Tableau for transparency

When Ilari Kosonen began working as Tammer Brands' CFO a couple of years ago, the ambitions of the Board of Directors and owners were clear: they wanted data to be more transparent.  

"Previously, it was only possible to see one perspective at a time – either brands or product groups – but it was not possible to explore the data comprehensively in relation to any one dimension. We are a brand company that lives by its products, so data needs to be precisely understood. We concluded that it was not worth continuing with the old-fashioned reporting system. We evaluated our options, and Tableau was the clear technological choice. This led us to choose Knowit as our consulting partner," says Ilari Kosonen.  

Previously, the data was in several places, and some of it needed to be retrieved manually and consolidated in Excel spreadsheets. It was clear that the company did not want new software to maintain, instead preferring an easy and cost-efficient SaaS cloud service.  

The project started by collecting data from the ERP, product information system and in-store point-of-sale system into a data warehouse built on top of Snowflake. Dbt was also included, as it provides transparency during the source data conversion phase and, if necessary, helps to trace the data path and manage different versions of the data model. When the data models are described and documented in dbt and the logic is visible in version control, it is easier for new people to begin working with data. Tableau was chosen as the tool for visualising analytics because of the ease of use for less technical users. Alteryx has also been used for some specific cases, such as automatically generating certificates of conformity. 

From sales data to other business areas

The project started with sales data and analytics. Tammer Brands sells to corporate customers and in its own retail store, which previously provided only very limited data. Data from finance, warehousing, logistics and procurement were soon included.  

"Naturally, this data had been available in the past, but it was so cumbersome to get at that some groups of employees did not use it. People picked things up here and there. Now data can be viewed from almost any direction in a single place, and thanks to the vast improvement in availability, data is also more widely used," Kosonen says. 

Analytics development is a process, not a project

The Board of Directors and owners of Tammer Brands have been very satisfied with the transparency they have received. The operational management is also enthusiastic about utilising data, although it has been quite a change from the familiar old spreadsheets. Managers now look at key performance indicators in Tableau, which displays a wide range of information from different perspectives in a single place. It makes it possible to answer even the toughest questions straight away. 

"Whenever a new entity is completed, I hold a presentation session for the group concerned and advise them on how to use it. Fortunately, Tableau is easy to use. It is in its element when it is running analytics, but we have thought carefully about how modern we want our analytics to be. Employees have expressed the wish for reports in a relatively pre-packaged form so that a few elements can be changed," Kosonen says. 

Knowit was chosen as a partner initially because of its Tableau expertise, and the parties have been highly satisfied with the expansion of their collaboration. It has become a good, established practice to have weekly reviews with Tammer Brands' CFO and Business Controller, and Knowit’s experts, who also liaise directly with Tammer Brands' experts in different areas as required. When a major sector-specific development is underway, separate development meetings are held about once a month. 

"This has ensured we keep up the momentum, and there is always something to work on. Knowit has the expertise for the front-end as well as back-end data management. Whenever we have come up with an idea, everything has been built for us," says Kosonen. 

Now that the most critical implementations are complete and the data is in good order, the parties can focus on extending and enhancing analytics. Everyone has become more enthusiastic as the work has progressed, and there are more requests for expansion than can be realised. Analytics is wisely approached as a collaborative process, not a project. The groundwork for both data collection and modelling was done on the basis that it will be possible for Tammer Brands to work towards requests for the further development of the utilisation of self-service analytics and advanced analytics with its own staff. 

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Markku Haukijärvi
Senior Sales Executive, Knowit Solutions Oy
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