CATEGORY: Enterprise Information Portals

REVIEWER: Tim Talbot, vice president of technology for PHH.

BACKGROUND: PHH, a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation, provides fleet leasing and vehicle management services to Fortune 1000 companies. PHH helps companies acquire cars, trucks and equipment; track expenses; manage maintenance, fuel and accidents; and eventually sell used vehicles. The management information provided via the Internet on each client's vehicle fleet is a key component in PHH's success in reducing fleet costs while increasing the productivity of employees driving company vehicles.

PLATFORMS: Oracle and Sybase databases.

PROBLEM SOLVED: In an increasingly competitive business environment, PHH needed scalable, Web-based reporting that would provide account managers and clients with immediate access to business-critical information. Managers were faced with the challenge of developing timely reports to conduct cost analysis on things such as vehicle orders, maintenance and fuel card transactions. Because of the enormous volume of data generated ­ often millions of rows of credit card transactions ­ running reports would typically take hours to complete, with a single query taking over 20 minutes. In many cases, the system would simply time out midway through the query, requiring the frustrated user to start over. Furthermore, clients wanted reports with better formatting; and they wanted reports with different formats ­ including HTML and paper printouts, which proved to be a daunting, time- consuming task for PHH. After deploying Brio.Report and Brio.Portal, managers and clients were able to generate reports in a matter of minutes and cut individual query times to an average of 20 seconds. Managers were also able to run a single set of queries and publish multiple reports in a variety of different formats.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using Brio.Report and Brio.Portal, PHH was able to create several economical, robust and scalable Web- based solutions that integrate with custom internal operational Web applications, developed using ColdFusion, a Java application server. Reports generated by Brio.Report are stored in Brio.Portal where managers can access them at any time using industry-standard Web browsers. Managers can also run ad hoc reports against the data in PHH's databases to answer questions that are not addressed by the standard reports. The wealth of information in PHH's databases also is delivered to tens of thousands of customers and suppliers via ColdFusion applications running on PHH's extranet ­ accessing data behind the scenes using Brio.Report. Because Brio.Report is so seamlessly integrated into PHH's existing back-end systems, clients are actually operating within the internal applications specifically designed by PHH for ease of use.

STRENGTHS: Quick deployment and ease of use were key drivers in our selection of Brio and helped ensure we received an immediate return on our investment. Through the increased efficiencies, managers are able to make smarter, faster decisions and increase overall business performance.

WEAKNESSES: Older versions of the Brio.Portal didn't provide the level of integration with the security standards we required for our client base. However, this is no longer a problem with the new versions of the product. Our current security efforts integrate flawlessly.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Previously, PHH used products from other vendors in the business intelligence space; however, over time these products were not able to scale to our needs. We chose Brio because of its rapid deployment, robust functionality, flexibility, scalability and its ease of use both for the IT department and business managers.

DELIVERABLES: Account managers have responded very positively to the Brio.Portal. They have achieved a much higher level of productivity, benefiting from easy access to critical business information, significant reductions in the time taken to generate reports and the flexibility to write one set of queries to publish reports in a variety of formats. The improved flexibility has empowered managers to make smarter, faster decisions, achieving a higher level of business performance.

VENDOR SUPPORT: My experience with the Brio team has been very good. Brio's Professional Services played a valuable role in our initial deployment and in training our IT and business staff.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was very clear and easy to understand. We also found Brio's computer-based training courses to be very useful in educating the IT team on Brio's products and in training end users.

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