Case Study

Harvey Nichols - Case Study

The retailer benefits from integrated BI & CPM with Board

The Company

Founded in 1813, Harvey Nichols is a high fashion retailer, focusing on branded merchandise and quality food and restaurant offerings. With a staff of 3,000, Harvey Nichols is a leading retailer in the UK and Ireland.

The Challenge

In the fast-moving retail environment, consistent, trustworthy, and easily accessible information is key to understanding the needs of both the customer and the business. Harvey Nichols realized it needed to implement a sound framework that would support its changing requirements as growth continued.

It was essential to provide a more harmonized approach to Performance Management that was more accurate, easier to use, and more cost-effective. Martin Schofield, Retail Operations Director, explains:

"Our existing reporting wasn't cohesive or reliable and was produced by a myriad of different tools. Users were not confident in the accuracy or reliability of the data. Board has allowed us to consolidate our information into a single, integrated solution and displace multiple systems - Hyperion (Financial Reporting), Business Objects (Sales Reporting and Analytics), Arthur Planning, and a multitude of spreadsheets - giving the users much more faith in the results."

The Selection Process

Board's Business Partner Retail Assist was already a trusted supplier of Harvey Nichols with the Merret supply chain ERP solution. With a pilot, completed utilizing Merret BI powered by Board (an out-of-the-box solution with retail-ready reports based on the Board solution), the comparison to the existing platforms was carried out. Board was the clear winner.

Alistair McDonald, Senior Business Systems Manager says:

"The pilot, replicating the sales reports produced in Business Objects, was completed in a matter of days. It was clear to us that Board would provide us with the single integrated environment that we wanted."

The Solution

Harvey Nichols identified several areas which Board would address:

  • More accurate, harmonized reporting
  • Integration of data from multiple sources
  • Replace several existing BI systems with one - Board
  • Budgeting/Forecasting
  • Easier, more timely ad-hoc reporting
  • Self Service BI
  • Data Consistency

Previously the myriad of solutions and their disconnected approach led to a multitude of spreadsheets and different departments constructing their reports in different ways, thus data consistency was poor and confidence in the information being accurate was low. Control was also difficult and too loose. 

The Board solution has allowed Harvey Nichols to eliminate this disconnect by providing a consistent framework and a solid foundation from which to deliver a wide range of Performance Management applications. 

Board's programming-free approach has allowed users to become self-sufficient. Ad-hoc reporting has become much simpler and quicker and the vastly improved data integration has instilled confidence in the accuracy of the information. Data consistency and the provision of a single version of the truth has encouraged users to delve deeper into the underlying data. 

"There is a greater thirst for the information on which to base sound decisions, which can only be healthy for the business," says Martin.

The Board process began some 12 months ago and has delivered significant improvements to Daily Sales, Stock, and Financial Reporting as well as Cost and Sales Forecasting.

The Daily Sales database and reports were the first to be built in Board, replacing Hyperion. Data is loaded at the lowest level, allowing Harvey Nichols to analyze daily information by the SKU, till, day, hour, payment type, and operator (cashier). Aggregated data also allows analysis by Style, Colour, Size, Fit, customized product attributes, and standard attributes (sub-section section, category, and department).

The Daily Sales application was rolled out to users across the business (merchandisers, finance, operations, sales, etc.) who, with some basic training, can use the drill anywhere functionalities to perform on the fly, ad-hoc, root cause analysis, relieving a massive amount of pressure on IT and in turn saving time and money.

The next step was to replace the weekly sales reporting previously produced in Business Objects which has also been successfully completed along with Cost and Sales Forecasting, replacing 100s of spreadsheets. Utilizing the workflow functionality in Board has not only automated the process but has introduced an element of control not previously available to Harvey Nichols.

"Even those users wedded to spreadsheets are happy to work with Board, thanks to its ease of use," says Alistair.

"We have now rolled out financial reporting and sales and stock reporting across the business, making Hyperion redundant and phasing out Business Objects. We have just completed work on cost and sales forecasting in Board, which replaces hundreds of manual spreadsheets, and our main project on Board next year is to create a WSSI. Board has given us a single application that has simplified and fully integrated our MIS reporting and planning. We are able to quickly produce ad-hoc reports, giving both head office and stores much greater visibility of our KPIs."

Business Benefits

Harvey Nichols is reaping significant business benefits:

System Enhancements 
Monday mornings, a critical time in any retail organization, used to see systems grinding to a halt, purely because of running reports. Thanks to Board this is no longer an issue.

Data Consistency and easier Ad-Hoc Reporting
The huge pressure put on the IT department by the business to provide ad-hoc reports/analysis and to answer a barrage of questions about the accuracy, consistency, and usefulness of the data has virtually disappeared, freeing up time to concentrate on delivering further projects and enhancements.

Improved Performance
The biggest single win is highlighted best in improved performance. Business Objects reports used to take anywhere between 30-60 minutes to run. Board allows those same reports to be produced virtually instantaneously.

"Users are now able to have the data that they require at their fingertips, allowing them to concentrate on the analysis they should be doing, rather than sitting around waiting for the reports to be produced. The time/cost benefit to the business is significant and as we discover more ways of utilizing Board that can only grow," says Martin.

Replacement of Business Objects, Hyperion, and Arthur Planning
Martin continues:

"The new solution is easier to implement and easier to use. User requests can be actioned in hours, not days. Our reporting is now more accurate and, as we have only one licence to pay, it is more cost-effective. With the Board BI framework in place, we can build in enhancements that will support our business expansion."

Future Plans

Harvey Nichols has several plans in the pipeline.

  • Introduction of the WSSI (Weekly Sales, Stock, and Intake)
  • More customer information to stores
  • Push information to handheld devices
  • Integration of further data sources

"The more we use Board, the more uses we can see for it," comments Alastair. 

Martin concludes:

"We have achieved a lot in the first 12 months, but there is a lot more to comeWe have made a great start with a product that we believe can do the job we want it to and both the processes and relationships with Retail Assist and Board have been extremely positive. We like to choose suppliers that we want to work with and have confidence in, not necessarily the ones that have the most technologically advanced solutions, and in this case we appear and hope to have achieved both."

Implementation Partner

Retail Assist was Board's partner of choice on this project. Its retail sector knowledge and competencies proved invaluable in providing some out of the box, retail-ready reports that were essential to Harvey Nichols. The mix of support from both Retail Assist and Board has enabled Harvey Nichols to leverage the solution in the most effective way.