ZETOR Tractors: From Excel to reporting server

About ZETOR Tractors a.s.:

Founded in 1946, ZETOR has sold more than 1.3 million tractors to 136 countries worldwide. It currently has 6 branches abroad – in Poland, India, the UK, Germany, France and North America. It has a total of 490 employees in all the countries.

As of 2017, ZETOR has several product lines of tractors and is currently working on a completely new generation. It manufactures the Major and Crystal series utility tractors at its Brno plant and purchases compact tractors as an OEM from leading global manufacturers.

The Excel era

The modern history of reporting dates back to 2011 and can be called the Excel era. Previously, all reporting was done in Excel. All reports were compiled manually and in a quite complex manner. In 2012, the management information system BNS by INEKON SYSTEMS was selected and its implementation began. BNS was set up according to the possibilities and needs of the time, but there was an issue with the purity of the input data. This was caused by manual data entry into Excel. The data warehouse did not contain the right data. Therefore, the system was not massively expanded inside the company.

The macro era

In 2015, the controlling manager was given the task of dusting off the BNS management system and the long-term process of cleaning up the data warehouse began. Luděk Blažek adds: “Since 2016, when I joined Zetor, my task has been to completely clean up the data warehouses and get the reporting in the BNS system up and running. At the same time, using VBA and macros, we automated reports in Excel that were not previously in BNS.”

Through considerable effort, the data warehouses were cleaned up and processes adjusted so that BNS was receiving the correct data for the Sales Performance and Fixed and Variable Cost modules that were implemented. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the frequently changing requirements for monitoring indicators, which was difficult to respond to within BNS.

The Tableau era

The decision to acquire a BI tool was made by Zetor during 2018. Luděk Blažek again adds: “We were contemplating several tools, but we chose Tableau, which suited us perfectly and was also made by a reliable partner we knew – INEKON SYSTEMS. A big advantage in our decision-making was the Tableau Reader, which is free and enabled us to easily extend Tableau to the whole company even with one Creator license. We were able to get Tableau to all users and management.”

As Tableau was well liked and used extensively within the company, a server solution was purchased in 2019 to manage access and development of the system going forward. Without a server license this is practically impossible.

Thanks to INEKON SYSTEMS, Zetor supplemented its experience and knowledge at training courses and started using the then new Prep for data cleaning. Of course, internal users were also trained and joined the Inekon Tableau forum, whose platform was very interesting and Zetor was one of the first members.

Initially, the reports went more from the controlling side towards the users to show them what Tableau can offer. Around 2020, the IT department developed the Writeback feature that was primarily intended for writing comments. Blažek says: “Our writeback works in exactly the same way as the one by INEKON SYSTEMS, we just developed it a wee bit earlier”, he laughs. Every Friday was so-called Tableau Friday, which involved a meeting with users, informing them about new features and offering valuable feedback. It was at these events that requests from internal users started coming in, telling us what else they wanted to add or improve in Tableau.

As it stands now

The fully automated controlling report, which is the main report used and presented to TOP management, has been running at Zetor since 2021. It covers the main areas – sales, receivables and payables, production and warehouses. What used to take a whole day is now done in 12 hours, including analysis. Tableau writeback is now also used for scheduling and writing data back into the database.

In 2022, the use of Tableau was extended to Zetor distributors and dealers that use Tableau for price lists and the product “configurator”. More than 25 additional licenses had to be added to the existing 100 licenses. The controlling department is currently working on reports for cash flow, tracking rates, reimbursements, etc. Of course, as Tableau evolves and Zetor learns, they are constantly going back to older reports and trying to improve them. Hand in hand with this is the modification of data sources to optimize the speed of data display.

And why did we choose Tableau?

Tableau offered all the analytics and reporting capabilities Zetor needed. There was also a lot of discussion about the graphical aspect or the use of maps for various statistics, where Tableau was clearly better than other systems. Plus points were given to Tableau thanks to the free Reader, which made it easy to extend the platform further into the company. And in no small part it was also the excellent cooperation with INEKON SYSTEMS, as mentioned earlier, as well as impeccable technical support and availability of training.

What are the main benefits of Tableau?

  • Reporting automation;
  • significant time savings; 
  • possibility of detailed analysis;
  • immediate availability of up-to-date reports;
  • consistent and uniform information for all users;
  • reports also for mobile application;
  • high user accessibility and simplicity.

Luděk Blažek

Finance and Controlling Manager and Chief Financial Officer of ZETOR Tractors a.s.

He is responsible for financial management, controlling and development of BI analytical tools at ZETOR Tractors a.s.

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