From spreadsheets to speed and agility
While spreadsheets certainly capture a wealth of information, MainPower soon learned they are less than optimal for presenting and understanding trends and patterns. The system was leaving information static and siloed while data analysis was slow and impacted business efficiency.
MainPower started to build a data warehouse to make the data held in multiple systems centralised, useful and accessible.
“We attended a series of seminars held by independent consultancy Montage to look into business intelligence solutions,” explains Fahey. “At one of these events Montage presented six BI solutions and the standout was certainly Tableau.”
“We entered into discussions with Montage that very night, keen to learn whether Tableau could improve our operations.”
In further meetings, the Montage team explained that Tableau was renowned for its visualisations and analytics offerings, mentioning the software would allow MainPower employees to compile and share data visualisations and dashboards in an easy-to-understand environment.
“Tableau seemed to tick all the boxes and we were optimistic it could assist with some of the challenges we had been facing. We were excited to give it a go,” says Fahey.
Progressing with Tableau Desktop, Montage worked with MainPower to create a pilot program in order to ensure the solution was able to meet the company’s needs. This was then complemented by a further targeted statement of work, using best-of-breed solutions (which could be built on later), to present to MainPower’s executives.
“The use of MainPower’s real-time data in that initial presentation opened our eyes to the true power of the software,” says Fahey.
After successful trials, Tableau indeed proved to be the optimum solution for MainPower. Over the next few weeks, Montage worked closely with internal teams to integrate the software into the organisation’s pre-existing environment.
The setup and installation process was streamlined and easy, with a representative from Montage available every step of the journey.
“Chip Felton from Montage has been great. The deployment was easy and he comes in a few days a month to answer our questions and ensure everything is running smoothly. He’s available for support when we’re trying to get our head around new aspects of the software,” says Wilson.
“Although we haven’t had to call upon it yet, it’s also nice to know we can contact Tableau’s internal support team at any time.”
Once the initial process of connecting existing data collection points to flow through Tableau was complete, staff showed enthusiasm for sinking their teeth into the program.
“We found that no matter what the department, our employees are able to pick up Tableau quickly and effectively, with a little assistance from Montage. We now have four or five staff regularly using the software.”
A powerful perception: saving time and money
After the first 12 months of MainPower’s journey with Tableau, the company can see the value of a cohesive solution. Improved speed-to-insight is one significant benefit.
“We’ve been able to cut down on the hours spent analysing data; our employees are no longer doubling up to look at the same information because it’s centralised.”
Compiling exhaustive quantities of data has also become more efficient.
“The input doesn’t seem so much like an avalanche anymore. It’s certainly a refreshing change that several sets of eyes can easily explore data sets that relate to them,” Wilson says.
“Previously, I might have been the only one looking at a data set, because I put it together and was probably better equipped to understand it. Now we have four or five other team members who can get more involved and view and understand information that relates to them,” Wilson says.
Also, now that data sets from different teams can be blended in a single view, employees have developed a new perspective on their data.
“We’ve uncovered some unexpected insights through the new software, simply because now we’re able to join data from different sources, linking it together to ask questions we weren’t previously able to,” says Fahey.
These new connections especially highlight where data collection is lacking or of poor quality. Another key observation has been mapping maintenance issues. Information can now be displayed on a geographical map, allowing MainPower to reorganise and optimise its maintenance schedules for improved physical infrastructure.