Sherri Benzelock, VP of Business Analytics at Honeywell, shared her insights on implementing Tableau in the organization, an operation that she described as both difficult and fulfilling. Honeywell is a Fortune 100 conglomerate, with 40 billion dollars sales in 2016, and over 131.000 employees in around 70 countries.

Sherri focused on Honeywell’s oil refinery business solutions, in which the company created blueprints for oil refineries. Essentially, they stream the data back from refineries, analyze it and make recommendations of how they can operate more effectively.

The biggest challenges that Honeywell faced when they decided to transition towards a more data-driven organization were high inventory balances and high days of supply, plus limited visibility to make effective inventory planning decisions.

“Part of the problem were silos of reports with the same info, multiple sources of information, reports that lacked context and were not actionable. There was a dependency on Finance to pull data. Each group was reviewing data differently and ownership wasn’t clear. There weren’t enough details to answer questions, simply not enough context. Plus, the reports were fragmented, part of monthly reporting after month end”, said Sherri Benzelock.

Their objective was to reduce the effort to produce information, to automate their system and create one source of information. They also wanted to add context, to make it more actionable, which would, in turn, drive ownership and accountability. The reports had to be easily accessible, everyone had to understand the inventory, where it is and why.

Honeywell decided they needed a phased approach in order to complete the transition, so they started implementing that. They started from existing reporting and added two more phases.

The existing reports consisted of multiple worksheets in excel – more than 20 – which meant they had to do some sort of excel gymnastics. Another problem was that data was extremely inconsistent.

The first phase consisted of Honeywell increasing data availability, introducing data visualization and enabling self-service. The addition of easy to search dashboards brought in a lot of value in terms of what insights their team could get out of the data.

The second phase meant the implementation of multiple data sources, but with action-oriented views. These reports would be extended to sales teams and they started revealing incredible insights and significant opportunities for the sales department and for the company as a whole.

The next step was embedding the information into their MOS. This would mean a production schedule reviewed weekly, monthly built schedule reviewed by finance, SIO reviews, weekly inventory reviews, monthly reviews days of supply and metrics.

As for Tableau visualizations, they would have:

  • month-end inventory – by plant, by product line, by bucket and by material trened.
  • inventory vs COGS – which basically identifies potential excess inventory based on forward demand
  • 13-month rolling inventory – which is the trended inventory by plant, by production line and by bucket.

In only two years after the process started, Honeywell already had 18,000 users globally, which was a resounding success.

“Sponsorship within the organization is the absolutely key. We had the president and the CMO promoting the implementation. This drove to incremental sales resulting in 10 million dollars of benefits”, Sherri told the audience at Tableau Conference 2017.

About the author

Sebastian Stan

Sebastian is a journalist and digital strategist with years of experience in the news industry, social media, content creation and management, and digital analytics.

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