References

Accent

Accent gains more financial and commercial insights through better data analysis

Accent used to run quite a homogeneous business, but it’s expanded into new sectors following takeovers in Belgium and abroad over the last two years. All activities are now combined in The House of HR. This development means better financial and commercial insights were required across the various businesses, and The House of HR opted for Microsoft Power BI to make this analysis possible. This project fits in with the larger framework of updating the entire tool set.

The House of HR asked Kohera to design an architecture and step-by-step plan to build a system that can perform dynamic and visually attractive analyses quickly. This system also needed to be easily expandable to respond to possible future requirements.

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Structure for everything

Projects like this bring challenges with them, and the The House of HR is still in full development mode. ‘The more our organisation grows, the more our needs grow too,’ starts Peter Ingelbrecht, CIO at The House of HR. ‘We opted for Microsoft Power BI but our biggest challenge was with its associated data structure. How did we need to organise it? What infrastructure did we have to set up?’

This is why The House of HR decided to call on Kohera’s services. ‘We met Kohera at a Delta Light client event,’ continues Peter Ingelbrecht. ‘It appeared they didn’t just have the right knowledge and expertise in house; they also used a similar working method to ours. We want to progress quickly, and not get stuck in planning and discussions, and we clicked very well with Kohera on that front. That was the deciding factor for us.’

Clear action plan with a view to the future

The House of HR was very certain about where it wanted to get to and what requirements the new system had to satisfy. ‘There was a lot of historical information available within Accent, but our tools were quite static with limited analysis options. We wanted to grow into a situation where employees could work with dynamic and visually attractive data, so were looking for a kind of self-service BI. The biggest challenge was to build something that was also future proof,’ says Peter Ingelbrecht. ‘It wasn’t fully clear to us what we had to do to enable this.’

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Peter Ingelbrecht, CIO atThe House of HR: ‘We developed a kind of self-service BI which every user can perform their own analyses with. The biggest challenge was to build something that was also future proof.’

Kohera started by drawing up an approach plan. ‘This project is a collection of smaller projects, and the last projects haven’t been defined yet,’ explains Nico Verbaenen, BI Architect at Kohera. ‘We looked at what was possible in terms of usefulness and difficulty, and then looked for some middle ground between what was future proof and what we could set up quickly. This led us to a roadmap with different phases in which we first established the structures, then chose the tools, and finally delivered. We arrived at three projects which would offer us more insights into the sales, turnover and KPIs which lead to success.’

Dynamic and flexible architecture

The project was initially set up for Accent Jobs and then extended to other departments in The House of HR one step at a time. ‘This didn’t make things easy. We had to build something generic that was also dynamic and future proof for dealing with issues that we weren’t aware of yet,’ says Jonathan Verpoort, BI Consultant at Kohera. ‘The biggest job was the architecture which we split into two sections, with all the information from the various source systems on one hand, and the data warehousing and reporting on the other. In contrast to traditional static data warehousing, we made sure short-term changes were possible. We positioned a virtual layer between the two sections so we could set up a new version of the data warehouse every day. It’s not a problem for this structure if a new department is added.”

Reports tailored to the user

Accent Jobs has 800 users who all need their own information. ‘The office consultants need operational data but also look at the sales and KPIs that interest their office. The office staff perform in-depth analyses to set budgets and draw up commercial plans, and there are regional representatives who manage multiple offices,’ says Roel Bäumer, BI Project Lead at The House of HR. ‘The higher you go in the company, the greater the need for more detailed data.’

But not everyone uses Power BI. Peter Ingelbrecht: ‘Most users want to see a fixed set of info every day or month. We use Microsoft Reporting Services for this so people can look at semi-operational info via filters in a more or less fixed structure. Then you also have people like the management team, who just want to look up key figures for certain aspects quickly and easily. We visualise this using the mobile reports and KPIs feature in Microsoft Reporting Services, so we’re using the full set of reporting options that Microsoft offers.’

‘There’s better integration between the data and the operations,’ adds Diederik Sohier, CFO for The House of HR. ‘It’s good to know the sales figures for the office networks, but even better to know what they’re comprised of. With Power BI you can look up detailed figures and make flexible variations of data sets, which used to be much more difficult. Our analysts used to spend 80-90% of their time looking up data, but now this time is spent analysing, comparing and predicting.’

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CFO Diederik Sohier: ‘There is better integration between data and operations. It’s good to know the sales figures for the office networks, but even better to know what they’re comprised of. With Power BI you can look up detailed figures and make flexible variations of different data sets, which used to be much harder.’

Do it yourself after delivery

The House of HR project represents a long-term partnership for Kohera. Nico Verbaenen: ’Because of the project’s short timespan, we got started straight away. Together with the client we looked at what they wanted to achieve by when, and what tools would be best for this. I then started working internally with my team by training employees up and sharing knowledge along the way. We delivered sufficient information and documentation after each phase for them to be able to work on it themselves afterwards. We are of course continuing to provide support and advice where necessary.’