PLATFORMS: Two IBM mainframes (ES9000 and 3081), three IBM AS/400 Series 30S, 310, F45 and RiscSystem 6000.

BACKGROUND: Monfort, a division of ConAgra Meat Companies, is an international, multi-billion dollar meat company with headquarters in Greeley, Colorado. PROBLEM SOLVED: Originally a Colorado family owned cattle feeding business, Monfort's operations have expanded dramatically to encompass cattle feeding, beef and lamb processing, and international distribution. Monfort implemented DataTracker, a client/server data warehousing application from Silvon Software, Inc., to provide decision makers throughout the company with a robust business intelligence solution. Competitive pressures and challenging margins forced Monfort to get closer to the market and its customers.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Silvon configured the system to extract sales data from Monfort's order management system. The Silvon team built a scalable data mart and an OLAP environment for quick data retrieval and analysis. Now Monfort salespeople analyze the business in terms of sales by dollars, margin, freight, cost, weight and quantity; slice the data to a market-area level; identify historical customer buying patterns; and access timely information as a decision-making tool. Users now control their own data and do not depend on the IS staff for help. Initially, weekly updates were sufficient. Now, users receive updates daily to the DataTracker warehouse. Monfort envisions other ways to make DataTracker even more useful. One way is to provide senior management with a high level of financial analysis that looks at actual sales and open orders to compare against the forecast. The data warehouse will enable product management to identify what product needs to be produced to meet the demands of the open order forecast.

STRENGTHS: DataTracker provides an analysis environment that is based on a Silvon-built powerful relational data warehouse, with multidimensional enterprise data views using Silvon's OLAP engine and information distribution system. The DataTracker engine captures information (such as sales data, product costs and other factors) from Monfort's information systems and pulls it into the DataTracker relational data warehouse for analysis via user-defined templates and views.

DataTracker provides versatile management of data distribution. Extracted data flows from the AS/400 to local and remote users who access DataTracker for analysis. The DataTracker engine refreshes only the data that changes, which reduces data transmission and refresh times into manageable update windows.

WEAKNESSES: Due to the extensive amount of data that users wish to keep for analysis, retrieval time can be extensive. Machine capacity must be sizable to hold detailed data for any period of time. Additionally, data paths must be properly tuned so retrieval response is acceptable.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Monfort wanted a powerful application with an intuitive interface to provide users with real-time information and the ability to manipulate, view and print the data. DataTracker delivered on this promise. The return on investment has been outstanding.

DELIVERABLES: Each department accesses its own view of the same data in the DataTracker data warehouse, both current and historical data, to meet its data requirements. Users perform comparative analysis, produce on-line analyses and print reports to detect changes in business conditions in order to react to changes and opportunities in the market--capabilities that were previously unavailable.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Silvon worked with Monfort's management to understand the business, build the data warehouse and tune the client/server environment to optimize performance.

DOCUMENTATION: The User Guide and user training manuals were very effective.

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