Premier Foods, the manufacturer behind brands including Cadbury, Branston, HP and Typhoo, has improved forecasting and planning with enterprise planning and business intelligence implementations.
Most recently the company introduced impromptu reporting capabilities onto its new business intelligence platform through its ongoing data migration project.
In February 2003, it decided to improve the accuracy of forecasting and allow for targeted discounts and promotions by obtaining a real-time view of sales and distribution data.
Premier Foods application manager Stacey Anklam said: "The chief executive had a vision of a tool that could tell him 'what is this customer or supplier doing with us at the moment'. So he sent us out to find an enterprise planning tool."
The manufacturer's existing reporting database tool was ageing and the sales department, who enter source data for forecasting, sales and planning, preferred to bring down customised query results into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets than use its interface.
Anklam implemented an enterprise planning tool from Cognos, having had experience of the vendor's software in previous roles. "We had three or four enterprise resource planning [ERP] systems that we wanted to be part of our IT strategy," she said.
"We wanted to be able to create database applications and not have to worry about having to write custom reports on top. Every quarter, re-forecasting our budget used to take us seven to eight weeks. It takes about three now."
Cognos's ERP gave the company a web-based tool through which to push its entire reporting processes and present customised user-friendly interfaces for Anklam and her team through to sales teams and the chief executive.
For an added layer of accurate analysis Anklam purchased business intelligence software from Cognos five months later, to combine data created in purchasing, sales, promotions and customer databases with profit and loss figures.
"We found that we had a lot data cleansing to do where we had customer or product names spelt differently. Now we can turn around key daily reports by 8.30am as opposed to 2pm the next day," she said.
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