BACKGROUND: Established in 1995, Dominion Semiconductor, located in Manassas, Virginia, is a joint venture of IBM and Toshiba America Electronic Components, Toshiba's U.S. subsidiary for the manufacturing, marketing and sale of electronic components. Dominion currently employs approximately 800 people and is a leading manufacturer of 64MB dynamic random access (RAM) memory chips for use in computers and other advanced electronic products.

PLATFORMS: Comshare BudgetPLUS is a client/server and Web-enabled enterprise budget application. The client portions, including both an Excel interface and a custom management/reporting interface, run on Windows 95 and Windows NT. The server portion runs on Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The company needed a product that would let individual business managers have ownership in the budgeting process. Dominion had a complex budget and wanted a fast-to-implement and easy-to-use solution. The company wanted managers to own and create their own budgets.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Dominion selected Comshare BudgetPLUS because of its easy-to-use spreadsheet integration. BudgetPLUS was up and running in one month's time. Today, the application is functional company-wide and all of Dominion's fifty-plus business managers, from engineering to human resources, use BudgetPLUS to create and monitor their own budgets. With BudgetPLUS' spreadsheet integration, users become more productive very quickly, creating and perusing reports on their own. Each budgeter's unique requirements are met via a small number of pre-built templates that handle a range of budgeting needs including such things as head count, facilities and engineering. Using BudgetPLUS, the company created spreadsheet templates to reflect the unique spending needs of each department. Beginning with historical data on which to base their budgets, users simply open the application, see the template, fill in what they think they will spend, hit SUBMIT and the budgeting process begins.

STRENGTHS: BudgetPLUS empowers Dominion managers with information they want when they need it. Once the budgets are established, Dominion uses BudgetPLUS to create financial reports and track actual spending against budget projections. We pull information from our database, format reports and post them to a folder on a shared network where business managers can review the reports. Comparison reports can be developed looking at the data from any angle.

WEAKNESSES: Although BudgetPLUS was up and running in about one month, Dominion experienced some difficulties with the Lotus 1-2-3 interface.

SELECTION CRITERIA: It was agreed that almost all managers had common knowledge of how to use a spreadsheet. Comshare offered just what Dominion needed with a Lotus and Excel interface. The other vendors either couldn't offer Dominion what the company wanted or didn't have the same functionality as Comshare BudgetPLUS.

DELIVERABLES: BudgetPLUS' extensive analysis capabilities provide a link between the budgeting function and complete business planning. Because we are a cost-based commodity business in a very competitive industry, every penny counts. BudgetPLUS allows us to save time, staff and money while giving us the means to make better decisions. BudgetPLUS allows us to contain and reduce costs while ultimately making us more competitive. Dominion's vision is to make the budget review process more dynamic with the addition of Comshare's analytic performance measurement software, Comshare Decision.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Comshare really performed for us in the tight time frame we faced to implement an operational system. It was only a month from the day we purchased Comshare BudgetPLUS to the day we rolled it out. That included being trained on the system.

DOCUMENTATION: Although the installation and use of the product are well documented, BudgetPLUS is a powerful application that is more fully utilized with training.

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