REVIEWER: Gregory Howe, director of Corporate Information Systems for Benefitfocus, Inc.BACKGROUND: Benefitfocus is a provider of software and services for the health care benefits market, providing technology from quote to claim. Through the development of technology solutions, Benefitfocus allows consumers, employers and benefit providers to manage complex decisions in an ever-changing health care environment. By implementing Benefitfocus solutions, health plans and employers can automate their business processes, reduce operating costs and have access to accurate health information 24x7. Employers can provide their employees with a fully integrated and consumer-driven platform, allowing them to take control of their health care options. Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, Benefitfocus has staked out a position in the $2 trillion health care industry by aligning itself as a critical operational component in its customers' go-to-market strategy. The company's core competencies are its ability to operate efficiently and respond quickly to the needs of its 89,000 employers groups and 150 insurance carriers as well as members in all 50 states and 26 countries.
HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Windows 2003 SP1, Dual Core Intel Xeon CPU server.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Benefitfocus desired a low-cost, low-maintenance, configurable data warehouse development technology that would be easy to learn. ProfitBase 2007 enhanced Benefitfocus' development capabilities by strengthening Benefitfocus's ability to create data warehouse solutions at a much lower cost than using SQL Server 2005 alone.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Benefitfocus is using ProfitBase 2007 to create a data warehouse that combines information from approximately 12 operational systems. The ProfitBase user interface includes nearly all of the tools a data warehouse developer needs: fact and dimension table definition, custom business logic, OLAP cube processing and data flow scheduling. The ProfitBase data warehouse now serves as the foundation for an enterprise-wide BI system that includes Web-based dashboards, scorecards and interactive charts and tables.
STRENGTHS: ProfitBase 2007 is easy to learn, use and maintain. The configurability of the product allows a developer to create a complete data warehouse solution and adapt the solution to future business needs. All of this translates to a solution that is developed at a lower cost and can be delivered to production in less time than using SQL Server 2005 alone. In addition, using ProfitBase 2007 has removed the need for Benefitfocus to hire an expensive database engineer to develop or maintain the final solution.
WEAKNESSES: The main weakness is the lack of tools to stage and scrub data prior to importing into the ProfitBase data warehouse. Several situations have been encountered where data had to be reorganized and scrubbed in a staging database before it could be properly imported to the ProfitBase solution. Product documentation is another weakness. Most of the product functionality is documented, but the explanations are not complete and sometimes shorter than needed. The documentation would be greatly improved if it were proofread, expanded and provided more examples for ProfitBase 2007 users.
SELECTION CRITERIA: ProfitBase 2007 was chosen by Benefitfocus because of the combination of functionality and price. Benefitfocus could not locate a competitive product with as much functionality at the same price point.
DELIVERABLES: ProfitBase delivers a complete data warehouse solution that includes fact and dimension tables, calculated members, OLAP databases, data flow jobs and configurable business logic.
VENDOR SUPPORT: ProfitBase Inc. provided excellent support during Benefitfocus's initial use of the product. They continue to provide responsive customer service today. The most enjoyable part of working with ProfitBase has been experiencing their commitment to customer service at all levels of the company. The CEO of ProfitBase has been involved in all stages of development and continually ensures that he is available to provide support. The CEO personally provided Benefitfocus with an online demonstration of new functionalities that were introduced in ProfitBase V5.1. This personal and hands-on approach to support has been extremely helpful.
DOCUMENTATION: As mentioned, the product documentation needs improvement. A data warehouse solution could be developed by relying solely on the documentation, but it would take twice as long.
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