REVIEWER: Charlie Gaddis, financial director of Americas Global Supply Division for Novar Controls Corporation.
BACKGROUND: Based in Copley, Ohio, Novar Controls Corporation is an industry leader in delivering advanced automated building control solutions to meet customers' specific needs. Its target markets include multisite retail chains, quick-service and casual dining restaurants and independent system integrators. It also designs systems for the educational market, office complexes, the healthcare industry, campuses and multibuilding complexes.
PLATFORMS: Applix TM1 and TM1 Web run on Windows 2000 Server with IIS and Windows 2000 Professional.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Novar Controls wanted to increase the financial savvy of its executives and key managers across the nation. As part of this strategy, Novar Controls wanted to arm its business unit managers, financial analysts and executives with up-to-date financial and operational information via the Web.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: TM1 allows the finance team to own the analysis and content of the finance MIS system. Because TM1 Web utilizes Excel, the team can quickly, with minimal training, create meaningful analysis for top managers and executives. In addition, because Excel is integral to both TM1 and TM1 Web, the format (which is sometimes almost as important as the content) can be maintained. This feature fostered greater acceptance by our executives. Further, by utilizing the Web solution that TM1 has developed, our analyses are not stagnant, but dynamic in nature. Because TM1 and TM1 Web are fairly intuitive, the finance team has been able to roll the product out to our managers and executives with little training. The read/write capability of TM1 over the Web is currently being deployed to collect much of our budget data. Some managers are actually entering budget information directly to the database themselves, via the Web. Other managers are utilizing our finance liaison program, wherein an assigned finance team member works with them in both budgeting and reading financial information. TM1 has greatly contributed to the success of this program, significantly helping us achieve our long-term goal of increasing the financial savvy of our division.
STRENGTHS: Some of the key strengths of using the TM1 Web product for us include: little training was required of staff to begin developing and publishing meaningful analysis, its intuitive user interface for our executives and it allowed the collection of budget data remotely. We were also able to share key financial information with executives both domestically and worldwide in a more timely fashion.
WEAKNESSES: TM1 Web does not currently have browsing capabilities.
SELECTION CRITERIA: TM1 was introduced to Novar Controls because I personally had a good experience with the product at a prior company. Initially, we brought in TM1 on a small scale. As the finance team worked more with this OLAP solution, we expanded its application beyond financial reporting. We currently utilize TM1 for financial reporting, budgeting and sales analysis. One problem that we were having with TM1 was distributing the information that we had developed. When the TM1 Web product became available, it was an easy sell.
DELIVERABLES: We rely on TM1 and TM1 Web for two primary applications - budgeting/reporting and a sales analysis application. TM1 and TM1 Web have replaced old spreadsheet and redundant static financial analysis. The solution drives our month-end close process, monthly financial reporting, budgeting process and sales analysis. TM1 and TM1 Web are used as both a collection vehicle and a distribution method. It has enabled the finance community to share critical information with key decision-makers in a timely and effective manner. TM1 and TM1 Web have become an integral part of the way our finance department delivers service to our key managers and executives.
VENDOR SUPPORT: The technical support I have received from Applix for the TM1 suite of products has been more than sufficient over the past two years. In my beginnings with TM1, I had countless questions to be answered. Applix technical support was very patient in assisting me. Since then, I have developed personal relationships with the representatives, and feel comfortable calling as often as I need. I also feel comfortable knowing there are familiar voices on the other end when I have a technical emergency.
DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is readily available for download from the Applix Web site. I refer to the rules guide very often, although I would like a list of rule templates for different scenarios.
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