Using data to prepare for potential M&A activity

Situation

A large manufacturer had recently acquired a handful of subsidiary companies. In preparation for the M&A activity, the company wanted to improve its ability to analyze its own sales and production data, to be able to seamlessly incorporate the data of the newly acquired subsidiaries. Prior to our engagement, the company was generating daily Excel reports that contained Sales and Order data. These reports were distributed every morning via email. On a text table nearly 100 figures, recipients of the reports were focused on only a handful of data points. To get to the metrics they did care about, many recipients were copying and pasting the desired information from the provided report into a new Excel document where they would do their own analysis. Though the copying and pasting approach did provide users with the ability to manipulate data to answer some of their questions, it created additional challenges:  
  • Recipients were spending hours of their work week on this report customizatio
  • Efforts were being duplicated throughout departments, unbeknownst to anyone
  • The customizations were prone to human error, which in turn led to misunderstanding of the state of the business

The Continuus Approach

 
To begin the project, we first met with the entire executive team to understand business needs as they related to the existing daily Excel reports. We determined how each individual was analyzing and using the available data. It was during these meetings that we found that nearly all report recipients were repurposing the reports in Excel to do their own analysis. We discovered that although the executive team had a deep desire to understand their data, the current reports were so difficult to analyze that the end users were unable to do anything more than a basic analysis of the company’s situation.
 
After developing an understanding of how company executives were currently using the reports and what business questions were important to them, we were able to construct Tableau reports to address needs that were not being met. We developed Tableau dashboards that are automatically refreshed with the cadence of the data and are available in Tableau Server whenever they are needed. The reports start with the high-level detail that is important to the executive team, and then allow the recipient to dig into the line level details where desired. The solution provides timely, on-demand, interactive dashboards that can immediately spark conversations and peak interests in areas of the business that were previously being neglected.
 
 

Results

 
The company now has much greater insight into its sales and order data. Beyond simply being able to read the reports, the recipients can now understand the meaning behind the data. Executives who were only using few data points on the report are now able to delve deeper and get a better understanding of what is causing overall numbers. In turn, they are able to use the data to drive business initiatives and goals in an entirely new way. As a bonus, the view into the underlying data has allowed the company to identify gaps in process and find opportunities to improve data entry. The newfound insights into the sales and orders of the company also stimulated the desire for and creation of a similar level of reporting into the quoting activity, to further assess the health and state of the overall business.