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User Spotlight: ABB Group-Automation and Power Technologies

Automating Analysis and Reports with PowerOLAP

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Big projects at ABB can now be examined in greater detail—and faster—thanks to PowerOLAP’s advanced analysis and reporting capabilities. The result: much more timely, informed decision-making for Project and Cost Center Managers. “THERE WERE PROJECT REPORTS THAT WERE SO DIFFICULT TO CREATE, WE WOULD NOT DO THEM. NOW, WITH POWEROLAP, WE CAN.”

User Story: ABB Automating Analysis and Reports with PowerOLAP

Successful project management may lie in the details—provided you can get to the details. At ABB Automation, getting detailed reports, and getting them fast enough to make timely decisions, was a critical issue. Network Management Controller Mike Culbertson summed up the Before picture: “There were project reports that were so difficult to create, we would not do them. Now, with PowerOLAP, we can. And the standard reports that we used to run weekly, we can now run anytime, just by hitting F9 in the [PowerOLAP-generated] Excel reports.”

Big projects are the stock in trade of ABB, a global technology firm whose Automation segment delivers, among other products and services, sophisticated network management solutions for large utility companies. Network management projects, encompassing all aspects of hardware and software systems implementation and training, are in the multimillion-dollar range and sometimes last for years. Even for such complex, long-term projects—especially for such projects—detailed, timely reports can be the key to success. But the reports ABB’s Project and Cost Center Managers required for timely decision-making could not always be created, much less delivered fast enough. Speaking of her department’s internal clients, Project Administrator Michelle Gager remarked, “They could not see what they needed to see. The only thing we could show Managers were the bottom-line figures from the Solomon accounting system. We would take these numbers, and copy and paste them into Excel for the Managers to work from.”

“WE HAD TO TAKE NUMBERS, AND COPY AND PASTE THEM INTO EXCEL FOR MANAGERS TO WORK FROM.”

Recognizing their client’s need, and the potential to build on the solution they had helped implement, ABB’s Solomon provider recommended PowerOLAP as the analytical engine between Solomon and vastly enhanced Excel reports. PowerOLAP, with its dynamic connection both to underlying data sources and to shared Excel reports, gives users new ways to examine and manipulate critical records data, like project data residing in accounting systems.

PowerOLAP’s DYNAMIC CONNECTION TO DATA SOURCES AND EXCEL REPORTS GIVES USERS NEW WAYS TO EXAMINE AND MANIPULATE DATA. 

With PowerOLAP now, at ABB, as soon as labor hours are posted, Managers do not have to wait a week before the payroll has been finalized and the numbers crunched to determine how many hours have been charged, and to what tasks. “It gives Managers greater control to watch their projects,” Culbertson observed. “They can see what labor is being charged on as soon as postings are made. and not just labor, but materials, what we’ve paid to vendors for hardware, that the revenue figures are so far–the critical information is available almost real-time for them to make decisions.” Citing PowerOLAP’s capability to help create ad hoc reports, Culbertson added: “New reports that might have taken 2 people a week to do–by going off on their own, adding numbers in Excel–we can usually get in a day after a few iterations to tailor the information to our needs. Upper management is aware of this and is requesting reports on a higher level, for strategic purpose. For example, we asked, “Who are our top 5 suppliers to our projects over the past two years?” We determined who they were and called them to ask, “Do you have a Business Continuation Management plan, so you can continue to supply us in case of disaster?”

Michelle Gager, who has had significant programming experience, appreciates how user-friendly PowerOLAP® is—and how that benefits everyone in the work group: “Project Managers can see only the relevant information for their own

Projects, and Cost Center Managers can see only the tasks they are responsible for across Projects. Within those parameters, PowerOLAP® gives them the ability to create their own views in the Excel reports we send them, and to drill down even to the extent of determining, for example, how much time person A spent on hardware implementation and how much person B spent on training. I don’t get as many questions because Project and Cost Center Managers can manipulate their own reports, which makes them happy, and I am freed up to do other project administration tasks.” Culbertson agreed that PowerOLAP® has saved time and effort in his department: “Now I have a staff that isn’t regularly being interrupted—they can keep their head down and do their job. So we fill the MIS role, as the name implies, to provide information to management so they can make the best decisions possible.”

“WE NOW FILL THE MIS ROLE, AS THE NAME IMPLIES, TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO MANAGEMENT SO THEY CAN MAKE THE BEST DECISIONS.”

Looking ahead, Culbertson foresees “maturing the PowerOLAP system so we can do budgeting and forecasting.” This is a natural step since PowerOLAP data, sourced from up-to-the instant Actuals, can be converted to planning data via internal PowerOLAP formulas, Plus, PowerOLAP allows managers to key in numbers–with strict security controls in place–into required cells within Excel-based Budget/Forecast templates. Because the system is dynamic, and all numbers calculate within PowerOLAP nearly instantaneously, Culbertson, the Controller, an upper management can see aggregated results, or drill-down to reports from each contributor.

Gager sees other possibilities. Citing PowerOLAP’s capability to integrate dynamically with other relational database applications—through the use of the exclusive OLAP Exchange® technology—she sees a “huge potential to bring in data from the MS Project database we use, as well as from Solomon, and to update information between all our project systems via PowerOLAP.”

“HUGE POTENTIAL IN UPDATING INFORMATION BETWEEN ALL PROJECT SYSTEMS VIA POWEROLAP”

A global technology leader like ABB succeeds by just such innovative thinking—even with their internal systems, like PowerOLAP!

Quick Facts

Company Information

Print Name: ABB Group

Print Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Print Industry: Power Technologies

Print Product/Service: Industrial Motors and Drives, Wind Genators, Power Grids,

Print Revenue: Over 39 Million

Print Employees: 145,000

Print Website: www.abb.com

Objectives

Print Create timely reports for projects. 

 PrintEliminate manual data manipulation in Excel

 PrintEasily create different views of project data for easy analysis and strategic decisions.

 

PARIS Solutions and Services

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Implementation

Highlights

Print Utilize PowerOLAP as an analytical engine that connects Solomon Accounting Software and Excel for enhanced Excel reports.

 PrintEnhanced Excel functionality with connection to databases and accounting systems.

Print Easy collaboration using shared Excel reports

Print Decrease in manual data manipulation due to instant updates

 

Why PARIS

Print Quick Integration with existing databases and accounting systems

Print Fast implementation and building of customized data models.

Print Recommended as an analytical solution by Solomon Accounting System implementation partner.

Benefits

Print Real-time project management–labor hours are seen as soon they are posted with no wait time.

Print Quick reporting with a 90% decrease in reporting time.

Print Ability to drill-drown data and answer strategic business questions.

Print User friendly solution–everyone in the work group can create their own reports and easily benefit from the capabilities of PowerOLAP.

Print Increase in time for other project administration tasks and deeper analysis.

Existing Environment

Print Lengthy report times and manual consolidation of data in Excel spreadsheets.

 

Third Party Integration

Print ERP: Microsoft Dynamics SL (Solomon Accounting Software)

Print Analysis/Reporting: Microsoft Excel