Parkway Corporation is a leader in designing, implementing, marketing and managing innovative parking garages and lots. With 30,000 parking spaces throughout North America, Parkway has had good judgment, making it a leader in parking real estate development and operational management.

As the number of cars, parking properties and employees substantially increased, a strong demand was being placed on reporting, planning and evaluation. However, Parkway lacked an executive information system.

With Parkway's ascension to the top came an influx of data, information, assets and people. It was at this time that I was hired as vice president and chief information officer (CIO). The company, though solid in management, operations and financials, was starving for business intelligence (BI) to help manage its aggressive growth.

When I got to Parkway approximately three years ago, it had legacy systems but not a lot of reporting systems. Parkway was information and BI poor. Upper management had always been very experienced, but even the best management can only go so far doing business the old-fashioned way. There comes a time when objective, sophisticated e-business systems are needed. The company's Achilles' heel was inadequate reporting. Employees were going from system owner to system owner to get spreadsheets and information. As CIO, I had a unique opportunity to help turn things around.

Normally, when companies decide to undertake a large-scale project such as this, they evaluate several service providers, but we looked at one: RCG IT. I had worked with RCG IT in the past; and its combination of proof of concept, fixed price and results-orientation proved its value with Parkway upper management. RCG IT also showed the executive team that this was a low risk method for getting the BI implementation that was needed.

Furthermore, RCG IT had a track record of managing large complex projects as well as substantial data warehouse (DW) and BI experience. The team interacted closely with my staff, and this made for a smooth implementation and development process.

RCG IT provided end-to-end application design, development, testing and implementation services following industry best practices. To manage this project, RCG IT implemented its proven BI methodology, which included several stages:

  • Surveying existing systems, data and capabilities,
  • Identifying key business drivers and data sources,
  • Analyzing the technology and business environment to produce a reliable, secure and cost-effective solution,
  • Defining a project plan and scope,
  • Developing a logical and physical data model,
  • Presenting a reporting architecture, and
  • Training end users and system maintainers.

The BI solution has played an integral part in helping redefine the corporate strategy. Parkway has been spending a lot of time revitalizing its strategy over the last six months. Its BI solution has helped Parkway make stronger analytical decisions regarding its different market segments and business practices.
Along with an improved business strategy, Parkway also realized four specific benefits from the implementation of the DW and BI solution. The company was able to reduce fixed labor and overhead costs associated with gathering operational information. The DW provided a more precise picture of revenue, profitability, operations and trends for both individual and collective parking properties. Customized views of operational reports became available to suit individual users' preferences across the enterprise. The new BI/DW system served as justification to enhance, upgrade and replace outdated, ineffective and costly systems and processes.

The savings in manpower required in generating these operational reports justified nearly the entire cost of the project in just two years' payback. Given that the BI/DW project is relatively new, Parkway expects to save thousands more over the application's lifetime. Still, specifying ROI for a project of this magnitude can be difficult.

While it can be very hard to quantify the benefits from a system like this, Parkway executives formerly made decisions based on intuition, experience and "gut" feeling; they did not rely on data, business intelligence tools and analysis. Now, before buying a property or undertaking a new business venture, Parkway is able to analyze reports to help determine if this business arrangement is worth undertaking. I think that the company is better prepared to make strategic decisions on acquiring what will make money and deleting or fixing what will lose money. Overall, Parkway decisions are now more strategic, more effective and increase the likelihood that we will make the right decision on buying, selling and managing properties.

Parkway expects to have more demand from users who want access to the data to help them with their specific, daily work. The owners and other executives of the company clearly see the value of business intelligence and consider this tool an indispensable item.

RCG IT's BI solution comprises application design, development, testing and implementation of Web-enabled data warehousing serving as the IT framework for Parkway's Decision Support and Executive Information System. The system provides a picture of revenue, profitability, operations and trends for individual and collective parking properties, reducing labor and overhead costs.

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