Case Studies

Enterprise Data Management

Waterloo Data
August 17, 2021

Our client is a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT). They are the nation’s largest developer, owner, and manager of high-quality student housing apartment communities. Over the past five years Waterloo Data has partnered with them to develop their Data Management practice from the ground up, including the implementation of an Enterprise Data Warehouse, a Master Data Management platform, and a Planning and Analytics solution from IBM.Time Frame: 5+ years

The Challenge

Our client had multiple data silos across the organization with data locked in various ERP systems, CRM systems, Accounting packages, and internally developed applications for operations. Producing high quality reports and executive dashboards required the need to produce manual data extracts and then attempt to reconcile and tie all that together inside Excel. This was not only time consuming and error prone for accounting and finance folks, it was hard to easily audit older reports and data sets for compliance purposes. Self-service BI and reporting was not available and thus only a handful of analysts had access to data for decision making.

The Solution

As new capabilities and new users were added to the data warehouse, managing the organization’s master data became the next pressing need with immediate business value. To this end, Waterloo Data worked across business and IT executive teams to develop an assessment of Master Data Management (MDM) needs and built an evaluation matrix to help guide a vendor selection process. Waterloo Data is vendor agnostic and does not have any reselling relationships with any vendors in the Data Management space. Clients trust us to provide unbiased consulting when it comes to vendor tools within this space. After conducting several POCs, Tibco EBX was selected as the MDM tool and Waterloo began the design and implementation of setting up an MDM hub to manage master data related to the 200+ portfolio properties across North America. The overall implementation has been hailed by the CEO and President as a major success.

Another important area of value has been the implementation of IBM Planning Analytics. This is an AI-infused, modern planning solution that allows users to implement collaborative planning, budgeting, forecasting, and interactive “what-if” analyses.  Waterloo’s implementation of this platform allows for non-technical General Managers (GMs) in the field to securely upload data via an excel spreadsheet type interface to track operational performance at a property level. For corporate users, it provides an easy interface for them to conduct “what if” scenarios and look at how corporate performance will likely be impacted by re-assigning GMs to different properties and seeing how performance would be impacted.  The result is real time decision making, based on powerful “what if” scenario modeling.

The Results

The work that Waterloo has performed over the last five years has completely transformed the data management capabilities of this organization and allowed them successfully plan for and navigate the difficulties associated with owning and operating the largest portfolio of student housing in North America during the middle of the pandemic.