Revolutionising Business Insights Through Power BI at O’Connors

In the heart of Australia’s agricultural landscape, O’Connors, the nation’s largest Case IH dealership network, operates 16 dealerships across three states. During my recent collaboration with O’Connors, I had the opportunity to collaborate closely with their Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Aaron Cordy and Innovation Technology Manager, Jason Templeton. Aaron and Jason identified an opportunity to build on their existing Power BI environment, allowing O’Connors to proactively initiate a comprehensive transformation to elevate the existing foundations. This case study explores the CFO’s journey and the innovative solutions we have implemented to enhance data management efficiency, decision-making, and overall business performance.

What were the main opportunities identified with your current Power BI setup, leading you to consider a revamped implementation?

The team had done an excellent job in moving the reporting suite out of our ERP and into Power BI, including setting up the supporting data structures. This was a milestone achievement led by our Innovation Technology Manager. From there, we were able to build on the existing platform.

The first opportunity involved moving away from static reporting frameworks to a more dynamic insight into our numbers. The data structure required to support those requirements meant manual intervention and maintenance were required, and whilst this was being managed very effectively by the team, it was time consuming and at risk of error. 

The second opportunity identified was to improve visibility and quick connectivity between headline Financial Statement Caption level data down to transactional data, from both an actual and budget perspective (with functionality built in to allow reforecasting also).

Did you have any reservations about revising your Power BI implementation? If so, what were they?

Certainly. Managing a user base of over 50 people made this a substantial change management effort. Additionally, there were concerns about budget expansion within the project. However, these concerns were alleviated as the initial quote and scope were well-considered, and the project remained within the defined parameters. 

The initial scoping exercises were very comprehensive and collaborative and were a significant contributor to the success of the project.

Did you find specific aspects of the implementation process valuable? How would you describe the collaboration between Pi on a Plate and your business departments during the Power BI enhancement, and how did it impact the outcome?

As indicated above, the upfront scoping exercises proved to be particularly valuable, driving us to thoroughly assess our information needs beyond a like-for-like roll-forward assumption. Actively involving operational teams, rather than relying solely on accounting, generated strong buy-in from the outset. Kirsty facilitated the process to draw out our requirements and cohesively link what we wanted with the Power BI functionality, stretching what we thought was possible without us having to intricately understand the tool.

The real shining light of the project was the excellent collaboration between our Innovation Technology Manager and Kirsty. Combined, they were able to leverage on the platform already in place, and with their complementary skills, really achieved an excellent outcome for O’Connors.

How has the enhanced Power BI implementation impacted you personally, your team’s dynamics, and the overall business performance?

I am definitely looking at daily figures more than previously. Having real time, high level to detailed information at my fingertips, means I am more engaged on a daily basis. An added benefit is I probably hassle my team less (they may disagree!) as I am able to quickly identify variances and trends in the results.

On a broader scale, the more immediate, transparent, and dynamic reporting has transformed several aspects:

  • Real-time insights are now at my fingertips.
  • The ability to swiftly review headline results versus budget and drill down to GL and transaction levels has facilitated quick answers on trends.
  • Significantly improved our budget processes, resulting in substantial time savings.
  • Enabled the seamless implementation of effective forecasting procedures.
  • Facilitated better data sharing with operational managers.

O’Connors’ recently went through a successful sale process and are now proudly part of the Titan Machinery family. This process obviously involved extensive due diligence, forecasting, reforecasting, and plenty of ad hoc requests and analysis. 

Personally, I cannot overstate the importance of having our “new Power BI” in place to support all of these deliverables.

How do you view the value proposition of Power BI now as opposed to before the implementation?

With Power BI already in place, I initially held reasonably high expectations regarding the potential for transparency, speed, and insights with the implementation of best practices. 

Even with these high expectations, what Kirsty in collaboration with our Innovation Technology Manager have achieved is really first class.

What advice would you give to someone uncertain about adopting Power BI or engaging with our services, particularly in light of any misconceptions about Power BI that your own experience has dispelled?

Power BI is a great tool. While the market is flooded with various reporting and BI tools, Power BI stands out for several reasons:

  • Its integration within the Microsoft suite ensures compatibility with existing systems and leverages employee experience across other Microsoft products.
  • The inherent trust associated with it being a Microsoft product resonates across the business and the board.
  • Remarkably dynamic and customisable, it caters to diverse needs.
  • It is relatively easy for both the IT and accounting teams to learn, and its Microsoft affiliation adds a layer of transferability, making it even more appealing for everyone to jump on board.