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Morningstar Foods Gets Information When They Need It, Where They Need It

  • July 01 2007, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: James Midd McManus, senior director of Sales Operations for Morningstar Foods.

BACKGROUND: Morningstar Foods is a multimillion-dollar division of Dean Foods involved in producing private-label dairy products, such as ice cream mix, half and half, whipping cream, aerosol and portion-controlled coffee creamers.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: IBM BPCS legacy system, PCs and laptops running Windows OS.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Before Sales Discovery System (SDS), we had no way to provide actionable information to our users, particularly those in a highly mobile environment who need this data in a portable mode. Additionally, many of our users needed something that was robust yet simple to use. We had seen and used other products in the past, but they were either too complex or not portable enough for what we needed. We wanted our users to be able to mine the data on their own, rather than just produce static reports for them. A simpler, more portable means of disseminating data so it could be converted into actionable information was needed.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: As a direct result of bringing in SDS, we have given our users an easy way to get the information they want, when they want it. During implementation, we sat down with IRM and defined our requirements and needs. It was great that we didn't have to change the ways we talked about or ran our business. SDS is so configurable it looks as if it was built just for us. Now we can easily drill into our data and convert it into actionable information across our enterprise. Anyone with any level of computer/technology skills can easily learn how to use it. Not only has this freed up our mission-critical IT resources to focus on other projects, it has empowered our users to get to the information they need, when they need it. Now, our organization is more efficient and effective as a result of unlocking all this data and giving our users access to the power of this information.

STRENGTHS: SDS is used daily by most of our users. Its key strengths are clearly portability and ease of use. We also found that IRM's ability to customize the tool to fit the way we look at our business is valuable.

WEAKNESSES: The printing function is quite basic, but I suppose that the intention is to not have to print much anyway, and we really don't. Also, previous versions limited the analysis to a grid with numbers. Sometimes, the ability to see the data in other ways can help users see things more clearly. Now with SDS 6.0, IRM has added data visualization that allows our users to actually drill down into charts and graphs, which makes the information much more visually appealing.

SELECTION CRITERIA: After reviewing a number of offerings, we went with SDS because it was easy to use, portable and got us what we needed at a very good price. Due to their subscription model, we just pay a fee per user per month and can cancel anytime. We couldn't figure out why not to choose SDS. Basically, they removed every obstacle and left us with a relatively easy decision.

DELIVERABLES: SDS provides us with the ability to retrieve information on the fly and make better, more timely business decisions as a result. We are always referring to SDS throughout our business day and have come to rely heavily on it as part of what we do to succeed. We are continuously finding new ways to extract value and meaning from the data that goes into SDS. It's given us what we wanted and needed.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Our experience with IRM on the SDS implementation was excellent. They were very proactive and made us feel as if we were important. They delivered on all promises and still stay in constant contact  to ensure we are satisfied and getting whatever we need. They generally don't wait for us to call them and definitely know how to take care of their customers.

DOCUMENTATION: IRM provides documentation via the help screens in the product itself as well as great training and help desk support. Additionally, they have the Training Resource Center, where users can go to see short videos with audio clips on various functionalities.

Sales Discovery System
IRM Corporation
14901 Quorum Drive
Suite 200
Dallas, TX 75254
(972) 715-4000

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