OSG (UK) Ltd uses Microsoft Dynamics AX, however, despite the quality of the business data the system contains, reporting output was not able to fully support management’s decision-making processes.
“Microsoft Dynamics AX reports ‘out of the box’ like most ERP systems, are limited,” Tuohy says, “and the separate OLAP cubes were not very functional or elegant in design. They didn’t meet our needs, especially in the rather desperate current economic climate. We needed to know more about what was happening in our business and to understand our profitability better.”
For example, with limited manufacturing in the United Kingdom, the company buys products from its sister OSG companies in yen, euros and dollars. Volatile exchange rates mean that margins change rapidly.
In the early part of 2009, John Tuohy was asked to look for a solution to these information control and analysis problems. He quickly dismissed solutions that would involve a third party developer, such as having more cubes written in Cognos on Dynamics AX (which is used by OSG in the USA) or having Dynamics AX reports developed for them.
We needed better insight into where the business was goingJohn Tuohy - Operations Manager
The speed of preparing new Dynamics AX reports and the flexibility of analysis is the first noticeable benefit. “Users rarely know exactly what they want and initially don’t know what PrecisionPoint is capable of,” says John Tuohy. “However, when they see the first report, even though it is rarely what they want, they have a better idea of what they need. Because we are building reports ourselves we can change them to make them more meaningful and intuitive on the spot.”
He says that he can now build a new report in ten or fifteen minutes that provides exactly what is wanted and then it is available for reuse. That is a major leap forward, compared with having to work out what information is available in the PrecisionPoint Microsoft Dynamics AX reports and extract it in Microsoft Excel for manual manipulation and analysis.
However, the financial benefits are just as important. PrecisionPoint has the ability to provide analysis of the product mix of sales in each area that has allowed the company to identify strategic sales opportunities, such as targeting specific industries in an area or cross selling to specific customers to balance out the product mix. “It empowers the sales staff to go out and get more sales” says Tuohy.
The profitability analysis is also very important, providing information enabling the company to make strategic decisions to maximise its gross margin. Aggressive pricing can be damaging if exchange rates move in the wrong direction. “It is great to be selling,” says John Tuohy, “but it is no good if you are not making a profit – or are actually losing money.”
The system’s user friendly administrative interface is key to usability. John Tuohy finds the data warehouse to be very comprehensive, including access to important Microsoft Dynamics AX fields that are not normally available for inclusion in reports.
The first report was customer turnover by product, for the marketing and sales staff. It was given to them in the form of a Microsoft Excel workbook. John Tuohy recalls that the users were pleased – and instantly asked for more! “They were not used to getting data that is meaningful to our business,” he says. “The flexibility has impressed me and we can now get reports ‘on the fly’.”
The next report added depth, by reporting product mix by geographical area. This allowed users to review marketing and distribution strategies for their products in each area and make changes as appropriate to improve sales performance by raising our profitability. Another reporting requirement was instant access to up-to-date margins, which is vitally important at the current time. The company is trying to lower its inventory overhead costs by increasing reaction time for order fulfilment, but must also ensure sales are at a realistic price to maintain margin control and profitability.
The monthly accounts pack will be generated automatically from the system, making the finance manager’s life easier. The company’s parent is quoted on the Japanese stock exchange, so it has to report back to its Japanese head office with information that is confidently ‘one source of truth’, audit accurate, and complete.
“Those demands are getting heavier and heavier, so it will free up a lot of the finance manager’s time to have such dependable information to reply upon. “
- Increase revenue and margin through visibility of information
- Speed and flexibility or reporting and analysis
OSG (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of OSG Corporation of Japan, manufactures, sells and distributes high performance cutting tools, taps and dies to engineering distributors and manufacturers across the UK. It has users in all industries, but is particularly favoured by racing car, aircraft and engine manufacturers.
- PrecisionPoint Financials and Advanced Inventory
- XLPublisher report writer in Excel
- Distribution of reports using web, PDF, Excel, Sharepoint, SSRS
- Need to understand business more thoroughly in a challenging climate
- Dynamics AX native reporting functionality too limited
- Require ability to view multi currency and impact of exchange rate
- Raised profitability
- Maintain margin control over sales
- Dependable information