Sandvik Finland outsources business intelligence reporting in order to ensure constant availability of necessary resources and reduce dependence on specific individuals. Affecto provides services to meet the current needs.
Knowing how to procure outsourced services
“In Finland we have one data management organisation that’s in charge of IT outsourcing. One key task in data management is to provide reporting and analysis services and the BI tools required for this purpose. As part of an international organisation, the production facilities need to do a lot of reporting. With these BI tools we’re then able to sift through the data in the various production control systems. Every month we run about 25,000 reports and queries in our Cognos system”, CIO Jouni Hämäläinen of Sandvik Finland.
“You could ask why we don’t just re-trieve the information from ERP systems. I brought this up in our negotiations with Affecto. In reality, we also use the BI tools to report operative information, for example, for the deliveries from the assembly plant in China.”
Sandvik has been using Cognos since the ‘90s. The primary reason the software was originally selected was because it could be used for accessing various data stores in DB2, Microsoft and Oracle databases.
“A new strategy is being created for our data management in Finland and one of the cornerstones is that, in the future, we’ll acquire coding and reporting services externally instead of providing them in-house. The decision to outsource business intelligence is related to this.”
Over six months to translate into reality
“When the agreement was signed in early June 2011, one employee transferred from Sandvik to Affecto in order to generate the required services. At the beginning of this year, we made a deal with another supplier concerning the Lotus Notes platform. Although both have their own inherent laws, Sandvik tried to create a similar working concept for both. The plan was to implement this new way of working by the end of the year.”
In real terms, this cooperation means that Sandvik no longer has any technical Cognos experts or report designers in-house. The BI platform and related services are purchased from third parties, even though the servers are still Sandvik’s.
According to Hämäläinen, one of the main reasons for initiating cooperation was that the number of reports was reaching tens of thousands per month. At the same time, the need for even more reports seemed to keep growing. There was hence an effort to develop data management in the direction of purchasing and coordinating services. There are nine people working in data management in Sandvik Finland. Basic ICT services have by handled by Fujitsu Patja for years now, while the infra services are provided by the Group’s global IT department.
One important reason for outsourcing the data systems was that IT people tend to become indispensable with time. We wanted to reach a point where we wouldn’t be dependent on any specific individuals and avoid falling into a rut – a definite risk. Service providers have more resources available.
What came as a surprise to Hämäläinen was that the needs were even greater than assumed. Earlier, reportable items and service and development requests were not necessarily always recorded, but now that they were processed in a definite format, the true need for services was revealed. It turned out that the original allocation of resources was inadequate.
The new outsourced service will include the definition of new reports, changes to existing reports, access rights administration and provision of solutions to a wide range of problems. The three-tier system contains the Cognos system as its hard core, as well as a data model for the description of background systems and the reporting function itself.
“One of the lessons we’ve learnt is that you have to know how to buy and supervise outsourced services. We’ve assumed a more active role in the prioritisation of the services. We have a service manager to watch over things. Even if you outsource, it doesn’t mean that you give up control.”
In Sandvik’s strategy, the function of IT is to provide and procure services that meet the business needs. Hämäläinen believes that data management services are developing towards increasingly supporting business and thus procuring more services externally. He believes that cloud services are destined to become more common as well.
Outsourcing of the maintenance of Sandvik Finland’s business intelligence system. Outsourcing includes definition of new reports, changes to existing reports, access rights administration and provision of solutions to various problems in the Cognos environment.
- The service provider is in possession of all the necessary resources at all times.
- The service can respond to continuous growth in demand – currently numbering over 25,000 reports and queries per month.
- Dependence on specific individuals is reduced.