Imation Corp. is a recognized global technology leader in removable data storage offerings. With global business and a vast network, we've grown creatively, seeking value rather than familiarity in business tools. To solve a myriad of ERP reporting problems, we purchased a complete solution from DecisionPoint, pioneers of the auto-configured data warehouse. DecisionPoint also delivered financial analytics and Web-based reporting ­ all within a matter of weeks. The results have been fantastic, saving us time, labor and money while dramatically increasing not only our operational effectiveness, but also completely solving our ERP reporting problems.

When Imation moved from 3M legacy systems to Oracle Applications ­ a move from highly customized systems to a standard packaged solution ­ it was clear we needed more than Oracle Applications to continue running the business as we were accustomed. In building our own data warehouse, we hand-picked relevant data from more than 400 tables in Oracle Financials and built an Oracle Discoverer end-user layer to provide usability to the normalized database. Still, the data warehouse performance was inadequate and required high levels of maintenance.

Additionally, performance issues on the ERP system necessitated a move to an alternative reporting solution, and it was apparent we'd soon need to purge ERP data and keep historical data available for reporting.

Our solution needed to be UNIX-and Oracle-based, integrate with the ERP system and possibly replace the high-maintenance, off-the-shelf tools used in the existing data warehouse. It also needed to support all the Oracle Applications modules. The goal was to buy a product that would minimize administration overhead and simultaneously integrate with our existing tools.

Convinced we could operate on a packaged ERP system, we decided on an out-of-the-box data warehouse. The corporate finance group pushed for it, and the VP of finance was the executive sponsor. He assembled a cross- functional team of data warehouse and business experts to define and identify our needs and work through the logistics of each possible module.

Imation purchased DecisionPoint's auto-configured data warehouse for Oracle Applications. We installed the domains in four phases. The first included general ledger, accounts payable and purchasing modules in the U.S. In the second phase, we replaced Oracle Sales Analyzer with custom modules. Phase three was implementation in order fulfillment, inventory, accounts receivable and project accounting modules as well as all modules implemented in Europe. In phase four, HR modules were installed both in the U.S. and abroad.

The end-to-end solution included predefined analytics (star schemas), the associated source mappings for Oracle Applications and a Source Expert that automatically reads setup information from the ERP system and tailors the data warehouse accordingly. DecisionPoint's star schemas, which normally take anywhere from 9 to 18 months to design, are predesigned, flexible and easily customized. This meant we were looking at our data within days, rather than months ­ a huge advantage.

I can say with confidence that DecisionPoint paid for itself several times over. The estimated savings from eliminating or reducing the need to develop new reports on the ERP system or upgrade ERP servers is a minimum of $450,000 per year. Eliminating or reducing report administration saves at least 7,000 hours per year. Eliminating the need to buy or develop an archival system to keep ERP data online once it is purged from the ERP systems saved $200,000 to $300,000. Reducing nonworking and nonreconcilable inventory, facilitating cash forecasting and improving cash management saves another estimated $400,000 per year. Additionally, the added visibility into spending information and leveraging that to rationalize supply base reduces expenditures from 3 to 5 percent.

DecisionPoint also uncovered problem data and inaccurate reports on our ERP system. As a result of expanded visibility and increased accuracy, our users now feel more confident in their generated metrics. Reports are distributed globally across all divisions and departments.

We also avoided many customizations on the ERP system, a crucial, money-saving advantage when we upgraded to Oracle 11i. Some custom business processes required for Oracle reporting were eliminated, and data granularity is two orders of magnitude better than it was with Oracle. Tracking and capturing detail for calculating royalties, rebates and required information enabled lucrative agreements with new partners, and faster access to customer information has improved customer service.

DecisionPoint delivers financial analytics, Web-based reporting and a complete data warehouse solution, with implementation in eight weeks or less. DecisionPoint's Active Decision Support Software maximizes financial performance management, giving decision-makers access to mission-critical business information and helping customers increase operational effectiveness, control costs, manage corporate risk and enhance revenue.

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