Automotive parts distributor, Örum revs up reporting with Tableau


Örum adopted Tableau as part of a new analytics strategy, spearheaded by the IT personnel department and championed by the Chief Information Officer, Juho Luukko and CEO, Lars Husberg.

Today, Örum uses Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server to share, distribute, and collaborate on the data that had been hidden away for so long. Reports that previously took weeks—sometimes months—to develop are now ready in minutes.

Örum now has a governed, complete view of key sales metrics, allowing the company to be more responsive to sales opportunities, cross-sell complementary automotive spares, and ultimately grow revenue.

The role of IT has also changed. With this time savings, the team can focus more on strategic projects—enabling the business to be successful.


Driving an automotive parts business into the fast lane

Örum Oy AB is one of Finland’s leading automotive parts distributors. Founded in 1902 and with a turnover of € 68 million ($78 million), the company provides vehicle owners, repair shops, and automotive dealerships with automotive spare parts and accessories for almost any model of vehicle.

For many years, Örum used a legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to source data for sales, finance, and other departments. However that model was broken: the reports that emerged from the ERP system were either unreliable, outdated, incomplete—or sometimes all three.

“Until a few years ago, reporting was a mess,” says Juho Luukko, Chief Information Officer, Örum. “We simply couldn’t trust the data we were looking at. The ERP system was so inflexible that data extraction took time, money, and resources.”

The company struggled to analyze sales, profit, and customer satisfaction. For example, it was difficult to determine underselling parts or the most lucrative garages.

Our Tableau strategy is driven by IT and developed by business. It’s the people in IT who are recommending this business-driven solution. By encouraging business users to analyze the data themselves, we are helping to evolve the IT department into being a business enabler.

Luukko explains, “Even when we did pull the analysis together, the reports were often out-of-date by the time they reached the desks of our executives.”

Reporting was also inconsistent. He continues, “The monthly report was prepared by one individual, and then the following month by someone else using different parameters—which meant we couldn’t explore trends or patterns. In the case of sales, it was extremely difficult to forecast the difference from one month to the next. We didn’t know what we were measuring.”

Rapid, easy data visualization and analysis

Örum’s IT department spearheaded the search for a new business intelligence (BI) solution. Chief Information Officer, Luukko first looked to Gartner for guidance. Positioned as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms Report, Tableau offered Örum the opportunity to quickly visualize and understand data.

Luukko comments, “Our Tableau strategy is driven by IT and developed by the business. It’s the people in IT who are recommending this business-driven solution. By encouraging business users to analyze the data themselves, we are helping to evolve the IT department into being a business enabler.”

During the vetting process, both Luukko and Örum CEO, Lars Husberg, trialed Tableau, starting with sales dashboards. Luukko recalls, “Within less than two hours with Tableau, I had created this really impressive sales report. I was able to drill-down into the data, pull together multiple views, and analyze an up-to-date picture of our sales situation. It would have taken us months to produce this type of report using our old KPI-driven data warehouse processes. I was immediately hooked.”

Örum worked closely with local Tableau partner, Solutive to deploy a Tableau Desktop and Server solution, distributing licenses across sales, marketing, and finance departments. With Tableau Server, users can share their findings and collaborate across teams.

In Tableau, Örum connects to data from Google BigQuery and other sources. And with Tableau’s ODBC (Open Database Connectivity), they can bring in data from their ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Solutive continues to support Örum with server setup, training, local support, and also some workbook creation. “Solutive are experts. They recommended Google BigQuery and the cloud-based analytics platform is ideal for our data. It integrates seamlessly with Tableau and there’s no performance impact on our systems.”

I was having so much fun using Tableau to answer questions about the business that my wife said to me one evening, ‘It’s either Tableau or me; you need to choose!'

Reporting time reduced from months to minutes

So what’s the impact? Since adopting Tableau, Örum significantly increased reporting speeds. In the past it took weeks—sometimes months—to prepare a report which answered just one question. Now answers are available in minutes. And business users have the flexibility to interrogate the data and answer follow-up questions.

Take Örum’s sales team for example, who visit garages and automotive dealerships throughout Finland to support customer relationships. With Tableau Server, they can view a snapshot of the sales situation. Before their visit, they can quickly understand which automotive parts are selling in what quantities at particular garages; which customers order the most spare parts, which products have been returned for being defective, and much more. This enables the company to be more responsive to sales opportunities, cross-sell complementary automotive spares, and ultimately grow revenues.

Staff are also more creative in their decision-making. They can drill down into the data and pose ‘what if?' questions, or immediately see the outcome of particular actions. For example, the team that manages inventory at the Örum parts warehouse can see the value of stock, what is selling, where parts are shipped, and the margin on those items. This leads to more efficient inventory management and lower cost.

Due to Örum’s new self-service approach to data, the IT team reassigned several resources to other high-priority projects. “Reporting used to be an IT problem. Our department was generally perceived as being the barrier to the business, because the reports took so long to produce. Now, thanks to Tableau, the business is responsible for daily reporting tasks—and they love it."

Luukko still loves asking questions with Tableau. “I was having so much fun using Tableau to answer questions about the business that my wife said to me one evening, ‘It’s either Tableau or me; you need to choose!’,” he says with a laugh.

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