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Business Intelligence

Franklin Electric Business Intelligence Infrastructure Overhaul: Aptera Case Study

by Dennis Junk
on August 22, 2017

Business Intelligence Homescreen

Summary of Project

  • Franklin Electric needed to update their Business Intelligence infrastructure as part of a project to upgrade their ERP system.
  • The company decided to rebuild the infrastructure from the ground up to make it more efficient and versatile.
  • Franklin chose to work with Aptera because:
    • Our team has a track-record of success working with the most advanced BI technologies.
    • Our flexible approach made it possible to coordinate the infrastructure project with the ongoing ERP upgrade.
  • Franklin’s new BI infrastructure cuts the time required for data refreshing in half, and can be augmented or updated with few or no system-wide changes.

Company Overview

Franklin Electric is the leading global provider of pumps and components for water and fuel systems.

Case Study Overview

Franklin Electric was upgrading their JD Edwards ERP from the World to the EnterpriseOne version, and they needed to update their Business Intelligence infrastructure to make it compatible with the new system.

What made the project uniquely challenging was that Franklin already had an advanced BI system, and their people relied on it every day.

As Franklin’s IT Applications Director Tracey Brown attests, “We get a lot of feedback on a regular basis from our users that they wouldn’t be able to do their daily jobs anymore if they didn’t have BI.”

The existing system, however, had been built up piecemeal over more than a decade. This led to inefficiencies in data transfers, and it made implementing updates or augmentations overly complicated.

So Franklin decided to have the entire BI infrastructure rebuilt from the ground up. This meant they needed a partner with:

  • Expertise working with the most advanced BI technology
  • The flexibility and responsiveness to coordinate the infrastructure project with the ERP upgrade.

Up till this point, Franklin had been relying on a company in Chicago for BI work. But Aptera was working with Franklin on other types of projects like Managed Services and Software Development.

When it came time to choose a partner for this latest BI work, Franklin decided they preferred Aptera’s more responsive and results-driven approach to handling projects.

Aptera's Solution

The rebuilt infrastructure was based in SQL Server Analysis Services. The updates focused on Franklin’s financial reporting (which uses General Ledger), sales accounting, and business forecasting. These tools will allow the company to compare things like budgeting projections to real outcomes, so they can revise their models to make them increasingly accurate.

To create this solution, however, Aptera’s BI team had work closely with Franklin to get the timing right.

“We are defining processes and defining data on the ERP side, going through testing with users,” Brown explains. “It might be pretty far down the road before all those data details are ironed out, and so BI developers don’t get a chance to actually start really working with that data until it’s really close to go-live.”

The Results

The rebuilt infrastructure is now supporting Franklin’s BI processes, and it’s fully integrated with the upgraded ERP. The new system offers:

  • Improved forecasts
  • Faster data refreshing
  • Greater versatility
  • Quicker answers to a wider array of questions

It’s this last benefit that Brown points to when asked which part he’s most impressed with.

“I think one of the big things was just having the ability to do analysis ad hoc,” he says.

“In the past, it would be a matter of somebody having the right skill set to write the reports in JD Edwards to be able to get the right data that they needed to do analysis. And now by using Excel and Pivot tables, the data’s all at your hands and you can basically slice and dice the data however you want to make the right decision.”

Another hugely impactful result is that refreshing the data from sources all over the company now takes closer to 3 hours than to the 8 it took before.

As Franklin Electric has grown over the past decade and a half, it’s become more and more vital for them to have quick access to the data they need to make decisions. Again and again, the company has reached a limit to what they could do with their data, and each time they saw they needed to add to their capabilities if they were to continue growing.

Now, the company has a BI infrastructure that can have parts added or updated without having to make changes to whole system. The next time Franklin updates their ERP, for instance, they’ll be able to incorporate it into their BI processes with much less effort. Even if the company upgrades to a new version of SQL Server, the infrastructure will require few or no changes.


Guide to New Power BI

Dennis Junk
I'm Aptera's Content Strategist. I've been writing about tech and marketing for 5 years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature. Look me up on LinkedIn.
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