The IT department at a food distribution company in Hawaii with about 160 employees and $80 million in annual revenue spent large amounts of time building reports for the business. This included daily, weekly, and monthly reports for pricing changes, fill rates, sales history, items damaged in transit, and sales by customer year-to-date. The team, made up of an IT Director, administrative assistant, programmer, network administrator, and overnight operator, completed a long checklist of queries manually every day.
Each query had to be edited individually for date and criteria before running. Reports were then printed for distribution. If a recipient wanted their requested data in Excel, someone would have to rekey all of the data from the printed report into a spreadsheet. The administrative assistant would spend almost two hours per day editing each query, then running and distributing reports. Each team member also needed a few more hours per week to pull weekly reports. The programmer and network administrator spent at least one day per month doing end-of-month reports, and it took two or three days for the IT Director to get through his month-end custom reporting checklists.
IT was spending multiple days per month creating reports, but by the time the business got it, the data was not current. And with either a printed report or a spreadsheet, analyzing the data and creating an action plan was difficult. IT reporting required too much time and effort, and it wasn’t paying off with insights into business decisions.
Back to an Old Friend
When a new IT Director came on board at this food distributor, he told his team their reporting processes could be running more smoothly. He had used Sequel Data Access in his previous position and knew that as a flexible, modern IBM i data access tool, it could retrieve actionable data quickly and easily.
Once the software was implemented, he converted queries to run in Sequel. There were between 1200 and 1300 statements in some of the reports the company was running on a regular basis, but with Sequel those statements were placed in 60 reports that ran hands-free on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis without needing an overnight operator. In addition, instead of spending hours and hours customizing reports and reformatting, he could simply send data to business users or customers in whatever format they wanted. This process greatly simplified the IT reporting process.
And Adding a New Friend
Green screen query building requires a user to have technical knowledge to build reports. With reporting now automated, the company moved beyond green screen and started using Sequel Viewpoint. Viewpoint makes a way for users to get timely, actionable data on their desktop in formats that are ready to analyze. And reports are much easier to create. The IT Director hadn’t worked with Viewpoint before but found it saved even more time. “The green screen was good, but it took time. With Viewpoint we could just drag and drop connections and sorting. It’s so flexible and configurable! We really couldn’t live without it.” It became even easier to develop, modify, and distribute spreadsheets with Viewpoint.
The Impact Spreads
The benefits of Sequel spread beyond the IT department to other areas of the business. Accounting was able to get the information they needed in a spreadsheet to slice and dice financial data. IT then worked with Sales, Operations, and other departments to find out their pain points and how reporting would help them. Based on that feedback, the IT Director easily developed reports to run on a daily, weekly or month basis for each department to analyze in Sequel Viewpoint or Excel spreadsheets.
“IT started to provide more actionable, timely information to move the company forward,” he explained. In the past, reporting took too long and was just historical, so they couldn’t act on current data. With faster, more timely reports, they started anticipating needs. As a food distributor, they needed to know what products were almost out of stock to make deliveries efficient. With Sequel, reports would run overnight without any monitoring and send automatically to the people loading the trucks in the morning. If they were out of a product, they could substitute something instead of sending out an expensive special rush delivery later.
Support and Training
Support and Training
Because of his experience with Sequel and the intuitive nature of the software, the IT Director didn’t need training for himself or his team, but he has taken advantage of the Sequel webinars and stays in contact with the Support team to expand his product knowledge. He says that with so many capabilities, his usage probably just scratches the surface. “Every time I solve a problem, I get a better way to do it from the Support team, so my history of views changes year by year.”
Over the years the IT Director has used Sequel, he has only contacted Support for best practice questions, especially around date manipulation. “I took note of the way we solved different problems so I could solve it in the future. I always got the answer I needed in a timely manner. The support group is top-notch.” Support was one of the most instrumental forces for adopting Sequel at this food distribution company, keeping users on track and able to rely on their reporting to make key business decisions.
Being able to run reports in Sequel overnight without monitoring was a game changer for this company’s IT department. They didn’t need an overnight operator anymore and were able to use the talents of the others in the department much more effectively with so many hours and even days of work time freed up. Flexibility in report delivery and automation made processes much smoother. Being able to send the right information to the right people in time for them to act has saved the company both time and money.
Saved over 100 hours of manual report-building per month
Turned 1200+ statements into 60 automated reports
Provided business access to timely information to make better business decisions