Effectively and securely managing data is one of the greatest challenges for any company. Multiple sources of truth, lack of integration between different sources and even data theft being some of the main issues. These problems can be quite common and even large, multinational companies are not immune from them. 

Over the years we were able to see that challenges were always around the same issues, no matter how big or small the company was.

Common challenges when managing data

Integration

Data integration can be a huge issue if you are dealing with data from multiple sources and platforms; with increased difficulty if you have staff working from different locations and applying different rules. An added difficulty is that staff may have different needs of the data, particularly in regards to how they view, analyse, present and store the data.

Business rules

Each business will also have its own set of rules focusing on how day-to-day activities within the business are performed. As every business is different, these rules will reflect this difference and will need to be accounted for when interacting with data. There can even be discrepancies in business rules depending on the different department someone works in as they view the data in their own unique way.

Roles and security

As staff will have different roles and responsibilities within a company, making sure that the right people have access to the data – as well as ensuring that unauthorised people aren’t able to access that data – can be a big security challenge.

Data sources

With the broad range of software packages on the market, it’s common for businesses to have data in many different source systems.  These packages are often difficult to get data into the format a user finds easy to work with or are missing functionality that make it easy to integrate with other systems in the organisation.

Analytics

It’s one thing to be able to enter data into a database, you also need to be able to analyse and visualise the  data so that you can get the most value from it. Businesses often struggle to make critical decisions using data, as it isn’t readily available in one single system.

Data consolidation

The act of data consolidation involves combining disparate sources of data into a dataset with common attributes that make it easy for key stakeholders to analyse and consume. Human error can occur when stakeholders are required to gather data from different source systems and manually manipulate it for reporting or analysis. 

Board packs and report consolidation

When the Board of Directors meet, they need to have all the pertinent information readily at their disposal so they can make critical decisions based on accurate and relevant data. To aid in the readability and usability of the information, reports may need to be consolidated, and the entire process can be extremely time consuming, not only for the staff compiling the packs and reports, but also for those reading them.

Benefits Of Unify

UNiFY is a comprehensive master data management solution which simplifies and reduces the effort required to perform data consolidation, master data management (MDM) and financial reporting.

UNiFY allows businesses to not only compile and consolidate the information they need into a single source of truth but also output reports and analytics, while having complete control over who can access the data.

Consolidation

One of the main benefits of UNiFY is the ability to consolidate data from different sources and then view and manipulate that data in a variety of ways. Some of these methods include:

  • Creating master records and rules to automatically maintain them
  • Creating a master view of your organisation to manage data from different departments and sources
    • For example, Combining Costs from finance and FTE from HR to create a metric of “Cost per FTE”
  • Building multiple hierarchical views of your organisation
  • Mapping dimensions to hierarchical views
  • Managing change control and approvals via integrated workflow
  • Providing a solid foundation for standardising reporting, output formats and dashboards
  • Providing a user security model to control maintenance & access to data

Governance

UNiFY allows access controls to be set to enable effective change management across the reporting lifecycle. Hierarchies, views and reporting structures can be administered by power users, while subject-matter experts may be assigned subsets to maintain within the master view. All changes are then logged centrally to ensure all updates & modifications can be viewed.

Integration and Out-of-the-box connectors

UNiFY comes standard with an ODBC, OLEDB and API connectors (including Xero, MYOB, JDE, SAP and many more) to import data from any compatible source, while standard interfaces allow for easy integration with on-prem or cloud data platforms, Business Intelligence tools, reports and management packs. 
Data mapping

UNiFY allows mapping of dimensions (e.g. Customers, Suppliers, Accounts etc) to hierarchical views (e.g. Organisation departments) so that data can be analysed across different criteria.

Reporting formats

Through UNiFY you can easily produce reports for profit and loss, balance sheets, cash flows, and many other requirements, with easily configured attributes such as fonts, colours, headings, footings, and rolling subtotals. 

KPI engine

The UNiFY KPI engine can define and manage KPIs across hierarchical structures over time. KPIs may comprise measures from multiple sources, such as a combination of financial and/or operational measures, which can then be consolidated and standardised within one environment. Users can create KPIs using formulae or algorithms, such as time-based functions, which can then be used for analysing data across multiple criteria.

Financial BI

Most BI products do not allow consolidation, rollups, financial formats or managing data outside of existing source systems without serious manual effort and development. UNiFY is one of the only products that actually allows financial reporting inside a Business Intelligence tool out of the box.

Active directory/security

Through integration with Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD), security can be applied within applications, reports, report prompts and sourced from multiple AD domains. 

Roles within UNiFY can be managed within AD groups and then applied to the data structures. User and role security can be applied at any level within a structure, allowing access to the particular level and its subsidiary levels.

Contact the team at ITeM Group for a confidential discussion on how we can help you get the most value from your data: https://itemgroup.com.au/contact/ 

CASE STUDY

Client

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited is the largest pharmaceutical company in South Africa, with market capitalisation of around US$8 Billion. Aspen Australia manufactures, markets and distributes over $650M of pharmaceutical, over the counter (OTC) and nutritional products to the Australian and New Zealand markets. 

Business challenges

Aspen expanded their business operations to complement their existing marketing and distribution business. This was achieved by acquiring manufacturing capabilities and nutritional businesses from existing companies within Australia. They outsourced their distribution requirements to a third party to enhance their business offering, though the expansion left multiple applications and external vendors with data sources that required systems integration, as well as a data warehouse that needed enhancements to cope with the new business model. 

Technical environment

Point-to-point systems integration was acquired with no integration framework. Data feeds and business rules were duplicated where multiple sources (e.g. ERP, Data Warehouse, web applications etc.) required access to the same information. 

A legacy data warehouse running Microsoft SQL 2000 and deprecated DTS packages were still being used for core reporting alongside a deprecated Cognos 8 environment. New external data feeds were required from wholesalers and Aspen’s new distribution partner were required alongside new ERP instances. 

Solution

ITeM Group’s own Master Data Management (MDM) tool – UNiFY – was configured to consolidate three separate general ledgers from each of the ERP systems, mapping over 10,000 accounts to a single hierarchy which controls all consolidated financial reporting and therefore ensures consistency between various reports. Aspen is now in a position to completely trust the information within these reports, meaning their strategic decision-making capability was greatly enhanced. 

Benefits

The central approach of an Operational Data Store for data/systems integration allowed for all systems to receive the same data feed – cutting down on significant long-term maintenance. Data for reporting is stored centrally in the Data Warehouse which can be refreshed on an ad-hoc, controlled basis without requiring IT involvement. Load on source systems is significantly reduced as reports no longer need to access these systems directly. 

A system was developed to run and store all financial reports. This enabled the finance team to identify any data issues on easy to read Dashboards in the BI tool, significantly increasing accuracy across reports and business processes. While the CFO previously had to wait four–five days to complete monthly reporting using manual Excel processes, these processes are now available at the click of a button and typically take less than one hour to complete. 

UNiFY TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

Can be deployed on-prem, via Cloud VM, or SAAS (cloud hosted) by ITeM Group.

Onsite / Cloud VM requires:

– Microsoft SQL (2008 or above);

– Microsoft Active Directory; 

– WEB server to deploy the application

Contact the team at ITeM Group for a confidential discussion on how we can help you get the most value from your data: Click here to get in touch