BACKGROUND: Levy Restaurants is a Chicago-based, privately held company that currently operates a diverse range of 50 premier food service units throughout 18 national and international markets.

PLATFORMS: Levy uses Scribe Integrate on an NT server and connects to data sources that include Oracle8 and Sybase 11.5.1.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Levy needed to improve the method of handling invoices from our remote locations. The process involved invoices being received at these locations (approximately 12,000 per period), shipped to the corporate office and manually keyed into our accounting system. This process was time-consuming, costly and led to long delays in both data availability and reporting. The goal was to streamline the invoice entry process and reduce the time required for invoice posting into the accounts payable (AP) system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Scribe Integrate provided a platform where we could design "hands-off" data integration to handle invoice data from remote locations. Invoices are entered into a back-office system at the remote locations, extracted and delivered through daily polling to the corporate office. Upon arrival of the invoice data, Scribe Integrate manages data validation through an adapter (developed by Scribe), integration and error reporting. The product has the flexibility to validate data in real time against our financial application with the use of Scribe's adapter. The validation includes checking for valid supplier information, GL account number distribution, duplicate invoices and active periods. Scribe Integrate also handles data completion by either supplying a value in the specification or using supplied functions to do database lookups to supply values. The majority of Levy's invoices contain multiple detail distribution lines to a single header record. Scribe Integrate handles these records through its break group functionality. Invoice processing has been streamlined to a process where invoices are posted into the accounting system within 24 hours after initial entry. Manual invoice handling has been streamlined to acceptable levels which has allowed Levy to position several AP personnel to more valuable positions within our organization. Because of Scribe Integrate's demonstrated flexibility and functionality, numerous other projects can use this product.

STRENGTHS: Scribe Integrate's primary strength is its easy-to-use interface. The graphical layout, showing tables and fields in easy-to-understand relationships, makes this tool easy to learn. While understanding of table layouts and database terminology is helpful, it is certainly not required. The linking of fields and selection of data integration methods generate all necessary SQL statements behind the scenes. The ability to see data in a test mode is helpful. The new features in release 2.0 (bulk loading, setting commit levels, remote access to the Event Manager Console and a shared report database, and custom error messaging) are all substantial improvements to previous versions. This is an easy-to-learn and implement solution that IT and other departments will appreciate.

WEAKNESSES: Scribe Integrate lacks native support for Sybase or Informix, although it does supply native support for Oracle and SQL Server. Connection to these non-native databases is done through ODBC, which causes some performance problems. However, this issue does not outweigh Integrate's overall product strength. Scribe Integrate also has e-mail notification of job completion, but support for e-mail systems other than Microsoft Exchange is lacking.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Levy selected Scribe Integrate because of its flexibility to provide a platform from which numerous interface and integration projects could be developed. Levy also considered Scribe as a partner and found their culture to be a good fit for Levy. A major factor that separated Scribe from the competition was Scribe's understanding of Levy's data integration needs. Scribe provided a cost-effective (coupled with outstanding service), easy-to-use solution.

DELIVERABLES: The new centralized reporting available in version 2.0 provides basic reporting of errors, job execution and job history.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Scribe Integrate offers direct support that includes training, consulting and custom programming. The expertise and responsiveness of their staff is a benchmark that all software vendors should be measured against.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation for version 2.0 is straightforward and easy to understand. There are meaningful examples and a glossary written in "English" which will help non-DBAs through the jungle of databases.

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