REVIEWER: Rick Brenner, president/CEO for Prime Line.
BACKGROUND: Prime Line is a supplier of promotional products.
PLATFORMS: We use Windows XP and Vista.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Prime Line regularly stocks more than 400 unique items in a number of categories in its warehouse in Bridgeport, Connecticut. With so many different products to keep track of, we needed a tool that would allow us to not only analyze the sales performance of each product but also keep track of inventory levels for every unique item. Traditionally, we used Excel to analyze sales and inventory data. However, since the SQL database it was pulling data from was so large, Excels maximum row limits at the time didnt allow us to do comparisons of large data sets. Instead, users were forced to pull data from the SQL database, enter it into Access (which has no limitations on rows but doesnt provide adequate analysis capabilities) and then do analysis on smaller subsets of data in Excel. This posed a significant problem because not only was it time-consuming, but it didnt allow Prime Line to get an accurate picture of sales and inventory across the board.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: After considering several traditional business intelligence platforms, Prime Line chose Tableaus visual data analysis solution because of its affordable price point and ability to easily drill down into data and make comparisons with just a few clicks. We determined that by installing Tableau Software as the front-end solution, we could drill into our data using data managers it already owned - services included in SQL Server, Excel, etc. - without having to spend additional revenue on the purchase and installation of another data manager for a traditional BI platform. Now, with the help of Tableau to visualize data, the company can perform more in-depth sales analysis and understand in real time how products are performing. Tableau enables Prime Line to drill down and look at sales by region, category, stock keeping unit, color, customer, vendor, price point and more. With Tableaus visual analysis capabilities, the company can immediately see sales trends and patterns more quickly and with a higher level of detail than was possible when it was working in pivot tables only. Prime Line also uses Tableau for inventory insight so it can make sure it stocks a larger quantity of the items that are in high demand. This visibility has helped the company tremendously - lack of inventory of a specific item could mean a lost customer for Prime Line. Today, Prime Line is making better business decisions as a result of Tableau. Patterns and trends that would have been impossible to see when only analyzing data subsets are now immediately evident. This insight makes the companys employees more productive and gives it a significant advantage over its competitors.
STRENGTHS: Tableaus ability to provide rapid analysis of large data sets has been invaluable for Prime Line. In seconds, users can look at one set of data in more ways than ever before.
WEAKNESSES: When Prime Line began using Tableau several years ago, there were several things the company needed that the solution didnt provide (i.e., printing reports). However, Tableau has worked closely with Prime Line over the years to add the features and functionality that the company desired and will continue to be receptive to Prime Lines future requests.
SELECTION CRITERIA: At the outset, Prime Line was looking to deploy a traditional BI platform as a tool for better understanding sales and inventory trends. However, the cost to implement these solutions proved to be much higher than what the company was comfortable with. Tableau provided the advanced analytical capabilities the company desired along with a price point that was much more affordable.
DELIVERABLES: Prime Line uses Tableau to create sales and inventory analysis reports.
VENDOR SUPPORT: One of Tableaus main strengths is the way the company works with its customers. Tableau has always been extremely receptive to requests from Prime Line for additional features. In addition, its online on-demand training courses enable users to brush up on Tableau tips and tricks when its convenient for them.
DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation provided by Tableau is complete and easy to understand.
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