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A reporting system for the future – clear and efficient
Boehringer Ingelheim, originally founded as a chemical factory in Nieder-Ingelheim, is today one of the world’s leading suppliers of drugs and biopharmaceuticals. Worldwide, more than 47,700 employees are engaged in research, development, production and distribution of the company’s products.
Needless to say that sales activities are crucial for a company’s success in the highly competitive pharmaceutical market. In order to control sales and distribution successfully, a company needs a reliable, consistent and up-to-date reporting, which also meets the increasing demands with regard to mobile availability.
The existing reporting system, which was implemented in 2013 at Boehringer Ingelheim, only met few of these requirements. One reason was the large number of reports, which required a lot of manual work in order to be kept consistent. Also, an important management tool called “Pulse Check”, which was provided by an external services contractor, could only be delivered with a delay of one day. Therefore, it was clear that a new era of reporting needed to find its way to Boehringer Ingelheim.
Lars Trautmann, team leader of the Marketing and Sales Effectiveness (MSE) team, was in charge of restructuring the sales reporting.
The MSE team’s task is to observe and analyse the pharmaceutical market, give advice and support the sales teams as well as to provide an automated reporting on the basis of a standard Business Intelligence (BI) platform.
The sales reporting at Boehringer Ingelheim was not capable to meet the company’s increasing demands. The whole process from data extraction to the final report took several weeks and was prone to errors. The sales management needed a system, which would enable sales teams to respond quickly to changes in the market as well as support knowledge transfer.
In cooperation with valantic, Boehringer Ingelheim redesigned the reporting system from the ground up, created new reports and optimized the design together with Dr. Rolf Hichert. With the implementation of Cognos 10, the team simultaneously created a new technical basis. This state-of-the-art BI platform does not only allow mobile operations, but also enables report receivers to leave comments thanks to a new comment function attached to the reports.
Reports are now generated automatically and are available promptly. Thus, the external sales force can now access valuable control information helping to increase sales and customer satisfaction. Moreover, the comment function promotes the transfer of knowledge and helped to create a collaborative reporting.
Head of Data Science & Strategy, Boehringer Ingelheim
”valantic was of great help to Boehringer Ingelheim as it is an innovative and far-sighted consultancy firm. valantic's consultants combine both IT know-how and in-depth knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry. With innovative solutions and ideas, valantic helped us realigning and optimizing the sales management.“
Head of Data Science & Strategy, Boehringer Ingelheim
”Together with the consultants from valantic we managed to create a new basis for the sales management. The new reporting tool based on IBM Cognos 10 helps to make the sales management more efficient and to implement measures faster than before. To sum up, the new reporting prepares Boehringer Ingelheim for the future and it will remain the standard reporting tool for the sales distribution for a while.“
Project Manager & Business Analyst, Boehringer Ingelheim
”The rebuild of our sales reporting could not have been done in a such short amount of time and in such high quality without the help of valantic. The continuous support by valantic employees considerably contributed to the success of this project.“
Prior to the design of a uniform reporting system, a stocktaking was necessary for the team to verify the given task and transfer it to the new reporting environment. From the sales management’s point of view, the procedure of building a report was a huge challenge for an agile sales management. The process from data extraction to a finished report took several weeks: the raw data for the reports was extracted from the reporting system and forwarded to an external service provider. There, the data was manually processed and worked into PowerPoint presentations. Subsequently, the service provider sent the finished presentations back to the sales management team. These records were then made available to the sales staff via a SharePoint platform. However, the access rights had to be granted individually for each report.
Another requirement with regard to the new reporting was to support the transfer of knowledge between all sales employees. Previously, this knowledge exchange could only happen face to face or by commenting the PowerPoint presentations.
Although the company previously used IBM Cognos 7 and 8, the expiration of support contracts made the realignment inevitable.
