Boise Cascade automates their SawTek analytics, providing distributors with performance feedback in real time and allowing customer service reps to focus on improving efficiency rather than compiling manual reports.

Boise Cascade is a leading manufacturer and distributor of building materials with 60 locations across North America and close to 10,000 employees. They manufacture engineered wood products, plywood, lumber, and particleboard, and distribute a broad line of materials including their own manufacturing wood products. Their products and services are geared toward wholesalers, retail dealers, and builders that meet the construction needs of end users. 

 

Product 

 

Boise’s products are highly integrated. Their Engineered Wood Products (EWP) division manufactures SawTek, a saw system best suited for cutting Boise’s own I-Joist products. These saws operate off cut solutions created in Boise’s BCConnect software system, and each cut solution produces valuable data (what is cut, what type, how much, and how fast) that helps Boise distributors better understand the impact of sold products. 

 

History 

 

Each month, Boise’s customer service representatives had to manually consolidate text files for data from each cut solution into spreadsheets, which were then turned into reports for distributors. This manual mapping took the form of charts and graphs highlighting performance and efficiency for each distributor’s saw locations, and included monthly lineal foot production, processing speed, and cut summary. This manual process would take any time between days and weeks, depending on the customer, and involved the effort of multiple Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) on a monthly basis. 

 

Project 

 

SSNW’s role was twofold. The first was to implement a system that captured every saw event and recorded this in the cloud. The second was to build an analytics dashboard with over a dozen slice-able metrics for Boise’s distributors to monitor saw performance and better maintain best practices through simplified comparison with other distributors in the Boise network. 

 

Challenges 

 

  • Perform transformations while maintaining current operations 

  • Cover transformations for a large network of around 1,000 employees in Boise’s distributor network 

 

Solutions 

 

  • Create a data warehouse in the Microsoft Azure cloud 

  • Facilitate integrated data reporting through Information Builders’ WebFocus and ReportCaster 

 

Results 

 

  • Significantly reduced manual mapping workload for CSRs 

  • Automated workflows allowed CSRs to better facilitate distributor effectiveness with new analytical tools 

  • Integrated the Boise distributor network, allowing for a granular view of industry-wide best practices 

  • Allowed Boise to better forecast their manufacturing seasonally and by product 

 

Software 

 

Microsoft Azure 

 

  • Well-established cloud service 

  • Integrated with the Information Builders package 

  • Allows for heavy customization and data warehouse management 

 

Information Builders Webfocus 

 

  • A complete web-ready data access and reporting system  

  • Accesses and processes information located in any format on any platform  

  • Presents that information to users through accessible formats such as PDF, Excel, HTML, or web browser  

 

Information Builders ReportCaster 

 

  • Secure, can only be accessed by authorized users 

  • Allows for scheduling of reports at specific times or intervals 

  • Can create and maintain distribution lists, schedules, Library Access Lists 

  • Allowed Boise’s distributors to automatically receive a full monthly SawTek Production Dashboard instead of waiting for weeks for data to be processed by the CSRs 

 

Game Plan 

 

Using Azure, we built a data warehouse in the cloud that automatically captured key data points in real time. This data was consolidated into an SQL database. Using Information Builders’ WebFocus reporting platform, we developed a dynamics dashboard with over 10 charts, graphs, and key performance indicators with the ability to slice by month and location. Report generation and distribution was automated using Information Builders’ ReportCaster, speeding up workflows and allowing distributors better visibility and control. These processes also allowed Boise’s CSRs to focus on improving customer efficiency rather than scrambling to deliver monthly data, freeing them to up to work alongside distributors to develop best practices. 

 

Strategic Solutions NW 

 

Strategic Solutions NW is a tight-knit tech and management company headquartered in Beaverton, OR with clients around the world. A Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, we specialize in integrated software implementation and recovery, approaching every solution with a business-wide approach. Our repertoire includes creating and managing accounts software for 500 million dollar manufacturers, specialized forest product experience, and longstanding partnerships with a swathe of major software vendors. Led by three partners with decades of experience in software and business solutions, we approach each client with a long-term relationship in mind, providing continued support and communication beyond project timelines. 

© 2020 by Strategic Solutions NW

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