REVIEWER: Laura Conners, database analyst for American AgCredit.
BACKGROUND: American AgCredit has been dedicated to agricultural lending for more than 85 years. American AgCredit provides billions of dollars in loans annually through its 15 branch locations throughout California and to customers in 27 other states.
PLATFORMS: Dell Server, Microsoft Windows Server 2000, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 within a Novell Network and client XP workstations.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Corporate Radar allows American AgCredit to automate the regular reporting needs of executive management and branch personnel, significantly freeing up more time for employees to focus on the business of providing loans versus report writing. Corporate Radar also easily provides detailed information to branch managers that was previously difficult and time-consuming to gather. This allows us to quickly make decisions without the need to call the headquarters each time we have a question. We had previously outsourced some of our report writing, which was costly and time-consuming as many report changes took months to turn around.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Corporate Radar connects to our line-of-business application service provider and extracts the information needed for reporting. It builds a warehouse of information from which we can develop new reports. American AgCredit also has the capability to make manual changes and adjustments within Corporate Radar when necessary. Corporate Radar automates our report-writing process on the back end while allowing users to view information in a Web browser or import into Word and Excel.
STRENGTHS: A strength of Corporate Radar is its easy-to-use Web-based interface that allowed for rapid deployment with limited training. Maintenance of the product and creating new reports are simplified because of the Web-based interface. It is also a complete solution. Corporate Radar incorporates data warehouse, reporting and portal functionality in one, reducing the need for specialized skills to maintain separate applications. Additionally, Corporate Radar is focused on the needs of the medium-sized enterprises and represents a strong value versus some of the more complex solutions on the market that tend to be more expensive and difficult to implement and maintain.
WEAKNESSES: We look forward to the enhancements in the areas of graphing and the ability to search the text of unstructured content via the portal.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The solution had to manage our complex branch rating reports and be able to gather information from our application service provider. The solution also had to be geared for business users with an intuitive interface to allow for access with minimal training. Cost of ownership was also important in the selection process. The solution had to be reasonable in upfront cost as well as require minimal IT resources for maintenance and upkeep.
DELIVERABLES: The branch rating program (BRP) provides managers within the company the ability to view performance based on a balanced scorecard made up of key metrics. The BRP report allows managers to drill down from the association as a whole through regions and branches down to totals that affect the score. Financial reporting includes income statements and balance sheets and had to roll up into account subcategories specified by the controller. Corporate Radar also features an easy-to-use reporting tool in which new operating reports could be created and distributed easily to our branches and management.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Corporate Radar has worked very closely with us from the beginning and has been responsive to our needs during the implementation. Their after- implementation support is excellent. They continue to partner with us to find solutions to our complex reporting needs.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete for the users, power users and administrators. Corporate Radar also helped by customizing the manuals for our needs. We were also allowed to further customize the documentation to meet our needs by eliminating sections that did not pertain to us and adding graphics that showed our customized product.
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