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GHS Satisfies Need for Advanced Query Capabilities with Databeacon

  • October 01 2002, 1:00am EDT

CATEGORY: Query & Reporting and OLAP

REVIEWER: Jason Skeffington, systems analyst and DBA/project manager for the data processing development team at GHS.

BACKGROUND: In business for more than 24 years, GHS offers many data solutions including data processing and analysis, pharmacy claims processing, data capture and forms processing, and document and image archival and retrieval. As a pharmacy services administration organization, we provide online prescription processing for pharmacy benefits for the State of Maine and private companies. We provide aggressive cost- savings solutions through our pharmacy data analysis and consulting services.

PLATFORMS: Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server with IIS 5.0 sp2.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The challenge we faced is that our analyst group was getting bogged down with requests for basic aggregated information on costs and volume on pharmacy claims data. We needed something that would allow us to shed the simple requests and alleviate our request volume so that our data analyst group could concentrate on more high-end analysis. However, we still wanted the tool to have advanced query capabilities in formulas and filtering in order to satisfy the more advanced query needs of our analysts and "power users." Our goal was to provide an easy-to-use interface for non- analyst end users so they could get answers to questions and make reports themselves. We needed a fast, portable, Web-based front-end solution to connect to our MSOLAP database. It didn't need to be browser specific, but we preferred it to be Java-based. Databeacon solved that. Databeacon allows us to put a tool in the hands of those asking the questions. Now they can get answers for themselves. This, in turn, has provided great advancement in the service we are able to provide for our customers. With this tool we are able to analyze aggregate figures quickly, see data trends and advance to the next level. This has proven to be a real time-saver. By saving time, our analysts can concentrate on providing our customers with more sophisticated analysis. Online reporting also became a contract requirement with more than one of our clients. Databeacon has allowed us to fulfill this requirement and remain competitive in the market we serve. We also didn't want the chosen front-end solution to be exorbitantly priced, which we found with most other products.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The Databeacon user interface is simple and straightforward to use, and implementation time was lightning-fast. The product is very flexible and well-documented. Since it was set up, it has worked perfectly ­ without the need for maintenance. It is highly dynamic, so when we make changes to our OLAP database, whether new dimensions or new data, the changes are automatically seen and implemented in the user interface upon refresh.

STRENGTHS: Portability ­ Our experience with it has shown that you can use it with any Java-compliant browser. Flexibility ­ Data and even database structure changes are automatically implemented without the need for any UI reprogramming. There are also many customizable settings that allow different variations in your Web presentation. You can change the look and feel of the interface and how the Java interface object is embedded in your HTML page. The product is also easy to use.

WEAKNESSES: Not all of the value- added features available in Databeacon's OLAP solution are available in the MSOLAP solution; however, they are compliant with MSOLAP standards. I would also like it if Databeacon had an enterprise solution similar to the other products we looked at with advanced data analysis capabilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Our strategy required a user interface that was Web-based and non-browser specific that would dynamically interface with MSOLAP. While most of the other enterprise-wide products offer other advanced analysis features, you lose some of the flexibility that we required.

DELIVERABLES: Databeacon provides an easy-to-use, open-ended, pivot- table-like interface to our OLAP data cubes. It provides our non-analyst end users with a simple, drag-and-drop interface to our database. This puts the tools and the data right in their hands. This saves our data analyst group multiple person-hours of answering simple questions. Added features in Databeacon allow users to save their custom views and export data into multiple formats for off-line reporting and analysis.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Databeacon's support has been consistent and excellent both before and after implementation. They respond very promptly no matter what the degree of severity may be. They are knowledgeable, courteous and helpful.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is excellent! It is so well composed that calls for support are rarely necessary.

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