Change agents: Leaders in information management technology
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Bryan Brewer, Operations Manager at the Womble Company, headquartered in Houston, Texas, remembers talking to his boss, the CFO of his firm, who wanted a report on how much they had billed in strip load out charges since the company had implemented JD Edwards in June of 2011. The CFO turned to walk away after asking Brewer this question, expecting him to run a report, which could take hours. "Hold on a minute," replied Brewer. He quickly ran a report which took under three minutes to process, then gave the number to his boss, who was still waiting by Brewer's desk. The CFO was able to make a decision on the spot.
Compared to how things used to be at Womble, this was nothing short of miraculous. "We run, on average, 200 to 225 inventory reports per week ... The ladies who used to run these reports manually, it took them on average 8-10 minutes per report, which comes out to 26 to 28 man hours. Altogether, that's three and a half man-days," he says. Time spent running reports adds up, especially when you have many reports you regularly run. "We are saving 1,560 hours per year, at least ... and that's just on the inventory side," concludes Brewer.
The Womble Company is a small, family-owned pipe and steel coating manufacturer with many clients in the oil industry. Its industrial facilities are serviced by truck, rail and barge, and it regularly handles the cargo of 150 to 200 trucks and around 10 to 16 railcars per day. At a moment's notice, its employees must be able to check the whereabouts of all inventory currently in their stockyards. As a result, they use 110 DC link handheld scanners, which record the movement of each piece of inventory, then feed the data directly to JD Edwards.
Brewer was up to the challenge of finding a company with a product capable of handling Womble's unique needs, but he was sure he didn't want the organization to move away from using JD Edwards, which integrated very well with the handheld scanners. This meant he would have to find a solution that would integrate with JD Edwards. "I try to educate our people ... Or business is very much a pen and paper business. We need to find ways that we can work smarter, so that we don't have to add people and we can empower [employees] to do their jobs," says Brewer of Womble's situation. So, the search was on for a product that would make reporting less painful and allow Womble to not add any employees to their lean lineup.
Self-service BI to the rescue
"Business users are not actually sitting in their cubes saying, 'please build me another report I have to run,'" says Glenn Wirick, VP of product strategy and management at InsightSoftware. "They want information with which they can make business decisions. The final piece of this is data that sometimes shows up in a report." InsightSoftware makes programs that consolidate reports, make data more accessible and run in real time, all while integrating with JD Edwards. "The industry has a potentially erroneous decision making process; it is very focused on feature functions for building reports on the customer side. It's easy to fall into that," says Wirick. InsightSoftware, he says, has a different approach -- one that values functionality over features and is based more on getting answers than on just getting numbers.
Brewer was looking for other people who had experienced similar issues with their IT shops and met Wirick at a JD Edwards users conference. Wirick persuaded him to give InsightSoftware a try, and Brewer is now glad that he did. "I know that I'm good at what I do, but I'm only good at what I do because of partners like Glenn," says Brewer.
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Within days of installing InsightSoftware’s InsightUnlimited on Womble's machines, Brewer knew he had made the right choice. While Womble hasn't reduced the size of their workforce since they installed a self-service BI system, they haven't had to hire anyone new, which is a blessing for a smaller organization that tries to run as lean as possible. His organization is opening another stockyard and coating facility in the next few months, and he says he feels confident that they are organized and ready to take on the challenge -- in part because they have embraced self-service BI, rather than relying on time-consuming report running and manual calculations.
Since integrating InsightSoftware, Brewer says he's had other vendors offer to replace the software and offer their services at a lower rate, but Brewer is so happy with InsightSoftware that he's declined. When asked why, he explains not only how satisfied he is with the product, but also that "Your career path is based upon decisions you make and partnerships you form," implying that he feels his relationship with InsightSoftware is very much a partnership.