Published on 07-Oct-2008
Validated on 17 Feb 2011
"We use Cognos business intelligence to determine price increases, what customers we need to notify, and the overall business impact. Given the thousands of customers we have and the vast product mix, Cognos, affects our bottom line tremendously." - ~ Chuck Redpath, Director of IT, The HallStar Company
The HallStar Company
Business Intelligence, Leveraging Information
The HallStar Company, formerly known as The C. P. Hall Company, is a leading supplier of performance additives to the polymer and personal care industries worldwide. HallStar manufactures and supplies materials that are used extensively in the production of rubber, plastics, adhesives and coatings, selected personal care and specialized industrial applications. The manufacturer is a lean and agile midsized company focused on innovation and efficiency.
The abundance of data from a Lawson ERP system overwhelmed employees. Dedicated to providing employees with the right tools, HallStar deployed a solution to give employees quick and easy access to information and reports. Also, HallStar wanted a self-service solution to take the reporting and analysis burden off IT.
IBM® Cognos® 8 BI IBM Cognos PowerPlay® IBM Cognos Impromptu® Web Reports
Increase in revenue; Reduced inventory by 25%; Tighter integration with suppliers
To streamline the management of its business, HallStar implemented a Lawson ERP system. The implementation went well, however, the abundance of data overwhelmed employees, who described it as “drinking water from a fire hose.” Dedicated to providing employees with the right tools, HallStar decided to deploy an IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) solution to provide employees with quick and easy access to information and reports in their ERP solution.
For the first three years of its ERP implementation, HallStar tried to leverage IBM Lotus Notes®, a technology that the company already had in-house, with its ERP system. “It was like using a shoe for a hammer. It was just the wrong platform to really deliver the reports and data that we needed,” explains Chuck Redpath, Director of IT, The HallStar Company. “Employees really wanted to make the ERP sing. The only way to do that was to look at the data that the system was capturing and find solutions to access it more effectively and seamlessly.”
Equally important for HallStar was finding a solution that offered user self-service to help take the reporting and analysis burden off IT. “Prior to IBM Cognos IT had become the query department, with employees wanting access to numbers, data, and statistics from every facet of the business. We were getting nothing else done and it became a real hindrance,” stresses Redpath.
HallStar evaluated several reporting solutions, including Business Objects’ Crystal Reports. The company was attracted to IBM Cognos BI due to its usability, Web-based functionality, and self-service capabilities. “The way the data was put together and presented to end users, made a lot of sense,” comments Redpath. “The Web front-end was key. That really was an important aspect of the system because everybody knows how to use a Web browser. Due to this ease of use, we knew that we could get users up and running with only about half an hour of training.”
The first project that HallStar tackled with IBM was its inventory. Considered the company’s ‘killer app,’ the solution enabled HallStar to reduce inventory by 25 percent within a year. “Employees were amazed at their new visibility the system offered with just a few mouse clicks. That was a huge eye opener,” states Redpath. Based on this success, executive management and employees eagerly embraced IBM Cognos solutions. The IT department quickly rolled out the solution to the company’s order fulfillment, sales and marketing, manufacturing, quality and finance departments, and other business units across the company.
Since going live with IBM Cognos products in 2003, HallStar has deployed the solution throughout the entire enterprise. It has also standardized on IBM Cognos solutions for all its reporting and business intelligence needs.
Recently HallStar completed its migration to IBM Cognos 8 BI. The company completed much of the upgrade on its own; however, it did benefit from the expertise of IBM Cognos platinum partner, JCB Partners. JCB helped the company develop best practices and create the initial set of reports and dashboards for the CEO and the sales team.
Moving forward, HallStar plans to develop a dashboard that enables employees to access information that is relevant to them, such as key performance indicators affecting their yearly bonus.
In addition to freeing up the IT department at HallStar, IBM Cognos products have enabled its employees to meet their business objectives. It is now considered integral to the success of the company. “IBM Cognos is how we track everything that we’re doing,” emphasizes Redpath. “It allows us to see something going in the wrong direction and correct it immediately.”
Leveraged extensively throughout the organization, IBM has positively impacted the company’s revenue. “We use IBM Cognos business intelligence to determine price increases, what customers we need to notify, and the overall business impact,” explains Redpath. “Given the thousands of customers we have and the vast product mix, IBM Cognos affects our bottom line tremendously.”
Using IBM Cognos software, HallStar is now able to easily track thousands of individual stock keeping units (SKUs) worldwide. The company has a network of 20 distributors in more than 30 countries. Furthermore, its products can be packaged in five different ways. “Our product line grows exponentially every time we roll out a new material because of the different packaging options. It can be a nightmare to track if you don’t have the right tools,” says Redpath. “IBM Cognos allows us to view that kind of information very easily. Now it’s literally a click of the mouse away.”
HallStar also serves as a distributor for large chemical companies. Previously, HallStar would provide these companies with a monthly report to let them know how much product had been sold. With the help of IBM Cognos software, HallStar has created an extranet for suppliers so they can conveniently log in and check the status of their products. This frees up HallStar’s internal resources and creates stronger ties with its suppliers.
HallStar is already realizing strong benefits from its recent IBM Cognos 8 BI implementation with the delivery of key reports and metrics through its dashboards. CEO John Paro is often on the road. Previously, in order to get the reports he needed, Paro would have had to call the controller and have several reports emailed. Thanks to IBM Cognos software, on a recent trip to India he was able to use the executive dashboard to access all his information in real-time in a central location. “John definitely sees the value,” states Redpath.
About IBM Cognos BI and Performance Management
IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) and performance management solutions deliver world-leading enterprise planning, consolidation and BI software, support and services to help companies plan, understand and manage financial and operational performance. IBM Cognos solutions bring together technology, analytical applications, best practices, and a broad network of partners to give customers an open, adaptive and complete performance solution. Over 23,000 customers in more than 135 countries around the world choose IBM Cognos solutions.
Products and services used
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2008 IBM Canada 3755 Riverside Drive Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 4K9 Produced in Canada July 2008 All Rights Reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Lotus Notes, Cognos, PowerPlay and Impromptu are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (¨ or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.bm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study is an example of how one customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference in this information to non-IBM Web sites are provided for convenience only and do not in any manner serve as an endorsement of those Web sites. The materials at those Web sites are not part of the materials for this IBM product and use of those Web sites is at your own risk.