PLATFORMS: Bethlehem Steel runs Comshare's Commander Decision application in a PC client/server environment. Commander Decision runs on Windows 95 and Windows NT.
BACKGROUND: Bethlehem Steel Corp. is the second largest producer of steel in the U.S. It produces steel used in the automotive, construction, machinery, container and rail transportation industries
PROBLEM SOLVED: Our users needed to evaluate detailed customer and product data for several thousand individual products and customer locations. In the past, the bits and pieces of data were buried in layers of detail, which users had to gather from ten disparate mainframe-based reporting systems. We needed one system for our front-line sales and marketing professionals to access and analyze information related to customers and products. Comshare's software has enabled the shutdown of several reporting systems previously used for disseminating information related to customers and products.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Bethlehem's ability to make better decisions about customers and product mix is significantly enhanced. Managers can perform customer segmentation, evaluation and optimization based on customer location, product, producing facility, sales location and market. Users can also analyze the customer segments by sales representative, time frame and scenario. Today, sales and marketing associates can view information on revenue, cost and profit contribution related to orders and historic sales, as well as customer-specific inventory, payment performance and claims.
STRENGTHS: Decision's data analysis and visualization capabilities are extremely strong. The ability to dynamically alter the view of information and the ability to concurrently open multiple dimensions both across and down a spreadsheet (for example, in evaluating customer, by location, by product, relative to measures for volume, price and profitability, by month), make Decision extremely effective. Decision also has bundled intelligent software functionality to guide users in the drill-down process to identify underlying problems or opportunities.
WEAKNESSES: The "Web-based" Decision and "network-based" Decision are both based on the same architecture, including application server and database, and are able to utilize and share the same databases. However, the clients for these applications are two separate and distinct applications requiring separate client-side development.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Comshare's Commander Decision product provides a breadth of application tools required to combine information from various systems into a single multidimensional database, while employing an architecture that's open to multiple databases. Comshare's historic responsiveness to our changing needs during our ten-year partnership coupled with strong consulting expertise and product support were key issues in our selection decision.
DELIVERABLES: The solution that uses Comshare's software has enabled a 70 percent reduction in costs and staffing associated with generating and disseminating business information. The easy access to business information provided by the system has attracted users from planning, finance, production, distribution and customer service. At the same time, our ability to make better decisions about our customers and our product mix has significantly improved.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Comshare's product support programs include a very talented consultant group in addition to a knowledgeable help-desk accessible by telephone or e-mail via the Internet.
DOCUMENTATION: Comshare's on-line documentation is good but not as complete and annotated as we would like.
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