REVIEWER: Mark Walker, senior business analyst, Macmillan Distribution.

BACKGROUND: Macmillan Distribution (MDL) provides a distribution service for the Macmillan Publishing Group as well as distribution services to more than 40 third-party publishers. MDL employs 300+ staff, and its title file contains more than 100,000 titles. MDL offers warehousing of more than 400,000 square feet that ensures the smooth operation of receiving, storing and distributing an extensive range of books.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Two HP Proliant DL360 and DL380 machines, Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2000 with Analysis Services 2003.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Panorama NovaView enables MDL to offer its clients customizable access to their own personalized information through a standard Web browser and empower them through better control of their own data. Data delivers sales information with a large range of dimensions that allow new levels of analysis previously unavailable though older legacy tools.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: MDL chose to deploy the Panorama NovaView suite to act as the single business intelligence (BI) solution for all users. We were impressed with the ease of deployment of the solution and the support received from the Panorama team. MDL was impressed with this one-window view that provides intuitive and flexible access to monitor business performance while monitoring business drivers, trends and variances. MDL has realized the benefits of the sleek functionality of the solution and has seen immediate and long-term benefits in their organization. MDL has been able to save time and effort gathering information that was inaccessible or expensive to view prior to implementing NovaView.

STRENGTHS: Panorama NovaView is a very robust solution and offers superior intuitiveness compared to other tools in the market. It's fully capable of taking an unlimited number of data sources and creating easy-to-manage dashboards, views and reports. It is easy to use, flexible and customizable, and allows the user to manipulate the view as required.

WEAKNESSES: One of the challenges was the integration with internal security and firewall software, and configuration was a challenge, which Panorama helped MDL to overcome. In addition, MDL clients are so dependent on the solution that they found when it came time for deployment, change could not happen fast enough. For the internal technical team, some of the new features were not quality assured, but they have worked extensively with the Panorama team in order to smooth out the process of upgrading the solution.

SELECTION CRITERIA: MDL looked at other candidates for our BI needs and ultimately selected Panorama. Panorama was able to offer a powerful functionality and intuitive usability that could easily accommodate multiple types of users with various access rights. We were confident they could offer superior protection of information while making deployment seamless. Panorama has a demonstrated track record with Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services, which was important to us and a large deciding factor in our selection. Panorama's pricing was found to be competitive and extremely fair.

DELIVERABLES: The MDL solution (MIDAS) is currently running close to 30 reports from eight different data sources, with the policy of giving clients access to all their data. As such, these reports are not configured and show all dimensions and slicers to enable self-service reporting for the end users. Having addressed all of the power users at client publishers, in order to get a greater take-up percentage, work is underway to deliver more set configured reports. The client base is constantly demanding the delivery of new information, and through the solid infrastructure provided by Panorama NovaView, this has become an ongoing and successful process. Recent phases have seen MDL building on earlier success and delivering more information relating to stockholding, sales against forecasts and other value-added information from elsewhere in the supply chain.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Overall, vendor support was found to be excellent from Panorama, but was especially noted at implementation. In the first 12 months, Panorama provided technically competent people to overcome some of the hurdles experienced. Ongoing support is consistently good.

DOCUMENTATION: MDL were able to successfully run the product without requiring documentation.

Panorama NovaView 5
Panorama Software, Inc.
164 Eglinton Avenue East
Suite 400
Toronto, ON M4P 1G4
(416) 545-0990

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