REVIEWER: Doug Burke, senior manager, Financial Analytics for International Rectifier.

BACKGROUND: International Rectifier (IRF), founded 1947, is the oldest dedicated semiconductor manufacturer in the world and has more than $700 million in annual revenue. IRF provides enabling technologies for products that work smarter, run cooler and raise the world's productivity-per-watt. The world's largest industry is electronics; and over the long term, global demand for power electronics makes IRF's role more important and our contribution more valuable. IRF is powering the next generation of servers and computers, cars, satellites and home appliances.

PLATFORMS: Windows 2000 operating systems on Compaq servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: International Rectifier has operations all over the world. As the company grew, it became difficult to manage the increasing volumes of sales and financial data. We needed an information tool that provides worldwide shared data access for all designated company employees and provides "one picture of the truth." The solution needed to be flexible enough to be used by the executive and analyst audiences, have a fast response time and use existing data files to minimize development time.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Since implementing Hyperion Essbase XTD, International Rectifier has been able to create a cohesive data warehouse used by multiple user audiences around the company. Our initial applications used existing bookings, billings, backlog and inventory data files in a centralized data mart that was shared by worldwide users. Essbase has allowed us to eliminate many homegrown "stovepipe" databases kept by individual users on their desktop PCs. Now all users draw from the same pool of cleansed information via an intuitive Excel interface. People spend more time on data analysis instead of just data collection. This enables the company to manage its growth and compete more effectively in the semiconductor market.

STRENGTHS: Hyperion Essbase XTD allows for very quick detailed analysis of data by global users. It has a scalable architecture and very intuitive user interface (Microsoft Excel and third-party tools such as Temtec "Executive Viewer"). It also has straightforward setup and application development and fast response time for users. Additionally, the product has a very loyal and interactive user audience (visit the message boards for a sample) with many third-party tools available to extend the usefulness.

WEAKNESSES: Some of the new releases contain software bugs that do not allow for seamless upgrades. These should be tested better before release to ensure that upgrades can be counted on to go smoothly.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Major reasons for selecting the product were its ability to share data using the common Excel interface and its ability for rapid application development. The major advantage over other products is that the Excel interface makes user training very quick. Also, the product is generally very stable and feature-rich.

DELIVERABLES: Hyperion Essbase XTD provides daily financial reports to the executive team, financial data modeling, quarter-end operational reports, ad hoc analysis of disparate corporate data, and it feeds into our Finance Web Portal.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Hyperion was very supportive to us during pre- and post-implementation. They are continually improving the product and always provide more functionality in new releases. The best part of working with the vendor is that the people seem to genuinely like the Essbase XTD product and its capabilities. They have built a cult following of Essbase devotees around the world (sort of like the Apple Macintosh crowd).

DOCUMENTATION: They deserve credit ­ Hyperion's documentation is very comprehensive and easy to understand. I actually read their Essbase Administrator Guide, found it to be extremely well done and could run the product with it. This is a refreshing change because most user manuals from software vendors are not helpful or well written.

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