Since its launch over twenty years ago, Boden has established itself as a great British brand; instantly recognisable and a firm favourite amongst many households. Now exporting its quirky style to the USA and the rest of Europe through its online and catalogue businesses, and shipping over 12,500 orders a day from its Leicester warehouse alone; Business Intelligence (BI) is more important than ever to the day to day management and growth of this high performing fashion retailer.
No more manual number crunching – just incredibly powerful Business Intelligence that is shaping the growth of a great British brand, and delighting the Finance Director.
Challenge / business problem
Boden’s search for Enterprise-Class BI began with the realisation that manually crunching numbers to analyse critical data wasn’t going to carry the business forward. Alex Ives, Business Analyst at Boden explains: “We have a variety of systems that deal with all aspects of the order process – from what’s in stock in our warehouses to supplier and customer financials. Aggregating this data into Excel reports was a very slow process which could take several people hours to run. With the rate at which we do business continually increasing, we realised this had to change – we needed data insights in an instant.” This began the process of Boden looking for the right BI partner.
Boden already trusted Coeo to provide SQL Server Remote DBA and Managed Services, and so they decided to ask Coeo what their approach to bringing BI to Boden would be. Matt Simpson, Principal BI Consultant at Coeo was delighted at the opportunity to explain.
“As a business we’re passionate about knowledge transfer,” says Matt, “we learn so much from all of the customers we work with that we want to share best practice wherever possible. We proposed a solution whereby Coeo would architect and implement the SQL BI environment Boden needed, but at the same time coach their in-house team to give them the skills and confidence to manage the solution themselves.”
“This collaborative approach really attracted us to Coeo,” explains Alex, “we liked that they could offer us on-site development in a way that grew our inhouse skills. Because we’re a confident team that enjoy being able to design and manage our own environments, Coeo’s solution gave us the perfect balance of creating a BI platform that worked, whilst developing our capability to build future functionality ourselves.”
Once the project was agreed, Coeo put together a “BI Boot Camp” and mentoring programme. This was designed to rapidly bring Boden the advanced reporting they needed, whilst at the same time establishing a solid foundation of BI capability within their DBA and development teams.
Like all fashion retailers, Boden’s business is heavily influenced by seasonality and being able to keep one step ahead on stock and sales (and react if the season is not turning out as expected) is vital. “One thing that was really important to us when working with Boden,” says Matt, “was to make sure the BI solution supported how Boden runs its business. By working with Boden’s financial analysts, business sponsors and IT teams, we were able to take into account how business performance was affected by things like seasonality and stock availability and build in functionality that would deliver powerful, and relevant, data insights across stock, warehousing and sales – whatever the weather.”
Nowhere was this more evident than in the design of the data warehouse. Historically the ability to drill down on data was lost as information from each of Boden’s order and supply chain systems was put into partitioned Excel reports. By standardising product dimensions, introducing commonality of language and giving each data point context, the teams at Boden can pull reports that are both meaningful and actionable. “The business sponsors are really excited,” says Alex, “we’d always had challenges tying data together, especially across our order and stock systems, but now we can make data-informed business decisions at a speed that wasn’t possible before. The fact that Coeo has delivered us capability that includes things like detailed sales reporting at 6 a.m has made us incredibly proactive and agile.”
This ability to deliver real value to the business was evidenced by feedback from Boden’s Finance Director, Paul O’Leary who said: “This is a tremendous step forward for the business. The depth of information available first thing in the morning provides us with the tools to understand and react to trading patterns immediately. This will certainly lead to improved decision making and ultimately better stock management.”
This speed to business decision has been one of the most tangible benefits that the SQL Server BI solution has returned to the business so far, as Alex explains: “Historically, we could have anything up to ten people generating different reports in different parts of the business at any one time – and these reports could each take 3-4 hours to run. In the future reports will take 10-15 minutes and be carried out by just one person. It’s an incredible gift back to the business and the ability to query data now means that we know precisely where any KPI challenges are coming from – so we can focus on solutions rather than trying to establish the cause of the problem.”
Alongside the business benefits that the Boden teams are already enjoying and those planned for the next phase of the project – delivering the same BI power to Boden’s customer data – is something that’s made the project a roaring success: our approach to partnership.”Boden has a very specific business culture,” explains Alex, “we’re proud that our down to earth attitude extends right across the business, so when we partnered with Coeo we were excited to work with an organisation that shared our values and spoke our language. They’ve bought us business intelligence with common sense and really personal touch.”
Reporting times reduced from hours to minutes
Circa 5 days saved each month in analyst time
Reports that render perfectly – from desktop to mobile devices
From zero in-house BI experience to dedicated BI capability within Boden
“This is a tremendous step forward for the business…” Paul O’Leary, Finance Director