Business intelligence generally lags behind ERP. Mediq opted for a different approach together with Bmatix, and is now reaping the rewards.
Mediq, with head office in Utrecht, has undergone an impressive transformation in the last few years. It shifted its business focus and by adopting a successful buy-and-build strategy developed itself into a major international player in healthcare. Today, Mediq provides medical aids to patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and respiratory disorders, in 14 countries. It delivers to healthcare institutions and patients’ homes, with accompanying care where needed.
In order to harmonise and standardise processes across all entities, Mediq started an ERP roll-out from scratch in 2013. It opted for SAP, integrated with CRM and Vistex software for the management of contract agreements with health insurers, authorisations, deliveries and claims.
“It’s best to take the BI needs into consideration in the analysis at the beginning of the ERP project.”
Rob Leicher, Group Director Finance & Control
‘For the monitoring and steering of this triangular model, we use a business intelligence platform with SAP and IBM components,’ says Rob Leicher, Group Director Finance & Control. ‘Business Intelligence, BI for short, puts an overlay over the various business systems. It helps you understand how the business is performing, or which trends and prospects are emerging. In a complex business like ours, BI is of strategic importance.’
BI needs at the start of ERP
For years, companies thought that BI specialists shouldn’t be brought in until the end of the ERP project. ‘We saw this differently, just like our BI partner,’ says Rob Leicher. ‘It’s best to take the BI needs into consideration in the analysis at the beginning of the ERP project. Our key users started working on the BI needs very early on. This enabled them to think in depth about the desired steering and monitoring information. As a result, the analysis of the supply chain processes and performance offers plenty of perspectives and depth today.’
Bridge between technology and business
Defining the needs was not an easy exercise. ‘There were considerable differences between the companies in the group in terms of approach and market approach. This forced us to engage in a fundamental thought exercise on the KPIs we wanted to use for measuring and steering. The challenge also had an important technical part to it: you have to understand how SAP, CRM and Vistex work and how to unlock them for data warehouse and reporting.’
How do you bridge technology and the business? And why is this precisely where things go wrong in quite a lot of BI projects? ‘Most consultants either have knowledge of technology or the business side,’ Rob Leicher found on several occasions. ‘We needed an executive consultant who was able to think along at a high level business-wise and then dive deeply into technology. Someone who knows that, for those specific needs, I have to unlock this data in these systems. Often, that’s a complicated task.’
“One month after SAP went live, we successfully introduced our new reporting system.”
Unique international matchup
‘We ourselves didn’t have this overall expertise in-house. We found it elsewhere, at Belgian company Bmatix. Their executive consultant struck the right chord across the different layers of our business and translated our challenges in a nuanced way in BI and SAP. He carried out the role of business process manager with much empathy and an understanding of organisational sensitivities. He investigated the old reports, stimulated the discussion on the new priorities and measurement points, and designed the new BI architecture together with an expert colleague.’
For two and a half years, Bmatix people set up camp in the organisation. ‘With great process insight and a lot of technological knowledge, strong communication skills, drive and inspiring enthusiasm,’ Rob Leicher adds. ‘In close collaboration with our key users and a few other BI consultants, they built the BI environment. One month after SAP went live, we successfully introduced our new reporting system. This was a unique international matchup: Netherlands-Belgium with not one, but two winners.’
‘Business intelligence is a journey with a goal, but no final destination,’ Rob Leicher concludes. ‘Every analysis you carry out, raises new questions. With BI you develop a progressive insight into how your business is performing and where things could be done better. Together with Bmatix, the basis for that growth path has now been laid.’