BACKGROUND: iXL, Inc. is a leading strategic Internet services company that provides Internet strategy consulting and comprehensive Internet-based solutions to Fortune 1000 companies and other major international companies. The corporation is experiencing tremendous growth and has 1,343 employees in 20 cities worldwide. In early 1998, with its office integration activities increasing rapidly, iXL made a strategic decision to embrace OLAP and to deploy TM1.
PLATFORMS: iXL currently runs TM1 on Compaq servers using the Windows NT operating system.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Consolidated reporting is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Before TM1, end-of-month reporting was done manually by each company with almost 40 people working overtime to produce the individual financial statements. Today, TM1 allows iXL to easily generate consolidated, monthly, enterprise-wide performance reports. Manually created spreadsheets, and associated overtime, were eliminated.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TM1 provides a statutory consolidation system, a budget/forecasting system and a central data warehouse from which to disseminate management and other business-critical information. On a business level, the solution facilitates the corporation's integration strategy, provides an executive dashboard of performance metrics and integrates all units and staff within the enterprise. TM1's robust capabilities allow users to slice and dice information and perform calculations in real time from any location in the company. And, as TM1 is OLAP OLE DB compliant, iXL now has a standard multidimensional data warehouse that can interface with other tools inside the organization.
STRENGTHS: Fast deployment and no customized programming are two of TM1's strengths. Reports can be run anytime, even on an ad hoc basis; the underlying data can be used in "what-if" analysis. Also, because TM1 can be run on the server or standalone, the data is mobile - iXL executives can load GL information on laptops and do modeling, analyses and projects on the road. Moreover, any future company acquisitions can be integrated into the data warehouse in 30 days.
WEAKNESSES: Since the product is very flexible, proper setup requires a good understanding of the chart of accounts.
SELECTION CRITERIA: iXL chose TM1 because of an immediate, tactical need to support consolidated reporting across all the companies in the enterprise before going public. IXL also had a long-term, strategic objective to provide senior management with an effective executive information system and to develop an architecture on which to build a strategic data warehouse. The major advantages of this product over others in the marketplace are its speed of deployment and its ease of use.
DELIVERABLES: The solution supports data calls, queries, sensitivity and "what-if" analysis, ad hoc reporting, remote access, currency conversions and integration with spreadsheet programs. Regional managers can see their results in the corporate context - and share ideas on achieving success. Managers can see quickly that sales of a certain product are increasing or that the cost of goods sold is increasing or decreasing at a particular rate - anywhere in the enterprise. By integrating remote operating units, TM1 has helped iXL achieve both economies of scale and create the basis for enterprise-wide business intelligence. iXL produces numerous dashboard reports that take advantage of all the formatting features of Excel.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Applix has been very helpful in both pre- and post-implementation of the product. The vendor did a particularly excellent job assisting with streamlining and organizing our reporting process.
DOCUMENTATION: The manuals and on-line help are very useful. As with all software products, training is required.
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