CATEGORY: Data Quality

REVIEWER: David Uhl, information technology manager, corporate information technology for Cargill, Incorporated.

BACKGROUND: Founded in 1865, Cargill, Incorporated is an international marketer, processor and distributor of agricultural, food, financial and industrial products and services with 90,000 employees in 57 countries. The company provides distinctive customer solutions in supply chain management, food applications, and health and nutrition.

PLATFORM:: HP-UX.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Cargill uses many different ERP systems to manage its diverse set of 50+ business units in North America. Keeping customer and supplier data clean within each of these individual ERP systems is a major challenge, and consolidating information across the ERPs is a bigger challenge. Cargill's corporate IT has developed a solution called OneView that addresses these challenges. Vality INTEGRITY is a key component of OneView, providing tools to standardize, match and de-duplicate customer and supplier information. Approximately 15 business units currently use OneView to cleanse customer and supplier data in their individual ERP systems. Corporate IT initially worked with each business unit using OneView to clean the existing ERP data. On an ongoing basis, OneView is used as part of the account-opening process to maintain the quality of the customer and supplier data. On a monthly basis, corporate IT also uses OneView to consolidate customer and supplier information across all business units in North America and combine it with external data from D&B. This cleansed, consolidated information is then fed into a data warehouse along with accounts receivable and accounts payable information. Cargill's sales and marketing managers use the information to identify cross-selling opportunities. Cargill's purchasing managers use the information to identify opportunities to leverage Cargill's purchasing power across business units.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Vality INTEGRITY (batch capabilities version 3.6, real-time capabilities version 3.8) was used to configure and customize the prebuilt procedures and packaged rules sets for data investigation, standardization and matching across data values and reconciliation. These procedures parse and analyze free-form fields (using lexical analysis and comprehensive data typing) and link related records lacking a common key using various matching algorithms. In everyday processing, we use the real-time matching to match input records to the master list and generate an ID for each new, unique customer/supplier. We're using INTEGRITY in other data conversions and consolidations and are looking at using its ETL integration features, including INTEGRITY for Informatica, for accessing INTEGRITY functions within PowerMart.

STRENGTHS: INTEGRITY is reliable. It's used throughout the day, every day. Feeds come in constantly, and there have been no surprises. When we plug it into our environment, it just works and does what it's advertised to do ­ matching. The matching is highly accurate in finding duplicates and linking related records.

WEAKNESSES: INTEGRITY alone cannot handle basic ETL (extract, transform and load) processes. However, Vality has designed the product to integrate with tools from leading ETL vendors.

SELECTION CRITERIA:We wanted an easy-to-use, best-of-breed product with some custom, one-time development and enhancements along the way. Additionally, we chose Vality because of its services. Vality consultants customize the product for your business. This was the approach we wanted. Some vendors wanted to sell their product and walk away.

DELIVERABLES: As each new record comes into the process, the INTEGRITY real-time tools help to standardize the incoming data and then match it against the existing master customer and supplier lists. The result of the matching is a scored list of candidates. Scoring thresholds are then used to determine if the incoming record already exists in the master customer and supplier lists.

VENDOR SUPPORT:Vality provides training, maintenance, consulting and implementation services, and telephone technical support. Vality works with us ­ at whatever level we want ­ to customize INTEGRITY to meet our business needs.

DOCUMENTATION: We really haven't used the documentation because we outsourced initial development as well as ongoing support to Vality.

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