PZ Cussons

By Paul Grosart – COO

PZ Cussons had a wealth of data in on-premise systems and in other systems managed by third parties in their overseas subsidiaries. Additionally, being an FMCG company PZ Cussons consume considerable amounts of third-party market data. This helps to better understand their customers and markets.

The Challenge

PZ Cussons has a requirement to prove value in quickly ingesting and joining data. This enables the cross-analysis between their own internal data and that of their retail partners and market analysis businesses. Ultimately, this is achievable through multiple proofs of concept.

Why Amazon Web Services

​PZ Cussons opted for a solution powered by AWS for their proof-of-concept. It has all the services and providers needed to execute the first tasks as well as additional capabilities to support future data-driven use cases.

Looking to optimise their environments strategy, PZ Cussons environment requirements were to fully script this end-to-end to allow repeat patterns. We chose Terraform to create all the native AWS services. We were also able to extend to create all database objects too.

To enable maximum automation, flat file imports would have the row counts, column counts, and data types verified. This was achieved using AWS Lambda functions. At verification, the ETL environment would initiate using SQS. This orchestrated the instantiation of Matillion as well as other tasks. We chose SES (Simple Email Service) to ingest email attachments.

Outside of the native AWS tooling, partner technologies running on AWS were adopted including

  • Matillion for ETL
  • Snowflake for the data warehouse
  • Tableau Online for reporting and visualisation

The Benefits

synvert TCM (formerly Crimson Macaw) were able to bootstrap production, test and development environments quickly, enabling the proof-of-concept project to ingest data feeds. It also allows the transformation of the data ingestion and creates reports after just a few days. This enables PZ Cussons to speed up delivery whilst still having certainty over their environments and testing. By scripting, PZ Cussons knew exactly what was deploying right down to the warehouse, databases and tables. User access was also provisioned through a configuration in Terraform ensuring access was always provisioned as needed.

Data ingestion came from multiple sources including zipped flat files, databases and even files attached to emails. These were ingested via SES (Simple Email Service) and then the attachments were scanned and extracted to S3. This triggered the ingestion into the data warehouse. Furthermore, by validating these files as part of an automation ingestion process, synvert TCM was able to prevent ‘bad’ data from processing into the warehouse.


PZ Cussons were able to use Snowflake and Tableau to give them new insights. In addition, they were able to replace existing Excel graphs and charts with a new suite of Tableau dashboards automating much of the manual work. This has the added bonus of saving time and money, and also enhanced existing analyses used by the category team. This allows them to supply better metrics and insights into both their data and their key competitors.

By using Tableau Online they were able to create and share new and easy-to-use reports and data visualisations. This unlocks a host of slice-and-dice features to get different teams excited and interested in their data. As well as this, it supplies published data sets to give users the power to create their own insights. Finally, the project was able to quickly increase company engagement in analytics and insight.


Alex McCallum, Data Strategy Consultant said,

synvert TCM stood-up a proof-of-concept analytics stack using AWS, Snowflake and Tableau and supplied experienced and knowledgeable architecture advisory, engineering and visualisation resource. Importantly, synvert TCM were able to provide consistency of named resource on a flexible basis which fitted PZ Cussons evolving budget as they grew out their proof-of-concept data platform and analytics capability. As such, synvert TCM proved themselves to be a great partner for an organisation, greenfield in analytics that is evolving this new insight and automation capability at speed. synvert TCM’s approach enables PZ Cussons to minimise the upfront investment and risk with building out what can be a cost hungry capability with sometimes slow return as a Business takes time to absorb the new capability into their ways of working, improve decision making and act differently.

Abby Adderley, UK IT Director said,

I was very impressed at how quickly synvert TCM was able to stand up an environment for PZC to ingest and store its data, and even more impressed at the level of expertise applied to the initiative to help us demonstrate the power and business value the data insights could bring to help define our strategy. I have seen these projects over the years absorb significant sums of money and effort upfront with lengthy complex projects that can take many months/years before the business start to really feel the value, this project was a refreshing change to this.


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