“The Microsoft business intelligence solution provides a raft of tangible benefits to our business. But the real benefits are the intangible, strategic benefits that come from making better business decisions and improving agility.”
Stuart Dean, Group IT Manager, Kennards Hire
Kennards Hire started in 1948 as a small, family-owned business hiring tools and equipment to local customers. It now has around 125 branches across Australia and almost 1,000 employees, and is one of Australia’s largest hire companies. Kennards’ product
range includes earthmoving machinery, plumbing equipment, power tools, pumps and generators, and trailers and vehicles. Customers include tradespeople, contractors and home renovators.
With a fast-growing business and increasing volumes of data, Kennards needed a comprehensive business intelligence (BI) solution to manage and analyse company data. Managers largely relied on guesswork and personal experience to make business decisions,
and reporting processes were inefficient and time consuming. It was difficult for Kennards to collate historical data, and almost impossible to identify and analyse trends in financial performance and customer activity.
To improve its data analysis and reporting capabilities, in mid-2010 Kennards decided to implement a new BI solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010 and Excel 2010. The company now has greater insight into its business and has streamlined
its reporting processes. Managers are empowered to make confident, informed business decisions and to support branch managers in providing more personalised customer service. Kennards also expects the Microsoft solution will help cut costs by reducing time
spent generating reports and by providing greater insights into the company’s expenditure.
|| Our view of what was happening in the business was very narrow. When making business decisions, we often relied on gut feeling and the experience of managers. These views needed to be supported by data.
| Jihad Farah,
Since it began hiring tools and equipment to customers in 1948, Kennards Hire has become a household name. From 2007 to 2011, the family-owned business increased revenue by 50 per cent. It is now one of Australia’s largest hire companies with around 125
branches across the country and around 1,000 employees.
This business growth has increased complexity of the company’s IT environment and the volume of data its systems handle. However Kennards lacked a central data warehouse and comprehensive BI solution.
Prior to implementing a Baseplan enterprise resourcing planning system (Baseplan) in 2009 – running on Microsoft SQL Server – Kennards used multiple customised legacy systems to manage different areas of its business. While these worked well in isolation,
they could not communicate directly with each other. To view historical data, Kennards needed to manually extract data from several different sources, including the legacy systems and the new ERP system.
Kennards’ limited insight into company activity and performance, and its inability to analyse historical trends and financial results, was causing a number of challenges for the business.
“Only a few employees were able to generate reports; this caused delays if multiple managers requested reports,” says Jihad Farah, Financial Controller, Kennards Hire. “To prepare our monthly reporting packages, it took two staff members up to three days
Inefficient reporting processes were hindering business agility. And according to Farah, Kennards had a narrow view of what was happening in the business.
“When making business decisions, we often relied on gut feeling and the experience of managers. These views needed to be supported by data.”
In addition, the company’s existing system could not scale according to Kennards’ reporting requirements.
As well as a lack of visibility of company information, Kennards had limited insight into its branches’ financial and operations data. This made it difficult for senior management to understand performance of a particular branch, and to view each branch’s
“Given the significant investment in our fleet, it’s important we find the best way to manage assets across our branches,” says Farah. “Our ERP system allows us to manage and monitor the location of assets, but we also wanted to access information about
which branches were hiring out which items.”
In 2009 Kennards underwent a change in its management structure. The new management team needed more comprehensive and powerful reporting tools to understand the business and manage performance.
“We needed an easy-to-use platform that gave us timely insight into the business, so we could make strong, calculated decisions based on a complete picture, rather than low-level detail and instinct,” says Stuart Dean, Group IT Manager, Kennards Hire.
Kennards also wanted to be able to identify historical trends, and use this insight to predict future requirements and shape its business strategy.
|| Compared to other BI options we considered, the value of the Microsoft solution was compelling. It is scalable and we’re confident it will handle our data and reporting requirements for the next eight
to 10 years. It is fast, robust and reliable.
Group IT Manager,
In July 2010, Kennards selected a Microsoft BI and data warehouse solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint Server 2010 and Excel 2010. The company embarked on a three-phase implementation program with its long-time IT partner Frontline
Systems Australia and Microsoft BI Gold Certified Partner Antares Solutions. This step-by-step approach has allowed Kennards to minimise disruption to its business.
In July 2011, the Microsoft Partners rolled out the first phase of the new BI system, which provides access to financial information. In September 2011, they began implementing phase two, which incorporates sales and fleet data.
Kennards also decided to deploy SQL Server 2008 Integration Services, Analysis Services and Reporting Services.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services is used as an extract, transform and load tool; SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services provides data mining functionality; and SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services offers report generation capabilities.
