REVIEWER: Tom Orr, data warehouse project leader for Biomet, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Biomet, Inc. and its subsidiaries design, manufacture and market products used primarily by orthopedic medical specialists in both surgical and nonsurgical therapy. Biomet has corporate headquarters in Warsaw, Indiana, and manufacturing and/or office facilities in more than 25 locations worldwide.

PLATFORMS: Graphical Performance Series (GPS), a business intelligence solution and analytical application, is integrated to our MAPICS XA ERP system. MAPICS is running on an IBM AS/400. GPS consists of several client/server and Web modules running on the AS/400 and Windows.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Sales data needed to answer information requests from the marketing, sales and financial departments often was either not readily available or time-consuming to gather. Information available in MAPICS was hard to access and usually required writing custom SQL queries. The subsequent reports often raised questions that led to additional custom SQL queries. Information was also being gathered manually from many sources. Business users required more detailed analysis. Biomet groups its thousands of products by large groups, smaller families and, finally, by specific product identification. While information was available at a high level (group level), it was not readily available at the family or specific group level.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Implementation of GPS is taking place in two phases. Phase I, which is complete, uses the GPS Customer/ Product Analytics module for MAPICS to provide analysis of sales information to key users in sales, marketing and finance. GPS users receive cubes of information containing all information needed to sort, reformat, summarize and view the information from various angles to perform detailed sales analysis. Additionally, sales information is available summarized at the highest item group level and also at a more detailed level of item family and item. Biomet can also easily review year-to-date information for one year using GPS date comparison options. GPS was quickly installed and validated. Using off-the- shelf GPS Analytics for MAPICS shortened the validation process. The popularity of GPS quickly spread throughout Biomet due to the ease of use and flexible analysis capabilities. At the beginning of the GPS rollout, the project leader produced a dozen cubes per month. He now produces a dozen or more cubes per day. GPS is already providing return on investment for the business users. One user previously relied upon five sources when compiling an executive sales report. That project took approximately 80 hours and was done on a quarterly, rather than monthly, basis. GPS provides the same information in about a half hour. Phase II includes rolling out to additional users, making use of GPS's WebClient and eDeployment functionality and extending to additional GPS analytical modules (financials and manufacturing).

STRENGTHS: The strength of GPS is in its integration to MAPICS. The Vanguard people know MAPICS and support not only GPS, but also the integration of GPS to MAPICS. GPS also provides an open architecture which allows the addition of information from other ERP systems. GPS is very intuitive, easy to use and has required little training.

WEAKNESSES: In some instances, the processing time to run a cube has been substantial. Part of the problem resides in the processing speed of the existing PCs at Biomet and part of the problem is due to GPS. The latest version of GPS, released early this year, is said to have corrected much of the problem.

SELECTION CRITERIA: GPS was selected from several business intelligence solutions for three key reasons: its integration to MAPICS, the level of experience of the Vanguard staff and their ability to provide support of the integration, and our ability to bring in data from other source systems (such as our subsidiaries and distributors).

DELIVERABLES: The Phase I focus relates to sales information such as average selling price and revenues by group/family/region/distributor. Current information is compared to the same time period last year on a single view, and variances are highlighted. In addition, several sales and marketing promotions are being analyzed to determine expected revenues.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vanguard gave a custom GPS demonstration with our own data which allowed us to see the types of information and analysis their product offered. Following the purchase, Vanguard conducted training seminars on site. Most helpful, however, has been their continued support. Their help line answers the questions or finds the answers and returns our call. They have been very customer-service focused.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and allows us to understand how the product works.

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