REVIEWER: Sandipan Bhattacharya, manager of operations for ABS.
BACKGROUND: ABS Nautical Systems (NS) is one of the leading providers of fleet management software packages available to the marine and offshore industries. It offers a fully integrated, modular approach to managing the principal operational expenses associated with a vessel or offshore rig, ranging from maintenance and repair to regulatory requirements, purchasing and inventory, and crew management and payroll. The current suite of software products NSv5.4 offers extended business intelligence tools such as drydocking, on-demand reporting, hull inspection and Web-based drawings.
PLATFORMS: We use Windows Server, Oracle and MySQL databases embedded in NS5 fleet management software.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Customers of ABS Nautical Systems wanted better reporting functionality for their transaction-intensive NS5 fleet management enterprise resource planning system. ABS Nautical Systems provided basic scheduled reporting and offered ad hoc reports in response to specific customer needs. However, this iterative development process took time to produce reports to customers satisfaction, and the development was not central to ABS Nautical Systems expertise in its core product, taking valuable programmer time away from developing and responding to new feature/functionality requests in its core product. This, in turn, created the need for ABS Nautical Systems to leverage a tool to provide highly developed rich Internet BI functionality while increasing the power of its fleet management software, enabling its customers to have more flexible reporting tools.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The new on-demand reporting tool within ABS Nautical Systems NS5 is a Web-based application that enables clients to quickly and easily generate custom reports from any NS5 module. The on-demand reporting is based on Actuate BIRT software, which takes NS5 beyond operational duties to consolidate data from across software modules to better monitor key performance indicators such as time to repair, spare parts turnover and purchasing cycle times, with interactive information to fleet managers to achieve maximum efficiency. With Actuate and BIRT embedded in its NS5 software, NS is able to provide collaborative information to its clients who then utilize those capabilities in fleet management to control the overall cost of operating and maintaining their shipping fleets. With Actuate and ongoing BIRT development, NS5 can help NS customers stay competitive with increased visibility and rich interactive content to provide better insight into their operations. In this way, Actuate empowers NS5 software users to get the reports they need, the way they want them with flexibility, as each department or company may want to look at data in a different way. Lastly, that same data is more accurate because it comes as near real-time information and can be benchmarked against how well they are performing to provide trends for evaluation.
STRENGTHS: The BIRT open source platform allows for a great deal of flexibility in the development stages. Additionally, the ease of integration into our OEM package was a great benefit. Lastly, the Actuate and BIRT offering has proved to be well suited to ABS Nautical Systems needs, and Actuates roadmap shows what we can do in the future. In the end, Actuate was an excellent fit because their roadmap is in alignment with what we want to do, both now and going forward.
WEAKNESSES: ABS Nautical Systems originally encountered a handful of performance caching issues with Actuates Information Objects in Business Report Studio. However, we expect they will be remedied with Actuate 10, which we are in the process of implementing.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Actuate has a clear roadmap and direction, scalable platform, financial stability and open source development platform. The Actuate offering was an excellent fit because the technology used open source BIRT, allowing us great flexibility in developing NS5. Actuate was most helpful in helping ABS NS do the prototype both their professional services as well as the sales/technical account team.
DELIVERABLES: NS5 with Actuate and BIRT is able to generate on-demand customizable reports for handling the central elements of operational management - from regulatory requirements to payroll to planned maintenance programs.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Actuate created a prototype proof of concept prior to ABS buying the product; it was a real partnership approach.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand. We could run the product easily if we had to rely on the documentation provided.
Actuate BIRT Report Designer Professional
2207 Bridgepointe Parkway
San Mateo, CA 94404
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