What does the industry get when it crosses a data warehouse and a business intelligence application? The simple answer is an interactive, cross-industry, real-time distributor benchmarking database. According to Greg Borr, corporate operations manager at the O’Connor Co. Inc. in Lenexa, Kan., this combined solution will allow distributors to key or upload data into the data warehouse on a quarterly basis. From there, the data will be compiled and posted to a business intelligence application. This application will provide a secure log-in to pre-formatted dashboards for analytical review, customized filtering options, and ad-hoc reporting capabilities. All data will be encrypted and anonymous.

Sound complicated? Let’s start back at the beginning.

HARDI's Management and Methods Committee meeting during the 2012 Annual Conference

This is HARDI’s Management and Methods Committee meeting during the 2012 Annual Conference. The committee will meet again at the upcoming 2013 conference in Phoenix.

A New Solution Is Born

As the HARDI Management Methods Committee worked to support members by providing tools and services to help run operations profitably and efficiently, benchmarking became a primary target of many of the committee’s initiatives. One of the committee’s goals was to increase the participation level in HARDI’s performance reporting solutions. What the association found was that to increase participation, it would likely have to make some changes to its process and output.

“Overwhelmingly, the feedback we received was that the data was not timely and actionable,” explained Borr. “There was also dissatisfaction with the inability to filter the data that was output.”

He noted that this feedback pushed the committee to look for another performance reporting application and when one couldn’t be found, HARDI decided to move forward with creating a distribution-specific solution.

“Through committee we voted to present this to the HARDI board of directors, where we received approval and funding to move forward,” said Borr. “It was during this time that HARDI solicited other trade associations to join forces with us to pool funding and help guide the development of the data warehouse and business intelligence application.”

Distributor Performance Analytics LLC was born.

Collaborative Efforts

Distributor Performance Analytics LLC was founded by a group of five wholesale industry trade associations — HARDI, the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA); the Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution (NAHAD); the Industrial Supply Association (ISA); and ISSA, formerly known as the International Sanitary Supply Association, now known as the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association.

The limited liability company was formed in Aug. 2013 but the joint project has been in the works since June of 2012. Talbot Gee, executive vice president and COO of HARDI is the current chairman of the company’s board of directors. Borr, who has been involved since the beginning of this project, is the chairman of the Software Development Committee for the company.

“The goal of this project is to provide a solution that will not only increase participation by providing industry benchmarking that is modern, timely, and actionable, but by also providing cross-industry benchmarking capabilities,” said Borr. “The ability to ad-hoc report and filter dashboards will enable HARDI members to have a completely customizable performance benchmarking application. That combined with the increased frequency and timeliness of the outputs will help HARDI members develop measurements and key performance indicators that effectively drive business strategy and goals.”


Participation and Results

According to Borr, the data solution being fostered by Distributor Performance Analytics LLC should be ready to go in time for the 2014 distributor performance analysis season. He suggested that distributors seriously consider participating in this new venture.

“By looking outside of your business and benchmarking versus your peers, you will gain fresh perspective on your business challenges,” Borr explained. “Once those challenges are indentified, distributors can develop key performance indicators around them to drive performance and improve bottom-line results.”

HARDI members wishing to participate can sign up for the 2014 HARDI Benchmarking Performance Report. Information will also be accessible by members of the PTDA, NAHAD, ISA, and ISSA, along with any trade associations that become customers of Distributor Performance Analytics LLC.

Borr is confident that the company will achieve its 2014 launch goal and noted that updated information on the new solution for 2014 will be posted to the HARDI website as it becomes available.

“Wholesale distributors have relied on manually inputted data collection and performance benchmarking for decades,” he explained. “This is the next generation of performance analysis solutions for the wholesale-distribution industry.”

 Visit www.hardinet.org for more information.