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ActaWorks Extracts SAP Data Quickly for Strategic Business Analysis at Church & Dwight

Published
  • January 01 1999, 1:00am EST

BACKGROUND: Church & Dwight Co., Inc., headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey, is best known for developing innovative uses for sodium bicarbonate it sells under the historic Arm & Hammer brand. According to leading surveys, the Arm & Hammer logo is among the nation's 15 most-trusted trademarks, and Arm & Hammer baking soda can be found in over 90 percent of U.S. households. When Church & Dwight opted to retire a legacy mainframe system as part of an upgrade, the company's IT department knew it needed to be able to produce crucial daily sales reports in the new SAP environment.

PLATFORMS: ActaWorks runs on Windows NT and works with SAP R/3 Release 3.0 or higher. Acta will introduce a UNIX version of ActaWorks in Q1, 1999.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In mid-1997, Church & Dwight began a major overhaul of its information systems infrastructure, which included a new SAP R/3 implementation. As part of that implementation, Church & Dwight knew it needed to be able to develop a sales reporting and analysis capability that included crucial daily sales reports. The daily reports detail Church & Dwight's sales for the day by brand, new orders received, pending orders for the month, company performance versus last year and against plan, how the company is performing compared to its forecast, as well as reported dollar sales, reported case volume and equivalent case volume. Every manager in the company, 50 in all, needed to receive a highly focused, three-page report each morning.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ActaWorks extracts data from SAP and non-SAP sources, transforms and cleanses the data and loads it into a data warehouse or data mart for strategic business analysis. With ActaWorks, users can build a data warehouse without a long or costly implementation cycle and without custom ABAP coding. ActaWorks provides an intuitive graphical user interface for mapping and transforming the data from R/3 to a data warehouse. ActaWorks can also join and merge data from other sources such as Oracle, Informix, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, ODBC-compliant databases and flat files.

STRENGTHS: Church & Dwight selected ActaWorks because of its ability to intelligently get SAP data out quickly. There's a certain amount of complexity in SAP that you can't avoid because there are business rules embedded in the data that you're passing back and forth. ActaWorks helps manage difficult tasks such as performing complex calculations, (i. e., creating new fields based on the values in multiple other fields while insulating the user from the programming complexities of SAP's ABAP programming language).

WEAKNESSES: ActaWorks is currently available only on Microsoft Windows NT, and Church & Dwight would like to run on a UNIX platform. Acta has announced a UNIX version of ActaWorks that will be available in Q1, 1999.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Church & Dwight decided that they did not need to do a formal study or cost comparison of using ActaWorks versus using ABAP programming. Church & Dwight's ABAP programmers were so impressed by what ActaWorks was able to do in such a short period of time that they felt it didn't require any further analysis or formal cost justification. In addition, Church & Dwight considers ActaWorks to be a key component of its data warehousing strategy moving forward, helping the company meet its immediate needs as well as fitting into its long-term strategy.

DELIVERABLES: The solution consists of a SAP data warehouse with a BI/OLAP front-end tool. The data warehouse is built with ActaWorks, which extracts data from SAP and non-SAP sources (Oracle), transforms and cleanses the data and loads it into a data warehouse or data mart for strategic business analysis. Church & Dwight uses BusinessObjects as its BI/OLAP tool on the desktop to deliver reports to all the managers in the company. Without ActaWorks, the solution could not have been delivered in a timely manner to all managers within Church & Dwight.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The Acta support organization is highly skilled both in the areas of SAP and data warehousing. Acta is highly responsive to our needs, and issues are resolved very quickly which is very important in an enterprise-wide deployment.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is comprehensive and easy to read.


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