REVIEWER: Norm Moore, director business solutions for the North West Company.
BACKGROUND: The North West Company (NWC) is the leading provider of food and everyday products and services to remote communities across northern Canada and Alaska. Northern stores operate in markets with populations from 500 to 5,000. As of the fiscal year ended January 31, 2004, NWC had 4,552 employees in Canada and 736 in Alaska. Sales and other income in 2003 totaled $782.7 million.
PLATFORMS: Corporate Radar is installed on a Windows 2003 Server with dual AMD 1.8 GHz processors and 2GB of RAM.
PROBLEM SOLVED: North West has four major data storage systems, Oracle databases, Microsoft SQL server databases, spreadsheets and Microsoft Access databases. The Microsoft Access data marts alone contain more than 1,000 different databases. A major challenge was that reporting from all of these systems demanded five full-time employees, and the current tools were not user friendly. We needed a way to extract actionable information from all of our systems quickly. We required a system that was easy to use and reduced report production time from a weekly and monthly basis to a daily or real-time basis while reducing labor costs.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Corporate Radar connects all of North West's data sources to deliver complete information solutions for the entire enterprise including operations, sales and marketing, and IT. Corporate Radar is delivered via a 100% browser-based interface together with multidimensional reporting, charting and KPI monitoring. Its ease of use helps drive high user adoption. Also, because there are no thick software clients to support, the cost of maintenance is very low. The comparative sales reports created in Corporate Radar help stores reduce the amount of inventory they need at the beginning of a season and monitor the sales of that inventory on a real-time basis. The previous process to aggregate the information required for these sales reports took weeks and now requires less then one day. Report requests that previously required hours to process are now quickly created by decision-makers independently in minutes, displaying information in real time and allowing North West to become more proactive. Managers have the freedom to create ad hoc views based on their role as well as business activity monitoring gauges and alerts by simply clicking on any data point, in any report. Today, analysts spend very little time processing reports, saving us $150,000 in staffing costs last year alone.
STRENGTHS: Because Corporate Radar is intuitive and easy to use, training time has been drastically reduced from 2-3 weeks using the Cognos solution to half a day and, in some cases, hours. The connectivity Corporate Radar provides is a major strength. Corporate Radar connects North West's Oracle databases, Microsoft SQL server databases, Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to one central site where decision-makers can view that stored information real-time via the Web-based interface. The quick and intuitive user interface of Corporate Radar's reporting feature helped North West stores to become more proactive in deciding appropriate labor force size and amount of inventory to hold. In the last year, North West has enjoyed a $5,000,000 reduction in inventory.
WEAKNESSES: We would like the same drill-down functionality seen in the reports carried over to the portal menus.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Corporate Radar was able to demonstrate the ability to present relevant information in a way North West wanted decision-makers to see it. Corporate Radar's 100% browser-based interface was easy to use and the product provided the freedom to link to live data, a key feature North West leverages. Corporate Radar is a complete solution, incorporating data warehousing, business intelligence and portal functionality in one integrated application. Additionally, at approximately a tenth of the cost of other comparable tools, Corporate Radar is not an expensive decision.
DELIVERABLES: Corporate Radar created a data warehouse that extracted the data elements from the four different collections of data marts required to present actionable information to users on a real-time or scheduled basis. Leveraging Corporate Radar's application, users can access reports via the integrated Web portal and also have personalized KPI gauges and alerts "pushed" out to them on a self-service basis.
DOCUMENTATION: Corporate Radar delivered complete documentation including guides for specific roles such as report builders and administrators.
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