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Success Story

Accelerating Business Intelligence to Move Up the Data Maturity Curve

How a Tableau reporting project paved the way to strategic data transformation in finance

As a leader in the digital transformation of life sciences, Medidata is built on a foundation of excellence in data and analytics. Their end-to-end platform is used to improve patient experiences, accelerate clinical breakthroughs, and bring therapies to market faster.

But when the company was in the midst of exponential growth during the pandemic, it identified an opportunity to leverage business intelligence (BI) to optimize their data to drive decision-making in Finance. Medidata’s BI team knew their finance operations needed to be optimized, and they chose to partner with Atrium, not only for our data and analytics expertise but also for our shared belief in the value of building systems of intelligence.

A tactical first step in the partnership 

To kick off our partnership, the Medidata team decided to start with a more tactical project, in which Atrium helped automate the organization’s profit and loss (P&L) statement reconciliation. 

At the time, finance data was living in multiple disparate systems — including dozens of Excel sheets — causing their team members to spend hours doing manual processes to run and validate reports. The entire process of creating a P&L dashboard each quarter took weeks.

The Atrium analytics team created eight new Tableau data sources that allowed all relevant data to be captured and maintained in Tableau. An 80-node Tableau Prep flow pulled in the new and existing data sources to automate and streamline the P&L process. 

The results? The P&L process went from 28 Excel sheets, 2+ days of manual development work, and 3-4 weeks of validation to zero Excel sheets and a 5-minute runtime. Using the output dataset from the Tableau Prep flow, we created a new P&L dashboard that allowed the report to be exported in real time, along with 6 executive and product summary analytics dashboards for finance leadership.

When the Medidata BI team saw the results of this first project, they realized what was possible and knew there were more opportunities to scale their analytics strategy with Tableau. Instead of operating in an ad hoc nature, they knew more automation and rigor could be applied in other areas of the business.

Embarking on a business intelligence renovation 

Seeing the opportunity to elevate their data strategy through a full-scale BI renovation within the finance function, Medidata engaged Atrium as their Tableau partner once again. As was the case with the P&L process, the finance team struggled to access the right data when and where they needed it consistently across business units. The BI team needed to not only solve those efficiency problems but also build a data foundation that would allow them to evolve their business based on changing market conditions.

“It was impossible to get to what you needed without taking several detours, so the purpose of our engagement with Atrium was to make sure that teams had the information they needed in the shortest amount of time and effort,” said Brenda Kimiywi, Senior Director of Finance Business Intelligence for Medidata.

Our goal was to help the Medidata team rethink how they were leveraging financial analytics, optimize their workflows, and partner with them to lay a strong data foundation to build upon. 

We started by helping the team identify their key use cases and what business decisions they needed to make within the organization, then leveraged our Insights & Actions framework to ensure we were tackling the right problems to optimize data processes for the business. 

“Before we started to build anything or create any dashboards, we decided to take a step back and figure out where the problems were and how as Business Intelligence, we could offer the best assistance to the business,” Brenda added.

To get a deeper understanding of their business, we held an onsite workshop with the team (“Finance Day”) to identify where siloes existed, what personas on the team needed which insights, and what business outcomes and KPIs we should have in mind when developing the data strategy.

The Maturity Curve - Atrium

Moving up the data and analytics maturity curve

Medidata enlisted Atrium to not only improve efficiency and streamline finance processes but also to uncover gaps in strategy and put the team in a position to strategically increase their data maturity. 

Organizations at a higher level of maturity incorporate more predictive data models, with automated processes, alerts, and actionable analytics. A critical part of the project involved developing a strong partnership between Medidata’s internal data team and the finance team to ensure they work closely together on this initiative and all critical projects in the future.

This work also included putting data governance in place and enabling team members on new processes and tools. To ensure the right people in each role were getting the right views and relevant insights and actions, we built out finance personas and put ourselves in the shoes of those users to ensure the best possible experiences. 

Key finance data is now organized in Tableau and data structure, requirements, permissions, and security parameters were established. Now the team has a comprehensive data structure that can be used across multiple workbooks and dashboards (and can be repeated and modified), and revenue pipeline and backlog are all visible in one dashboard.

Spreading the data strategy gospel

To help other organizations looking to make a similar transformation, Brenda joined Atrium’s Will Heikes onstage at Tableau Conference 2024 to present on the success of their data strategy work thus far. 

Brenda stressed the importance of taking a step back and approaching BI more strategically. “If you don’t have a tech problem and you don’t have a skill problem, it’s a tell-tale sign that you need to evolve your data strategy to make sure you’re solving the right things,” Brenda said.

Atrium and Medidata at Tableau Conference 2024

Brenda and Will shared that as the Medidata team has moved further up the data maturity curve, they’ve experienced the following benefits:

  • Operational efficiency. We’ve eliminated redundancies and reduced time to insights by leveraging reusable data assets.
  • Value creation. We redirected resources to higher-value tasks (i.e., analysis and business partnering) and maximized innovation by scaling predictive analytics.
  • Enhanced collaboration. We dismantled functional silos to promote knowledge sharing across the company.
  • Data quality and standards. Medidata Finance now has enterprise-wide standards for data and metric definitions with increased trust and data reliability.
  • Data literacy. The finance team now has more business ownership and accountability for their data and less reliance on IT.
  • Improved customer experience. With more reliable analytics comes more ability to embed data in every decision and process, improving experiences both internally and externally.

The Medidata team plans to continue their strategic work and future-proof the BI function to meet evolving business needs. “The one thing we all know is that business is always going to change,” said Brenda. “Business landscapes are going to look different based on market conditions and it’s only fair to say that data strategies need to be able to evolve to cater to those changes.”

About Medidata

Medidata Solutions is an American technology company that develops and markets software as a service (SaaS) for clinical trials. These include protocol development, clinical site collaboration and management; randomization and trial supply management; capturing patient data through web forms, mobile health (mHealth) devices, laboratory reports, and imaging systems; quality monitor management; safety event capture; and monitoring and business analytics.

The Technology

Tableau

“If you don’t have a tech problem and you don’t have a skill problem, it’s a tell-tale sign that you need to evolve your data strategy to make sure you’re solving the right things.”

Brenda Kimiywi

Sr. Director of Finance Business Intelligence, Medidata

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