SAP Business Objects Dashboard for Discrete Manufacturing Environment

By Vinod Pandey, Head IT, GHCL Limited (Chemicals)

SAP is well established among all sizes of indus­tries and businesses as a preferred, value for money Enterprise Resource Plan­ning software and also as the first choice for perfect process map­ping and resource planning.

Business Information Dashboard requirement is growing every year by multiple folds among businesses. To deal with this, SAP provides a suitable software package called Business Objects and Business Intelligence which works great for businesses if implemented accurately and effectively. In Discrete manufacturing scenario, things are not simple as processes may turn lengthy and complex. Data is also huge, technically complex and therefore fulfilling the requirement on Business Intelligence and Analytics is challenging.

Key areas

1. Preparation by identifying the information sources versus data on Dashboard.

2. Machine Data transformation to Data warehouse.

3. Layout finalization for Key Data pertaining to Technical areas/ Machine performance.

4. Adoption of new Technologies like IoT, Mobility etc for capturing data from Machines/sensors/ etc.

5. Setting up user base to increase the usability of Data by training and one-to-one discussion.

6. Regular follow up with users for their Feedback and inputs.

The preparation

Industries and businesses in the manufacturing segment looking for Analytics, can take advantage from software like SAP Business Objects and Business Intelligence with thorough planning. Jotting down all key points and keeping your team updated with long term vision is the key to success. Analytics projects are focused on the requirement from top management and key users of businesses.

The key points to be taken care for accurate estimation of total requirement and work to be done are

1. Understanding the user’s day-to-day working style and the type information they use.

2. In what way the key user receives the required information, i.e. through system generated reports, excel files through emails, manual updates etc.

3. Prepare a list of these KPIs user wise collecting real time sample data along with it.

At this point, the project team can easily understand the ocean of information which will be a larger scope of their project on Analytics.

Requirement gathering and discussions

This second step would give a clear idea on total scope of work for entire project. Once we understand the Key-user/HOD/Top-Management user’s day-to-day working style, it is time to narrow down onto KPIs which need to be captured on AnalyticalDashboards.

“In Discrete manufacturing scenario, things are not simple as processes may turn lengthy and complex. Data is also huge, technically complex and therefore fulfilling the requirement on Business Intelligence and Analytics is challenging”

In manufacturing, often, it is difficult to collect and decide on presentation of few KPI data as the data might be coming from sources which may not be connected to the ERP system. In such scenario, different methods should be worked out to fetch those data into ERP or BI system. This is where most of people get stuck-up and sometimes try to exclude such KPIs from information Dashboard. One long term solution could be mapping those processes in ERP through customizations or an interface tool. Thorough discussions with users are useful to filter out unnecessary data from Dashboards and finalise the scope of Dashboard development. Based on the discussions, a mock can be prepared for Dashboard. This mock must be discussed in detail with the concern user for sign-off and thereafter it can be considered for development. Here, it is important for top management to have discussions with HODs on KPIs with top management’s wish list taken as project milestone.

Team formation and Consultants

It is necessary that each and every project team member including freshers to have a clear understanding of business processes. This will enable them to quickly understand the data and contribute to designing a meaningful information Dashboard. External consultants and subject matter experts are required to shape-up the Project and freeze timelines. Today there are many Analytical software and consulting firms are available in the market. Best would be to select consultants who work on the technology which you are about to implement. Beware of false commitments from over-confident consulting firms. A detailed project timeline must be discussed with the consultant along with the mock copy of all the Dashboards.

Project Kick-off

Starting off the project with the right steps is as important as project planning. Make sure that all the required resources like the IT team, consultants, systems etc. are available as per planning requirement. If anything is missing, this is the time to fulfil the gap. The technical data from machines or PLC systems to the ERP/BI system must be reviewed by an experienced person from IT or the concern department. Verifying the industry specific technical data is crucial; else this could lead to the development of wrong reports on Dashboard. Based on the time lines, the results must be achieved. However if progress is not monitored timely important points may be missed or done wrong. Project manager must record all the points in a worksheet and shared with all team members and top management.

Once the first cut of Dashboard is prepared, thorough data testing should be performed by concerned user and the system performance must be checked. User can start working with the first cut and further development/changes can be taken forward by the project team.

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