REVIEWER: Elaine Ritchie, director of information technology for New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. manufactures and markets apparel and width-sized footwear for men, women and children.

PLATFORMS: New Balance extracts data from the AS/400 and uses Dimensional Insight
DI- Diver on the NT Platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: New Balance was faced with the problem of printed reports from the ERP system not providing enough information due to lack of ad hoc capability. We solved this problem by implementing DI-Diver as our business intelligence solution. People always needed reports for specific accounts, products, divisions, sales reps, etc., sorted in various ways. We would have to compare it with other information to figure out what happened. With DI-Diver, New Balance eliminated one fourth of printed reports, all special one-time reports and a large percent of the backlog of new report requests.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With DI- Diver, New Balance is able to successfully analyze previous shoe styles and predict what customers will need in normal, wide and narrow widths for the new, updated styles. The sales department uses DI-Diver to focus on channels of distribution, which enforces selling the breadth of the line into the majority of the accounts, rather than selling a hot style. The marketing department uses DI-Diver for sales forecasts, planning and to initiate new styles. The finance department uses DI-Diver to analyze discounts, predict sales for the next few months and track the integrity of open orders. Now that New Balance has witnessed the power, speed, flexibility and ease of use with DI-Diver, we plan to take advantage of Dimensional Insight's scalable architecture and expand with DI-WebDiver, a 100 percent Java interactive Web-client that allows information to be shared via the World Wide Web.

STRENGTHS: DI- Diver is an exceptionally easy-to-use tool and a great product for the end user. Implementation was very fast. People are learning a lot about all of the information contained within the company because DI-Diver empowers everyone to be much more productive, making business decisions quicker and more effectively. DI-Diver permeates all aspects of financial operations including inventory analysis, P&L forecasts, business segmentation and analysis, accounts receivable exposure, purchase price analysis and control, etc. Since DI-Diver's implementation, New Balance has clearly seen a return on investment; some of the return can be measured by recovering incorrect billings promptly, while others are a result of holding down expenses. These expenses include the software costs of seats on the ERP system as well as human resources within finance and operations.

WEAKNESSES: One of the main problems that New Balance is facing using DI-Diver is that users are not able to create simple models from Excel.

SELECTION CRITERIA: When New Balance began its research for a business intelligence solution, it was imperative that the product was user-friendly and implementation was speedy and efficient. After seeing a demo of Dimensional Insight's product, New Balance selected it because of how simple it was to use and how quickly changes could be made. Implementation was very fast, and New Balance was able to build our first two data models in one night. A pilot team of department managers was given access to the models, and for the first time they had immediate visibility into the data. This ease of use and implementation gave Dimensional Insight a decided advantage over other products in the marketplace.

DELIVERABLES: From their desktops, users are able to access the most recent version of models from a corporate "DiveBook," and they have visibility into the data which they can analyze as needed. From that analysis, they can create reports, a variety of charts and graphs or generate maps.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Dimensional Insight had provided the best vendor support that we have had in pre- and post-implementation. They are quick to resolve our issues and to answer any question we present. They have facilities close to ours and are willing to bring their top technicians on site whenever we need them.

DOCUMENTATION: User documentation is complete, easy to understand and adequate as the only training method for the end user. Although the documentation is thorough, the administrative-level products are more complex, and there is great benefit to be derived from formal training on these products.

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