REVIEWER: M. Scott Stevens, technical architect for Cingular Wireless.

BACKGROUND: Cingular Wireless is the second-largest wireless carrier in the United States with over 20 million mobile phone and wireless data customers in 38 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.

PLATFORMS: HP 9000/800/N4000-36 HP-UX B.11.00 Production, HP 9000/800/N4000-55 HP-UX B.11.00 Production, HP 9000/800/K580 HP-UX B.11.00 Production, HP 9000/893/T600 HP-UX B.11.00 Test/PET/QA.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Cingular Wireless was using SAR from Computer Associates on the mainframe to distribute financial reports to selected users, but the business requirements of transitioning to a UNIX-based billing system and expanding distribution to more users made it necessary for a platform-independent report management solution. Through the implementation of Quest Software Vista Plus, not only does Cingular have an immediate solution, but also a powerful enterprise information management system with advanced functionality that will enable the implementation of future requirements.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Vista Plus provides users with a new approach to accessing reports and other corporate information. Instead of having users learn multiple applications and constantly impacting production databases with identical queries, Vista Plus aggregates reports created by many different applications as well as electronic documents (scanned images, spreadsheets, etc.) and stores them in a central repository. Information is presented to users through the use of the Vista Plus Windows or Java client. Because of the ability to secure information at the page level, reports can be run and captured. Users will only see the information they have permission to view. As Cingular integrates acquired companies or deploys Vista Plus to larger audiences, it can incorporate new reports with little or no hardship to end users or administrators. Vista Plus allows Cingular to standardize report formats, thereby decreasing the time it takes to get new reports to end users. Cingular's development team creates the report once using the "report standard" and then sends it to Vista Plus; administrators don't even touch it. Because all reports of the same type look alike, this has the added bonus of creating a seamless transition to users as Cingular integrates disparate databases, ERP systems and/or custom applications. With Vista Plus' ability to aggregate all of the reports, end users can easily work with data from different applications without having to understand how to use the applications themselves.

STRENGTHS: The strength of Vista Plus lies in its ability to aggregate reports and electronic documents. No longer is it necessary to train report recipients on multiple applications. Also, with the ability to present all information through an easy-to-use interface, end users now perform their jobs more effectively, and administrative overhead is greatly reduced.

WEAKNESSES: Often, people don't understand the value proposition a product like Vista Plus provides. Without knowledge of how the product can save money or increase efficiency, it might be overlooked. In fact, Vista Plus was already being used by another unit within Cingular.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our selection of Vista Plus was based on our pre-existing relationship and satisfaction with Quest Software and the ability of the product to be implemented in a matter of days. None of the competitors' products could be implemented so quickly.

DELIVERABLES: Users view reports online in the same formats as the corresponding printed reports, but in less time. They can then search, annotate, extract, download and locally print just the pages they want. With SmartAlarms, users can be automatically notified when a report is captured and available for viewing.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Technical support and professional services are behind Vista Plus 100 percent. Support calls are knowledgeably answered in a timely manner. Also, the professional services group is available to customize the implementation to each customer's unique needs.

DOCUMENTATION: From comprehensive end-user and administrator manuals to online help and laminated pocket guides, we have been able to quickly get the system up and running and ensure the success of Vista Plus. In addition, we purchased the optional computer-based training (CBT) which allows users to get basic, self-paced training at their desktops. The CBT runs as a standalone CD or across a network and includes screen shots, video clips and multimedia demonstrations to give users all the information they need to operate the product.

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