REVIEWER: Frank P. Gumino, director IT for Delco Remy International.

BACKGROUND: Delco Remy International, Inc. is a billion dollar company with worldwide operations. The company designs, manufactures, remanufactures and distributes electrical, powertrain/drivetrain and related components and provides core exchange service for automobiles, trucks and other heavy-duty and industrial applications. Delco Remy serves the aftermarket and original equipment manufacturing markets in North America, Europe, Latin America and most of Asia.

PLATFORMS: Delco Remy runs DataLever's client and server software on Windows 2000. DataLever's server is available on other platforms.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Delco Remy needed to integrate purchasing information from multiple manufacturing sites worldwide in order to track global metrics such as PPV (purchase price variance), leverage global material spend with suppliers, improve consistency of vendor pricing and terms, and better understand purchasing patterns and vendor relationships. Delco's business users regard all of these improvements as having a very high ROI. A simple data warehouse load was insufficient because the source data contained varying formats, was written in different languages and had no common keys for suppliers or part numbers. Delco had chosen Microsoft SQL Server as the data warehousing platform, so the data quality solution needed to run on Windows and integrate tightly with SQL Server. The challenges of this effort include: merging data formats, converting multiple currencies, matching suppliers with inconsistent spellings and multiple languages, and translating parts descriptions from Spanish (later to include Polish, Hungarian, Chinese and Korean) into English to aid part-number consolidation efforts.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DataLever supports all of these initiatives by providing a platform for analyzing, manipulating and integrating data obtained from both relational and flat-file sources. DataLever's visual development environment makes it simple to integrate complex processing steps into the overall data flow of the warehouse load. For example, the language problem was originally thought to be intractable or at least very expensive. DataLever was able to provide a simple translation solution in which part descriptions are converted into English, making accurate categorization possible. In addition, DataLever's flexible approach to matching and entity identification helped us quickly integrate our supplier views into a unified whole and establish linkages from multiple part number databases. As a bonus, DataLever's interactive analyze/design cycle helped us to quickly visualize and react to data anomalies.

STRENGTHS: DataLever provides an intuitive and highly productive interface for constructing, testing and improving complex data transformations. Because of this, we were able to improve our time to rollout, reduce our implementation risk and improve project visibility by quickly meeting incremental project milestones and providing staged functionality to the business users. DataLever provides pre-built best- practice transforms in the form of "visual design macros" that we are free to alter and reuse to suit our own needs. For example, we found that DataLever's predefined business-match macro was very easy to tailor to meet our specific needs.

WEAKNESSES: We would have liked to handle the language- translation issues for Korean, Hungarian, Polish and Chinese within DataLever, but the current release is not equipped to handle those languages. DataLever plans a future upgrade to extend the available language capabilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The solution needed to support a staged, rapid rollout of solutions to complex data-transform problems. DataLever was the only data quality/data transformation vendor we found that could tackle a wide variety of issues in an integrated fashion: parsing, language translation, integration, currency conversion and business matching. In addition, the solution had to integrate with our chosen data warehousing platform (SQL Server).

DELIVERABLES: The main deliverables were the DataLever client and server software, services to construct the transforms and cleansing rules we needed, and creation of language-translation tables. DataLever also trained our technical staff in the use of the product.

VENDOR SUPPORT: DataLever provided excellent support and training for the duration of the project, using a combination of on-site training/consulting, off-site development of transforms and Web-based interactive support.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is extensive, very useful and quite necessary due to the breadth of the DataLever tool suite. Both end-user documentation and lower-level programming interface documentation were provided.

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