OVERVIEW

Kroger, a national grocery chain, had been utilizing Microsoft Access and Excel as part of a database management system. Producing reports from this system was an inefficient, time-consuming manual process. With rapid growth from hundreds into thousands of locations imminent, they engaged Composable Systems to eliminate the existing platform and architect a singular SQL database to automatically collect data and consistently send reports to all locations. Kroger also required a customized dashboard, allowing internal business users to control all aspects of the operation, ultimately further reducing time and increasing accuracy.

Technologies

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • LightSwitch
  • Excel Pivot Viewer
  • ASP.NET

PROBLEM

Each day an employee would gather text files from both external and internal systems. This data was manually transferred into Excel and later imported into Microsoft Access. Over 100 reports were then created in Access and emailed to a contact at each location.

Manually importing data into a system on a regular basis is monotonous at best. It’s also error-prone and unreliable. While the system was manageable by one person, there were serious risks with the current approach. One employee contained all knowledge of the process, which prevented others from fulfilling those duties in the event of an absence. Additionally, the current method would not keep up with impending growth into thousands of retail locations.

APROACH

Working with the Kroger’s IT department, we constructed a specific¬ architecture that provided immediate relief and allowed for future growth. After establishing a solid SQL database server, we designed an extensive framework to accommodate all necessary data points.

To improve both accuracy and reliability, our techs created import mappings and automated routines, which acquired data from multiple diverse sources before importing information into the new database. These routines run on a regular basis and honor a custom calendar that aligns with the client’s ¬fiscal year and fluctuating cycles.

The original Excel reports included tabular data, charts, graphs and pivots. We reproduced all reports, including powerful Excel pivot reports, which are automatically sent to all subscribers on a daily, weekly, quarterly or period-end basis.

RESULTS

Increased productivity
Peace of mind
Increased accuracy
Ease of tracking
Less training time needed to educate new employees on the reporting process
Automatically able to keep up with accelerated business growth

SOLUTION

Creating a custom dashboard gave control of the reporting process details. Not only can Kroger select a set of individuals to control the work flow, they are able to monitor regular activity. The new dashboard is intuitive; continual turnover requires a system that is easy to use.

Composable Systems engages in a support role for this client as needed, however Kroger now owns the insight and tools to manage many of the processes internally.