Building a Foundation for Turning KPIs Into Powerful Decisions for Western Express
After a tornado devastated Western Express’s three-building headquarters — and the data they relied on for essential fleet decisions — the company had to act fast. They needed to put disaster recovery plans into action and had to do so against the backdrop of a quickly and severely emerging global pandemic. Facing these disruptions amidst increasing, evolving competition, Western Express recognized the urgency to improve the robustness around how they capture, manage, and analyze data. Requiring a strong foundation, they turned to UDig to help them build a powerful data engine to enable them on their data journey.
Existing environment lacked the ability to easily analyze historical data and was burdensome to maintain. It also didn’t enable agility that was necessary for quickly responding to changing business needs.
Establish an enterprise data warehouse, quickly deliver key operational business metrics, and handoff a robust foundational structure that Western Express could own.
Gain a rich data environment that provides a strong framework for future metrics and allows for quicker business decisions. They also can now empower their in-house team to drive data forward.
“They have set up the back end of the KPI dashboard really well! It’s fast and easy to understand, and it helps us build historical data where we previously had none.”
The Challenge: Data Rich But Information Poor
For truckload carriers with large fleets, data is central to keeping operations humming. From knowing each truck’s location to tracking efficiency and beyond, data drives a day’s work. Western Express captured vast amounts of data on their fleets, which were rapidly growing. Over the years, a team of highly capable power users were supporting them well by extracting information from their data. However, the loss of their headquarters disrupted this process. Further, the increasingly competitive business environment that the pandemic created was challenging their ability to keep up with information demands.
The technology team had many pressing obstacles to overcome, such as:
- Many manual and time-draining processes that dragged down productivity
- Existing reporting tools that burdened production systems
- Some key operational metrics that were difficult to monitor
Since Western Express relied on having near real-time data updates to know crucial details around truck profitability and efficiency, they had no time to waste. They knew they needed a better way to turn their data into information by reducing maintenance burdens and enabling greater agility. Responding to the pandemic’s changing business environment while rebuilding their headquarters and supporting faster, more accurate reporting and analysis was crucial to their future.
The Strategy: A Robust, Foundational Data Platform
To start their journey, we analyzed their current data infrastructure to identify what worked and where gaps existed. While Western Express had some direction for an enterprise data warehouse, they now needed help making architectural decisions. The goal was to serve today’s operational information needs while building a foundation for future growth. To do so, our team began building the data warehouse’s core components. Meanwhile, we worked closely with our client’s data team to ensure that they could deliver key operational reports atop the new warehouse framework.
Our aim was to build from that platform and design:
- A data warehouse that creates a foundational structure to support future business decisions
- A system to capture historic data and enable faster, more accurate reporting
Collaboration was central to our delivery model and success.
The Western Express team included skilled professionals who could do all end-user visual reporting in-house. So, we created a collaborative process: They supported the analytics, and we built the data platform. Together, we were able to build the solution they needed while optimizing everyone’s capabilities.
Training enabled them to stand on their own.
Another goal was to ensure that their data team had the capabilities to support, expand, and enhance their new data platform. So, we delivered training sessions that passed on essential knowledge and documentation to educate their team on the platform. Rather than leave Western Express with a bundle of code, this training helped ensure that they gained the knowledge and confidence to support the platform.
The Outcome: A Strong Foundation That Drives Momentum for Tomorrow
In every step, our goal was to leave them better — and positioned for the future.
Today, Western Express has a reliable foundation that delivers key operational data in near real–time visualizations directly to their business users for analysis. The current platform informs Western Express’ daily operations and empowers them with the ability to grow it as business needs progress and evolve. They’re now able to do time–sensitive tracking of miles by each truck and team, and plan for drivers to get home on schedule. They can also quickly perform analysis on historical data while analyzing crucial operational KPIs to allow for faster, more informed decisions. From the devastation of their headquarters amidst a global pandemic, Western Express has emerged as a competitive, data-driven organization prepared for the future. Now, they can drive business forward, no matter what the road brings their way.
How We Did It
- SQL Server
- SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)