Reporting and Analysis Made Easy: Tiger Brands Deploys GL Wand
Both the reporting and analysis tasks in complex organizations can prove to be major obstacles for the relevant personnel in a large enterprise. While each of these tasks can be described as being crucial to the company’s wellbeing, the often cumbersome nature of the process can either slow down or completely impede the employees’ ability to fulfil their duties. This was the case at Tiger Brands, up until the company chose to implement GL Wand from Excel4apps solution, which removed these headaches and instead created an automated, flexible and easily executed process.
Tiger Brands Limited is a Top 40 JSE Limited company, with a footprint that extends across the African continent and beyond. It is one of the largest manufacturers and marketers of FMCG products in Southern Africa, focusing on a broad basket of categories that spans food, home and personal care as well as baby products. Tiger Brands is a world–class operation that maintains its position through constant investment in people, brands, technology, efficiency, quality and sustainability.
Tiger Brands chose to implement GL Wand as part of a long term, company-wide strategic shift towards adopting Oracle E-Business Suite technology. This shift has been successful, with the company currently utilizing E-Business Suite version 12.
Jan van der Merwe, a senior business analyst at Tiger Brands, explains that with the organization’s growth over the years, its IT environment ended up looking a bit like a ‘fruit salad’, with multiple different enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions in place across the various divisions. It was this that led to the desire for a strategic shift to an Oracle-only environment.
“Our first use of the GL Wand tool came about in 2006, when we were busy with an implementation project for one of the divisions that was not using Oracle at the time. We were put under pressure by the time constraints with regard to getting the necessary reporting requirements in place, as these were extremely tight,” says van der Merwe.
“Obviously, these users were inexperienced with Oracle, so in order to address the requirements of this particular user community and to get them up and running within the tight timeframes we were given; we implemented the GL Wand tool from Excel4apps. This enabled us to quickly and efficiently address the requirements of that business unit.”
He points out that the company was especially impressed with how easily the tool enabled the users to adapt to the new Oracle environment, and how simple it was to get the employees up to a level of self-sufficiency, thanks to the rapid transfer of knowledge.
“The other tools we had available to us would never have been able to achieve this, let alone achieve it in such a short space of time.”
Van der Merwe explains that subsequent to this rollout, Tiger Brands expanded the use of the Excel4apps software to other divisions that were already using Oracle, adding that since then, all new implementations have followed the self-same route.
“With the original GL Wand implementation, when we first demonstrated exactly what this tool could do from both a reporting and analysis point of view, the users were impressed. Since then, every single time we show it to new users of Oracle, we get exactly the same reaction.”
“The effectiveness of GL Wand is probably best indicated by simple numbers – with the original implementation in 2006, we purchased six licences. Today, that number has increased by more than a factor of 20, with the Tiger Brands Group currently utilising over 130 licences,” he continues.
These users are spread across the entire country, he says, adding that while he cannot say if every single user utilises the tool to its fullest extent, he has come across many instances of users doing wonderful things with it.
“Perhaps the biggest single benefit we obtain from GL Wand – and this goes for every single user – is the incredible time savings that are achieved. With the other tools we used in the past, it took much longer to produce a report because the information had to first be ported to an outside source, and also due to the fact that the cosmetic appearance of the report had to be redone every time. With GL Wand, you are able to design the look of the report first and then simply insert the latest information and populate the values as you require. This means it is quicker to produce and you are always assured that the final product will look the same.”
Reporting and Analysis Benefits
According to van der Merwe, GL Wand offers Tiger Brands two key pillars, namely those of reporting and analysis. He says that from an analysis perspective, the company has no other tool that is able to offer what GL Wand does in pure functionality terms. This coupled with the ability to drill down to a granular level, means that whatever level of analysis is required, the tool can do it.
“In terms of reporting, we obtain a final product that is more quickly put together, offers less chance for human error to creep in and is delivered in an effective and presentable format.”
“It is particularly useful for our financial people, most of whom come from an environment where they already use Excel a lot. Thus, they are comfortable with the tool and recognize that it enables them to do their jobs better. Also, the fact that these users already know the Excel environment meant that very little training was required here, and they took to the tool like a fish to water. This, of course, was beneficial both to the Tiger Brands IT department and the users themselves.”
Asked whether GL Wand had a positive effect on month-end, van der Merwe is more circumspect. He explains that there are a multitude of issues that affect the reporting lifecycle.