Over the years, Welch’s innovative approach to creating its IT infrastructure had yielded a highly customized yet fragile system that eventually came to a point where it was nearing its scalability and manageability limits. In addition, Welch’s IT environment did not provide the enterprise-wide visibility that the organization needed to make more informed and agile decisions in an increasingly competitive market.
In late 2003, Welch’s took a hard look at its IT infrastructure with the objective of creating a single platform that would allow the organization to connect business processes and provide the visibility needed to identify the impact of specific processes on the organization’s performance.
The next year, Welch’s began a migration to Oracle E-Business Suite as its new ERP system with the goal of having one operating platform that would span the entire enterprise, from the front office through distribution. As part of this project, Welch’s also invested in Oracle’s Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBI EE) as its business intelligence (BI) system. A very aggressive deadline dictated that all new implementations, including upgrades to existing systems, be complete by September 2007. The BI platform is planned to be in production the Spring of 2008.
With the successful new ERP implementation on track and the ability to extend BI visibility to employees across the organization, one last challenge existed for the Welch’s IT department: how to enable users unfamiliar with Oracle and without a data warehouse/BI footprint in place to access the information they required within the new database and create their own reports.
We were searching for a solution to enable our users to easily extend Oracle standard reporting so they could see information such as production variance reporting and other similar operational data,” said Larry Rencken, vice president and CIO, Welch’s. “Our current internal system at the time consisted of users calling IT and filling out a special query form so that they could create and send the user a report. The problem was that if their request was not already in the queue, the users were pretty much unable to get their ad hoc query in a timely manner.”
According to Rencken, Welch’s wanted to give internal customers easier access to real-time data. “We wanted to eliminate the need to obtain data from multiple locations, which then must be merged, managed, and analyzed manually,” said Rencken. “Our users should be able to get all of the information they need from Oracle, which will simplify work life and improve overall data quality.”
When Welch’s learned about Noetix—a real-time solution to enable users to create ad hoc queries and reports easily—they decided the technology fit the bill. Knowing that most of the approximately 500 end users had very little knowledge of Oracle Applications, the IT team started by introducing them to Noetix and conducting training so they could be proficient with the tool in order to develop their own reports, including information from Oracle. The goal was for users who didn’t understand the complexity of Oracle Applications to still be empowered to access data and create their own reports.
“The users have access to everything they’ve wanted to look at because we go through a question and answer process with them to determine their reporting requirements and we build it from the bottom up,” said Rencken. “Then we show them the Noetix views on the Oracle tables, and work with them to be sure they understand how to build a report from their wish list. This could include views of customers, products, profit margins, etc.”
The Noetix solution will automatically generate content from Oracle ERP into the OBI EE application end user layer, greatly simplifying end user reporting. Welch’s was thrilled to learn that Noetix automatically picked up extensions within the modules, eliminating the need for the IT team to add the customizations manually. This also made the solution very easy to modify, update, and upgrade.
While the original goal for Noetix was just to be able to access the transactional data within Oracle more easily, one of the benefits Welch’s found with Noetix—right out-of-the-box—was that the solution did much of the heavy lifting involved in enterprise reporting. Using patented technology, Noetix quickly discovered their site-specific setups within Welch’s enterprise application, deciphered the maze of database structures, joined the proper tables together, and performed the data transformations, turning complexity into simplified access to operational information.
Vice President and CIO
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