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Cadence Network Manages Utilities Spending for Multiple-Site Businesses

  • July 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: John Edwards, project manager for Cadence Network.

BACKGROUND: Cadence Network is an Internet-enabled facilities cost-management company that allows multisite businesses to effectively manage and reduce sanitation, utilities, maintenance and operations (SUMO) costs through Web-based business intelligence technology.

PLATFORM: Microsoft Windows NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: SUMO costs can comprise up to 25 percent of the total enterprise costs for a large company. Traditionally, businesses focus on controlling expenses in the top two spending areas (labor and cost of goods sold), but have limited means of monitoring, measuring and managing facility costs. It is often difficult for multisite companies to view and measure performance because SUMO costs are fragmented. Yet those costs are staggering for a company with hundreds or thousands of locations. While other areas of the business are measured against key performance indicators (KPIs), there is no consolidated view of SUMO spending and, therefore, no way to create KPIs that can hold employees, departments and suppliers accountable. We are using reporting and business intelligence technology from Information Builders to present expenses associated with each SUMO category for any individual site. Through accurate reporting and analysis, Cadence Network provides the perspective multiple-site companies need to monitor performance and manage costs.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: WebFOCUS from Information Builders is easy to use - which is very important to our customers. In addition to being flexible with reporting parameters, WebFOCUS can output information to an Excel spreadsheet for further manipulation or to a PDF file for printing purposes. Cadence customers - typically energy consultants and accountants - frequently log on to the Cadence Web site to request energy-usage reports. The reports can be displayed in a default format or modified to display specific information such as the usage of a specific energy type, spending within a particular date range or sites with utility costs above a certain dollar amount.

STRENGTHS: The scripting language in WebFOCUS includes many options for generating reports, according to user needs and preferences. It has more flexibility than any other product we evaluated. Our developers also liked the application development environment that underlies the WebFOCUS reporting tools. We need fine-grained control, and WebFOCUS lets us drop down into 4GL code for complex requirements.

WEAKNESSES: We were one of the initial beta testers of the WebFOCUS Java servlet technology, which led to a few minor issues with regard to integrating other Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) components. These issues have since been resolved, and Information Builders has released two solid production versions of the software.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated numerous application development and reporting solutions, and WebFOCUS was the top contender. The price was competitive, and we liked the power and flexibility of the WebFOCUS reporting engine. Around that time, Information Builders announced the release of its Java-based version of WebFOCUS, which really motivated our decision. The product fit perfectly with what we wanted to accomplish.

DELIVERABLES: The foundation of the Cadence solution is a Web-based application called CadenceEnterprise. Powered by the WebFOCUS reporting engine, this application enables our customers to consolidate previously disparate facility information into enterprise-wide reports by department, vendor or virtually any other grouping and present it from an auditing standpoint. For example, a query might be formulated to determine what sites are 20 percent above average energy usage, or to help find sites that are out of sync with other branches in a given geographic area. All the presentation is done through WebFOCUS. Managers of nationally recognized companies - including Blockbuster, Foot Locker, The Limited and many others - log on to the CadenceEnterprise Web site to access the latest billing or procurement data on a facility, view a digital copy of an invoice, collaborate on enterprise information and many other analysis functions. We get positive feedback from our customers about being able to do this type of analysis. Report requests are for all aspects of facility spending including utility usage. The typical Cadence customer has many departments managing many vendors across many geographically dispersed locations. The solution caters to an average of 500 users per day.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Information Builders has been very good to work with and very responsive to our needs.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation, help and training materials are very complete. The information is available in hard copy and electronically, and includes useful tutorials and help files.

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