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Bolthouse Farms cuts prep time for management reporting from 4 hours to 22 minutes-Part 1

From its beginnings in 1915, Bolthouse Farms, headquartered in California, has been known for quality and innovation. After more than 90 years of farming and distributing delicious and nutritious fresh produce, it's added state of the art bottling facilities, producing premium quality beverages and refrigerated dressings.

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As both a grower and CPG manufacturer, Bolthouse Farms tracks some unusual financial key performance indicators (KPIs) like Cost of Carrot more on that laterand has demanding requirements for management reporting and analytics. Over the years, as the business evolved, the monthly reporting process became complex. And the time and effort required by the operational and finance teams to produce the high-quality reporting that management needed and demanded, grew. 
This is a story about how Bolthouse Farms didn’t just upgrade its management reporting but invested in a cloud platform that will scale to support its business growth going forward.

Before this project, to generate management reports at the close of each month six to eight people would spend a solid four hours first running Business Object queries on their operational data store, which was connected to their JD Edwards ERP system. Then they would paste the query results into multiple spreadsheets and pivot tables for manufacturing, financials, and P&L. This is what it took to create the monthly business review (MBR) report. Instead, they were itching to spend those hours on valuable analyses to support business growth and the innovation for which Bolthouse Farms is known. Further, the static MBR reports didn’t lend themselves to the sort of ad-hoc, self-service agile analytics that management needed to flawlessly answer unforeseen questions on the fly. Finally, as always when dealing with spreadsheets, much time was spent manually checking accuracy and consistency. 

Bolthouse Farms didn't want to change the whole process, but rather replace that manual, time-devouring query-and-spreadsheet-wrangling process, with an automated, fast, secure solution.  And they didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money or hire any additional in-house resources to do it.

Enter Peloton Consulting Group, Oracle, and a determined team at Bolthouse Farms. For this first analytics project, the obvious solution was to replace the query/Excel/pivot manual process with a data extract into Oracle Essbase on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. So instead of a manual and complex four-hour team effort that could be done at best four times a month, the now-automated and secure process can extract, load, and calculate in 22 minutes, nightly, or at will. And because the Essbase Marketplace offering provides an entitlement for all users to the Oracle SmartView® for Office application, the Excel user experience is not only continued but enhanced. 

After Peloton finished that initial rebuild of the reporting package with Essbase and SmartView, it also built out a series of Oracle Analytics Cloud dashboards connected both to Essbase and to the ERP system, to complement the reporting.  It now looks something like this:
  
“This is the most value I’ve seen from a project in that short amount of time, " says John Monczewski, head of data and analytics at Bolthouse Farms.". Not only did Peloton solve a pressing problem, but they set us up with a Cloud platform from Oracle that will support us and scale to whatever our business needs.” 

And that’s not the end of the story. Having seen the speed and skill with which Peloton delivered that first project, Bolthouse Farms asked for more. They wanted the business insights they could only get by blending manufacturing data with data coming in from their ERP system, labor data, production data, quality metrics, and so on. In short, they were longing for the ability to bring data together and see a more complete view of the business. 

Innovative ideas and improvements using the data and analytics are already underway, enabling Bolthouse Farms to answer questions like: What is the productivity (units/total hours) from the product segment to the product planning family level, and the details that drive it (e.g. units and labor hours by type).

To deliver this project, Peloton brought in the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse and is building out analytics around manufacturing and warehouse & transportation. Now it will something like this:
 
Having seen the power of the Oracle platform, the Bolthouse team is already looking to the next project and the next after that.
“Choosing the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure was an easy decision. Peloton proved the value with the first project, almost as a test, then simply scaled the different services to tackle the next project and the next one. Oracle has a very comprehensive range of services that allow us to continue to expand.” Monczewski says.

You’ll remember that Bolthouse Farms grows delicious carrots. I promised you earlier that I’d talk about this KPI called Cost of Carrot. Cost of Carrot is a metric that calculates manufacturing cost per unit with a way cooler sounding name than manufacturing cost per unit! To calculate it, you need to add all possible costs of production (materials, labor, variable overhead, machine depreciation, etc) and divide that value by the number of units produced. But because Bolthouse Farms isn't counting individual carrots, it needs to derive all sorts of specific definitions of “unit”cases, weight, etc. This is a complex KPI and requires data from different systems. And it’s important because mastering the Cost of Carrot has a direct impact on cash flow and profit of the business.

How about you and your organization? What’s your most important KPI? Are you stuck in a complex and manual process to calculate it? Is it time-consuming and frustrating to prepare your financial management or business reports? If you want to eliminate the non-value-added steps from your management reporting process, you can replicate what Bolthouse Farms did. Part 2  of my blog post shows you how.

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