CATEGORY: Analytic Applications
REVIEWER: Scott Colvin, business analyst for Eka Chemicals.
BACKGROUND: Eka Chemicals, a wholly owned business unit in the chemicals group of Akzo Nobel, has more than 2,800 employees worldwide and is represented in more than 25 countries. As a global leader in pulp technology and paper chemistry, Eka Chemicals manufactures and markets chemicals, systems and technology primarily for the pulp and paper industry.
PLATFORMS: The data mart is based on a Microsoft 2000 Advanced system. The J.D. Edwards World system is running on an AS/400.
PROBLEM SOLVED: The pulp and paper chemicals business is a highly competitive space. Two years ago, Eka Chemicals needed a means to effectively and easily harness the rich sales data being captured in the organization's J.D. Edwards World ERP system. Before we implemented Cognos Analytic Applications for J.D. Edwards, segmented sales information was incredibly difficult to extract from the ERP. We needed a flexible solution that would allow us to do the monthly, daily and ad hoc reporting demanded in our fast-paced business. We needed answers to sales questions in a business- critical time frame. Producing sales reports was an arduous process so slow that we often got monthly reports two weeks into the next month. Individual sales representative reports could take more than two weeks to create. We knew we needed an easier way to manipulate, analyze and report on the sales data in J.D. Edwards.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Cognos Analytic Applications are working extremely well for us. The sales reports that took two weeks to complete are now ready in less than two minutes with Cognos. We have the flexibility to take the information from J.D. Edwards and quickly report on it in any way we need. Eka Chemicals can now see how we are working with customers, and readily answer questions such as: What has the customer ordered? What has been the total business we have done with this customer? We can also easily look at all of our sales data by individual sales rep, region, product or customer. This easy and rapid reporting allows us to drive business insights across the entire organization. Now management and sales have access to information they simply could not get in a timely fashion or, in some cases, wouldn't have been able to get at all.
STRENGTHS: Cognos Analytic Applications is a prepackaged analytic application that addresses both the unique requirements of the line of business (sales, finance, procurement, inventory, etc.) while also addressing the technical nuances of our ERP environment. Cognos Analytic Applications for J.D. Edwards were purpose-built for that environment allowing for an out-of-box deployment that took less than 23 days. We were able to work closely with sales and management to create a solution that gave them answers to their sales questions and reflected the needs of our business.
WEAKNESSES: There is so much depth in the Cognos solution from reporting, to OLAP to data mart functionality that it can be difficult to grasp, particularly if you are a novice business intelligence user.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The premier solutions partner, Sky Technologies, was able to demonstrate a solution with our own data in literally one day, something that the other considered solutions couldn't have addressed in weeks. Our relationship with Sky Technologies and Cognos has been extremely high-touch. They have really delivered for us at every stage of the relationship and worked to build a solution that has transformed our sales process.
DELIVERABLES: There are three production Cognos PowerPlay cubes: open orders, distribution and invoices. We report on the basis of each rep, by region and customer, so there are hundreds of created reports. Some of the main monthly reports are available for wider corporate distribution across our intranet.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Sky Technologies was been our deployment partner and continues to bring both the necessary domain expertise as well as Cognos experience to the table. Sky has been a true business partner, working with us closely to create a solution that is tailor-made for our environment. The best part of the experience is in knowing that there is a tremendous breadth of options to grow this solution across our organization.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is comprehensive. I really think you could use the product without documentation. My background isn't technical, and I've always found the solution to be very intuitive.
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