This article will explore the impact of a data warehouse solution for manufacturing and distribution companies using Sage X3 for data management and analytical processes.

Data continues to be the non-negotiable ingredient to decision-making, maybe especially for manufacturing and distribution companies trying to stay on track to achieve their goals.  With data growing in amount and importance, data warehouses are tangentially relevant in today’s business world.  If you’re anything like me, you have questions that sound a lot like who, what, when, where, why, and how – all related to data warehouses.  Who can manage a data warehouse?  What do they compare to / resemble?  When should a manufacturing and/or distribution company implement one?  Where are they hosted?  Why not an OLAP cube instead of a data warehouse?  How do we configure a data warehouse?  As a manufacturing or distribution Sage X3 user, you probably have one or more of these questions.  In this article, I’ll go about answering some of the frequent questions, so you can understand data warehousing as a solution and decide how to best meet your data management goals with Sage X3.

Who?  Let’s begin by talking about who installs and automates a data warehouses.  Commercial data warehouses typically come “out of the box,” which translates to an easy implementation followed by replicating your Sage X3 (and other source) data.  A consultant with experience extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) your data will install the warehouse and automate the ETL process from all of your sources, including Sage X3.  From there, a consultant who is an expert in simplifying and turbo-charging your financial reports, budgets, and/or dashboards will train you and your team to pull information from the data warehouse.  Once setup and training is complete, the data warehouse can be managed by business end users, without IT department involvement.
What?  Data warehouses are digital storage spaces and multi-dimensional databases, hosted on a shared or stand-alone server.  As a point of comparison, an external hard drive provides you the space to house multiple file types and software, while modern data warehouses offer you a singular space for diverse operational and transactional data types.  One more way to understand modern commercial data warehouses: they are like three-dimensionalized versions of an Excel spreadsheet in that you can organize your operations and transactions in consolidated, dynamic, and effective ways with the technology needed to eliminate errors in a business user friendly environment.
When?  There’s not a specific threshold that any/every manufacturing and distribution company can cross that points right to a data warehouse investment.  But if you’re beginning to feel the pain of manual documentation, on top of management and analysis of your data with a program like Excel, which can result in mistakes and/or higher costs in terms of time and money, it is probably a good time to consider data warehousing as a solution.  Also, if you are experiencing a sluggish Sage X3 server due to oftentimes substantial and simultaneous data queries, a warehouse delivers stability and a high performance without slowing down X3.  Another reason to consider a data warehouse: the executive team not only need reports and/or dashboards from Sage X3, but also from other data sources, like payroll and sales systems.  A data warehouse can deliver a singular database that aggregates your disparate data sources while simplifying and enriching your analytical processes.
Where? Data warehouses are not tangible items that are physically stored somewhere; they are digital entities staged on a server.  A data warehouse traditionally was a development project for IT teams, designed particularly for a company, usually taking years to complete the project.  Nowadays, data warehouses are commercial software offerings that you can buy and configure to meet your data management objectives.  Modern commercial warehouses are managed with a data source management application, like Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio or the BI360 Data Warehouse Manager as another example, which is a business user friendly tool for managing the data warehouse that is part of the BI360 Suite.
Why?  Why not an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube instead of a data warehouse?  Plenty of BI tools suggest or require an OLAP cube to manage and evaluate your data.  Alternatively, since OLAP cubes are not transactional SQL server databases, they require management by personnel with OLAP-specific skills and experience, like MDX query language fluency, because of their technical complexity.  Moreover, cubes organize analytical data as opposed to transactional information.  Data warehousing is organized by subject, and you can include multiple types of data to the business user friendly, stable interface for easy management and analytics with your BI tools.
How?  End users at all levels of the organization can manage a modern commercial data warehouse. You can set up and automate replication of your manufacturing or distribution information to the warehouse once or routinely – or you can easily push a button to replicate at any time.  Today’s commercial warehouses are built so you can access, manage, and evaluate your data without needing the IT team to get involved.  Furthermore, they are Microsoft SQL Server relational databases structured around subjects like customer, product, supplier, inventory, and sales.  Since they store multiple data sources’ information, they are organically beneficial for cross module analytics and financial consolidations.  Finally, they usually don’t require any transaction processing, concurrency control mechanisms, or recovery, besides backing up the database.  Data warehouses are dynamic offerings built with adjustment features, like data cleansing, eliminations, currency conversion, and data integration techniques to improve your processes.
Data is going to continue to grow in size and importance in decision-making for manufacturing and distribution organizations, so data warehouses will relatedly become more prevalent, especially in terms of consolidating your data source information for richer analytics that include customer orders, back orders, requisitions, ship dates, sales orders, finished goods, etc.  If you are ready to consider an aggregated space to store your Sage X3 information in addition to data from your other data sources without relying on the IT department, data warehouses can deliver exactly that.  Solver offers a fully built, configurable Microsoft SQL Server-based data warehouse stand-alone and as part of the comprehensive suite of BI modules and would be happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Data Warehouse solution that enables collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for your Sage X3 experience as a manufacturing or distribution company.

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