Columbus delivers rapid reporting from multiple data sources

21st February 2019
Anna Flockett

Polyco Healthline is an industry leading provider of protection and hygiene products and services – including over three billion gloves annually – across 38 countries, and Columbus has delivered the new analytics solution based on TimeXtender Discovery Hub, which provides Polyco Healthline with automated data warehousing from multiple sources for rapid reporting.

As Polyco Healthline has a reputation for high quality, compliant products and over 85 years of industry experience, it sought to stay agile and competitive by adopting an advanced analytics solution to streamline business operations.

Building for the future
Polyco Healthline, the global provider of hygiene and protection products, has developed a strong reputation for agile distribution, product innovation and excellent customer service. The company boasts over 30,000m2 of warehouse space to support the handling of over 5,000 shipping containers annually – serving sectors as wide-ranging as construction, retail and healthcare across 38 countries.

With such a critical role in the global supply chain and large volumes of stock being distributed each day, Polyco Healthline requires accurate tracking and recording of business operations – as well as rapid analysis of data for detailed reporting.

Its previous reporting process was slow and siloed due to acquisitions that introduced multiple ERP platforms and a variety of legacy Business Intelligence applications into the Polyco Healthline technology ecosystem.

“Agile, detailed Business Intelligence is absolutely vital in such a competitive industry, particularly with our focus on highly optimised logistics and just-in-time supply,” said Mike Heath, Head of Business Systems at Polyco Healthline. “Our business analysts needed far greater insight into operations, sales volumes, budgets, forecasting and procurement.”

Polyco Healthline recognised the need to overhaul its existing analytics solution and improve the end-user experience by transitioning away from legacy systems towards a scalable, agile replacement.

Columbus was approached to evaluate the existing Polyco Healthline technology landscape, evaluate current Business Intelligence and analytics processes and propose a roadmap that would move Polyco Healthline to a streamlined, future-proof reporting solution.

Mapping out a comprehensive solution
Columbus consultants and technical experts delivered an initial ‘envisioning’ session to bring together all key stakeholders from Polyco Healthline, evaluate the existing analytics and wider IT systems, and develop a proposed strategy for transformation.

TimeXtender Discovery Hub Discovery Hub from TimeXtender is a highly scalable, all-in-one platform that enables businesses to consolidate data from multiple sources for more accurate analysis and reporting. Discovery Hub can be deployed as an on-premise, hybrid or fully cloud-based solution.

As a valued TimeXtender partner, Columbus brings together decades of industry experience and consultancy expertise with a proven analytics solution for a powerful combination.

The session highlighted the disparate nature of existing solutions – with the business operating several instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and NAV – and succeeded in identifying bottlenecks in the data manipulation and reporting process. A particular focus was a significant overhaul of the reporting dashboards used by business analysts, with the goal of removing dependency on legacy platforms to heavily cut refresh times.

“Polyco Healthline has grown significantly over the past few years, and with each acquisition we’ve incorporated more business processes and systems into our technology landscape,” said Heath. “There were simply too many legacy data tools deployed in narrow roles, which we urgently needed to streamline.”

Columbus proposed and implemented a proof of concept in less than five days to demonstrate project feasibility. TimeXtender Discovery Hub provides automated, comprehensive data warehousing to help streamline data reporting for the end-user.

“In some roles, we still used ‘bloated’ Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to store and manipulate data for business-critical operations,” continued Heath. “The transition to TimeXtender Discovery Hub allows us to introduce a degree of automation into the reporting process, ensuring we’re never kept waiting for valuable insights.”

Collaborating for success
Columbus technical experts have trained Polyco Healthline staff on the intuitive new solution within just three days. Solution changes, fixes and training have been proactively delivered on a rolling basis.

“Since our first workshop session, Columbus has provided a first-rate level of collaboration, training and support,” said Heath. “Having such a responsive partner willing to tailor their work around our shifting business priorities has been a major advantage and ensured seamless progression of our analytics overhaul.”

“Instead of developing new features and fixes in isolation, we work hand-in-hand with the Polyco Healthline team to ensure we add maximum value,” says Chris Clifford, Technical Solution Architect at Columbus. “This high degree of collaboration has helped us go above and beyond addressing the original customer pain points.”

Forward-looking solutions
With the new TimeXtender Discovery Hub, Polyco Healthline now enjoys automated data warehousing to support rapid reporting and is capable of handling and unlocking value from the ever-rising volume of enterprise data. The complexity of the reporting process has been significantly reduced by consolidating multiple data sources into a single platform.

The original project goal of more agile reporting dashboards has been comfortably met, with the new solution slashing dashboard refresh times from over a minute to less than ten seconds. Sustained collaboration between Polyco Healthline and Columbus continues to add value, with Columbus technical experts providing training and support as part of a drive to help the company become self-sufficient with the new solution.

Detailed evaluation of the entire Polyco Healthline technology landscape has identified the potential for further system improvements, such as consolidation of existing ERP systems and a transition to cloud-based Microsoft enterprise solutions.

“From day one, we worked to accurately map out their current enterprise IT and analytics landscape, identify specific pain points and develop a proof of concept that could be rapidly implemented,” says Chris Clifford, Technical Solution Architect at Columbus. “But our partnership doesn’t end at the deployment stage – we collaborate regularly with Polyco Healthline technical staff to identify areas for further improvement and provide training and troubleshooting.”

“The ability to make rapid, data-driven business decisions is invaluable to us,” said Heath. “With more intuitive analytics and reporting, the day-to-day user experience has been greatly enhanced, and we now have a strong platform for future projects to help maintain our competitive advantage in the industry.”

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