REVIEWER: Robert Miller, corporate planning project manager for Compassion International.
BACKGROUND: Compassion International is one of the world's largest Christian child development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and thousands of indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean, since 1952.
HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Cognos Now! is a plug-and-play appliance; a software and hardware bundle optimized for fast deployment. It was developed by Celequest, which was acquired by Cognos in January 2007.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Compassion International receives and processes some 10,000 donations per day. Compassion's new donations workflow system channels contributions from multiple sources, with about 75 percent of all donations making it through the process automatically. We turned to Cognos Now! because we needed to understand where incidents were occurring in the donation processing chain, how quickly they were being handled and where the system was getting bottlenecked. We needed real-time visibility into the key metrics that would help our organization work more efficiently without burdening our IT department or straining its operating budget.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Compassion's employees use Cognos Now! to track up-to-the-minute key performance metrics. The product's dashboards enable us to spot emerging issues in the processing system before they become critical and to make decisions that keep the process moving. We have implemented the Cognos Now! appliance to help speed along our donations processing system. With Cognos Now!, Compassion's key metrics are continuously updated from multiple data sources, including the organization's contributions database and its business process management system, providing personnel with immediate access to processing performance information and proactively alerting them to exceptions. In just a few months of using Cognos Now!, we have dramatically reduced the processing time of exceptions.
STRENGTHS: Cognos Now! is a one-stop shop BI appliance that was extremely easy to implement. Cognos Now! was the only lower-cost BI solution available that delivers what we identified to be as enterprise-class, full-service BI throughout the organization. It's easy to use and implement without being lightweight. We were very impressed with the robustness of the architecture; we found that Cognos Now! consistently delivers information in a few seconds, regardless of query volume or number of users. We chose Cognos Now! because it offers data integration, analytics and dashboards/reporting in a single integrated product.
WEAKNESSES: The Now! appliance had slight limitations around batch reporting. We are now confident that Cognos has already started enhancing reporting capabilities of Now!
SELECTION CRITERIA: We looked at BI solutions from many of the top vendors. We chose Cognos Now! because it offered the same level of data integration and analytics as the large-scale solutions as well as what we found to be the most intuitive dashboards and reporting in the industry - at a much lower cost. We also liked that Now! is infinitely scalable and can grow with our organization as it expands its mission worldwide. Lastly, we were impressed by Now!'s appliance model, because it required little IT involvement or ongoing IT maintenance.
DELIVERABLES: Now! produces easy-to-analyze reports based on information gathered in dashboards. We use the reports to analyze where and how we can improve the donations process.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Working with Cognos has been a great experience. The implementation went smoothly and was strongly supported. Within just a few days of the first proof of concept, we were up and running with the full Cognos Now! system. Since the implementation in February 2007, we have found the Cognos team to be open and receptive to our questions. Now! basically runs itself, and we've had no problems since implementation. When we have a small question, the Cognos team has been ready and willing to help.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was complete and easy to understand. We didn't have to read much documentation to implement Now! because it is a complete solution preloaded on an appliance.
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