With the changeover to a new reporting system, the team around Lars Trautmann decided to rebuild the whole sales reporting. After the stocktaking was finished, the SME team shaped requirements and specified standards. A comprehensive information distribution was particularly important. Another requirement was that future reports could be linked with recommendations and interpretations. Deviations and abnormalities in the sales performance should be easily identifiable in order to be able to intervene promptly. To ensure that sales representatives are provided with information such as the current sales figures at any time, the new reporting had to be compatible with tablet computers. Additionally, one defined new standards for the future reporting layout in order to generate reports that are visually similar and thus easier to read.
During the project Lars Trautmann’s team faced and mastered several challenges – time-wise as well as from a professional perspective. Therefore, Boehringer Ingelheim decided to engage the services of valantic Business Analytics GmbH, a consulting company specialised in Big Data and Business Intelligence solutions. The Hamburg-based company has extensive experience with customers from the pharmaceutical industry and thus was perfectly able to supervise the project from the start. valantic was a critical success factor for the migration of the new reporting platform and the development of interfaces, which connected the reporting with other systems such as the customer relationship management (CRM) system Veeva. Thanks to valantic’s experiences from prior projects, they also played an active role in the development of new reporting styles. The consulting firm supported Boehringer Ingelheim not only technically, but also from an economical point of view. “The project was very complex. Therefore, we asked the BI specialists from valantic Business Analytics for advice. valantic’s employees stayed on site from the first conception to the very completion of the project and supported us with valuable tips and solutions”, says Jörg Beez, project manager and business analyst at Boehringer Ingelheim.
Hand in Hand with Team MSE, valantic began the planning phase for the entire project. When choosing the new reporting platform, one decided in favour of IBM Cognos 10. Positive experiences with previous versions were a decisive factor for the proceeding trust in IBM’s reporting solutions. At the same time, the customer management / CRM system Veeva needed a new basis, too. Despite the resulting complexity, the team decided to enrol the new reporting simultaneously.
The first step on the way to a new reporting was the re-design of the reports. These were supposed to be improved with regard to comprehensibility and clarity. That is why the team organized a workshop together with Dr. Rolf Hichert, an expert in information design, in September 2013. Based on the insights from the workshop and the experiences from previous years, the team developed a style guide, which would form the basis for the new reporting.
The stage-by-stage introduction of Cognos 10 and Veeva began within a smaller field office. This test phase was followed by several stages of introduction within the remaining field offices.
An important point during the rebuilding process was that the team built the reporting solely on the basis of standard Cognos 10 functions. Doing so helped to save costs and guarantee continued support by IBM. During the development phase for the new reporting tool, some additional features were implemented in order to enable employees from all sales levels to comment on reports. In this way the team created a crucial basis to accelerate the exchange of ideas within the company; suspicious or striking figures from a report can thus be estimated, explained or highlighted immediately. The responsible person must no longer reach out to colleagues, but she immediately can access both, the information and the colleagues’ assessment at a glance. The new CRM and reporting systems were launched in the sales department. At the same time, the project team took care of integrating the reporting tool into the sales management processes and expanded the reporting’s functionalities continuously.
In the end, it was worth the effort: the team around Lars Trautmann and valantic received a lot of positive feedback from the sales department. The new reporting system was praised in particular for the high transparency, the easy use and the clarity of the new applications. Thanks to the newly developed style guide the reports are now easier to read and essential facts are immediately apparent. Being able to work on the move and having relevant information at hand very quickly was positively accepted by the external service representatives.
From now on, reports will be created automatically and will be delivered to the sales staff within one day. Moreover, the comment function enables sales representatives to suggest improvements and get an overview of the current status. This collaborative reporting contributes to the communication and the knowledge transfer within the company. “With the help of the new reporting solution our sales staff is provided with important information at any time and place. The comment function helps to create a new quality of reporting. The collaborative reporting enables employees to comment their reports, make own proposals to increase the sales performance as well as to forward these in a separate workflow to their superiors with a request for the release”, says Lars Trautmann and continues: “Together with the consultants from valantic we managed to create a new basis for the sales management. The new reporting tool based on IBM Cognos 10 helps to make the sales management more efficient and to implement measures faster than before. To sum up, the new reporting prepares Boehringer Ingelheim for the future and it will remain the standard reporting tool for the sales distribution for a while.”