there were several challenging restrictions on the project. The cost needed to be minimized during the data warehouse lifecycle, especially for maintenance and changes, and the implementation period had to be short. Future change requests must be easy to implement and, as the subsidiaries are geographically spread across Europe and one in Japan, data transport (speed) and data security were acknowledged as important issues.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Coram reduced the risk by using Microsoft tools as the platform for the whole data warehouse solution and kept a modular architecture. We managed to use low budget Internet lines and only transferred changes to the data warehouse. BIReady designs, creates and loads the data warehouse and data marts (even on the fly) solely based on Coram’s defined business model. A change to this business model is automatically processed throughout the data warehouse. Defining elements and types (including the complex historical requirements) is done with just one click within the configuration workflow of the tool - The BIReadyManager. It is uniquely possible to build up history, keeping track of changes with retroactive aspects. The BIReady process is optimized and only changed data is processed. These massive multithreaded processes ensure excellent performance. The solution resulted in a data warehouse environment that simplified the whole process.

STRENGTHS: The flexibility of BIReady makes it possible to change and prototype on the fly during the development phase, which brings a huge advantage in the communication with the end users. Because models and processes are generated, we are no longer depending on the choices an external consultant makes.

WEAKNESSES: Because Coram is an early adaptor of a complete new way of data warehousing there are some risks with regards to the continuity of BIReady. (Now that they have a healthy customer base, this risk is not so relevant anymore.)

SELECTION CRITERIA: Coram and BIReady, together with their mutual partner Nippur, ran a quick but in-depth proof of concept (POC) in which the added value of BIReady was clearly demonstrated. Based on this experience in Coram’s environment and data, Coram decided to use BIReady as the heart of the data warehouse environment.

DELIVERABLES: The key to BIReady is that it automates labor-intensive activities and hides the technical complexity that normally comes along with data warehousing. Coram asked for some future functionality to be built in (which has been completed) and advised in developing a more logical flow and better user interface. Our objectives seemed to be impossible, with all the given restrictions, but with the use of BIReady and the right people, we reached our goals.

VENDOR SUPPORT: During the POC, BIReady showed tremendous commitment in support and great capability in quickly providing improvements. The support for both advice and technical issues has been very accurate and persistent.

DOCUMENTATION: The manual and tutorial provided are very self-explanatory, complete and easy to use.

BIReady Data Warehouse Generator
Langbroekerdijk B 18a
3947 BB Langbroek
The Netherlands
+31 343 563851

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