BACKGROUND: Bayer Diagnostics, headquartered in Tarrytown, New York, is one of the world's largest and most diversified suppliers of in-vitro diagnostic systems. A U.S.-based subsidiary of German chemical/pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG, Bayer Diagnostics had sales in 1998 of $1.1 billion.

PLATFORMS: MIS Alea runs on IBM Netfinity with an Intel Pentium 200 processor, 256MB RAM and 24GB of disk space with a Windows NT 4.0 operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Bayer Diagnostics experienced dramatic growth and increased competition throughout the 1990s. In light of a highly competitive environment, the need to make timely critical business decisions became increasingly important. The company's existing spreadsheet- oriented database planning and reporting systems could not adequately meet the information needs of the key decision-makers. Bayer Diagnostics required a new, more powerful and highly flexible database to enable its financial professionals to generate quick ad hoc analysis and standard reports for its worldwide operations. They also needed to spend more time on analysis and less time gathering data.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Bayer Diagnostics selected MIS Alea to develop its new worldwide financial planning and reporting system for its strong combination of OLAP technology and seamless integration with Microsoft Excel. Alea provides nonprogrammers with the ability to quickly build data-rich financial reports from a familiar Excel environment. Bayer Diagnostics also needed to create a consolidated and easily accessible database resource. MIS Alea is now Bayer Diagnostics' standard reporting and analytical tool. The system allows reporting on complex tasks such as currency versus operative variances and serves as a budgeting/planning tool for worldwide branches. Bayer Diagnostics has also implemented MIS Alea to combine budgeting and reporting in a financial data mart. MIS Alea's data import modules allow for easy integration of enterprise-wide data to provide Bayer Diagnostics with an OLAP/data mart solution that can scale to meet its dynamic business demands.

STRENGTHS: Data can be easily transformed from any source in a short amount of time and made available in Alea. MIS Alea enables users to leverage their knowledge of Excel to quickly learn the product and become productive with it. Using MIS Alea's OLAP technology, Bayer Diagnostics' financial, marketing and logistics analysts can use the product's drag-and-drop functionality to create hierarchies and new relationships and convert their business knowledge into powerful decisions. MIS Alea generates reports easily. The Excel front end makes it relatively easy to translate complex numeric scenarios into a wide variety of reports and presentations. With MIS Alea, a user can easily outline and format a graph, report or presentation and populate it by linking data to Alea. MIS Alea dramatically reduces the time needed to generate reports, presentations and business analyses from days to hours.

WEAKNESSES: Intensive RAM is required. The system needs three times more RAM than the actual amount of data.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We determined that developing a consolidated financial data mart with MIS Alea was approximately one-tenth the cost of building the system using other products. With MIS Alea, users can extend their knowledge of Excel to perform complex data analysis with little training. With more flexibility, financial analysts can obtain the information they need from their data much faster. We also selected MIS Alea because of its solid underlying OLAP technology and its multidimensional approach to viewing data.

DELIVERABLES: MIS America provided us with stable budgeting and planning applications for 50 users which is now a tremendous resource of business information for financial managers and planners.

VENDOR SUPPORT: After one day of training, our analysts were able to prototype cubes to report income and expense statements for several years using different types of data including actual budgets and forecasts. Based on this experience, we decided to implement MIS Alea as the core of our new consolidation, planning and reporting system. MIS was highly responsive to user needs in all situations.

DOCUMENTATION: MIS Alea comes with a comprehensive and easy-to-follow user manual.

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