A-Gas International: Compiling sales matrices at the click of a button versus several days with IBM Cognos software
Headquartered in Bristol in the UK, A-Gas is a group of companies that focuses on the distribution and life cycle management of specialty gases and chemicals. Its expertise includes supplying refrigerants to various industries and providing recovery and reclamation services of environmentally sensitive products such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
It operates trading subsidiaries in the UK, Europe, South Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, Thailand, the Americas and Mexico. A-Gas employs roughly 450 people worldwide.
Lacking a global business view
When A-Gas was founded in 1993, its aim was to introduce more climate-friendly alternatives to then widely-used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Today, it's expanded to provide innovative and sustainable solutions and services for a wide range of gases and chemicals detrimental to the environment, helping customers the world over to not only meet their regulatory obligations, but also better protect the planet.
But being global comes with challenges. Allan Gibbon, Principal Consultant at IBM Business Partner Synergy, describes his customer's challenge: "A-Gas operates its various subsidiaries in a way that's most efficient for that region. Because of that, data was decentralised; the head office didn't have a standardised view of the business to make organisation-wide decisions or to forecast. It took a lot of manual labour hours to bring everything together to get a group view.
"So we showcased what their world could look like if they went with an IBM and Synergy combination."
Aggregating data intelligently
Marl'e Bijker, Principal Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Warehouse Consultant at Synergy, describes the game-changing solution: "First, we built a data warehouse and integrated IBM Cognos Express software for planning analytics. It delivers a group dashboard that gives senior managers a consolidated view of the business by entity."
To automate planning, budgeting, forecasting and analysis, Synergy also deployed IBM Planning Analytics software, powered by IBM Cognos TM1 technology. "We create master categories for products, customers and suppliers, and TM1 exports that data to the warehouse, so A-Gas can get a single view. We used the rules engine and its ability to model scenarios to give them the flexibility to plan, budget, forecast and compare different scenarios against one another, over time, to see the effect on the business," explains Gibbon.
Speeding analytics, planning
The A-Gas world is now truly connected. Sixteen entities are integrated with the system, which systematically consolidates and analyses business performance, customer and product data at unprecedented speeds. "Sales matrices that used to take three to four days to compile and two to three days to consolidate are now done at the click of a button," says Bijker.
In addition to saving time and reducing errors inherent in manual data consolidation, the solution delivers a holistic, global view company-wide, fundamentally changing how executives manage the business. Ron Buissinne, Financial Director at A-Gas, describes the transformation: "It's like spending time looking through the windscreen as opposed to looking through the rear-view mirror."
For instance, the platform has improved warehouse stock management and procurement. "Now it's very easy for them to see the stock-holding. It makes them a lot more agile in terms of how they address issues when they do come up," says Bijker.
Gibbon concurs, adding: "With TM1, Synergy had the opportunity to launch both a financial and a business intelligence solution. It's one of the best solutions in the world."
See original case study here.