Everyone can do more with their data, when it’s easy to understand and analyze
Quality Bearings Online (QBOL) likes its companywide data analysis to work just like its products; high accuracy, low friction and smooth motion.
Based in the UK with service centers in North America, QBOL is a leading e-commerce business specializing in distributing bearings and engineering spares worldwide. It was quick to embrace an online model, and in 2022, the business celebrated a decade of rapid growth.
The company uses Sage 200 to record and manage its financial and operational activity. It integrates seamlessly with Phocas Analytics to give everyone easy access to data and support decision making.
Sam Moss, Chief Operating Officer at Quality Bearings Online, used Phocas in a previous business. She saw first-hand how Phocas makes ERP data and multiple other sources more accessible across an organization. Being able to clearly visualize data insights enabled people to quickly understand the numbers and take action.
“Phocas stood out for me and has always stayed in my mind, because it's so user friendly. We needed something intuitive, that didn't require a ton of training and just gave us a way of doing ad hoc analysis — but really quickly — to encourage everybody to do it” said Sam.
“We wanted business intelligence to be an aid for decision making. But not to slow us down, the software needs to be complementary to our process. And that's what we've got with Phocas” adds Sam.
With the right tools, change becomes much easier
“I do think ERPs and analytics platforms serve different purposes. The big benefits of having Sage plus Phocas is the usability of the data and how our information is now visualized” explains Sam.
She believes that if there isn’t a quick or straightforward process to review data in different ways people tend to continue looking at the same information.
“You kind of stick with what you have and the reports and dashboards that you've got. Prior to adding Phocas, it felt like a bigger task to create a new report or look at things in a slightly different way than it does now.”
No more delayed decisions
Sam has a great analogy for effective data analysis, likening Phocas’s role to a Video Assisted Referee (VAR) in sport. VAR is a fifth referee positioned off the field, who has the technology to watch any play on multiple screens from multiple angles, to assist with decision-making.
“With Phocas, when we’re having a live discussion in a meeting and want to quantify someone’s instincts or intuition, we can have a quick look at Phocas. It’s like VAR in sport (when done well), it literally takes 10 seconds, and we can all move on” explains Sam.
The three metrics test
As COO, Sam recommends three metrics to measure the success of new software:
- Quality of implementation and scoping
- High user adoption
- The end product matches what was sold to you in the beginning
“It was a big tick on all fronts for Phocas. The end product is great and the user engagement around Phocas is also great” said Sam.
She continued “It’s probably quite rare that you would wholeheartedly recommend software on all three criteria. When Quality Bearings had a Phocas demo with the owners and directors, Simon and Denny, they loved it straight away. It was an easy sell to them. And it was helpful having someone in the room who post demonstration could say, “yes, it is that quick to run the query”.
From implementation to seeing impact within the business, Sam believes QBOL has seen a quick time to value using Phocas. Within its marketing team alone, gathering customer insight data used to take approximately 2 hours of prep across a number of different systems, and a further 6 to 12 hours to clean and analyze the data for trends. Now with Phocas, this entire task takes just 5 minutes.
Analysis is embedded across the business
Quality Bearing’s goal was to empower everybody with their system choice.
“Data is our most precious resource, especially when we're making decisions and certainly when we are planning our future direction” says Sam.
Quality Bearings is doing substantially more analysis thanks to the intuitive platform Phocas provides. With a broad range of users (full licenses and read only) across multiple business functions, Sam shared how the different teams were using Phocas Analytics in their daily activities.
Supplying over 1 million SKUs (stock keeping units) to 110 export countries, its operations team is using Phocas to streamline its stock management and analysis, while the senior management team frequently use Phocas to track business performance.
“Automating reports has also saved us loads of time and having live reports that are refreshed and sent out routinely is efficient” says Sam.
One step ahead of external market conditions
Like many companies, Quality Bearings is susceptible to global supply chain issues. The team is using Phocas to keep a close eye on sales trends and make faster purchasing or marketing decisions.
“Being on top of a trend can be a significant benefit to us. We want everyone to proactively monitor the data that effects their role and to find out what’s really driving certain situations" explains Sam.
When Sam thinks of the challenges that the global economy has brought to the business in recent times, she stresses the importance of monitoring financial performance more frequently than monthly.
“Circumstances can change, availability and demand changes quickly. So, data insights allow us to be nimbler. It supports us in being able to move quickly and make informed choices.” says Sam.
Internal and external teams are more aligned
Thanks to Phocas, when the sales team want to run specific marketing campaigns, they now have the data to back up their requests and can measure success on a granular level by product and geography.
“This deeper collaboration is the real-life impact of stronger data analysis within the business. It's brought teams closer together and being able to substantiate their ideas with data is satisfying for everyone" says Sam.
Quality Bearings is also making the most of dashboards with its supplier base. Account managers can quickly review core data sets for key suppliers and know immediately how the account is tracking.
Sam says “we were at an event recently where we were able to use the dashboard functionality on an iPad and have live discussions. The functionality of Phocas has been very beneficial to build these relationships.”
Turning to the future
The marriage of Sage and Phocas has been an instant success for Quality Bearings. The ease of use, accessibility, and collaborative nature of the platform have empowered the entire organization to analyze data and make data-driven decisions.
As the business continues to grow, it has also chosen to adopt Financial Statements as well as Budgets & Forecasts; turning Phocas into a complete business planning and analytics platform for QBOL.
“In terms of supporting us with our strategy and what's next and what's to come, Phocas is going to be an even more valuable platform in 6 to 12 months from now” says Sam.