Company: Cascades Tissue Group

Leading Health Care Provider Utilizes Robust BI Solution to Manage Key Performance Indicators and Enhanced Drilled Down Data

When  Jocelyn Laberge started in the business intelligence (BI) department at  Cascades Tissue Group (a division of the Kingsey Falls, Quebec-based recycled paper  and packaging company Cascades), he was automating sales reports that were sent  by e-mail to managers. The BI software wasn’t flexible or easy to use: “We  had to train people constantly and it wasn’t very intuitive,” says  Laberge.

Things  have changed. Today, some 70 inventory managers, sales managers, supply  chain/production managers and customer service representatives across Cascades  Tissue Group use a Web-based BI system (Panorama’s BI Solution). Since it was  installed in 2005, it has helped the group reduce inventory levels, produce  custom reports more easily and even improve efficiency and profitability in  certain areas, according to Laberge.

The Quest for Easier Custom Analysis

Like  everything IT-related, changes to the company’s BI strategy didn’t take place  overnight. First, the Tissue Group converted from a Cognos application to an  Excel add-on application that allowed them to browse online analytical  processing (OLAP) cubes from Microsoft SQL Server, and to create and send  reports as Microsoft Excel files to salespeople.

Yet as  with the original system, end users were not able to create or tweak reports  themselves without specialized analytical skills, says Laberge. It was a  “you get what you get” kind of reporting environment.

“The  goal was to get to more of a custom analysis, so we began to look for another  tool to connect to our SQL Server database,” Laberge says.

After  evaluating several comprehensive BI systems, the Tissue Group selected the  Panorama’s BI Solution suite for its integration with SQL Server, SQL Reporting Services, and  Excel, with a core license including dashboard capabilities. Because the SQL  Server OLAP cubes were already defined, the installation was relatively simple,  Laberge says. It was deployed on the Tissue Group’s Web server, and then  connected to the SQL Server cubes.

Training  users on Panorama’s BI Solution took only a few hours, he adds, and reports now take half the  time to create or modify.

Sales and  inventory employees receive standard reports as an Excel attachment by e-mail.  If they need custom analysis, they can use the Web-based application to create  different reports, which can be saved as PDF or Excel files. “The software  is like using a pivot table in Excel,” Laberge says. “You just drag  and drop fields into the grid and right-click to make selections.”  Authorized users can access the app (via a password) at home or on the road,  from any computer–although mobile phone access is not currently available.

Fine-Tuning Operations

Business  intelligence at Cascades Tissue Group is helping with more than just sales  analysis. It’s reaching across the company to deliver the kind of results  Laberge and other managers were seeking.

Prior to Panorama’s BI Solution, each mill operated in a silo, with no visibility into what the other  mills were doing, or the goals across the company. Now all 14 mills can compare  data such as inventory levels, backorder levels and warehouse capacity;  improved data sharing and collaboration has helped lower inventory by 20  percent.

So that  the shipping department could get better insight into its carriers and their  performance, the BI team built a cube in SQL Server to understand shipping  patterns, and connected that data to Panorama’s BI Solution. The software now helps answer  questions such as: if a product is made in Canada and sent to California, would  using a U.S.-based mill cut down on shipping costs? By analyzing its main  carriers’ shipping routes, the company can optimize travel as well–a carrier  could bring raw materials back to a mill after delivering products, for  example.

Cascades  Tissue Group has been focusing on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as part  of a manufacturing/production efficiency initiative. Panorama’s BI Solution pulls data from a  manufacturing execution system, which stores product information. This process  allows individual mills to see their efficiency levels and analyze their  effectiveness across each category of products. The OEE initiative in  combination with BI is helping the company improve its overall productivity,  Laberge says.

Finally,  Cascades Tissue Group is using its BI tools to measure profitability.  Previously, “small mills were basing profitability on three or four  factors while other mills were much more thorough,” Laberge says. Now, the  corporate BI system translates profitability for each mill using the same  measures.

Cascades  Tissue Group plans to continue down the BI path. Over the next 12 months,  Laberge says the company will prioritize its OEE efforts to help improve the  availability, performance and quality of manufacturing.

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