REVIEWER: Chris Bergren, senior business analyst for Ecolab.BACKGROUND: Ecolab is a leading global developer and marketer of premium cleaning, sanitizing, pest elimination, maintenance and repair products and services for the world's hospitality, food service, institutional and industrial markets. Its 2004 sales were in excess of $4 billion.
PLATFORMS: arcplan's dynaSight Analytic Development Platform is running on top of Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise, hosted on the Windows 98 system.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Ecolab needed a Web-based executive information system from which to view our huge sales and manufacturing business in its entirety. This included keeping track of key business performance indicators for each of our 12 divisions to improve management of a business growing through expanded sales and acquisitions. In a project driven by executives and implemented by a business team under the VP of finance, dynaSight made it possible for Ecolab to quickly create our own custom solution. Ecolab executives and corporate stakeholders now size up performance and spot trends with the latest metrics and consistently compare divisions, budgets, sales, etc., in minutes, enabling them to make decisions and take action quicker with more information.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Ecolab's dynaSight-powered application, EcoTrack, provides a GUI development environment that enables financial analysts to quickly create new reports to meet the needs of upper management. The reports are easier to create because the analyst developing the report knows how the final report should work. The dynaSight dashboard application is easy to use and summarizes the key performance metrics in quick-to-read, highly visual graphics and charts (e.g., showing financial, customer, business process and associate information for divisions). All of the screens can be easily exported to Excel or PowerPoint presentations. Each key performance metric is scored on performance versus last year or versus budget. Most key performance metrics can be drilled through to find more details on what was included in the totals.
STRENGTHS: The platform is incredibly flexible, allows for personalization of content and has write-back to SQL Server to help maintain business rules (doing business logic and maintenance on the business side). The solution easily grows and changes with business. A second strength of dynaSight is the great looking graphs it produces. dynaSight supplies a platform on which to easily and quickly build a strategic information system for Ecolab executives worldwide, and with low cost of ownership.
WEAKNESSES: The main weakness is the use of many objects to create and display data in reports. A second weakness is the slower speed of the application when there are many SQL database retrieves and calculations on a report. However, speed should not prove a problem with a well-designed back-end database of summary tables.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated other BI products and found dynaSight to be the most flexible and graphically pleasing to meet our needs. Because arcplan also conducted a successful proof of concept with our data, we knew exactly what we were getting.
DELIVERABLES: EcoTrack is used by more than 60 people - all executives, stakeholders and line managers at Ecolab - and allows them to view, via a dashboard, the performance of the business to keep all divisions and executives in the know despite the ever-growing complexity and amount of data. The dashboard is configurable to user needs to enhance understanding, enables a high-level look at the numbers and uses alerts to draw attention to any problem areas. Prompts guide users to the root of problems. Our executives and managers are spending less time compiling and understanding data and more time digging deeper into the data and asking the tougher questions.
VENDOR SUPPORT: arcplan's consultants and service representatives are very responsive to our needs. We address most of our questions via the arcplan Answers application on the arcplan Web site, and are amazed with the quick response received, even for low priority questions.
DOCUMENTATION: The user documentation found on their Web site is comprehensive, easy to access and understand. Once we received the basic training on dynaSight, getting started building applications was no problem at all.
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