CATEGORY: Analytic Applications

REVIEWER: Jon Bennett, applications administrator for EzGov.

BACKGROUND: EzGov, Inc. is the e-government technology specialist, providing software and services that enable governments to better serve constituents. With its FlexFoundation technology, EzGov has developed software tailored specifically to meet the unique e-government needs of federal, state and local agency customers. EzGov is based in Atlanta, Georgia, with offices in Amsterdam and London.

PLATFORMS: Crystal Enterprise from Crystal Decisions is running on Windows 2000. EzGov's data sources are Siebel and Microsoft (MS) Project, on Oracle. Siebel is running on Windows NT with MS Project and databases on Sun servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: E-government companies must provide efficient solutions that produce tangible benefits to government agencies. EzGov's Web-enabled software and services did that by introducing clients to the potential of the Internet. To facilitate market penetration, EzGov wanted to fine-tune its formula for success ­– customized solutions that meet clients' needs, provide excellent service and facilitate strategic partner relationships –­ by investing in a Siebel CRM solution. Striving to further enhance its Siebel solution, EzGov turned to Crystal Decisions to fill a reporting vacuum with a solution that leveraged its Siebel investment and provided a Web-enabled, robust information delivery solution. This led to the creation of a new performance management dashboard that's improving corporate decision making, productivity, cost reduction and profit margins.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Crystal Enterprise provides a global information management solution that allows users to share information across the enterprise for the first time. It also delivers self-serve access to Siebel data right from the desktop using a simple Web browser. This reduced demands on EzGov's IT department and improved its productivity. Now the company is maximizing the value of its CRM data and cutting costs. For example, service coordinators and sales managers no longer request Siebel queries from IT, and sales managers don't need to manipulate multiple Excel spreadsheets –­ saving time and improving their ability to manage sales projections for outstanding opportunities. Crystal Decisions allows EzGov to easily combine data from different sources, heralding a paradigm shift in data accessibility for the company. Reports that pull real-time information from both Siebel and MS Project Central allow the company to more accurately estimate project resources, track hours to reduce overruns and increase profit margins. The drag-and-drop reporting capabilities and flexible formatting of Crystal Reports allowed EzGov to easily develop reports using the customized fields it added to Siebel to link it to the company's Rational ClearQuest software. As a result, the company is improving customer service and product enhancement.

STRENGTHS: Crystal Decisions' Crystal Enterprise Solution Kit for Siebel provided the key to unlocking EzGov's CRM data, obviating the need for developers to go into the database tables and link them individually.

WEAKNESSES: Crystal Decisions Strategic Alliances group helped solve some initial installation and connection difficulties.

SELECTION CRITERIA: EzGov based its choice on previous experience and satisfaction with Crystal Reports. The company also preferred Crystal Decisions for its intuitive developer toolset, drag-and-drop reporting capabilities and the product's front-end, Windows-based GUI, which the company felt would reduce training time and facilitate user adoption. Finally, EzGov chose Crystal Decisions because it provided a scalable, enterprise-wide platform, offering e-business intelligence potential to the entire company.

DELIVERABLES: EzGov took advantage of the product's e-business intelligence potential by using it as a base for a new performance management dashboard. The dashboard enables the company to articulate goals, measure performance and take steps to improve outcomes in all departments ­– something previously not possible.

VENDOR SUPPORT: I have had very good response from the Crystal Decisions tech support and development teams. They have promptly resolved issues and helped to implement bug fixes.

DOCUMENTATION: Crystal Enterprise includes comprehensive documentation on all aspects of the product. There are also very useful articles in the online knowledge base and technical updates.

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