REVIEWERS: Bob Cericola, director of business operations, and Angelia Johnson, director of business applications, for

BACKGROUND: is an application service provider that supplies the technology infrastructure to our sister company, InServe Underwriters Incorporated, that enables insurance agents to quote and issue workers' compensation policies for insurance companies, banks, managing general agencies and trade associations. We deliver back-office services that provide workers' compensation rating, policy issuance, billing, claims and workflow management systems over custom Web portals.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft NT 4.0 and 2000, SQL Server, FoxPro (on NT), Microsoft Excel (on NT), Oracle on UNIX.

PROBLEM SOLVED: iCorp processes data on thousands of workers' compensation claims on a monthly basis, submitted in various nonstandard data formats by outside vendors. We gained competitive advantage by reducing re-keying errors, verification and processing time by automating time- consuming and expensive manual data processing to manage claims and produce reports. We work with more than 17,000 individual Microsoft Excel spreadsheets plus data from mainframe, FoxPro and other systems. DQpowersuite enabled us to develop and utilize a partial data warehouse for the majority of our reporting and made it possible for us to combine disparate databases without the need for programmers.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We opted for a thirty-day free trial of DQpowersuite. It was installed on our system in two days and configured for four different data types: Excel spreadsheets, Filemaker, SQL 6.5 Server and a FoxPro server. We were sold on the product after just 10 days. As a result of our implementation, iCorp reduced allocated resources by 50 percent and eliminated one programmer previously dedicated to report development. Now business users access the partial data warehouse via DQbroker to produce loss runs in 15 seconds that previously took 15 minutes per report. The savings are substantial when you factor in thousands of clients ­ each requiring approximately 100 reports per month. We are now looking at Decision Support's DQagent, a rules-based program that monitors all designated enterprise systems for user-specified events and performs user-specified actions when event triggers occur.

STRENGTHS: The main strengths of the DQpowersuite components are: DQbroker ­ enables us to access, join and update distributed data in real time; DQtransform ­ allows us to automate simultaneous extraction, transformation and loading of data from multiple sources; Web-based reporting tool DQvista ­ enables our users to access, organize and deliver data from anywhere to anywhere within our extended enterprise; and add-on DQview ­ allows us to create and embed queries within a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. DQpowersuite components implement quickly, are user-friendly, require very little training and can be readily utilized by any business-level user. DQpowersuite reduces unnecessary network traffic by efficiently distributing query processing as close to the source data as possible without any noticeable effect on network performance.

WEAKNESSES: DQbroker's reporting capabilities could be stronger and more graphical. Headers, footers and column lines need manual alignment. We opted to utilize the graphics in Excel. However, DQbroker does work readily with reporting tools from other vendors, if necessary.

SELECTION CRITERIA: With our hub-and-spoke data environment, we needed to access multiple disparate data sources and pull data into a central point. DQpowersuite delivered a user-friendly, database-neutral application flexible enough to utilize data directly from a variety of different applications. Another benefit was that DQpowersuite could be implemented quickly without the expense of outside consultants.

DELIVERABLES: DQpowersuite enables us to integrate and work with any disparate data submitted to us. We now efficiently compile risk reports, lines of business reports, loss reports and more without re-keying or manually processing. The system implemented very quickly and has long since paid for itself.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Decision Support has provided excellent support throughout our relationship, and we have been extremely pleased. They have worked with us closely and have always been very responsive to our requests for changes. The support staff has been very helpful.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation for the components of DQpowersuite has generally been complete and easy to understand. However, DQvista could benefit from stronger supporting documentation.

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