Kennards has worked closely with both Frontline Systems and Antares Solutions.
“Frontline Systems helped with strategic decision making, identified key requirements and provided guidance and support,” says Dean. “Antares Solutions brought the Microsoft BI expertise to the table and, critically, the methodology. They took us through
this carefully to ensure we understood the process.”
“Kennards Hire executives and business leaders supported the project from the beginning,” says Milan Maksimovic, Enterprise Solutions Director at Antares Solutions. “This was the key factor in the project’s success and acceptance across the company. In addition,
Frontline and Antares are training the Kennards IT team so they can take ownership and build on the solution.”
The new BI system gives managers access to financial reports from the SharePoint portal. Antares Solutions also developed an executive dashboard and business scorecard that has enabled Kennards to create and track key performance indicators.
“Microsoft Technology is central to Kennards’ IT strategy,” says Dean. “Microsoft provides excellent functionality and support and offers a very competitive cost structure.
“Compared to other BI options we considered, the value of the Microsoft solution was compelling. It is scalable and we’re confident it will handle our data and reporting requirements for the foreseeable future. It is fast, robust and reliable.”
According to Mike Smith, Senior Project Manager at Frontline Systems, the BI system has given Kennards a substantial opportunity to achieve further profitability.
“Kennards has done extremely well with limited insight into its business data; what can happen when it has powerful reporting and analysis capabilities is an exciting prospect,” says Smith.
The Microsoft BI solution has allowed Kennards to handle its data and reporting requirements faster and more efficiently.
“The BI solution provides a raft of tangible benefits to our business. But the real benefits are the intangible, strategic benefits that come from making better decisions and improving agility,” says Dean.
Enhances data analysis and reporting
|| Increased visibility of branch data will enable us to make much better decisions about where we place our fleet and what we invest in.
Group IT Manager,
Kennards’ leadership team can now access more accurate, up-to-date data, and can easily and quickly produce reports, saving two staff members three to five days every month. Staff can also customise reports to suit specific needs.
“We’ve reduced the time it takes to generate reports from several hours for ad hoc reports, and up to three days for monthly reports, to no time at all – it’s virtually real time,” says Farah.
The management team and branch managers can now receive 15-minute updates on the financial performance of each branch, rather than waiting for end-of-month reports. This enables branch managers to better monitor, compare and improve their branch’s performance.
Kennards can also identify historical trends and use these for strategic decision making.
Empowers leadership team and branch managers
By consolidating and improving the quality of company data – including financial results, sales data, fleet hire history and customer history – the new BI solution empowers managers to make more accurate business decisions.
“Increased visibility of branch data will enable us to make much better decisions about where we place our fleet and what we invest in,” says Farah.
Kennards’ managers have responded positively to the new system, due to its ease of use and familiar, intuitive controls.
“The Microsoft BI solution has a rich user interface with graphics that make it easy for staff to gather and make sense of business data,” says Dean. “Microsoft SharePoint and Excel present the summarised data clearly using a familiar interface.”
Improves customer service
Kennards believes it will now be able to provide more personalised customer service and better support to its 120 branches.
“The BI system will help us provide better customer service because we can identify trends and opportunities in the market. We can also view customer transactional history – including where customers have traded, what equipment they’ve hired and problems
they’ve experience – which means we are better able to meet their needs.”
By using existing SharePoint investments, Kennards spends less on licensing its BI platform. The company also expects to save money by reducing its dependency on business and IT for reporting.
“We will no longer need to have people dedicated to generating ad hoc reports,” says Dean. “This will increase productivity.”
“We are also able to make smarter, more educated decisions about how we spend money.”
Provides foundation for business growth
The Microsoft BI solution allows Kennards’ management team to more easily share information and results with the rest of the team, and enable staff to engage with and support the organisational strategy.
“Over the next two years, we plan to extend the scope of the BI system to gain insight into other areas of the business. We’re also closely monitoring Microsoft technology and have a roadmap in place for adopting new Microsoft technologies as they become
available, to help support and grow our business.”
Microsoft Product that was featured
Meet the business intelligence needs of executives and employees while minimising associated IT management issues and cost with Microsoft Business Intelligence solutions. Available as part of the familiar Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint Server
products, and built on the powerful Microsoft SQL Server platform. Take advantage of the Microsoft Business Intelligence capabilities to connect people to data and to each other, while easing the burden on IT staff and maintaining proper governance.
For more information about Microsoft Business Intelligence visit:
For More Information
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