Facts over feelings: BMT embraces centralized data management

May 31, 2021

Strategic decisions shouldn’t be based on instinct, but on facts and numbers. In order to make informed decisions, everyone in your organization must speak the same language and use the same information sources. Making it happen isn’t simple, and centralized and uniform data management is an absolute prerequisite. Read on to learn more about how delaware and BMT partnered up to unlock centralized data management.

BMT is a Belgian family group with approximately 5,500 employees. The company is globally active and produces high-precision parts for a wide variety of industries, including aviation, automotive, marine, railway, heavy industry, healthcare, glass and more.

On a quest for data-driven insights

“Our company has grown rapidly over the last five years,” explains Stijn Caroen, group data architect at BMT. “To become more efficient and cater even more effectively to our clients, we needed sharper insights. How are our sales numbers evolving and what is the prognosis? How many employees have left and joined the company? What were our total energy costs? Were fewer occupational accidents recorded during the last quarter? Because of our global reach, finding the answers to these straightforward questions proved to be a challenge. At BMT, we firmly believe that decisions need to be based on facts and data and not on our gut feelings.”

Uniformity required

BMT’s journey to become a more data-driven company started with the introduction of an SAP information management system. This SAP S/4HANA-based system spans all core domains of the BMT Group: from sales to facilities, from HR to production. “The platform centralizes all data in the cloud and enables clear and uniform reporting. This uniformity used to be a challenge for BMT,” adds Pieter Delaere, analytics consultant at delaware. “For example, the definition of a long-term employee absence differed from office to office, ranging from longer than a month to around 6 months. This resulted in nonharmonized – and useless – data points. The solution was to harmonize data definitions.”

The shift from fragmented to centralized and unified data management brought many benefits to BMT. “More transparency, cost savings, improved efficiency, high customer satisfaction and a direct impact on P&L,” lists Stijn. “The platform answers the who, what, where, how and how many, but also the why. Is the turnover generated by X subsidiary lower than it was last quarter and why? It’s easily possible find the cause via the SAP data platform and to view a detailed analysis of the data.”

  • Engineers can adjust the production schedule down to the level of individual production orders, leading to optimal delivery and higher customer satisfaction.
  • Instead of wasting time and energy on data gathering, making graphs, drawing up PowerPoint presentations, personnel can focus on analyses and optimizations. Sales and operation teams present their findings straight from SAP Analytics Cloud.
  • With an SAP S/4HANA application built in two days, the company has an overview of the daily impact of COVID-19 on operations, such as potential issues with customers and suppliers, employee cases, etc.
  • Simulation and monitoring of the effects of strategic decisions, such as cost savings achieved by moving production from one location to another.

Strong partnership with delaware

The roadmap towards becoming a data-driven company was established in collaboration with delaware. The expertise BMT gathered through the years also enabled the platform to be built autonomously. At the same time, core applications like the ERP and HR systems are being evaluated together with delaware in order to achieve higher-quality input data.

“delaware’s role was and still is that of a supporting partner: we share our experience and knowledge, exchange tips and tricks and adjust where necessary,” explains Pieter. “To become a data-driven company, a change in our employees’ mindset is necessary. We believe that a data-driven company is people-driven first and foremost, but supported by the right technology and governance,” concludes Stijn.

Becoming a data-driven company: tips and tricks

  • Consistent and accurate data entry is vital and requires constant attention. Also 'small' data points are important for the big picture.
  • A strong analytics vision and a policy framework are necessary to prevent everyone from working separately and from having data disappearing into silos.
  • Stay critical: even though AI-driven tools help build insights, never blindly trust them.
  • Create a content plan for all stakeholders to foster a real community. BMT, for example, organizes internal conferences frequently to share their best practices and ideas related to all business units.
  • Launching an analytics culture is a real transformation process. Open communication and discussion are crucial.
  • Choose a strategic partner who communicates openly, has proven knowledge and skills and who thinks actively about the bigger picture.

A management information system: this may sound very abstract and difficult to grasp to many people. That is why delaware developed a stack of cards that visually presents and explains the system’s applications to the end user. The cards are used in workshops to bring every participant into the story.

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