REVIEWER: Gina Zeilinger, strategic planning and finance process leader for Brady Corp.
BACKGROUND: Founded in 1914, Brady Corp. is a world leader in complete identification solutions that help Fortune 1000 companies improve productivity, performance, safety and security. Its more than 50,000 products include high-performance labels, precision die-cut materials, signs, software, printers and automatic identification and data-collection systems.
PLATFORMS: OutlookSoft Everest is running on SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server with Internet Information Services (IIS) 5.0.
PROBLEM SOLVED: There was no single place where everyone could get a comprehensive financial picture of the company. We wanted reports that were fast, accurate and reliable; that gave everyone in the company the same consolidated view of our operations; and that offered great flexibility to drill down into data to look at specific product groups. With our old system, it took employees several days and up to 40 separate report runs to produce consolidated financial reports, as data from the divisions was sent as hard copy and reentered into a legacy system. The potential for error was high; and even when employees entered data correctly, changes in that data during the consolidation period could lead to inconsistencies.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: OutlookSoft Everest gives our users a single comprehensive application and interface with real-time consolidation, analysis, planning, forecasting, process management and customized reporting while accessing the full range of structured data. Through familiar environments, such as Microsoft Excel, Everest facilitates the user-friendly exchange of organizational knowledge to more than 200 employees throughout Brady's worldwide offices, allowing instant collaboration and real-time access to corporate intelligence. Also, the Analysis Services feature in SQL Server provides the OLAP engine for Everest's reports.
STRENGTHS: Executives in corporate and across all of our divisions and subdivisions now have a unified, consistent view of our consolidated financial position and can do the drill-downs they want for more specific information and analysis. Everest has made data more available and provided us with unlimited ways in which we can work with it. Consolidated reports that previously took days to generate are now available in hours, and users can see any detail they want within moments of requesting it. Another benefit of this solution that we did not anticipate is its effect on change management. Nonfinancial executives are looking at financial information - in some cases for the first time - because now they can call up that information any time they want from anywhere. Meanwhile, the analysts in corporate finance are freed from having to run and print reports, and they can spend time conducting value-added analysis.
WEAKNESSES: The product training could be more interactive.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We reviewed products of several competitors when evaluating a solution. We selected OutlookSoft because they provided a low-cost solution that was powerful, flexible and was also able to be quickly deployed. We were also won over by their Microsoft-centric environment, which provided a user-friendly interface.
DELIVERABLES: Everest is used for a wide variety of reports throughout the enterprise that reflect financial information.
VENDOR SUPPORT: OutlookSoft's support has been very strong. The deployment process was very manageable, taking two months to deploy followed by another two months running parallel with legacy, which made it the fastest deployment of a major enterprise solution in Brady's experience. This resulted in major cost savings. The solution is also very intuitive. After their consultation, the solution seems to take care of itself at times. Therefore, we are able to easily operate and update the system without the need for much support.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation provided by OutlookSoft consultants was very useful and easy to understand. The intuitiveness of the product allows users to easily understand the capabilities.
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