CATEGORY: Business Intelligence
REVIEWER: Dana Gilman, vice president, product planning and business analysis for Miles Kimball.
BACKGROUND: In business since 1935, Miles Kimball is a leading direct marketer of consumer gifts and household products with operations in Wisconsin and Nevada. In 2002, the company mailed more than 55 million catalogs to households across the nation and realized more than $120 million in sales. Charged with the ongoing success of the company, the Miles Kimball leadership team sought emerging Web and database technology to move the company forward. Old spreadsheet technology was no match for the wealth of information the company collected in our customer resource management system.
PLATFORMS: Windows 2000, XP, NT.
PROBLEM SOLVED: My team is responsible for a continuous "balancing act" to keep inventory as low as possible without adversely affecting order fulfillment. Key performance targets are set by each division planner. Previous catalog cycles are assessed for what worked and what didn't, and then informed pricing and product strategy is shared with "merchants" who build the next issue. We were hungry to get at information in real time. Geac Performance Management gives Miles Kimball an analytical view of marketing, sales and margin data by category, division and SKU. Our merchandising managers track sales for each item and drill down to detail information when corrective action is needed. Getting data into the hands of the decision-makers on a daily basis is a huge step forward. Geac Performance Management gives us the ability to identify problems and trends quickly so we can adapt our strategy to meet demand.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Our biggest business challenge is staying ahead of the competition by offering the most popular items at the best price. Geac Performance Management can be designed to help meet that challenge and will also play a major role in making sure that we have the right product at the right time another key to the company's success. In addition, we can create efficiencies in our labor force by having the right people with the necessary skill sets in place to be successful. Long term, Geac Performance Management will provide everyone with a daily, real-time understanding of the business, and a way to track our success while helping us manage the business better.
STRENGTHS: Geac Performance Management combines the best attributes that technology and business practices can provide in a single system. The application empowers managers with information. Geac Performance Management is the means to a major culture shift at Miles Kimball. Users have the flexibility to slice and dice data in different ways so they can be true analysts not data gatherers. Geac Performance Management can be molded to answer the questions we need answered.
WEAKNESSES: Time functionality requires a roll-up of all dates into the year. This can be time- consuming when comparing year over year or month over month because it has to be either calculated for the given month or year or scripted to allow users to select the time periods they want to compare. However, the relational database of Geac Performance Management simplifies this functionality, making it easy for an end user to write these reports.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Geac Performance Management was the only solution that could offer the enterprise-wide reporting and analysis functionality the company required. It also centralizes company data and integrates key functions including planning, forecasting, budgeting and management reporting and analysis.
DELIVERABLES: Geac Performance Management provides easy online access to information; user-driven reporting and Excel integration for increased productivity; automated, built-in exception alerts for proactive decision- making; and forecasting capabilities for better inventory control and resource management. The new system's design includes customized key performance tracking by department that is updated daily. Learning from our past successes and failures allows us to move forward with confidence in our strategy. Geac Performance Management empowers us with that capability and is the single source of real-time information we can use to forecast and track orders so we are staffed appropriately. We plan to deploy Geac Performance Management's strategy module to each department so strategic goals, tactics and metrics can be intertwined in the company's day-to-day operations.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Geac employs excellent consultants. They take their role of knowledge transfer to the customer very seriously. At the end of phase one, we had the skills necessary to proceed on our own to continue development.
DOCUMENTATION: Online documentation, as well as what was provided during training, has proved invaluable. From that, we are able to create and deliver our own end-user training, customizing it to our application.
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