Kimball Office is a US company headquartered in Jasper, Indiana. Kimball Office is a design driven, technologically savvy brand, tailoring solutions that provide better workplace, learning and healing environments for over 50 years. With Kimball’s organic growth and acquisitions such as Nash, their product mix has increased dramatically. In 2003, when Kimball rolled out SAP, they adapted several methods to update SAP data using, for instance, CATT and Custom Transactions. Very quickly, however, the SAP users and – more pressingly – the data management teams found that the volume and complexity of the updates were slowing their time to market; it was difficult to get data ready to be used.
While workload increased, some of the most time-intensive changes fell on shoulders of a team led by Don Neu, director of IT at Kimball Office. At that same time, due to growth in other areas of the company, some SAP data team members were moving to other positions, and the data team was reduced while the workload remained constant.
The super-users in marketing, material management, supply chain, and data management were responsible for supporting operations by managing massive amounts of data for SAP business processes within tight time constraints. Spreadsheets were maintained and initiated by business teams within Kimball to manage simple and complex tasks. For example, Bill of Material, Material Master, pricing, and financials were collected in spreadsheets. Timely delivery was a challenge due to the manual process. The process of preparing, formatting, checking, and transforming spreadsheets previous to loading data into SAP was exasperating and unwelcomed.
How hard was it? Over 90 per cent of Kimball’s products require a reassignment of classes and attributes since Kimball has highly configurable product inventory. The team used CATT to perform class reassignments, a manual and challenging copy file. They also created material classifications of over 100,000 of models. Every model has between one and two dozen characteristics, adding complexity which Magnitude Process Runner helped automate and manage. Additionally, Process Runner helped Kimball produce an electronic catalog for the furniture industry, which required significant data propagation using classifications. Typically, they produced one electronic catalog each month.
According to Don Neu, after implementing Process Runner they have benefitted in a number of ways: “If Magnitude went away we’d have to really rethink what we’re doing and retool our processes.”
One critical result is that now Kimball has the ability to review and test data before loading – a unique capability of Process Runner. Kimball users can now debug data issues before data is loaded to SAP, which saves significant time. Process Runner has become a vital part of business as it keeps up with the speed Don and his team need. Previously the team would spend numerous hours fixing and analyzing the data in hopes of getting it right.
One other tremendous benefit is the ability to use all spreadsheets from their existing processes. Change management has been a breeze.
Now, Process Runner can handle any job no matter how big or small, making life very convenient. To Kimball’s surprise there were some unexpected benefits that came with using Process Runner too. For example, in CLMM transaction, a class would be assigned if it was not there, and churns can also be maintained.
According to the team, they have “no way to make big mistakes” with Process Runner, as the built-in data validation prevents those bigger mistakes from occurring.
Fast forward to the present and operations are uneventful when it comes to managing data. End users look forward to handing over their spreadsheets to the data team, and in relatively short time they can see data loaded in SAP with highest quality. A task that used to take hours or days is now completed in minutes. Process Runner will automatically assign the class if it is unassigned, as well as set the value. Extremely large worksheets can be easily generated in 15 to 20 minutes.
“We’ve done tens of thousands of updates in no time at all” according to Don. Being able to seamlessly maintain, churn and move the content of the build assembly to kits made a big impact. Time to market has improved too. This means real dollars to a business like Kimball Office.
For instance, a chain of three separate processes are linked and run automatically in order, providing over 130,000 updates. This “job” runs in nine hours and is scheduled overnight. Kimball’s data team even chained 12 processes into a single process in one instance to perform the complete set of Material Maintenance steps.
“Truly work is being done for us overnight while we are resting,” remarked Don Neu. Remote scheduling of these updates is as easy as running my update, while sitting in my chair watching a ball game. Literally!”
Kimball would like to add more automation for their users. Process Runner’s Excel-Add In is just the ticket. Don and Senior Product Data Manager, Cory Layman, and others are looking at how to automate pricing coordination and resets, accounting and more. Process Runner’s financial automation is highly regarded in the SAP industry, and Kimball can make good use of this award winning capability.