OpsVeda, Powered by SAP HANA – Don’t Touch the Process, Just Simplify It!
SVP – Business Applications
Global Brands Group
VP – Order Management,
Global Brands Group
GLOBAL BRANDS GROUP (GBG) is one of the world’s leading branded apparel, footwear, fashion accessories and related lifestyle product companies. We design, develop, market and sell such products across a diverse portfolio of owned and licensed brands as well as a wide range of product categories. Our customers are retailers, including department stores, hypermarkets, off-price retailers, independent chains, specialty retailers and e-commerce channels in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
We were established back in 2005, and during early years, most people at the Company may not have imagined that:
- 9 years later we will be an independent, publicly traded company, with revenues of over $3.3 Billion,
- We will be associated with 350+ iconic brands including some of the most respected ones like Calvin Klein, Under Armour, Frye, Coach, Coca-Cola and Disney, and
- We will partner with some of the biggest Retailers like Walmart, Target, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
Today GBG is synonymous with innovative design and development, seamless global distribution, and an extensive global supply network.
In our business, there is perpetual quest for efficiency and speed, and the need to continually grow the top line and improve the bottom line. Growth over the years has brought unique challenges. Processes that worked when we were smaller, started showing signs of stress. Some refer to these as “good problems to have”, but they still have to be solved!
As the vast footprint of Licensors and Retailers we support, and the geographies we support them from, has grown, it became imperative that some of the system capabilities processes would have to be urgently re-looked. During the beginning of the 3rd quarter in 2014, few of us from IT and Business leadership got together to prioritize processes that needed attention. Sales Operations, Procurement, Shipment, and Supply Chain Planning processes figured at the top of our list. The efficiency of these have a direct bearing on how well we are serving our customers, and overall company profitability.
After studying the processes, it was clear that many of the complexities were irreducible. This is partly due to the high transaction volumes, and also because of the unique data models in Apparel & Retail businesses. For instance, SKU’s in our industry span styles, colors, multiple grid sizes and so on. Planning and executing the right inventory mix is challenging. Almost all of the practices, checks and controls that we have built into our systems and processes made sense. They were there for good reasons and had to be retained.
So, our focus shifted to what could be done so that the PEOPLE running these critical processes do not bear the brunt of these complexities. After some interviews, we knew that the life of these folks would be better if we could provide them a near real-time solution that also has the intelligence they try to get, through spreadsheet based analysis.
The benefits of a near real-time system to support operations were very obvious. But there were also strong reasons for not having implemented one earlier. Put simply, the technology was not available. Transaction systems would crawl to a halt, if the complex reporting is run there. As for BI systems, the data there is never current, and it is painful!
Overall, we saw an urgent need to enable capabilities that enhance Simplicity and Scale for our business operations. Around this time, we saw a demonstration of OpsVeda at a trade-fair. The OpsVeda platform appeared to address many of the problems our operations team had listed. But we wanted to be sure that it could really handle our volumes and complexity. Frankly, initially it appeared too good to be real!
The OpsVeda experts told us about the platform’s SAP HANA bloodlines. After a quick proof of concept, we were convinced that the application architecture and approach could address our challenges. Built on the fast SAP HANA in-memory database platform, OpsVeda delivers near real-time analysis for our operational needs. Availability on cloud, and OpsVeda’s familiarity with our SAP ERP/ AFS systems also meant reduced risk. The project was green-flagged.
We were live 8 weeks later. While the backend processes have remained the same with all its complexities, the life of users has become a lot simpler. They no longer have to collate, compare and tally multiple spreadsheets to make routine decisions. OpsVeda serves as the execution workbench for sales operations, allocators, and managers.
The solution provides:
a) A near real-time workbench with granular drill down into sales, supply, inventory & allocation Data
b) Efficient, role specific views that support ‘Manage by Exceptions’ paradigm
c) One Click access into:
- Shippable, lateness, bulk orders without reference, duplicates, approaching start dates, past cancel & approaching cancel, shipment status
- Allocation preview, alternative allocation scenarios, available to ship
- Suggestions around alternate labels or alternate SKU’s
d) Visibility to at risk transactions, and can drill-down to the specific demand/supply element that needs mitigation.
Though, OpsVeda is already providing our business actionable visibility into process exceptions and actionable metrics, we are nowhere close to done in terms of the value such a near real-time system can provide. We believe that the value of an intelligence platform should be in its capability to provide ready answers to questions that are worth asking. And we are seeing early success with quite a few:
- When & how much to pull the Supply Chain through analysis of Oversold products
- When to proactively engage sales based on monitoring of Underselling items
- Which container to prioritize for port clearance based on orders and customer priorities
- What is the earliest feasible fulfillment date based on time-phased fill-rate projections.
The few example questions outlined above require a good amount of data-analysis and simulation to find the right solution. Simple reports fall short. And spreadsheet based analysis and simulations have their human, time and scale limitations.