Microsoft and SAP worlds expertly linked
At the start of the joint project, workshops were held on site, where the service provider's comprehensive expertise with Microsoft, SAP and Salesforce proved to be a major advantage. Having designed the architecture and planned its implementation, DCCS and the TroGroup then started data modelling based on the first use cases. “The SAP know-how which is deeply embedded at DCCS helped us a great deal here, and sped things up a lot,” Mayrleitner recalls. For the close cooperation, a flexible approach was adopted in the Microsoft Azure DevOps environment, with step-by-step sprints and tests to validate stage results. The Microsoft Data Platform was chosen for the underlying technology. “This was our first choice, to avoid becoming reliant on particular system providers. The system also offers huge flexibility, numerous standard connections and many integrated features, such as data quality services for data cleansing,” says Mayrleitner. Building on the data modelling in the data warehouse, connection to the “BOARD” reporting and planning tool, which serves as the new central reporting and planning tool at TroGroup, was set up. Implementation went according to plan, with only the data quality presenting challenges owing to different source systems and information structures. Missing implementations of SAP standards also slowed down progress a little at times. Some of these hurdles were soon overcome through a data correction process (using Data Quality Services and Power BI reports) in conjunction with Master Data Services.
Uniform view of relevant data
The new data warehouse centralises all business-critical information. SAP ERP is the principal source system, followed by Salesforce and the Sage HR solution. The main recipient of the data is the BOARD BI tool, through which the various departments, such as financial control, accounts, sales, product management, HR and management, can call up reports at any time and perform planning – as part of the budgeting process, for instance. Target systems including the PIM system, which receives master data from SAP via the DWH, and Salesforce, which is integrated with Microsoft Azure Data Factory, are also connected. Users now have direct access to a uniform database. This allows reports such monthly sales as well as processed data for purchasing and production, HR or financial accounting to be pulled from the system at any time. “The most important reports include turnover and sales reports as well as some integrated planning applications,” says Mayrleitner. The Power BI Report Server also serves as the basis for other necessary reports, such as runtime and data quality reports.
Fully automated data flow
Data flow from source to target systems is now fully automated. Data is retrieved from the source systems overnight, information is converted or processed and then transferred to the target systems. Users can now easily access and use data which has already been processed. “Previously, these processes involved a great deal of manual work. For example, we used to pull huge Excel file reports from SAP. This was not only prone to error and took up time but also was not really scalable,” says Mayrleitner. With the new system, the TroGroup has killed several birds with one stone. As well as automating the process, the main advantages include central data management and the unique business logic anchored within the system. Furthermore, any number of systems can be connected and supplied with the same data. “The huge flexibility and the updating capability offer great potential for new processes and applications,” says Mayrleitner. The database solution is currently running in hybrid mode (on-premises software and Microsoft Azure), with a switch to the cloud being an option at any time.