Modern-day trucking companies face operational challenges far greater than logistics. The rigors of supply chains, higher fuel costs, equipment maintenance and tighter regulations all take their toll. Pair that with the task of managing inventory, and multiple trucks and warehouses, coping with regional difference and tracking shipments in transit. Then further compound the complexity of the trucking business with market impacts (like delays and weather) and the visibility issues around proper reporting and data mining in static versus on-demand modes.
So how do they do it? With sound dashboarding and financial reporting solutions specifically designed for the trucking industry.
Business Intelligence (BI) for Transportation Business
When considering BI software solutions, trucking companies must focus on both the customer’s needs and its own internal needs.
Unfortunately, many small trucking companies are still chugging along using spreadsheets and ledgers to manage their financials. Excel and its limited capabilities doesn’t lend itself to the complexities of BI tasks.
Larger trucking companies may use advanced accounting alternatives, such as Axon, Sage, Quickbooks, and Accpac. Additionally, many use JDE or TMW for enterprise resource planning. On top of all this, industry specific tools such as PC*Miler help create routing, trucking mileage, and even mapping solutions for visibility into fleet operations. Issues arise when all of these tools need to be integrated to paint an accurate picture of the business. This lack of integration hinders the ability to produce useful financial reports and dashboards.
At NewIntelligence (NI), we believe the entire logistics industry is in dire need of a business intelligence solution that solves these critical issues – a customized self-service business intelligence solution with seamless integration.
IBM Cognos: BI for the Trucking Industry
Until recently, BI was for specialists. Tools were complicated and therefore delegated to database administrators and other IT professionals who spoke a technical language all their own. Business managers and executives were at the mercy of IT department schedules, painstakingly waiting on monthly or even quarterly reports.
Enter self-service business intelligence.
Self-service BI allows executives and managers to mine complex data and present informal analyses and reports. It helps accelerate integration between disparate systems, cuts administrative time and costs, and helps reduce the reliance on skilled IT and technical staff. Self-service BI puts the power in the hands of the business users – and even in the hands of the end customer.
NewIntelligence is intimately familiar with TMW. As part of a solution to one of its IBM Cognos BI clients in Montreal, NI built an application to integrate TMW with Cognos and utilize the client’s accounting system (AccPac) to all work together. As an additional value, part of the solution involved customizing the client’s PC*Miler account with the integration to further leverage their trucking data and provide invaluable additional insight for their operations and reporting.
With its new self-service BI solution in place, NI’s client is now able to:
- Build and easily access customized reports
- Collate massive amounts of data from Excel and other software
- Grant access to customers
- Gain mobile access
- Separate customer reporting from internal reporting
- Immediately drill down to heart of the important data they need
- Reduce manual-intensive labour on building reports and scouring excel sheets
- Quickly compress complex data into a clear and concise dashboard
- Utilize the newly built Business Intelligence solution as an effective sales tool to its other trucking customers and prospects
Cognos is a comprehensive implementation that brings great value to the trucking industry’s BI visibility. It is important to properly implement the solution in stages. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, so to speak.
There are a lot of IF/Then/Else challenges that may arise during the installation process, so companies are advised to keep it as simple as possible at the beginning, then lead up to building the more complex pieces in logical stages.
Experienced Cognos BI consultants work with multiple systems to build solutions that properly integrate into external platforms, allowing multiple pieces of software to ‘talk’ to one another and ultimately mine complex amounts of data and produce comprehensive dashboards and insightful reports.
Let us help you turn your raw data into valuable decision making assets.
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