Timbuk2 Unlocks Trapped Data to Improve Performance
In 1994, San Francisco-based Timbuk2 pioneered the concept of the built to order custom messenger bag. Since then, this retail manufacturer has been building bicycle messenger bags, computer carrying cases and other urban lifestyle bags. The company is known for popularizing the messenger bag as an urban fashion accessory.
Timbuk2 was heavily reliant upon its existing Great Plains ERP solution to deliver reporting and analysis to the business. The system had no way of providing information in a meaningful way so that channel managers could make strategic business decisions.
A lot of manual manipulation and extraction was required to get information into Excel in order to create the required reports, and even then, the information was static and dated. Special requests required the business analyst to go back and rebuild reports, further delaying the decision making process. The company was also challenged by limited IT resources and budget.
“Our ERP system has a wealth of data, but there really was no easy way to get that data out and interact with it,” said Chuck Schweiger, Business Analyst. “Moreover, our prior reporting and analytics process was so full of handoffs that it was not a workable solution for today’s on-demand, flexible, global business environment. We needed to streamline processes for easier data access and analysis.”
What Timbuk2 needed was a business solution that could:
Enable the company to mine the wealth of data locked in its on premise ERP solution
Provide ad-hoc analysis of sales data in near real-time
Securely distribute business insight across its supply chain
Rapidly implement and maintain solution with minimal IT resources
Timbuk2 explored the idea of building a data warehouse, but the cost/benefit analysis didn’t work. Specifically, a data warehouse project could not easily solve the need to extend analytical capabilities beyond the firewall. On a tip from a colleague, the company’s CFO looked into PivotLink. The most appealing aspect of PivotLink’s SaaS BI solution was the ability for users to create new queries and reports without requiring a background in programming. “PivotLink is a powerful, yet easy to learn on-demand analytics tool that the team loves,” says Schweiger. “The ability to look at data from multiple perspectives, to slice and dice it, and to examine the relationships between different data elements enable a company-wide effort to identify cost-saving and profit-generating opportunities."
“Before deploying a SaaS BI solution, most of my time had been spent collecting data. Now I can actually analyze data and present an accurate picture of business trends," says Schweiger. "That might sound rudimentary, but for Timbuk2 it has been transformational. Before PivotLink, getting basic information on open orders was almost impossible -- but for a retail manufacturer like Timbuk2 it’s critical to business operations.”
Schweiger says he was pleasantly surprised when he realized he could finally, “slay a major dragon by getting an accurate picture of future inventory.” Sales reps and wholesale retailers can find out exactly what is available on a particular day by SKU number via an open to sell report, and when it will be available if it's out of stock.
“The biggest benefits to knowing future inventory are increased reorders, removing uncertainty in planning for merchandizing, as well as leaner inventory levels,” says Schweiger. “For example, now we can promise a dealer like REI that we will have 500 units for them on a specific date. Using PivotLink, we’ve become a better business partner.”
Schweiger is also confident that Timbuk2 will see the use of PivotLink on a wider organizational scale. “Going forward, I expect that nearly every part of our business will benefit from PivotLink. To date, its impact has been exceptional.”
Ability for all business users to slice and dice data any way they need
Gained greater visibility into critical performance data
Improved in-stock rates, resulting in more satisfied customers
Doubled reorder rates, driving revenue gains
Improved response time to market changes