CoolDrive Distribution has 60,000 products, 20 warehouses, 40 sales reps and customers flung wide. Its former ERP-Business Intelligence solution (Pronto with IBM Cognos) was too “expensive” and “clunky” to manage. We spoke to CoolDrive's Chief Financial Officer, John Goodrham, about how Phocas has improved inventory management and user uptake.

Q: Why does CoolDrive need analytics?

JOHN: We’re trying to ensure we have the right stock in the right location to service customer needs on demand.  Then it’s about whether we can deliver on time. My biggest concern has been how to best understand those relationships to maximise our investment in inventory.

Q: How is Phocas helping?

JOHN: I’ve started using Phocas to give me the hands-on ability to very quickly identify how we are managing our inventory in any branch, at any product level. With Phocas I can also look at stock turns, ratio of stock held and commitment to sales, both historic and future.

Q: What do you like most?

JOHN: That it [Phocas] lets you change the data query to follow what you’re thinking and look at things in different ways  ̶  is it a customer-related query, or driven by a conversation with suppliers, or a regional manager? Sometimes you need to go down a few different paths to form a better understanding.

Phocas becomes the most useful tool you’ve ever had because it reveals aspects of the business you may not have thought about.

Q: How did implementation go?

JOHN: Setting up with data sources is not the challenge. You need to go through your business thought processes and identify meaningful relationships between data sets to develop reporting structures.

The Phocas team spent time really analyzing what we needed. We can express what we think we want, but it’s great when you’ve got someone who can reinterpret it to give you what you need.

Q: How does Phocas highlight opportunities or risks?

JOHN: You can drill down into a product category and suddenly it jumps out that radiators are performing a lot better this year. You can query what factors are driving that. Is it location, sales rep, category or product?<

Or you run a sales rep report across product category and see you’re down x % across a number of reps. There may be a pricing issue, but you know it’s not driven by an individual rep.

Q: How does Phocas monitor performance?

JOHN: We can get an immediate view on how our individual reps are performing with such ease and can look at direct comparisons and variances.  Our 20 branch managers now sit down with our 40 sales reps and review progress.

Q: How are users taking to it?

JOHN: We had about three people confident and competent on Cognos. We have about 90 people who could use Phocas competently. In 30 minutes, you’re taking them from raw beginner to intermediate user. It has a really nice interface.

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Tags: Case Study, IBM Cognos, Industry - Wholesale Distribution, Industry - Automotive, ERP - Pronto

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