Created a user-friendly information portal and leveraged EI capabilities.
Greater EI capability and visibility into daily operations has empowered senior management and more effective decision making.
Executive Intelligence Provides Visibility to Company Data
- Industry: Business
- Location: Nashville, TN
Client Snapshot: Create Executive Intelligence (EI) dashboards and portals, to give senior leaders greater visibility into daily operations.
Gresham, Smith and Partners (GS&P), one of the world’s top architecture and engineering firms, wanted to empower employees with fast and direct access to relevant business data at a glance without having to comb through pages of tabular reporting. Brad King, manager of information systems, felt that GS&P could take advantage of software they already owned, such as SharePoint and Microsoft SQL Analysis Services, to create Executive Intelligence (EI) dashboards and portals, giving the senior leaders of the firm a level of visibility into daily operations that they had never had before. The firm asked NWN to help them define an EI strategy.
The NWN team—including a SharePoint Architect, Business Architect and Business Intelligence Consultant—worked with GS&P to identify the project goals which included:
- Develop a proof of concept (POC) to validate both the information requirements and the way information would be used.
- Understand how to optimize SharePoint for better performance and capacity and leverage EI capabilities to generate reports, dashboards and KPIs from project information stored in their ERP systems.
- Gain knowledge of the best design for information architecture, document management, governance, site planning and management.
The NWN team also discovered several sources of stakeholder dissatisfaction during the discovery phase of the project. Some key individuals balked at the plan to use SharePoint 2010 for document management; they keenly remembered performance issues they had encountered with SharePoint 2007. Network latency had interfered with the system’s ability to provide up-to-date search results. And the lack of a disciplined business process framework meant that information in the system was scattered, fragmented and difficult to locate quickly.
Working collaboratively with GS&P, NWN conducted Architectural Design Sessions (ADS) to share technologies, solutions and concepts, and discuss deployment planning for specific SharePoint capabilities such as collaboration, portals and content management. Once the team understood GS&P’s goals and environment, they recommended a configuration that would provide better availability and redundancy, as well as improved usability for stakeholders. The result was a friendly front-end portal for more than 650 employees.
“NWN’s knowledge level and personal approach is different from our past experience with consultants,” says King. “Other consultants have come in, spent a couple of days with us, and then generated a whitepaper. NWN spent real time with us, interviewing stakeholders and getting to know our business. Their personal, hands-on approach has enabled us to fully leverage the tools we need to proactively manage our business.” And King adds, “We still got the whitepaper!”
The NWN team helped GS&P in their journey towards a more EI centric information model. The firm has a better understanding of how to optimize SharePoint to gain visibility into their financial and operational data, and to share this data organization wide. They are also confident that they are taking better advantage of the features and tools they already had available to them in their licensing agreement.
Employees can readily create reports on project data such as labor and revenues or market conditions. “With NWN’s help, we have turned information into an asset that employees can access at any point, to gain a better understanding of things like how much revenue is out there,” says King. “Now we’d like to take it to the next level and create more dynamic, on-the-fly dashboards.”
King credits NWN with helping to lay the foundation for creating a solid EI proof of concept. “NWN almost did too good of a job in answering all of our questions,” jokes King. “Their thoroughness confirmed that we were headed in the right direction with our future technology plans. It’s great to know we have this invaluable resource right down the street. These are definitely the people we’ll be calling for our next project.”
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