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Delivering Business Intelligence to a Large Software Company

Information Technology | Application Management, Managed IT Services

The client engaged TEKsystems to generate insight into its business, operations, financials, processes and quality. This critical business intelligence would provide better visibility into the organization, further enabling the client to make informed, strategic business decisions.

Founded in the 1970s, the client is a leading developer and manufacturer of computer software, services and hardware for individuals and businesses worldwide. With multiple business divisions, the client seeks to develop new products, new technologies and new ideas to transform the industry and their business. TEKsystems has been partnering with this large software company since 2002.

Successful organizations have a strong understanding of the value that business intelligence (BI) data can provide to the decision-making process. Looking inward-out, companies are able to pinpoint any potential operational areas of the business that are underperforming; they can then closely examine those areas to determine ways to drive inefficiencies out of their business and optimize processes. In turn, this enables decisions to be made more strategically and more quickly. BI also cultivates greater transparency, allowing leaders to mitigate potential risks and monitor their organizations’ performance within the context of government and industry regulations.

Not only can BI insights be utilized to react to and strengthen current practices, but it can also be leveraged to make proactive decisions. By assessing internal processes, expenses and operations, businesses can identify the smartest and most profitable investments for the future of the business.
HTML, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft SharePoint, SQL Server, Specialized imagery processing software

Within one of the client’s online services divisions, there was no structured BI program in place. This meant that the division—responsible for producing all imagery—had no visibility into its operational data, including costs for producing the imagery, quality of the imagery, and skill level and productivity of the production team. Internal reporting would be invaluable to identifying operational inefficiencies; revealing specific inefficiencies would drive the client to explore potential opportunities for reducing costs and improving processes.

In an effort to better understand the costs of its products and processes, the quality of its deliverables and the productivity of its employees, the client sought a partner to capture and report on this data. BI would be invaluable to upper management and client leadership, as these key decision-makers could assess operations and incorporate lessons learned into the business. This critical information would be useful in optimizing existing processes; new and more efficient ways for conducting business would be introduced and taught to staff in order to ultimately produce more with less effort, money and time. Realizing the advantages to having quality BI information, the client brought a sense of urgency to this initiative and required a partner that could deliver operational reporting within just 90 days.

TEKsystems had already been in the middle of a two-year engagement on behalf of the online services division. There were as many as 35 TEKsystems professionals working as part of the client’s production team that processes imagery.

Leveraging this team, TEKsystems proposed conducting a four-part plan that would deliver the critical business data that the client needed within the client’s deadline of 90 days. Our plan would provide the client with better visibility into the operational costs associated with producing imagery. The four priorities of our plan were:

  1. Financial Reports - TEKsystems would provide visibility and insight into current production costs that originate from our labor and supporting services. These reports would be designed for the client to track cost components and could be referred to as a guide in identifying any potential areas to reduce operational costs and increase long-term efficiency.

  2. Cost of Processes - The process cost evaluation would provide the client with an analysis and detailed explanation of costs for various processes. Specifically, we would evaluate categories including: process execution, cost of quality control / quality assurance, and overhead / management cost. From this reporting, TEKsystems would document our proposed recommendations for reducing the cost of each process.

  3. Quality Metrics - The third part of the 90-day program would enable the client to gain a better view into the quality of the current production processes. This data would be useful in determining ways to improve existing processes and overall production efficiency and quality.

  4. Production Team Skills and Productivity Metrics - The final metrics reported would glean insight into how efficient production activities are by assessing the required skills and competency levels for each activity, highlighting any potential skill set gaps and evaluating the relative level of productivity of the team. This data could be used to explore opportunities for improving productivity.

Given our current two-year commitment with the client, TEKsystems had established working knowledge of the client’s production and imagery processes and was selected to further collaborate on this BI program by executing this 90-day plan.

TEKsystems successfully completed the 90-day plan on schedule and in alignment with our recommendations. Leveraging the client’s timer tool, a system that the team used to log time for various activities associated with each specific imagery type, TEKsystems was able to provide the client with granular visibility into the level of effort demanded by the production of each imagery type as well as the amount of time required for each activity per operator. Through the merging of timer tool data with raw client production data, we were able to deliver various outputs within the scope of the 90-day plan, including financial reports, productivity metrics and process costs for each imagery type.

We collaborated with the client to clearly define metrics for measuring progress and success. Overall success was defined as having the ability to generate ongoing BI information to steer business decisions moving forward into the future. While the initial output of our 90-day plan was critical to establishing a baseline of operational data, the data will become even more meaningful when the client can evaluate and interpret it within a larger context.

Tracking data over time allows for comparing time frames, measuring shifts, identifying trends and patterns, and explaining the results of changes in processes. Ultimately, this business intelligence will garner predictive insights that will prove invaluable to operating with limited waste and optimal efficiency. As such, we now hold monthly meetings with key stakeholders to review the reporting and key checkpoints for each data set. This type of intelligence is critical to the long-term success of the client and its imagery production team, as it will allow them to gain greater insight into their production operations and how to refine them in order to maximize efficiencies.

  • Iterative Approach. TEKsystems utilized an iterative approach in implementing the plan. As opposed to obtaining the business intelligence data through a vacuum, then delivering the client all four priorities at once—Financial Reports, Cost of Processes, Quality Metrics, and Production Team Skills and Productivity Metrics—we recognized that there were lessons to be learned through a more hands-on, iterative approach. As such, the four efforts were executed and delivered individually. This enabled the client to provide input along the way and allowed TEKsystems to adjust its approach based on the client's reaction and receptiveness towards each deliverable.
  • Active Listening. Throughout the execution of the 90-day plan, TEKsystems maintained open communication and interaction with the client. This active listening enabled us to fully align with the client’s priorities. Discussions helped define expectations for our deliverables, providing TEKsystems with direction for attaining and exceeding those expectations. The client grew to trust us and our two-way conversation ensured that we delivered exactly what they wanted, in the format they wanted and with the data points they needed.
  • Cross-Organizational Collaboration. TEKsystems’ Application Management and Outsourcing practice spearheaded this initiative, bringing expertise and relevant experience to the BI program. Yet, our organizational agility and ability to tap different areas across TEKsystems was instrumental to our success. Outside of the individual TEKsystems practice, we leveraged the skills and expertise of other subject areas to provide the client added value. For example, we sought guidance from peers with data management expertise to offer their perspectives on architecture, database and reporting; with this additional support, we were able to empower the client to run reports on an ad hoc basis.