Self-Service Reporting for Microsoft Dynamics

VMRD develops and manufactures veterinary diagnostic test kits and related reagents for distribution in more than 55 countries. The company has a reputation for delivering best in class products and services with a uniquely personal touch and has a global impact on improvements in animal welfare through the veterinary professionals who use its products and services.

The Problem
Banking on Accuracy

Veterinary Medical Research and Development (VMRD) delivers high quality, very accurate veterinary diagnostic test kits.  With a reputation that banks on accuracy, VDRM has inculcated this principle into its culture.  Whether it’s for customer and sales analysis, financial questions, or inventory projections, employees need accurate information that allows them to make decisions to optimize VMRD’s financial and operating health.

The IT group at VMRD is lean and efficient, so self-service access to the data by users is important.  Before turning to BIO, VMRD’s IT staff was creating reports in Crystal, importing the reports into Microsoft Dynamics, and then giving security access to the appropriate individuals.  In effect, they were customizing Dynamics to get their employees access to the needed data.  Further, once the reports were completed, the person requesting the information invariably needed additional fields or needed to look at it a different way.

The Solution
Empower Users

VMRD selected BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics for reporting and analysis. “Several partners told us that BIO was the gold standard.  We saw a demo and our Marketing VP fell in love with it,” explains Eric Foryan, IT director at VMRD.  “BIO has a strong brand presence.  We checked our resources and each pointed toward BIO.” VMRD’s BIO users were very familiar with Excel and decided to use it as a front-end visualization tool for BIO.  Forecaster is used for budgeting and the data is imported into the BIO data warehouse and the whole system is delivered through SharePoint.

BIO gives VMRD quick access to the data through a tab in the Excel front end that connects to SQL Analysis Services.  It opens a Pivot Table and the cubes are visible so pulling the data is done by dragging and dropping the information they way they want it.  In order to streamline adoption, only a few fields in the base cubes were opened at a time and more were added as necessary.

It was also important for VMRD to offer a single sign-on through Windows authentication and this configuration gave them the ability to do that.

BIO is flexible enough to allow VMRD to create a solution that fits their particular needs.  “The consultants at BIO have an excellent understanding of business needs as well as the technical aspects of the solution.  They are a reliable and intelligent partner that made significant contributions to our decisions,” states Foryan.  “We never felt like they were selling us a product and then leaving us on our own.  When we needed support, our BIO consultant was there.”

BIO is used across the enterprise.  The marketing people are focused on sales and product data and are looking at things like top products, distribution, and seasonality.  They can see trends from any viewpoint—product class, geography, customer segments, and even individual customers.  Each major department is responsible for business reviews and is concerned with financial questions like actual performance compared to budget and explaining trends and variations.  The product and quality teams have yet another focus—inventory.  They need to be able to predict the demand for the products.  Many of VMRD’s products are frozen or refrigerated and have an expiration date.  Manufacturing too much can mean waste but too little can mean backorders and even lost sales.  BIO is also used to answer complex questions throughout the company—What are the fastest growing segments of the world?  Which customers are strong and why?  How can VMRD help international distributors to improve their performance?  In which types of products VMRD invest?  The BIO data is cross-referenced with industry and R&D data to keep VMRD ahead of the curve on strategy and planning as well as for day-to-day operations.  VMRD’s enterprise use of BIO gives all users consistent, reliable information for analysis, discovery, and decision making.

Foryan quote

The Results

BIO usage has been expanded to all employees at VMRD.  While some areas were quick to adopt, some, like those where using BI was not originally considered part of the job, were slower.  But even those who took a little longer to adopt are now completely on board and happy with BIO results, especially in the way that BIO helps them answer complex questions.  BIO Business Intelligence for Microsoft Dynamics has given all employees self-service access to data originating in multiple databases for drag-and-drop reporting and analysis.  Although VMRD has not quantified the results, there has been a significant impact, especially on product marketing and sales, forecasting seasonal sales, and inventory levels.  In addition, Eric Foryan sites two particular benefits VMRD has attained with BIO:

  • 100% accuracy—In its first year, the data in BIO was challenged on several occasions and every time an audit proved the BIO numbers to be correct. VMRD is now confident of analyses and conclusions based on BIO data and can make fact-based decisions knowing the basis for them is sound.
  • Lower headcount—VMRD had previously considered staffing a position with a heavy reporting emphasis. Not only was the additional headcount avoided, Foryan believes VMRD is getting twice the value that the new hire would have provided though BIO’s self-service reporting and analysis.

VMRD will be looking in the future to expand their use of BIO with dashboards and presentation-level reports and visualizations.