Microsoft BI solution delivers results for Pizza Pizza

When the pizza delivery guy is running late, we’re often thinking “free pizza.”

For Amar Narain, the same situation could be triggering a different type of imagery. His thoughts probably go something more like: report generation, data base requests, data warehouse bottleneck, delayed orders, irate customers.

Narain is the senior director of IT for the largest Canadian pizza chain, Pizza Pizza. The company has more than 600 traditional and non-traditional restaurants coast-to-coast and employs over 3,000 workers. The Ontario-based food company has a call centre with more than 400 agents which together with Pizza Pizza’s Web site and mobile app fill approximately eight million orders annually.

There’s a lot of dough in dough right? However, the increasing number of transactions places a great deal of pressure on Pizza Pizza’s existing database.

When the company’s business users make database queries for revenue reports or other information, these tend to degrade system performance that also impacts the call centre system and the Web portal system.

That is why the company, recently decided to build a data warehouse based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Edition that would provide employees on-time insights on reports.

“Prior to this, IT personnel needed to route the reports and send them to the business users,” said Narain. “Since we have several channels such as Web, call centre, digital, point-of-sale and mobile which includes iPhone, Android and iPad, depending on the size of the report it could take one to three hours.”

In such a scenario, customers making online orders could experience an amount of lag time when then they input their choice of pizza toppings.

If it were to happen during Pizza Pizza peak hours (Fridays 4 to 8 p.m.) one can only imagine the potential chaos.

To avoid this, Narain said, Pizza Pizza had to prohibit reporting activities during peak times.

However, the company still needed to provide its business users quick access to information.

Bob Guillemette, director, client engagement at Inforica Inc., said that in selecting a data warehouse solution, Pizza Pizza chose Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise because of its “value for money and interoperability” with the company’s existing Microsoft-based IT infrastructure.

Inforica, is the Mississauga, Ont.-based enterprise information solution provider that helped Pizza Pizza deploy the solution.

Guillemette said the key to the successful implementation was taking a “conservative approach and listening carefully to Pizza Pizza’s needs” before doing anything.

“We took the time to clearly understand that their main concern was to be able to pull data from the backend without any impact to their It environment,” he said. “With that in mind, we obtained inputs and cooperation from the stakeholders and created a pilot environment where we could test our assumptions and plans.”

After identifying the ideal data warehouse solution in the Oracle-based staging area, Inforica moved to deployment of the SQL Server as a business intelligence solution, said Mario Correia, managing partner at Inforica.

“Key to the BI solution implementation was providing users with easy access to data and an easy way to understand the metrics and results they were viewing,” he said. “We developed the appropriate graphic user interface and leveraged Excel which was already a familiar front-end tool for the users.”

The result was that there was minimal training on the new system. Instead of waiting for hours, business users were able to obtain their reports in a matter of minutes and impact on the call centre and other channels was avoided.

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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