CATEGORY: Business Performance Management
REVIEWER: Bob Reynolds, assistant vice president of finance at Bank of America Corporation.
BACKGROUND: Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small businesses and large corporations and institutions with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company has offices in 150 countries and relationships with 94 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 76 percent of the Global Fortune 500.
PLATFORMS: Bank of America is running arcplan dynaSight on Windows 2000 under IIS. Users access dynaSight through Explorer browsers on Windows clients.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Bank of America's Card Services Group wanted to optimize its business performance and empower analysts and staff with improved data collection, analysis, collaboration and decision making. Previous manual, one-off reporting processes were error-prone and labor- intensive, hampering ad hoc reporting, analysis and decision support, and cutting into strategic planning time. For instance, end users always waited for reports and needed to go to multiple sites and areas to retrieve data. The dynaSight platform helped us automate and simplify reporting, thereby dramatically reducing reporting/analysis cycle times and improving promotional card campaign tracking. Now, we manage our business more effectively and use resources more wisely.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We've created more than 50 custom reports using dynaSight's speedy assemble-to-order development environment. Because one report now answers multiple questions with the use of drop-down menus, we've also reduced the number of reports. Our marketing, financial and sales groups easily track our card campaigns and follow details such as: account channels, brand relationships, retention, month- on-book, vintages, custom scores, payment types, program releases, segmentation and behavioral risk scores in addition to budgeting and forecasting figures. Users view data by as many as 30 dimensions including times, geography, campaign and rates from one central source via their Web browsers. Content is automatically pushed to desktops or extracted on demand directly from the source with interactive drill-down ability and is displayed via personal preference. Executives use dynaSight for high-level monitoring and board reports.
STRENGTHS: In addition to value for money, dynaSight's biggest strengths are: ease of use, consolidation and visualization of data, and flexibility. We create and make changes to existing applications at an accelerated rate. We've had no problems with user adoption. Each success attracts the attention of the other business units looking to cut costs, and improve and accelerate planning and analysis efforts.
WEAKNESSES: Although we can appreciate the Java open standards under which the application is written, Java can sometimes be slow.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Our card services team chose dynaSight after a detailed critical- to-quality evaluation of top off-the-shelf reporting applications. Criteria rated included: OLAP capability, Web enablement, relational capabilities, cost of ownership, scalability, ease of use, installation, integration and maintenance. We found the competition overpriced and lacking functionality or requiring out-of-house skill sets to implement and maintain. dynaSight's development environment is incredibly flexible, and we foresee no problem growing and adapting our solution as needed.
DELIVERABLES: Our dynaSight solution provides a more streamlined, Web- based, cross-cube and consistent time series reporting solution with scalability to grow across the enterprise. Response tracking to credit card campaigns and other initiatives is now automated, and our improved analysis, collaboration and monitoring efforts have improved decision making and financial management. The solution is effective and efficient, and thus affords us tremendous benefit. It has fostered alignment with our Six Sigma initiatives to eliminate errors in business processes. Reporting cycles were reduced from 3.4 hours to 2 hours, and direct mail yield increased from 14 percent to nearly 100 percent. In our first year, the arcplan solution helped us save thousands of dollars in expenses and contributed hundreds of thousands more in revenue. We plan to reap more returns on our software investment in the years to come.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We've found arcplan's consultants knowledgeable and dedicated. They have been especially helpful providing development assistance. Their regional VP of sales has also followed our progress and keeps in touch with us to this day.
DOCUMENTATION: While dynaSight makes custom application development and maintenance a breeze, training is necessary to make full use of the product it offers so much potential and flexibility.
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