REVIEWER: Oleg Troyansky, vice president for business information systems at Blyth Wholesale Group NA.

BACKGROUND: Blyth HomeScents International (BHI) is a consumer products business focused on fragranced products that are sold globally. BHI's goal is to have the right brand at the right price in the right retail store. The company's powerful and flexible analysis applications - built with QlikView - play an essential part in meeting that goal.

PLATFORM: AS/400 (iSeries)-based BPCS ERP system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Some of BHI's products are seasonal, and sales can vary widely among regions and countries. BHI was using a manual approach to reporting and analysis that was inefficient and hampered our company's growth. The lack of visibility into sales performance caused tremendous frustration. Multiple reports came from a myriad of sources - executives had to determine which report contained the numbers most relevant to the issue at hand, rather than focus on the numbers themselves. The company accumulated significant excess and obsolete (E/O) inventory. These issues directly impacted BHI's bottom line.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The BHI IT team first came across QlikView when we were looking for a business intelligence (BI) solution that would integrate with BHI's AS/400 (iSeries)-based Movex and BPCS ERP systems. Pulling sales data together from the two separate ERP systems, our IT team designed, developed and implemented a single sales performance analysis application with QlikView. Managers could analyze sales data by brand, channel and sales organization, and compare performance against both forecasted and prior-year numbers.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Just three weeks after we purchased and installed QlikView software, our executive team was looking at its first dashboard. For the first time, our executives were able to really see the business through the analysis. It was a dramatic shift. We were able to pick a particular application area and deploy it - ensuring that the product fit with the company's business requirements and that the process for deploying it worked - before moving on to new analysis areas. BHI tracks sales weekly against each individual sales rep's goal and the company's financial budgets, and updates annual sales projections on a rolling quarter basis. Margins are gauged on the dashboard as well, with drill-down capabilities to find where specific cost increases lie. QlikView has enabled BHI to use business performance measurements to manage sales performance by brand, channel and geography to the sales plan and to prior year. We also use QlikView to manage finished goods and raw material inventory levels. Because E/O inventory was such a "hot spot," the company started tracking inventory against sales on a weekly basis. As a result, the problem was resolved in less than a year, and our E/O inventory has remained very low since then.

STRENGTHS: QlikView has provided a fast, complete and easy-to-use solution for analyzing BHI's business information. With QlikView architecture, making changes to existing applications is extremely easy. Adding dimensions and measures, modifying data sources, and adding or changing charts can be done extremely fast, sometimes in minutes. QlikView integrates ETL (extract, transform and load) capability, data storage, multidimensional analysis and a graphically based end-user presentation layer. BHI's QlikView applications draw from relational data sources, Excel spreadsheets and flat files. Further, the applications update data from operational sources at whatever rate is appropriate for the information needed. QlikView's click-driven, visually interactive interface gives users instant access to top-level metrics and record-level detail, revealing unanticipated insights hidden in operational systems.

WEAKNESSES: QlikView is not designed for paper report generation. QlikView 7.2 has a decent drag-and-drop report writing capability, but that is not the product's strongest point.

DELIVERABLES: BHI is using QlikView 7.2 with the QlikView Server for distribution of Web-based applications.

VENDOR SUPPORT: QlikTech has been a partner from start to finish and has given us world-class software support.

DOCUMENTATION: It was very easy to learn how to run the program from the documentation that QlikTech provided.

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