Microsoft Small & Medium Business Group
The Microsoft Small & Medium Business (SMB) Group provides technology solutions for companies that typically that have 1 to 99 employees (small) and 100 to 999 employees (medium). The SMB Finance team is responsible for planning, organizing, auditing, and controlling finances for the SMB space. The team also produces the company's financial statements.
The SMB Finance team generates reports for their Breath Stratification (BreadthStrat), which encapsulates key SMB sales metrics used to drive business decisions. The SMB Finance team relies on monthly updates to their sales data, which first requires generating preliminary numbers for validation before processing the final numbers for consumption. The SMB Finance team previously hired an external vendor to develop the BreadthStrat solution.
The solution provided by the external vendor required a large amount of computing resources, and was limited to only generate three rolling years of sales data. It required 7 days to generate the preliminary numbers and an additional 7 days to process the final numbers. Any errors or interruptions during the processing required starting the 7-day process over from the beginning. Recurring issues caused deadlines to often be missed, which necessitated the SMB Finance team to seek a faster and more reliable solution. Having learned about 3AG’s past successes with data optimization within other Microsoft teams, the SMB Finance team approached 3AG to create an alternate solution.
Through understanding the system and processes in that were place, 3AG identified three main causes of the long processing time:
- Inefficient. All data processing was structured to be performed sequentially, even though many parts of the process could have been performed simultaneously.
- Redundant. Many calculations were overly complex and were repeated multiple times to generate similar numbers.
- Communication. There was no protocol in place to detect when an error occurred along the process. The process status required constant monitoring, and response times to address issues were often delayed.
3AG rebuilt the SMB data warehouse with mechanisms that allowed processes to be performed in parallel and eliminated extraneous calculations. The improvements increased efficiency of the data pulling process by 86%, reducing the processing time from 7 days to less than 1 day. Rather than pulling only three years of data, 3AG’s solution allowed for the entire history of sales data to be pulled without sacrificing processing time. In addition, 3AG implemented an automated notification system that alerted the team of any interruptions during the process, which significantly decreased response times.
The time-savings that resulted from the robust systems implemented by 3AG enabled opportunities for the SMB Finance team to add value to their business. In addition to the sales data, 3AG pulled information from three other data sources that allowed the SMB Finance team to have full visibility of their reach, frequency, and yield in the SMB space. Since 2008, 3AG has been trusted by Microsoft to maintain the data warehouse, data mart, reporting services, and reports for the SMB Finance team.