National Storage

Azure and Power BI Case Study

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How an integrated analytics platform defined the source of analytics truth for National Storage


The National Storage IT team was spending precious time and effort on repeated reporting. They now have a single source of truth thanks to WARDY IT’s Azure and Power BI solutions. logo-168x157

Client: National Storage

Website: NATIONALSTORAGE.COM.AU

Category: Data Analytics

From manual reporting across multiple sources to fast, accurate business decisions. A self-storage provider’s journey via Azure and Power BI.

The National Storage IT team was spending precious time and effort on repeated reporting. They now have a single source of truth thanks to WARDY IT’s Azure and Power BI solutions.

If the business didn’t make a change to aid their move to a digital business, helping them to be smarter and leaner in how they approached their market, their ability to change and grow would have been stagnated.


Objective: A single source of truth

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As General Manager of Technology at National Storage, Marcus Barron noticed the organisation didn’t have an integrated analytics platform – and that it was causing problems.

National Storage relied on data being collated from multiple sources in Excel to get a true cross business view of key metrics. The manual nature of this task took considerable time and effort and could potentially introduce human error. Marcus wanted to address these challenges. He wanted an integrated analytics platform that would provide one single source of truth. 

"What our project achieved was the reduction of effort for repeated reporting, but truly defined the first Source of the Analytics Truth for National Storage." Marcus says.

"Moving to an integrated analytics platform was a significant investment in time and money, but one the business felt it needed in order to get better data."

– Marcus Barron, General Manager of Technology, National Storage

WARDY, Azure and Power BI provide the solution

Marcus had worked with both Project Partners and WARDY IT Solutions at previous organisations and had previously developed a good relationship with the respective teams.

Although he looked at other options and different ways to enhance National Storage’s data and reporting (including internal hiring and software providers), he preferred Project Partners delivery approach and mind-set combined with WARDY’s long-term approach. He believed bringing consultants in for a ‘quick fix’ didn’t work, and wanted to structure the data well, for a long-term platform.

Once appointed, Project Partners and WARDY IT worked with National Storage to design and implement a Modern Data Warehouse solution in Azure and a reporting solution using Power BI.

"Project Partners and WARDY worked seamlessly as one team. The processes and engagement were consistent and clear and I never felt panicked or that the project would fail," Marcus says.


 

More personalised communications and other benefits

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A major benefit from the data warehouse and implementing Power BI is that National Storage can now access data quickly on multiple devices and make fast decisions. This leads on to being able to provide more personalisation on their website and communications with customers.

Other ‘wins’ for National Storage include:

      • Increased efficiency and timeliness of reporting
      • data can now be accessed in real time and run automatically at the click of a button
      • Improved understanding of the National Storage brand and its customers
      • thanks to data insights, customer behaviour and storage occupancy can be tracked more efficiently
      • Competitive advantage
      • basing decisions on a single source of truth, rather than eight differing data sources, is enabling the company to innovate with customer need in mind
      • Enhanced ability to track company KPI metrics
      • these can easily be tracked through PowerBI dashboards and assist in making more informed decisions
      • Cost efficiencies

National Storage’s executive team are closely involved in looking at company data day in and day out and have commended Marcus for the benefits that have been derived from the solution.

"Onwards and upwards for Project Partners, WARDY IT and National Storage! There’s so much we can do once we get the business through this adoption phase. There are so many exciting challenges in this space we can tackle."

– Marcus Barron, General Manager of Technology, National Storage

Plans for the future

While the executive team embraced the solution, there were still employees who resisted the change and wanted to work in Excel. Different levels of training has helped with this and assisted Marcus in increasing company adoption of the solution.

Plans for the future at National Storage, include looking at how they can build reports in PowerBI that can not only be used by the corporate teams, but also the centre managers in each state. “For our centre managers we want simple reporting they can understand that’s intuitive” Marcus says. They are currently looking into consulting multiple team members to find out exactly what that should be and delivering this data in an easily digestible way.


 

Words of advice

Marcus encourages any company that wants to unlock the value of their business data, to get in touch with WARDY and Project Partners. “We’ve Worked with WARDY IT to make sure our data is flowing into our data warehouse effectively, efficiently and consistently. Combined with Project Partners management of the project from a client perspective to keep us all on track, you’d be mad to not use the experts to do that” He says.

National Storage received great value from the combined Project Partners and WARDY team very quickly – it was thanks to WARDY’s skill in particular that they didn’t have to replace the key analyst they lost eight weeks into the project.

Marcus also found the Project Partners approach very transparent – he was always alerted if timings slipped on anything, and they always kept him in the loop. He also found it advantageous to be able to call the team directly and ask questions. “Our resources were able to work side by side with the team which meant the new solution implemented is now sustained well beyond the life of the project”

“Be agile. Don’t live in the dark ages where you have to spend a long time to build your data warehouse. If you spend that long doing it, in eighteen months’ time you’ll need something else and have to look at it again.”

– Marcus Barron, General Manager of Technology, National Storage

About WARDY IT Solutions

  • 65 employees
  • Information Technology
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WARDY IT Solutions are Australia’s leading SQL Server and Business Intelligence specialists. The company creates solutions that enable businesses to maximise returns on their investment in knowledge management. Through the extensive use of Business Intelligence, WARDY IT Solutions help their clients to realise the best possible dividend from their data assets.

WARDY IT Solutions have received numerous industry accolades, most notably the prestigious Microsoft Global Data Platform Partner of the Year in 2013. The organisation is recognised internationally for their innovative solutions, training skills and unwavering commitment to education and furthering the interests of the broader Microsoft SQL Server community.

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