Cramo started renting out construction machines back in 1953, when there was huge demand for such equipment during the post-War reconstruction phase. Today Cramo is the biggest company in Sweden and the second-biggest in Europe specialising in machine rentals. Today, however, it is not the shortage of equipment that drives the business; instead, the focus has shifted to sustainability and simpler everyday operations for the customer.
Cramo operates in fifteen countries in the Nordic region as well as in Central and Eastern Europe. The company has around 2600 employees working in about 320 depots. This imposes considerable demands on coordination of financial controls and standardised tools to run and monitor the operation.
Responsibility for the Group’s Business Intelligence work lies with the finance department – Group Business Control. It is otherwise customary for BI to operate under IT since technology is a major component of BI. However, Cramo feels that the focus is on supporting the operation by creating system solutions that end-users can use with convenience and ease, so they are able to concentrate on helping their customers in the best possible way. That is why responsibility for requirement specifications and system design is in the hands of the finance department, with the CFO as “owner” of the BI solution.
Cramo started working with BI a long time ago and has made considerable progress in this area. Since the company has grown over the years and now also operates outside the Nordic region, it has used several different system solutions. 2012 therefore saw the start of a harmonisation process, with a thorough examination of needs and decisions regarding which ERP solutions Cramo would adopt. This process also revealed the need for a review of the Group’s existing BI solutions.
The choice of technical platform is determined partly by history, that is to say the systems and suppliers in which the company has already invested, and partly on a study of which providers are active and at the cutting edge of technological development. In this balancing act Cramo chose to build its solutions on Microsoft SQL along with an order and stock handling system from Iptor (formerly IBS). This has been supplemented with a special application for rentals that Cramo developed with IBS. In order to create user-friendly interfaces for the end-users – about half of all Group employees – the company opted for the Cognos tool from IBM.
In its work on designing the interface, Cramo has had excellent help with consultants from Advectas. The aim was to build the systems so they match the end-users’ needs, tailored for the various individual roles. There are many different roles and more than half of all employees use the systems, although most only require standard reports.
Advectas has also delivered its in-house developed product – Xencian DWA – which is a standardised and pre-packaged data warehouse solution that helps map information from the data source (the ERP system) so that the BI system can handle it.
Today there is therefore a standardised ERP and BI solution for following up financial and operational data, and a lot of effort has been devoted to rolling this out throughout the organisation. The next big challenges are Self Service and IoT, the Internet of Things.
As the organisation familiarises itself with the existing systems, demand for various details grows. Some user groups, for instance controllers, want to look for information themselves via the source system. The BI team’s mission is to help them understand what information they can obtain, yet without steering or controlling them since this may result in biased decisions.
Cramo has also started preparing for the Internet of Things, that is to say increasing varieties of machines and equipment linked to the Internet which can transmit information about parameters such as operational time, emergency service or repair needs, or alerts in the event of incorrect use. This supports Cramo’s working method and is of considerable benefit to customers.