Antares helps Australian building fixture supplier to overcome key data warehouse challenges with industry-leading technologies and good data governance.

Overview

GWA Group Limited (GWA) is a leading Australian supplier of building fixtures and fittings and a listed ASX 200 company. It owns and distributes brands including Caroma, Dorf, Fowler, Stylus and Clark to both residential and commercial customers. It also distributes leading international brands and products such as Schell, Virtu, Sanitron, Salto and Eco Schulte. GWA’s corporate centre supports two business divisions: GWA Bathrooms and Kitchens and GWA Door and Access Systems. With $446.3 million revenue in 2015-16, GWA is a strong performer in the building supplies sector.

The challenge

As a large company with two distinct business divisions, GWA depends on access to reliable and accurate data for performance reporting, business planning and operational decision-making.

For several years, GWA stored its company data in a corporate data warehouse. The warehouse had evolved organically and incrementally over time. As a result, it lacked structure and often experienced performance failures (such as failing to load). Despite GWA making significant investments to support and upgrade the data warehouse, there were persistent concerns about data accuracy and performance issues were not satisfactorily resolved. This meant that the data had limited utility for informing business planning and decision making.

GWA needed a new approach to managing its corporate data. It sought fast and reliable access to company data, both for the centre and its two business divisions.

The solution

GWA engaged Antares in June 2017 to design and implement a new approach to data management and, in parallel, implement Microsoft Azure’s cloud service. The team commenced the engagement with a discovery phase to fully understand GWA’s data environment. It was essential to understand how current data issues arose and, in turn, avoid them in the future solution.

Antares successfully identified and communicated the root causes of issues with the GWA’s corporate data warehouse and developed a clear action plan with two options (cloud-based or hybrid) to resolve data issues in the future. A shift to a structured enterprise data warehouse was central to Antares’ action plan.

GWA chose to invest in a hybrid solution, which combined the best of on-premise and cloud technologies. This approach enabled GWA to leverage the flexibility of the cloud, minimise overheads and reduce infrastructure costs, whilst retaining the option to use other Microsoft Azure services such as advanced analytics and machine learning in the future.

The enterprise data warehouse project started by serving the commercial management area of the business. As a large program of work, the enterprise data warehouse was delivered using the agile methodology to ensure value was delivered fast.

Initially the project sourced data from multiple source systems including:

  • com
  • MS SQL Server
  • IBM DB2
  • API
  • Other file sources used across the business.

Data from these systems were integrated within the data vault layer so they could be consumed by a presentation layer modelled with Kimball Methodology. The presentation layer was then exposed to business intelligence tools, including Jedox, for commercial management reporting.

To enable agile methodology success and ensure frequent outcome delivery, Antares applied its enterprise data warehouse framework, which is fully automated and meta driven. The framework also allowed Antares team members to immerse themselves in GWA’s culture. Its team worked closely with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that every deliverable met requirements and expectations.

In addition to technical delivery, Antares focused on governance and security. Throughout the project, Antares carefully defined and embedded strong enterprise data warehouse governance to prevent issues that GWA had previously experienced with its corporate data warehouse.

For example, Antares applied a structured approach to working with multiple layers to ensure that data flowed seamlessly from one layer to another. It also implemented other good practices such as standardised naming conventions. To maintain robust security in the cloud, Antares enabled security and firewalls and provisioned the database in an Australian data centre for maximum data security.

Results

The new enterprise data warehouse has delivered substantial benefits for GWA.

  • Faster data processing: Whereas the previous corporate data warehouse took up to seven hours to process data, the new warehouse processes the same information in less than two hours (despite having more layers and complexity). GWA staff can access and analyse data within vastly smaller time windows than was previously possible.
  • Improved data accuracy: In the discovery phase, Antares uncovered a range of data inaccuracies that the new enterprise data warehouse addresses. With higher data quality, GWA is better placed to leverage company data for business planning, management decisions and investment planning.
  • Productivity gains: With GWA staff able to access accurate and reliable data faster than ever before, the company is experiencing tangible productivity gains. Team members are no longer required to wait a day or longer for key data inputs, and there is less reliance on IT support.
  • Low change impact: The project was delivered on time and on budget, with a highly effective change management strategy in place. As a result, user engagement has been strong. GWA has experienced limited change management issues with the transition to the new data warehouse.

Future plans

Based on the success of Antares’ first engagement with GWA, future work is planned to roll out the solution to other business areas within the company.  Take a moment to explore our capabilities in Data and Artificial Intelligence.