REVIEWER: David Lifschitz, CIO and CFO for Gehr Enterprises.
BACKGROUND: Gehr Enterprises is a privately held multinational business consisting of a group of companies under common ownership in three continents. The group is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with businesses engaged in manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, direct marketing, international trade and real estate.
PLATFORMS: Gehr Enterprises runs KCI CONTROL on an Oracle database.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Gehr Enterprises has multiple divisions and subsidiaries in a variety of markets. Because we serve many industries and have a diverse customer base, we face the challenge of coalescing various systems in order to track, measure and evaluate key metrics and proactively manage performance. Gehr was primarily using Excel to import data from various applications, which was a tedious, time-consuming, multispreadsheet process that often resulted in data that was fragmented, outdated and suboptimal for critical decision-making. KCI proved that CONTROL, right out of the box, could tap into voluminous amounts of disparate data, dynamically consolidate it and give us the key financial and operating indicators needed - how and when we wanted them. CONTROL provided us with the ability to tap into the source applications and drill down to the most detailed level, even to an actual line item on a given invoice. We are now able to look at our business from every conceivable perspective in near real time, do sophisticated analysis, pinpoint risks and opportunities, forecast and distribute information to the people who are actually managing the business day to day.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: CONTROL has rich functionality for every financial management challenge - planning, analysis, what-if modeling, forward-looking projections and reporting. It provides a single repository of business rules and data that all functions and processes can share and leverage. The unified design and structure make it easy and fast to deploy, manage and scale, and assure us integrity. Equally important, CONTROL has a familiar Excel-based interface. Plus, CONTROL processes metadata changes, such as adding a new cost center or metric, immediately and automatically through the hierarchy and associated models. This enables us to keep pace with our evolving needs and, ultimately, provides Gehr with the best ROI.
STRENGTHS: CONTROL is totally dynamic, flexible and scalable. It has very sophisticated data integration and data transformation capabilities. It provides a common structure with common data, results and transparency, eliminating uncertainty and enabling managers to collaborate and make sound, accurate business decisions. Critical questions and insights that might take weeks or months to get answered or discern with our previous system now take hours or even minutes using CONTROL.
WEAKNESSES: CONTROL does not have interactive data visualization graphical controls such as gauges and automated proactive alerts. These would be nice additions. These features are currently in the works with KCI.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Gehr researched a number of leading packages with the goal of finding a unified solution that fostered a dynamic, strategically and tactically connected approach for managing performance - while still maintaining a level of user friendliness that would appeal to a nontechnical staff. Additionally, we wanted a solution that leveraged our current systems, including complete integration with Excel. CONTROL met all of these requirements.
DELIVERABLES: We implemented CONTROL in approximately four weeks. CONTROL immediately helped us trim our multidivisional budgeting cycle from three months to three weeks. We can now efficiently access operational data from each of the company's divisions in real time, proactively analyze and forecast. The system's key benefit is that it helps Gehr predict peaks and valleys in our cash needs, so the organization can time its borrowing. This capability has enabled us to lock more borrowings into lower-cost instruments. As a result, the company has reduced its borrowing costs by 10 percent.
VENDOR SUPPORT: KCI did an excellent job of delivering exact requirements on time and within budget. They have demonstrated the expertise and depth needed to handle our concerns in a timely manner and continue to provide excellent support.
DOCUMENTATION: KCI provided extensive and thorough manuals to support the application.
KCI Computing Inc.
3625 Del Amo Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90503
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