REVIEWER: Albert Narvades, manager of financial systems and analysis at Walter Industries.

BACKGROUND: Walter Industries, Inc. is a diversified company operating in five reportable segments: home building, financing, industrial products, carbon and metals, and natural resources. Through these operating segments, the company offers a diversified line of products and services, including home construction and financing, ductile iron pressure pipe, aluminum foil and sheet products, furnace and foundry coke, chemicals and slag fiber, alloys and metals, petroleum coke distribution, refinery outsourcing services and coal and methane gas production and distribution. Fiscal year revenues for 2002 were $1.94 billion.

PLATFORMS: Walter Industries is running dynaSight on a Dell Windows 2000 Professional ITS server. Users access dynaSight through Windows 1998 and 2000 clients.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Walter Industries needed a just-in-time, user-friendly, Web-based, financial reporting solution to tightly integrate with our SAP4.6 ERP solution and supporting business information warehouse (BW 2.0). With more than 32 reporting subsidiaries, management wanted to remove the risk of receiving subsidiary financial statements and key operating statistics calculated in a variety of ways. Inconsistencies added confusion and cost valuable time that could be better spent in analysis. dynaSight from arcplan shortens the reporting/analysis cycle time and takes the variation out of the reporting process. It creates presentation-quality graphs and reports, and enables users to quickly pull and compare financial statement line items for each subsidiary.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Reporting processes that previously took a week now take seconds, dramatically shortening time spent pulling the 32-plus subsidiary reports together. Dashboards give us a 360-degree view of the business, offering views from many different dimensions. Our controllers, managers and C-level executives have more timely information to make decisions and make them faster. We constantly add functionality and recently added security to limit users access to certain data fields. In the future, we plan to add connections to our SAP BPS module and extend it to our subsidiaries for localized detailed general ledger reporting.

STRENGTHS: dynaSight was well received by users and is essential to the strategic analysis and decision-making process. It provides seamless and timely reporting, and users find it's as easy as navigating a Web site. Its flexibility enables you to create any look you want a report to have. Because it pulls data from multiple cubes, it has achieved reporting consistency among our subsidiaries. My background as a CPA and auditor did not include programming experience; but with initial assistance, I found the product relatively easy to learn.

WEAKNESSES: The printing quality of graphics and reports can vary based on the user's printer, but we've found some tricks to get around it. The developer's manual should be improved for developers lacking a technical background.

SELECTION CRITERIA: By selecting the dynaSight analytic platform, we received a powerful, Web- based, front-end solution with seamless connectivity to SAP's Business Warehouse ­ at a low total cost of ownership. In addition to reasonable start-up costs, I've been able to efficiently maintain the reporting applications serving the corporate office and its subsidiaries myself. No other product in the marketplace offered quite the data transparency and flexibility in creating presentation-quality reports. We've already reaped dividends and expect this to continue in the future as the product's agile, object-oriented development environment enables easy maintenance and changes as our business evolves and grows.

DELIVERABLES: With dynaSight, we created more than 40 reports with graphs using hierarchies with drill-down capabilities, variable date selections and variable versions including actuals, forecasts and annual business plans. It's also used for external financial statements, including income statements with EPS, balance sheets and cash flow statements, and reporting of key operating statistics such as return on net assets, days sales outstanding, days payable outstanding, inventory turnover, capital expenditures, EBITDA, sales and operating income reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: arcplan is responsive to our needs. When we implemented our solution, the partner consultant, although helpful, was not as familiar with the newest version of dynaSight;s but arcplan provided a two-day Q&A session to assist us. Their consultant provided lots of help and troubleshooting tips during implementation.

DOCUMENTATION:The documentation is easy to understand, but I found I still needed a technical consultant to help set up the ITS server for the Web-based application. Maintenance is painless.

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