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GAF Materials Corporation Makes Smarter Business Decisions Faster with Applix

  • August 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

GAF Materials Corporation (GAFMC) is North America's largest roofing manufacturer, with more than $1.6 billion in annual sales. Its proud tradition of innovation and excellence has made it one of the most respected roofing manufacturers in the world with regular recognition and use by leading industry experts, including Life Magazine "Dream House," HGTV, and Builders and Remodelers (2001 study). Currently, GAFMC has more than 3,000 employees and is headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey.

With more than 25 locations across the country, GAFMC had a massive amount of data stored in disparate sales, operations and financial planning systems. The company needed a better way to get data out of its systems, integrate it and make smarter business decisions faster. Our systems were not interconnected, making it difficult for managers to make informed budgeting and forecasting decisions. Frustrated, we decided that we needed a new interconnected solution to allow our managers to make decisions in real time.

GAFMC had been using Applix TM1 for 12 years. The challenge was to take this implementation to the next level. We liked the TM1 interface, with its ease of use, tight integration with Excel and unmatched performance. When the company decided to beef up its budgeting and forecasting, there was no question which platform to choose: TM1 was already well received and understood within the company. There was no "buy versus build" decision - the company was definitive in its plans to build on top of its existing TM1 infrastructure. GAFMC turned to Applix business partner Revelwood for assistance in building the new applications.

GAFMC was able to import its legacy system information into Applix TM1 using Applix Turbo Integrator, a powerful ETL tool. GAFMC also pulls information from its Progress ERP database, which runs the Varnet application. In addition, GAFMC accesses its Oracle database through ODBC for a pricing and price sheet model. With the TM1 system and the applications built on top of it, we are able to look at information in a variety of different ways and are able to slice and dice it in whichever way is most beneficial to the manager who needs the information.

GAFMC's first step was to build the Financial Planning application on top of TM1. This module seemed to be the logical choice because its benefits were so immediate and far-reaching. Financial Planning helped to simplify the budgeting process and enabled users to make immediate decisions from the company's financial data.

Next, GAFMC added the Plant Reporting System (PRS) module. This module was necessary because the company's existing system wasn't able to do production reporting. The PRS module is now deployed at all 25 GAFMC locations.

Finally, GAFMC deployed the Sales Planning module, allowing territory managers to enter sales plans into TM1, and then slice and dice the information so that they can make immediate decisions concerning the sales process. It also allows them to view information, such as the "Top Ten Customers," which can be sorted by day, week or even customer profitability. This module has been up and running for a year and a half.

Users are able to interact with TM1 through a variety of ways: a cube browser, Excel and the Web using arcplan, which is an interface integrated with the TM1 solution. Currently, GAFMC is not accessing TM1 through mobile devices; however, we are looking at adopting that functionality in the near future. GAFMC is also exploring ways to expand our use of TM1 on the Internet.

These applications, together with TM1, intertwine the different divisions and allow managers to make decisions based on the aggregate of data, rather than the small slice that they had access to before. This new system also allowed GAFMC to comply with the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) industry standard, as it allows us to measure the effectiveness of plant equipment by tracking the various plants and their production rates.

Using the Applix TM1 platform has drastically changed the way that GAFMC makes its everyday business decisions. Employees now have information at their fingertips that they never had in the past. The CFO is able to pull up specific information in just a minute. In the past, that request would take several days to be answered.

The payback on GAFMC's TM1 investment was only about three months. In the future, we are looking at developing applications on customer service and logistics.

Applix's TM1, the world's best-performing OLAP engine, provides a collaborative, multiuser read/write solution for everyone from financial planners and analysts to line of business managers to executives. TM1 brings customers to the leading edge of analytics by transforming common tools such as Excel spreadsheets and Web browsers into a panoramic view of business operations.

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