Seal For Life Industries provides high-quality coating, sealing, insulation and corrosion prevention technologies for the protection of critical infrastructure worldwide. The organization uses a ‘buy and build’ strategy and has brought together a diverse range of products over the last two years. The six parties acquired in that time have retained their own ERP systems. So how could the organization analyze all its sales and finance data centrally? The implementation of Tableau provided the solution.
“We started with two IT systems, Exact in the Netherlands and JD Edwards in the other countries,” says Ingrid Bogaerts, director of finance at Seal For Life Industries. “But we wanted to give the sales people sales reports. Redfaire International helped with a carve out of JD Edwards and we went from there.” It was soon concluded that Tableau would be a good BI tool and sales was given the initial focus, followed by finance. This would create a good picture of accounts payable and accounts receivable. Seal For Life came into contact with Cadran via Redfaire for the implementation.
“Because we do a lot of acquisitions, we have to deal with many different ERP systems,” Ingrid explains. “It is not practical in terms of costs and time to implement one large new ERP system. That’s why we decided to use Tableau to unlock the sales and finance data from the various ERP systems.” Cadran started by connecting JD Edwards and Exact in a number of dashboards. Ingrid: “It is a great advantage that Cadran is very familiar with JD Edwards, which saved a lot of time.” For one of the companies using the Swedish IFS ERP system, Cadran worked closely with an expert in that field. The dashboards were deployed in all the locations around the world where they were relevant, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, India, UAE, Canada and the United States.
Cadran also trained users so they could easily work with the dashboards. “But the program itself is very user-friendly. We now mainly have viewers and a few explorers, but we are in the initial phase so that will somewhat change. We also have a student who helps make dashboards. He has also been trained by Cadran and calls Cadran’s experts every week,” explains Ingrid. She adds: “The cooperation with Cadran and Redfaire International is going very smoothly. There are regular calls and the support tickets are followed up well and quickly. The fact that there is no language barrier is also very nice.”
Four of the six companies are now connected to Tableau, with the other two still to follow. But there are more acquisitions to come. Salesforce was also recently implemented and this software is also connected to Tableau. This creates a connection between Salesforce and the ERP systems. And now that dashboards for sales have been created, the next steps are being taken for manufacturing and supply chain. “The dashboards are very well received and there is a demand for more. We started with simple dashboards, but more and more users are making requests for more advanced versions. It’s such a difference, now that we’ve gone from Excel to nice dashboards. The visualizations certainly do their job, making the figures easier to understand and explain. The nice thing about Tableau is that there is already so much information available on the internet; users publish many dashboards online and you can get all sorts of good ideas from there.”
The use of Tableau means a considerable improvement for the Seal for Life. Where previously the finance department had to be called in to make reports from the ERP system, the users can now make their own analyses. This gives them quick insight into what customers are buying and how they are paying. “It is of great value that users can now do their own analysis, without having to call anyone. This allows our finance professionals to do more analytical work.”
What does the future look like? Seal For Life Industries remains on the acquisition path, so the company will expand considerably in the coming years. This also means that more systems will be linked to Tableau. Furthermore, the basic reports will become more detailed based on the users’ questions. “The link with Salesforce is already there, but when the order comes in, it’s out of scope. By continuing the integration between Salesforce, Tableau and the ERP systems, we can make the processes even more visual, make better analyses and ultimately optimize our processes. For example, we can see that customers used to always buy a specific product, but now suddenly they don’t. You can then make enquiries about that.”