New data warehouse at TroGroup
Greatest efficiency and quality in reporting and planning
- New data warehouse delivers higher efficiency and quality to reporting and planning – such as comprehensive financial control reporting within a few hours instead of several days
- Central, uniform database created as a single point of truth - users from different departments can now access a uniform database directly
- Automation of data consolidation, processing and analysis
- Numerous subsidiaries using heterogenous systems and processes are accommodated, various data sources connected, including SAP ERP, SAP BW, Salesforce CRM, Sage HR system, ECM, etc.
- Scalable, flexible solution achieved, which eliminates manual effort and reduces sources of error to a minimum
- Greater efficiency in data processing, especially for financial control - business logic embedded within the system offers significant advantages
- Microsoft & SAP worlds seamlessly connected and data flow from source to target systems overnight now fully automated - huge system flexibility and updating capability offers great potential for new processes and applications
With the new data warehouse, we have created a single point of truth. We benefit from significantly higher data quality and improved transparency and efficiency. Users can access ready-processed data at any time, bring it into Excel and quickly create up-to-date reports.
Barbara Mayrleitner, TroGroup
TroGroup unites the brands Trodat, the world's largest ink stamp producer, and Trotec, the leading supplier of laser equipment for engraving, cutting and labelling, all under one roof. In 2021, this corporate group generated sales of €289 million and employed around 1,970 people across 44 subsidiaries worldwide. Wanting to manage and analyse centrally the ever-increasing volume of business-critical data, the TroGroup set out to find a modern data warehouse solution.
“The crucial factor was introducing a new reporting and planning tool to replace the outdated reporting system. Underpinning this we needed a central database as a single point of truth,” said Mag. Barbara Mayrleitner, Enterprise Analytics Specialist at TroGroup, explaining the requirements.
Seeking a scalable, flexible solution
Having numerous branches and different set-ups, the TroGroup uses different ERP, CRM and other systems. The main aim of the data warehouse project is to create a central database for reporting, planning and analysis while connecting the data sources – such as SAP ERP and SAP BW, but also Salesforce CRM and a Sage HR system. “The system also needs to be flexible and accessible for other systems, such as our product information management, and deliver functionality such as data quality services and master data management for enriching and checking master data,” says Mayrleitner. Bidirectional interface functions are also required, so data in the data warehouse could be made available for linked systems – product data for the eCommerce system, for instance, or HR information for the intranet. Important KPIs, such as rolling 12-month sales figures, needed to be fed directly back into the CRM systems, too.
Central database as a single point of truth
Before data from the disparate sources can be made available for further use, it must be cleansed (by removing duplicates, for instance), enriched with further master data, merged and structured. Determining KPIs is a central task. “Improving the efficiency of data processing, especially for financial control, was a major goal. The new system needed not only to automate this process, but also be scalable and improve data quality and transparency,” says Mayrleitner. Looking for a partner to implement this, the TroGroup initially sounded out the market and eventually got down to a shortlist of three. “DCCS were selected. We already had a very good track record with this IT specialist. DCCS also proposed the most coherent system design, totally optimised to our requirements,” says the Analytics Specialist.
This was our first choice, to avoid becoming reliant on particular system providers. The system also offers huge flexibility, numerous standard connections and many integrated features, such as data quality services for data cleansing.
Barbara Mayrleitner, TroGroup
Microsoft and SAP worlds expertly linked
At the start of the joint project, workshops were held on site, where the service provider's comprehensive expertise with Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce proved to be a major advantage. Having designed the architecture and planned its implementation, DCCS and the TroGroup then started data modelling based on the first use cases. “The SAP know-how which is deeply embedded at DCCS helped us a great deal here, and sped things up a lot,” Mayrleitner recalls. For the close cooperation, a flexible approach was adopted in the Microsoft Azure DevOps environment, with step-by-step sprints and tests to validate stage results. The Microsoft Data Platform was chosen for the underlying technology. “This was our first choice, to avoid becoming reliant on particular system providers. The system also offers huge flexibility, numerous standard connections and many integrated features, such as data quality services for data cleansing,” says Mayrleitner. Building on the data modelling in the data warehouse, connection to the “BOARD” reporting and planning tool, which serves as the new central reporting and planning tool at TroGroup, was set up. Implementation went according to plan, with only the data quality presenting challenges owing to different source systems and information structures. Missing implementations of SAP standards also slowed down progress a little at times. Some of these hurdles were soon overcome through a data correction process (using Data Quality Services and Power BI reports) in conjunction with Master Data Services.
