REVIEWER: Tom Palmer, director of Premier, with David Palmer, consultant from LightPoint Technologies.

BACKGROUND: Premier, Inc., is a strategic alliance in U.S. healthcare, entirely owned by more than 200 of the nation's leading hospital and healthcare systems. These systems operate or are affiliated with nearly 1,500 hospital facilities and hundreds of other healthcare sites. Premier provides an array of resources supporting health services delivery, including group purchasing for more than $17 billion annually in supplies and equipment. Other resources offered by Premier are supply chain and clinical performance improvement services and insurance programs.

PLATFORMS: Premier is running arcplan dynaSight on Windows 2000, accessing information in Netezza. Users access dynaSight through Internet Explorer browsers on Windows clients.

PROBLEM SOLVED: With arcplan dynaSight, Premier quickly designed and deployed an interactive, visually pleasing dashboard solution for internal analysts and member hospitals' purchasing departments wanting to improve their supply chain operations. Premier's executives and analysts identified the need for better reporting and online access to data, as static reports and spreadsheets simply did not produce effective reporting or analysis. In addition, hospital materials managers demanded more advance reporting of actionable information in response to tighter budgets. dynaSight enabled Premier to deploy a highly secure and customized dashboard to multiple internal and external users. The application's users required detail and transactional level views of information in an easy-to-use format - and all with excellent response times using a relational database. The new solution enables the hospital purchasing departments to understand where they are spending their supply dollars and determine if there are areas for improvement, such as recognizing possibilities to consolidate purchases.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Premier has accomplished a lot with a small development team, and user acceptance is high. The drag-and-drop development platform facilitated rapid design, development and deployment, resulting in a dynamic front-end solution that accesses information in relational databases with write-back functionality.

STRENGTHS: dynaSight is technically superior when it comes to easily creating customized, interactive dashboards. It provides rapid development of any kind of business intelligence application, and its flexibility makes changes and modifications a snap. It connects to multiple data sources and integrates custom SQL statements to optimize performance. The ability to write back and do complex modeling helps Premier deliver actionable areas of targeted analysis on the hospitals' spending.

WEAKNESSES: The object management function of dynaSight needs improvements to allow the developer to more easily manage the development environment. However, arcplan recently announced that object management functionality will be included in an upcoming release of the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated many leading business intelligence organizations and their offerings, but arcplan's professional services organization and favorable business practices impressed the entire evaluation team by displaying the company's unique approach to customer service. As for technology, dynaSight easily integrated with Premier's existing data-level security tools and Internet security system, ensuring data is viewed only by those with specified access. It also integrated with the existing environment of various databases and BI tools.

DELIVERABLES: The development team was able to build the new application, including the back-end database in 90 days, which allowed Premier to deliver valuable reporting and analyses to its members. Just one development person was needed to develop and maintain the dashboards, which serve hundreds of users.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Premier is impressed with the arcplan service team. Their training programs and application examples gave us a jump start on learning and then using the platform. Best of all, Premier feels it receives the best of a top niche business intelligence organization that is customer focused and innovative, yet provides a mature technology.

DOCUMENTATION: dynaSight is easy to learn and use, and arcplan's online help application works well when needed. It is comprehensive and easily accessible.

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