REVIEWER: Stephen Booze, director of information technology for NKK Switches.

BACKGROUND: NKK Switches of North America is a subsidiary of Japan-based Nihon Kaiheiki, a leader in the manufacturing of miniature and illuminated switches. The company specializes in the production of switches such as toggle and light switches, which are sold and shipped to customers around the globe. NKK's North American subsidiary has operated in Scottsdale, Arizona, since its establishment in 1981.

PLATFORMS: Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We have experienced a surge in demand for our products. However, we had no simple way to visually convey sales performance in meetings or to track goals. Prior to iDashboards, we had a reporting system in place, but it was limited in its capabilities and did not give us the complete picture of sales operations on demand. A dashboard solution was required to visually evaluate NKK's sales key performance indicators (KPIs) and to support timely decision-making.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: As a result of the collaboration between the iDashboards Professional Services team and the NKK team, a dashboard solution was developed that met our requirements of delivering timely and accurate KPIs to the sales team. The KPIs included incoming customer orders, orders shipped and monthly sales goals. We are now able to monitor sales operations through drill downs by month, day, customer, order and part to immediately examine sales and inventory on the fly, whether at our sales meeting or for individual analysis. With the flexibility of iDashboards, individual team members are always aware of the most up-to-date sales information in comparison to their target goals. We also wanted instant notification of areas that needed immediate attention, whether or not we were logged into iDashboards. With iDashboards' new Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) Module, when sales fall above or below the specified threshold level, users will immediately receive an alert notification via email.

STRENGTHS: iDashboards is an enterprise dashboard solution that is simple to use and to customize. Because there is no programming required, even our business users are able to create dashboards for their personal view without relying on our IT staff. iDashboards gives us the ability to leverage our information assets and gain real-time access to our sales data.

WEAKNESSES: In the initial version we installed (iDashboards 3.4), we were limited in the flexibility to display dates on the charts. With the release of their version 4.0, we were able to increase the flexibility to format the date the way we were initially seeking.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We looked for an executive-level solution that was a complete dashboard package. We wanted a dashboard product that was visually rich, responsive and intuitive for our end users that required no programming. In addition, we required a dashboard product that would allow us to easily analyze, track and drill down through information. In our search, we also evaluated and briefly utilized a competing product; however, there was too much of a reliance on Excel for an enterprise solution. In order to measure and monitor our data, a great deal of time went into writing, maintaining and changing data transformation service packets. Because we had outgrown our developer's tool, we knew it was time to invest in a complete dashboard solution that did not require a great deal of IT resources. iDashboards is a Web-based solution with all the features we expected from an enterprise-level dashboard. The software offered direct connectivity to our data and short implementation time.

DELIVERABLES: iDashboards provided us with a real-time dashboard solution. Our team can retrieve information regarding KPIs through the dashboards for individual or group analysis during meetings. iDashboards provides a visually appealing method for reporting this information to our sales force.

VENDOR SUPPORT: iDashboards has provided excellent support from prior to the installation to ongoing technical support. We chose to utilize their consulting services, and with their assistance, we were able to identify necessary dashboard metrics to get started. They have been very responsive in answering support questions.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is complete and easy to understand, both for end users and for administration. The user manual can be accessed at any time by end users through the software.

5750 New King Street
Suite 110
Troy, MI 48098
(248) 952-0840

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