Saving Time and Money with Simplified Information Sharing

Before, we were spending four to six man-hours a week producing basic reports. Now it takes us ten minutes a week. And the quality of the report is much better, much more visible and interactive.

Customer Profile

Blastrac Manufacturing is a mid-sized worldwide manufacturer that operates in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Customer Case Description

Blastrac depended on the creation and distribution of reports across the organization to make business decisions. However, the company did not have a consistent reporting method in place and, consequently, preparation of reports for the company’s various needs (sales data, working capital, inventory, purchase analysis, etc.) was tedious. Blastrac’s analysts each spent nearly one whole day per week (a total of 20-30 hours) extracting data from the multiple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, loading it into several Excel spreadsheets, creating filtering capabilities and establishing pre-defined pivot tables.

Not only were these massive spreadsheets often inaccurate and consistently hard to understand, but also they were virtually useless for the sales team, which couldn’t work with the complex format. In addition, each consumer of the reports had different needs—while some thought the reports were lacking detail, others thought there was far too much detail to wade through.

Blastrac Vice President and CIO Dan Murray began looking for a solution to the company’s reporting troubles. He quickly ruled out the rollout of a single ERP system, a multi-million dollar proposition. He also eliminated the possibility of an enterprise-wide business intelligence (BI) platform deployment because of cost—quotes from five different vendors ranged from $130,000 to over $500,000. What Murray needed was a solution that was affordable, could deploy quickly without disrupting current systems and was able to represent data consistently regardless of the multiple currencies Blastrac operates in.

The Solution

Working with IT services consultant Interworks, Inc. out of Oklahoma, Murray and team finessed the data sources. Murray then deployed two data visualization tools from Tableau Software: Tableau Desktop, a visual data analysis solution that allowed Blastrac analysts to quickly and easily create intuitive and visually compelling reports, and Tableau Reader, a free application that enabled everyone across the company to directly interact with the reports, filtering, sorting, extracting and printing data as it fit their needs. And at a total cost of less than one third the lowest competing BI quote, Tableau fit Blastrac’s budget too.

With only one hour per week now required to create reports—a 95-percent increase in productivity—and updates to these reports happening automatically though Tableau, Murray and his team are able to proactively identify major business events reflected in company data—such as an exceptionally large sale—instead of reacting to incoming questions from employees as they had been forced to do previously.

“Prior to deploying Tableau, I spent countless hours customizing and creating new reports based on individual requests, which was not efficient or productive for me,” said Murray. “With Tableau, we create one report for each business area, and, with very little training, they can explore the data themselves. By deploying Tableau, I not only saved thousands of dollars and endless months of deployment, but I’m also now able to create a product that is infinitely more valuable for people across the organization.”