ACCOUNTING

INTRODUCTION

Organizations create and collect massive amounts of data as

a result of their day-to-day operations. Frequently referred

to as “Big Data,” it represents an important asset for the

organization. Big Data presents both opportunities and

challenges for accounting professionals, who are expected to

know how this data is created, collected, stored, and accessed.

As the custodians of the organization’s assets, accountants

are expected to understand and implement controls over the

storage and use of the organization’s data. Further, as business

professionals, accountants are expected to know how to use

this vast source of data to make better business decisions

and identify potential risks. Understanding how to use Big

Data to formulate and solve business problems provides

an opportunity for the accounting professional to become a

forward-thinking strategic partner in the organization. The

challenge for accountants is to develop the skill set needed to

extract value from Big Data through advanced analytics.

One skill that is becoming increasingly important for

analysis of large data sets is data visualization. Data visualization

is the process of displaying data to provide insights that will

support better decisions. Gartner’s 2017 “Magic Quadrant for

Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms” states that “the

visual-based exploration paradigm has become mainstream.”1

Gartner identifies three platforms as leaders in visualization

software: Tableau, Microsoft, and Qlik. All three products

provide relatively easy-to-use data visualization tools.

HUSKIE MOTOR COMPANY: BACKGROUND

Huskie Motor Company (HMC) is an automobile

manufacturing company with production and sales

throughout the world. Automobile manufacturing and sales

is a complex and highly competitive business. Although

the automotive industry has a broad global reach, only 15

companies produce 88% of the world’s vehicles.2 HMC is a

new and a smaller player in the automotive manufacturing

market. If it is to survive, the company must fully understand

its markets, customer base, and costs to keep profit margins

positive. It has some very popular brands and high customer

satisfaction—both are critical assets at this stage of the game.

Miranda Albany was hired at HMC as a senior cost

analyst three years ago, when the company first began

operations after a spin-off from Blue Diamond Automotive,

a large auto manufacturing company. Recently promoted

to assistant controller, Miranda is anxious to make a good

impression on her boss. She has advocated a “data-driven”

strategy for decision making at the company by capturing

a vast number of product-specific details relevant for both

production and marketing. The problem is that the company

has grown so quickly that Miranda is having a difficult time

keeping up with the massive amounts of data that continue

to accumulate. To further complicate matters, there is a

growing need for reporting detail and in-depth analysis of

product lines given the availability of additional data.

IMA EDUCATIONAL CASE JOURNAL VOL. 11 , NO. 2 , ART. 3 , JUNE 20181

ISSN 1940-204X

Huskie Motor Corporation: Visualizing the Present and Predicting the Future

©2018 IMA

Ann C. Dzuranin Associate Professor Northern Illinois University

Johan Perols Associate Professor of Accountancy University of San Diego

Dana L. Hart Assistant Professor–Accounting and Finance University of North Florida

Although Miranda is sure that the data she has collected

can help her management team make better decisions, she

does not have the time, or expertise, to figure out how to

organize or use the data effectively. Miranda communicates

with HMC’s executive team on a weekly basis to convey

vital information regarding marketing strategies, sales targets,

and production needs. Yet she feels that her information is

often “lost in translation,” as the executive team struggles to

digest the numbers. Miranda believes that data visualization

may be a crucial component in helping her effectively

connect with HMC executives. To help her utilize the

massive amounts of data at her disposal, Miranda has

interviewed consulting firms that specialize in information

technology (IT) and data engineering. Ultimately, Miranda

chose D & A Consulting because of its automotive industry

expertise and its focus on data analytics and visualization.

Miranda asked Megan Martinez, a senior staff accountant

at HMC, and Adam Green, a staff accountant at HMC, to

work with D & A on the project. Megan has been with HMC

for two years and has recently relocated to the corporate

headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. Megan’s corporate

transition is almost complete, and she is anxious to move

forward in her current position. Adam is a young, aggressive

employee who began with the company eight months

ago, since he graduated college. He has a good sense of

judgment and is eager to make a good impression on upper

management. Miranda believes the two employees will

provide a good mix of experience, dedication, and teamwork.

D & A CONSULTING GROUP: BACKGROUND

D & A Consulting was started by Doug Chan and Arlo

Paxton five years ago. Doug and Arlo have been friends

since college, having graduated with accounting degrees

from the same university 15 years ago. Although they

initially went to work at different accounting firms, they

both followed similar career paths. After becoming managers

at their respective firms, Doug and Arlo decided that their

real passion was in teaching clients how to use data to

make better business decisions. They started their own

consulting firm with one primary focus: helping clients better

understand their businesses via the use of data analytics

and data visualization. Though data analytics is not a new

concept in the business world, the amount of data available

and the number of sources from which it can be captured has

skyrocketed. Driven by lower storage costs and more “user-

friendly” analysis, software businesses have vastly increased

the amount of data they collect and store. Yet finding the

talent needed to transform that data into useful insights is

what businesses find challenging. D & A Consulting helps

companies fill that void.

Doug and Arlo are excited about the opportunity to work

with HMC. They have assigned their automotive industry

expert, Kevin Lydon, as the project lead, along with a D & A

new hire, Jan Morrison. Kevin has been with D & A nearly

as long as the company has been in existence. He and Doug

had met each other on a consulting project where Kevin

was working as an IT engineer. As project lead, Kevin is

enthusiastic about mentoring Jan on her first assignment. He

is equally enthusiastic about the potential for improvement

at HMC. He reassures Jan that this client will be a great

opportunity for her to test her data analytics and data

visualization skills.

HUSKIE MOTOR CORPORATION: OPERATIONS HMC is currently selling in 15 countries in three regions:

North America, South America, and Europe. Table 1

provides a breakdown of the countries within each region.

Table 1. Huskie Motor Corporation’s Regions and Countries

Region Country

Europe France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

North America Canada, Mexico, United States

South America Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Venezuela

Automobile manufacturing and sales is a complex and highly

competitive business. Though the automotive industry has

a broad global reach, only 15 countries produce 88% of the

world’s vehicles.3 HMC is a fairly new and small player in the

automotive manufacturing market.

HMC currently offers three brands: Apechete, Jackson,

and Tatra. Each brand has several models as detailed in

Table 2. The models available fall within seven segments

of vehicle types: compact, sub-compact, full-size, mid-size,

luxury, minivan, and sports utility.

Table 2. Huskie Motor Corporation’s Brands and Models

Brand Models Available

Apechete Chare, Island, Pebble, Robin, Summet

Jackson Brutus, Crux, Fiddle, Rebel, Wood

Tatra Advantage, Bloom, Jespie, Mortimer, Rambler

HMC offers several series for each model for a total of 34

different series. A breakdown of the available series offered

by model is provided in Table 3. Each model is available

IMA EDUCATIONAL CASE JOURNAL VOL. 11 , NO. 2 , ART. 3 , JUNE 20182

in various body styles, engines, drive configurations,

transmissions, trim, color, and seat types. Since various

engine and transmission builds (see Table 4) come from

one division and finishing (see Table 5) is done in another

division, these options are described in different tables.

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