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Creating professional, user-friendly analytics with Qlik + Vizlib

Industry: Manufacturing

Locations: Global

Area served: Food manufacturing

Crider Foods is a global canned foods manufacturer and market leader committed to providing the industry’s highest level of quality, service, and integrity. The company maintains their excellent standing as industry leaders through, among other things, their Innovation Center, test plant, and by employing a data-driven approach to business. We had the opportunity to chat with Crider Foods’ Director, Joshua Poole, about the evolution of their data and analytics journey. He began by sharing how they’ve used visual analytics to simplify how their teams use data for more than five years! As a manufacturing company, they use analytics across the business – in their financial reporting, in operations, and for frontline team members. One thing we found particularly noteworthy about their Business Intelligence is that they use every Vizlib product with their Qlik analytics. Here’s how they’re accelerating their insight journey with Qlik and Vizlib.

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The need for real-time manufacturing insights

As a manufacturer, Crider Foods relies on up-to-date information to maintain and optimise everything from plant floor activities to logistics. Stale data is useless for manufacturers. Rather, they need real-time data to make the right decisions at the right time. To support this objective, their analytics use cases and solutions have evolved over the years.

Their starting point for working with data was basic: “Five years ago, we ran 90 percent of this company using Microsoft Excel. So we’ve come a long way,” Joshua shared.

Before adopting Qlik Sense and Vizlib’s value-adding solutions, the company’s data processing was an arduous, lengthy process – taking up to seven days to gather and analyse key data! “A week after a run, we would be able to look at the data about that run and see the major causes of any downtime; or how our performance was; or what the financial impact was,” Joshua explained.

Yet, with Key Performance Indicator (KPI) information only available after such a lengthy period, the data was not effective in helping them improve operations, minimise errors, reduce costs, or otherwise understand or enhance any other manufacturing fundamentals. “If we learned something, we learned it seven days too late!”

Today, the situation is far different. With Qlik and Vizlib steering their Business Intelligence (BI), they have data available in near real-time to make improvements fast. Joshua affirmed,

“We can make decisions that impact us before we’ve even finished the day, and finish the day stronger than we would have without the information.”  Joshua Poole, Director, Crider Foods

Using Qlik + Vizlib to streamline financial reporting

Crider Foods now have access to near real-time reporting with Qlik Sense to make smarter decisions fast. “Since a lot of our operational applications reload every five minutes or every minute, we’re using Qlik to track how we’re doing for the day and make adjustments as needed to make sure that we hit our goals and targets.”

Yet, not all their BI use cases were covered fully by Qlik’s native functionality. For example, Crider wasn’t able to perform their financial reporting in a way that suited their workflows. To resolve this important business requirement, they searched for an additional solution to help them get more from their Qlik Sense. “It looked like we’d have to implement an entire system just for financial reporting because we didn’t have anything that suited our requirements. Qlik Sense wasn’t really a great fit.”

Luckily, when Joshua and his team started researching options, they found Vizlib. “It was 100 percent Vizlib Finance that hooked me because we’re trying to do financial reporting and I wanted to avoid buying another system,” Joshua added. “Thankfully, Vizlib Finance enabled us to use Qlik Sense for our P&L reporting. There wasn’t a really good way to do it prior to that.”

Vizlib Finance

And that was certainly not the end of Crider Foods’ success with Vizlib. To ensure everyone throughout their supply chain could understand and work with data at speed, they needed a broader, user-friendly solution to add to their Qlik analytics. “When I saw Vizlib Collaboration with Writeback, that’s what hooked me the most because that just opens up so many opportunities.”

Vizlib writeback table

The need to go beyond native Qlik Sense

How Vizlib enabled more independent analysis in Qlik

Qlik Sense has helped Crider modernise its analytics. Yet, the usability that the platform offered was not meeting the manufacturer’s broader data needs. As Joshua explains, “We’ve been stuck with Qlik Sense, especially with reports that are very static. And if somebody wanted to make a change to a report, they had to reach out to me.”

However, when they combined Qlik’s powerful analytics engine with Vizlib’s user-friendly solution, they were able to leverage the low-code, familiar functionality of Vizlib’s business solutions to open up data and insights to more users. “Everything I’ve learned about Qlik Sense, I had to teach myself. So being able to make Qlik more user-friendly with Vizlib is a big plus for us because we don’t have a programmer.”

By adding Vizlib to their BI, they enabled a more self-service approach to their data, insights, and decision making, “without the help of a developer, programmer or other data specialist,” Joshua confirmed.

Looking once more to their financial reporting, these self-service benefits truly came to the fore. “I used to have to go into SQL and change how accounts are classified. But, now the controller can go in and set up those classifications himself. And manage that data himself.” With Vizlib Finance, Crider Foods has been able to adapt the way their reports work themselves for better usability.

In addition to improved usability, Vizlib also helped the food manufacturer save time and better support strategic decision making.

“We’re building our digital infrastructure so we can strategically support management, our executive team, or any of the vice presidents. If they ask for a report, we can get them whatever they’re asking for within days or even a few hours, as opposed to weeks or months which is what it used to be.”

Vizlib Writeback and Finance

How Vizlib products support real-time manufacturing decisions

Being able to input data on the fly and analyse the results instantly is a game-changer for manufacturers like Crider Foods. Joshua shared that Vizlib Collaboration not only produces the “biggest impact” but also that

Vizlib Writeback Table takes Qlik from reporting only to data entry as well. That’s the most radical change for us.” Joshua Poole, Director, Crider Foods

The functionality of Vizlib Collaboration enables them to streamline their manufacturing workflows.

“Vizlib Collaboration is just fantastic. And the great thing about it is I can create a web form for somebody who barely knows how to use a computer so they can input data that goes straight to a dashboard for somebody else. And you do that in 20 minutes. It’s insane. Before we had to pay people to make a web form or it would take me weeks to do. That’s the biggest value that I see with Vizlib Collaboration and Server.” Joshua Poole, Director, Crider Foods

Vizlib input form

What’s more, their initial use case in finance has also been supercharged with Vizlib’s Writeback capabilities. “We definitely chose Vizlib for Vizlib Finance. But now we’re also using writeback with the Finance Report. Instead of having to manage a spreadsheet, Writeback Table has made it more user-friendly for us. It feels like going into a spreadsheet and changing something to change the dashboard is not a professional application.

But by using Vizlib’s Writeback capabilities, it feels like something you’d see in a fortune 500 company!” Joshua Poole, Director, Crider Foods

Crider Foods also use Vizlib Library extensively. For example, Vizlib Calendar. “Vizlib Calendar is in every single app that I’ll make. I love the configurability and everything there.”

Vizlib Calendar

More design freedom with Qlik + Vizlib

The future of Crider Foods’ analytics

The next step in modernising Crider Foods’ BI will focus on improving long-term decision making through more what-if analysis. Joshua added that “we have some apps set up using what-if scenarios for scheduling using the Qlik and Vizlib’s Writeback capabilities. So that’s where we’re doing most of our development for now.”

Forward-thinking data leaders, like Crider Foods, are becoming more data-driven with the right BI tools. And they know how valuable their data is, especially as industry leaders! Helping our customers get the right insights at the right time with Qlik + Vizlib, means they’re working smarter, and that’s exactly the way we like it!

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