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Thales Navigation – Data Warehousing and Reporting

Overview

After a series of mergers and acquisitions, revenue and expense reporting processes lagged and differed from region to region. Finding truth in the numbers pulled from multiple data sources became increasingly difficult as Thales Navigation expanded into new regions and business markets.

Challenge

Thales Navigation is changing the way people work, play, and explore the world. No longer just for sailors and pilots, people use navigation applications for locating food and oil resources, conservation efforts, and city planning, as well as driving around town, hiking a mountain, or sailing across an ocean.

Thales Navigation prides itself in delivering innovative global positioning systems (GPSs) to both the consumer and commercial markets. To do this, the company has undergone a series of acquisitions and mergers. Thales Navigation now has over 600 employees in over 15 locations across the United States, Europe, Russia, and Asia.

The mergers and acquisitions took a toll on the company’s IT infrastructure and financial reporting processes. Because Thales Navigation has operations all over the world, it must comply with complex revenue reporting requirements in each country. With users pulling information from multiple sources—including two conflicting enterprise resource planning (ERP) environments—creating revenue and expense reports in Excel became increasingly complex, time-consuming, and inconsistent.

Thales Navigation made it a top priority to meet increasing global revenue reporting requirements. By consolidating reporting processes and data, the company knew it could save at least two days off close processes and empower key decision makers with consistent, up-to-date information.

Solution

Thales Navigation had stringent requirements that demanded both flexibility and a quick return on investment (ROI). Mark Lemma, corporate controller at Thales Navigation, explains,“We wanted a flexible tool that could meet our immediate and future needs without requiring more purchases for additional functionality. We also needed a tool that would give us quick ROI wins. From the start, BusinessObjectsTM was the right choice.”

Achieving short-term gains was a must. To ensure the success of the project from vendor selection to the implementation, Thales Navigation also enlisted the Business Objects system integrator, Systech Solutions, Inc. According to Darren Chinen, IT project manager at Thales Navigation, “Systech Solutions was crucial. We couldn’t have scaled, standardized, or implemented our project without their expertise and foresight.”

Once Thales Navigation defined its needs, it used BusinessObjects to create a universe for reporting on expense and revenue processes within the finance organization. Now users can drill down into expense details such as the vendor and purchase order number within seconds. Thales Navigation Improves Report Processing and Distribution to Lower Inventory Levels up to 12% Thales Navigation

For accurate validation reporting, Thales Navigation also deployed Crystal Reports® from Business Objects. The IT department uses Crystal Reports to adjust business rules and validate data once changes have been made. For example, if the sales department agrees to share the cost of an ad campaign with the marketing department, IT can make the change within minutes. In the past, IT had to manually update the source data and the business rule for reporting advertising expenses. This was time-consuming and left too much room for human error. With Crystal Reports, Chinen says that the process is much faster and easier. “I’ve used most of the validation reporting tools available and Crystal Reports is the top product because it requires the least amount of development time to change business rules in source data.”

Result

Shortly after completing the implementation, Thales Navigation successfully reduced management financial reporting times by two days. Lemma says the finance department now spends less time on basic reporting and more time on value-add projects. “As business users better understand the business with BusinessObjects reports—and the capabilities of business intelligence (BI)—we’re getting more specific requests from them,” continues Lemma. “The good news is that we can now respond quickly to these requests. We are able to run efficient ad hoc queries to answer specific questions about business unit and/or site financials.”

Another key benefit is automated report distribution. More decision makers receive reports than ever before with BI products from Business Objects. “Before we used Business Objects products, only a handful of executives received reports because distribution was so time- consuming. Now, we can just as easily deliver electronic reports via WebIntelligence® to hundreds of users. With greater distribution, execs, managers, and key contributors are empowered to make better decisions.” says Lemma.

Better decision-making capabilities mean lower inventory levels. By improving its sales forecasting capabilities, Thales Navigation expects to lower inventory levels by 10-12%. Using BusinessObjects, Thales Navigation is analyzing and reporting on sales information such as customer invoice, revenue, and gross margin. The data warehouse will consolidate the company’s dual ERP environments. Users will confidently be able to answer basic questions such as why is there a surplus inventory in France or which channel partner is selling the most Magellan® RoadMate units in California. Users will have accurate information when they need it to achieve a greater balance between inventory and consumer demand. Lemma estimates that a better grasp on consumer demand will save the company USD$100,000-$120,000 per every million dollars in inventory.

Now that Thales Navigation has consolidated its data and enhanced reporting processes, the company plans to build on its progress.” Other departments are now asking for a similar solution because everyone wants to save time and better understand their numbers,” says Lemma. “Our next goal is to implement executive dashboards that show vital, company-wide KPIs at a glance with the ability to drill down into local or business unit data.”

Lemma concludes, “Business Objects and Systech Solutions provide a partnership for future success. They have helped us build a strong foundation of consolidated source data, which was a necessary hurdle to overcome for more strategic BI implementations in the future.”