Based in Austin, Texas, General Bandwidth manufactures telecommunications equipment that enables service providers to rapidly deploy and generate revenues from next generation voice services – what we call the new voice infrastructure. Our target customer base is large incumbent telecom and cable service providers, which means we require a complete back-end support system that allows us to quickly adjust to the demands and rapid ramp-up associated with very large customers. For that reason, General Bandwidth focused considerable resources on building efficiencies into the corporate infrastructure from our inception in 1999 – atypical for most start-ups.

General Bandwidth needed a solution to simplify and enhance our financial planning and reporting processes. Prior to evaluation of vendor solutions, we had been using a complex group of linked Excel spreadsheets to compile our quarterly financial forecasts. That approach worked fine at the earliest stage of our growth, but became less manageable as we quickly increased our headcount and number of departments. Furthermore, the forecasting models contained an account snapshot from our general ledger system, but did not necessarily line up with our general ledger account structures when it came time to report monthly variances. Lastly, we required a system that would rapidly scale with the business, reducing the need for additional analysts to manage an inefficient process.

Several General Bandwidth executives had prior experience with Web-based applications and had been building other corporate systems to take maximum advantage of the efficiencies inherent in intranet technology. Therefore, acceptance of OutlookSoft's Web-based platform was straightforward. Also, the benefits of database technology as an alternative to linked spreadsheets became very clear during product demonstrations.

In terms of staffing, we were just beginning to build our financial planning and analysis department during product evaluations. No radical shift of resources occurred as a result of product implementation. After implementing OutlookSoft software, our small but growing department could more efficiently handle vast amounts of financial data from other departments throughout General Bandwidth.

OutlookSoft's solution, the Enterprise Analytic Portal (EAP), has allowed us to easily consolidate the large amount of financial inputs to the forecasting process. A particularly strong capability exists to use EAP's unique Excel interface as a reporting tool and dynamically publish departmental variance information to the Web.

OutlookSoft's EAP provided a winning solution by enhancing Microsoft Excel to harness OLAP technology. Furthermore, OutlookSoft's solution was designed and built for the Web, whereas competing products were essentially trying to retrofit their old client/server offerings with Web interfaces. EAP also utilizes Microsoft SQL Server as the database platform, which integrated perfectly with the wide variety of Web applications we have built in house using the same platform.

The result of implementing OutlookSoft's EAP was faster, more accurate financial reporting. General Bandwidth has not attempted a formal ROI calculation due to the nebulous nature of many of the variables, but the intangible benefits are numerous. One could easily make a case that we are saving $100,000 per year in personnel costs to perform the forecasting function. Put quite simply, we do more with less.

General Bandwidth measures the success of OutlookSoft's EAP by the sheer volume, timeliness and accuracy of information that has been produced relative to the amount of resources required to maintain the system. This efficiency creates an unmatched value proposition. We have the depth and quality of financial information usually afforded only to large corporations with extensive staffs, at a fraction of the cost. It would be difficult to improve upon this situation from a conceptual standpoint.

For businesses considering a similar solution, I would strongly suggest that a company search for the right personnel to administer the application. I would also recommend that a company strive for an understanding of the technology behind the solution and how they can leverage that technology within their other systems and processes.

OutlookSoft 's Enterprise Analytic Portal (EAP) combines unique portal capabilities and advanced analytic application functionality to create a solution unlike any available in the market today. EAP provides reporting, analysis, collaboration, planning and real-time access to both internal and external data stores. In addition, EAP can typically be installed within 60 days and at a fraction of the cost of many current corporate portals.

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