Tableau Increases Sales Forecasting Accuracy, Productivity and Profits for Coca-Cola Enterprises

Published
  • July 23 2008, 4:37pm EDT
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REVIEWER: Andrew Kriebel, manager of forecasting and planning for Coca-Cola Enterprises.

BACKGROUND: Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) produces, bottles and distributes Coke products throughout the U.S. and in Canada. The company sells approximately 80 percent of The Coca-Cola Company’s bottle and can volume in North America.

PLATFORMS: Windows XP Professional, SP 2. Intel Pentium M processor, 1.70 GHz, 2GB RAM.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As the largest distributor of Coke products in the world, CCE needed a way to more consistently forecast the quantities and types of products (cans versus bottles, cases versus six-packs, etc.) that each customer would need every week. Sending too many or the wrong types of units meant wasted inventory for the customer and a loss of revenue for CCE, but sending too few negatively impacted CCE’s customer relationships. In order to fulfill the quantity and diversity of its orders, the company was forecasting between 400 and 500 stock-keeping units (SKUs) every week for each of its production plants. CCE needed a solution that could easily extract mass amounts of product and customer data from its databases and analyze and present the data in a way that enabled CCE to measure its forecast accuracy and easily pinpoint areas where accuracy could be improved.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With Tableau’s granular visual analysis and flexible reporting capabilities, CCE is able to dig deeper into problem areas (i.e., products, geographic regions and specific customers that are underperforming) and more easily draw high-level conclusions about its forecasting processes than it could previously using Excel. This has ultimately resulted in making the analysis and sharing of our data across the organization even easier and more streamlined than before. We were able to set a three percent forecast accuracy improvement goal for 2008.  Additionally, the company has also reduced the time it takes account managers to create forecasting accuracy reports, thereby letting them spend more time on data discovery and less time trying to organize and manage their workbooks.CCE has expanded its use of Tableau beyond forecasting and annual planning to measure ongoing performance. The solution’s powerful, visual analysis capabilities enable CCE to quickly assess progress toward goals and compare budget to performance much more granularly than was feasible with Excel. Now, the company can slice and dice the data by business unit, dates, products, customers and more in order to see a more accurate picture of its progress.

STRENGTHS: Tableau provided CCE with the capability to quickly analyze and report on its business initiatives, particularly around new products, which are critical to the growth and expansion of the business. Tableau also enabled CCE to present the data in a way that is most valuable to senior management. Because pictures can communicate much better than numbers in many cases, Tableau has been invaluable for CCE.

WEAKNESSES: When building scatter plots, the number of shapes available to indicate different data points is limited. Although color can help distinguish data points, it would be helpful for the next release of Tableau to have more shapes to choose from.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After using Tableau during CCE’s annual budget review to visualize how budgets compared year to year, the company’s management was impressed with its ability to present such visually compelling reports that were significantly easier to read than the traditional Excel tables. They approved the purchase of additional licenses immediately.

DELIVERABLES: In addition to increasing forecasting accuracy, CCE also uses Tableau for annual planning and budgeting and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs). Tableau has enabled the company to create easy-to-understand reports that enable senior management to gain rapid visibility into problem areas across categories, business units, channels, products and accounts. Now, CCE can make course corrections in the planning process much earlier than ever before. And although the effectiveness of its reports was increasing, Tableau allowed CCE to drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to create them.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Tableau’s products are extremely easy and fast to install, so extensive vendor support during the installation process wasn’t even necessary. However, Tableau has consistently been quick to respond to any queries from CCE.

DOCUMENTATION: Tableau’s products are very user intuitive, and documentation for installation and use is very thorough.

Tableau Desktop v3.5
Tableau Software
400N 34th Street, Suite 200
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 633-3400
http://www.tableausoftware.com/

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