Uniform view of relevant data
The new data warehouse centralises all business-critical information. SAP ERP is the principal source system, followed by Salesforce and the Sage HR solution. The main recipient of the data is the BOARD BI tool, through which the various departments, such as financial control, accounts, sales, product management, HR and management, can call up reports at any time and perform planning – as part of the budgeting process, for instance. Target systems including the PIM system, which receives master data from SAP via the DWH, and Salesforce, which is integrated with Microsoft Azure Data Factory, are also connected. Users now have direct access to a uniform database. This allows reports such monthly sales as well as processed data for purchasing and production, HR or financial accounting to be pulled from the system at any time. “The most important reports include turnover and sales reports as well as some integrated planning applications,” says Mayrleitner. The Power BI Report Server also serves as the basis for other necessary reports, such as runtime and data quality reports.
Fully automated data flow
Data flow from source to target systems is now fully automated. Data is retrieved from the source systems overnight, information is converted or processed and then transferred to the target systems. Users can now easily access and use data which has already been processed. “Previously, these processes involved a great deal of manual work. For example, we used to pull huge Excel file reports from SAP. This was not only prone to error and took up time but also was not really scalable,” says Mayrleitner. With the new system, the TroGroup has killed several birds with one stone. As well as automating the process, the main advantages include central data management and the unique business logic anchored within the system. Furthermore, any number of systems can be connected and supplied with the same data. “The huge flexibility and the updating capability offer great potential for new processes and applications,” says Mayrleitner. The database solution is currently running in hybrid mode (on-premises software and Microsoft Azure), with a switch to the cloud being an option at any time.
What we particularly appreciate about the partnership is the wide range of skills and the comprehensive technological know-how within the DCCS team. But we were also won over by the pragmatic solutions which quickly led to the objective.
Barbara Mayrleitner, TroGroup
High quality data and efficiency
Around 190 users are currently using the new system to access reports and planning efficiently using the BOARD BI tool. It has been shown that a lot of manual effort has been eliminated and sources of error have been reduced to a minimum. Mayrleitner is convinced that “with the new data warehouse, we have created a single point of truth”. “We benefit from significantly higher data quality and improved transparency and efficiency. Users can access ready-processed data at any time, bring it into Excel and quickly create up-to-date reports.” The analytics specialist outlines how efficiently the system provides support: “Previously, we needed several days just for a particular financial control report. This now takes just a few hours, including validation, thanks to automatically processed data.
Exploiting further potential with expansion
There are already concrete plans for expanding the joint data warehouse project. First, reporting is to be expanded even further by connecting new source objects and extra data modelling for even more reports, second, the use of PowerBI is aspired. Similarly, the TroGroup will soon gradually convert its ERP system to SAP S/4HANA, which will require extensive adjustment to the database objects and processes, especially since R3 and S/4HANA are planned to run in parallel and the greenfield approach of the S/4HANA project will change numerous processes, structures and master data. There are also plans to integrate further systems and information into the data warehouse, such as telemetry data from the laser equipment. Here, too, the TroGroup relies on the technological know-how and wealth of experience which DCCS possesses. “What we particularly appreciate about the partnership is the wide range of skills and the comprehensive technological know-how within the DCCS team. But we were also won over by the pragmatic solutions which quickly led to the objective,” said Mayrleitner in summary.