Springs Window Fashion (SWF) is North America’s premier window covering company with over 75 years in the industry. In 2019 SWF launched a project to modernize their IT platform. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance (F&O) has been a key aspect of that. HSO sat down and had a Q&A with SWF IT leaders to discuss their process of using the Axtend Data Management (ADM) solution to integrate high volumes of data from their transactional systems into F&O.
Q: What led to the integration of SWF legacy data into F&O?
A: SWF is modernizing their IT platforms. The goal is to transition and align these systems to better meet the needs of the business today. This process requires a tighter integration between the financial system and the transactional systems. A big element of that is to set up the necessary dimensions within our financial system to improve the quality and reportability of the data. Adding dimensions to financial data was one of our main reasons for choosing F&O. In our legacy system this was done with custom fields/textboxes, which was bad for data integrity and in turn made reporting difficult. This was a core reason why we picked F&O. We want to have data integrity enforced when transactions are posted. This is a prerequisite for good reporting, which in turn supplies us with valuable knowledge for making proper business decisions.
One of the large challenges for SWF is the volume of transactions that are generated daily. Our transactional systems generate hundreds of thousands of journal entries every day. Maintaining strong data integrity and processing it promptly has been our challenge.
Q: You started out by using the F&O out-of-the-box solution for bringing data into F&O. What changed?
A: Because our volume of data is so high, if there are errors, we must have an efficient process to monitor and resolve these errors. The F&O out of the box solution uses flat files, like a comma separated value (CSV) file. Our legacy data is stored in databases. It is not convenient to work with flat files because of the work involved in creating and maintaining them, having to perform ftp file transfers, etc. The ADM solution allows us to move data directly from one database to another, which is much more efficient.
The flat file approach also meant having to import a large CSV file and then having to check a log file for errors. This approach made it impossible for us to have a clear handshake on what data went into our financial system. Manually reviewing these log files was too time consuming, especially with our high volumes of data. We started off with a strong commitment to use the out-of-the-box solution and to minimize any third-party solutions, but we could not get it to work.
In summary, the ADM solution from HSO enabled us to:
1. Efficiently move the high volume of ledger data into F&O, directly from database to database.
2. Receive asynchronous feedback on what posted and what did not. For the transactional data that did not post, it allowed us to make corrections and re-post.
We built on that asynchronous feedback by building a set of actions that fix and re-post the transactions. For example, if the transactional data had the wrong dimension, an error in the account structure, etc. – we are able to fix those issues and re-post that transaction into the system in a very efficient manner.
This process of watching the error logs, identifying the issues, and fixing and reposting this data is something we have built not only for our transactional data, but for our master data too.
Q: Can you give us examples of the data volume and processing times?
A: The ledger journal integration from our legacy environment to F&O has the highest volume and priority. We began with a goal of processing 10k rows in a 1 – 2 hour timeframe. With the HSO ADM solution we average 10k rows in 10 minutes. It’s common for us to process 650k journal lines a day, which far and away exceeded our expectations.
The businesses reporting requirement is as close to real-time as possible. Previously, our reports were updated once a day. With the efficiency of the HSO ADM solution with F&O, we are now able to update our business reports every 30 minutes.
Three key benefits for us of the ADM solution is the immediate and clear feedback, error logging, and handshake at the line level. This allows us to catch all issues that take place. We use the information from the error log to identify ways to proactively catch and fix issues in our legacy data so that the specific issue will not happen again.
|Standard D365 FO
|Improve quality by pre validating data with SQL at database level.
|No SQL validation available.
|Axtend Data Management (ADM) SQL validation and custom code used to validate and fix potential issues.
|Process and move 10k rows from legacy into D365 FO within one hour.
Multithreaded performance available but demands extensive manual configuration.
Having to move text files around doesn’t help with performance either.
ADM averages 10k rows in 10 minutes. Processing 650k journal lines daily brilliantly.
Importing directly from database, no CSV files.
|Transparent error log to trace and fix all data issues coming from legacy data.
Impossible to trace and respond to errors in code.
Very hard to do it manually as errors are hidden in large log files.
|Immediate and clear ADM feedback with error logging and handshake at the line level, all stored in database tables.
|As close to real time as possible refreshing of business reports.
|SWF never could get a standard D365 FO integration solution to work to their needs.
|The efficiency of ADM with D365 FO enables updating business reports every 30 minutes.
Q: Do you see ADM helping you with future mergers and acquisitions?
A: Very much so. We have been impressed with how fast and efficient ADM has allowed us to import and integrate legacy master data into F&O. In our production environment, we have been able to use ADM seamlessly without any interruptions or taking the system offline.
Q: From the perspective of HSO, this journey with SWF has been very pleasant. From your perspective, what has been important in your experience in working with HSO?
A: We had some mixed experiences with other partners. It frankly seemed they didn’t have the ability or longing to really dig into how our integration requirements could work and help us think through what it would take. The HSO team, on the other hand, was fantastic in learning our business and exploring with us how F&O works. This back-and-forth requirement gathering between us and HSO was excellent. F&O was new for us and the HSO team was perfect for us as we could bounce stuff off of them and collaborate to reach the best design.
Q: Your production environment has now been running for 3 months. How are things going?
A: It’s going well. We are working on being more proactive and HSO is helping with that by monitoring and tuning performance of the ADM solution, as well as supplying backup support to our IT team.
Q: Any closing remarks?
A: Our original goal was to improve data integrity, which in turn supplies solid data for critical business decisions. It was a challenge with our high daily volume of data, but we are pleased with the results. I don’t see how we could have made it this far without the HSO ADM solution and the above and beyond support and commitment of the HSO team who walked with us every step of the way.