With a presence in 20 countries, Algeco offers more than 220 thousand modular solutions and has more than 3000 employees in Europe. With a large number of IT systems/ERPs across the several business units, the company felt the need to consolidate all the information, providing a single, more consistent and integrated vision for everyone, regardless of the country in which they operate.
Algeco is a multinational company that, in 1955, invented the concept of modular construction and is currently the world leader. Algeco provides prefabricated modular space serving a wide variety of business needs, and the company develops exclusive solutions to suitably respond to the professionals temporary or permanent needs in all sectors.
The service company sells and rents standard and customized solutions, temporary or permanent. The available solutions respond to all types of use: schools, complementary education and training spaces, medical centres and social action centres, complementary spaces for medical and paramedic action, offices, social areas, changing rooms, toilets, cafeterias, medical posts, warehouses, archives, gatehouses, among others. In their basic version, they also serve construction sites and events.
Although Algeco has main products, over the years, it has diversified and reinforced its offer: “Initially, we only rented modular space, and for few years now we have been strengthening 360 services, which are all services related to space rental so that we offer more and more complete turnkey solutions for customers, explains Carlos Cruz, IT Director of the ENSE Business Unit (East, North and South Europe).
Algeco had inconsistent Business Intelligence services, that they were running on different platforms across the different countries, which were consequently providing several versions of truth.
For this reason, the challenge was to involve all countries to build a solution that could offer the same level of satisfaction and needs that they had with the existing BI platforms. In fact, there was already at Algeco a strong interest in exploring the emerging technologies that Microsoft was launching, where the main goal was to deliver full BI services, and not just have BI tools.
Jean-Marc Varnet, IT Director for Europe, recalls that there were 11 countries within ENSE with different systems “the context was too diverse, there was a lack of harmonization across the systems and the business processes. It was then important to consolidate data from several systems into a new Data Warehouse at the ENSE Strategic Business Unit level”.
And so iAnalytics was born. An analytical solution composed of Microsoft technologies that were recommended and supported by BI4ALL. “Covering several countries in Europe with different ERP systems, iAnalytics was the right answer to obtain all the key performance indicators needed to manage the business and have it under control. This situation helped us to increase the efficiency of the sales force, and VAPS (Value-added Products and Services) revenue”, reveals Angèle Brucker, Managing Director of the ENSE Business Unit.
Although the implementation was transversal to all departments, the reaction of the employees was one of the challenges. Due to the fact that the employees started seeing some changes within their daily processes but it wasn’t enough considering needs at the time. Nonetheless, they were excited about the reports that the BI team was delivering.
Consolidated and accessible information
Carlos Cruz recognises that “the biggest challenge was effectively breaking the habits of using other platforms and to challenge the existing truth. At that time, it was a distributed truth country by country and iAnalytics brought a single and common veracity for everyone. For me, this was the most powerful point”.
Another challenge was to change the way of thinking of some employees, of some functions that until now were producing reports instead of focusing on business analysis. Those teams also felt somewhat threatened with the lost of control over granular data.
Algeco has been investing in the acquisition of new companies and iAnalytics proved to be an essential part of this process, which is always very time consuming and quite complicated.
For the decision makers of the Group it is very important to get the information about the main KPI’s of these new acquired companies, so they can monitor the business together with all other companies of the Group, and that’s where the difference was made. In about 3/4 months iAnalytics can provide this relevant information to the decision-makers, already aligned with the entire universe of companies in the Group, thus bringing greater efficiency to the business.
The IT Director for ENSE also tells us about another aspect: “The definition of metrics was different from country to country, such as the way we measured the so-called rental unit. We have more than 220,000 modules to rent across Europe.
The UOR (units on rent) measures how many units we rent to our customers, and our goal is to have the largest number of units rented to our customers and the least number of units on our facilities. But this metric was not used in the same way in all countries.”
To conduct the business in a more agile way and based on solid and real knowledge, the information started to be consolidated in a single system, iAnalytics. For Jean-Marc Varnet, the highest benefit was being able to “consolidate the information from the various ERP systems and generate, harmonise and capture data from the several operating systems”.
Carlos Cruz also agrees that “the benefits are many and even difficult to quantify”. The solution was a mind-changer and a huge change for Algeco. Accessing from all geographies the same information in a simpler and more intuitive way, brings significant benefits to everyone.
Better decision support and increased productivity
Management has now direct access and a broader view to the information, which streamline the way they are leading the business across the Group.
According to Carlos Cruz, “decision support has been improved. Business analysts saved time that was previously spent producing and maintaining the existing reports, and now they can focus on the analysis. Another advantage is, by having centralized intelligence, which makes any change on a KPI immediately available to everyone, to reduce drastically the time necessary to replicate the change across all the reports and to assure the good quality of data as soon as possible”.
Angèle Brucker highlights that “iAnalytics is very intuitive and easy to use. You can almost use it without any training. It is so powerful that, in combination with Excel, any specific (customised) analysis based on specific challenges can be done in minutes. It shows where the problems are immediately and what corrective actions are needed.
As an example, it shows quickly in which industrial sector I am performing well or not, who are the clients at risk of my portfolio (with decreasing revenue), if the prices of my sales representatives are following the guidelines, etc.”.
Jean-Marc says that “it is a real competitive advantage to be able to calculate and use the information stored and captured from our various transactional systems: this allow us to know a market trend, evaluate overall sales performance, and monitor market products penetration. We have increased our ability to react quickly if any event happens, in terms of quality of services provided or pricing for example”.
In 2019, Algeco decided to extend the solution to the entire Group, which means that, by 2022, all legacy solutions will be eliminated, therefore the objective is to include all the Company information in the Group Data Warehouse and subsequently have all reports and dashboards built on top of that database. The database is the key point, where the daily information dated from the source system, called SSOT (only reliable source) because efficiently the organization wants to use this database of the group as the only reliable source to produce all reports.
"Working with BI4ALL was what I was looking for, but I didn't know if I would find it. With BI4ALL I found a group of highly motivated and dedicated people who work in a very agile way that was what we needed."
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