BACKGROUND: Founded in 1987, Executive Risk Inc. is a specialty insurance holding company. Executive Risk's companies develop and underwrite a wide variety of specialty insurance coverages, including policies for directors' and officers' liability, professional liability, employment practices liability and medical institution malpractice insurance.

PLATFORMS: PLATINUM Forest & Trees supports dBASE, DB2 for OS/2, Lotus Notes, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, ODBC-compliant RDBMS databases and Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.X operating systems. Executive Risk is running Forest & Trees on Windows 95 with Informix databases running on UNIX servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Executive Risk needed a more timely system that delivered more summarized reports than underwriters and upper-level managers were getting from our operational systems. The company initiated its data warehouse effort using Forest & Trees to build an application to access data from Executive Risk's Informix warehouse.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: PLATINUM Forest & Trees is a rapid decision support development tool that delivers data visualization capabilities. It provides the fastest method to build applications that retrieve, visualize and analyze business data from diverse sources for users on corporate networks, intranets and the Internet. For developers who create decision support applications under tight deadlines, Forest & Trees is unmatched in flexibility and power, yet is among the easiest to set up and use. Users can compare performance targets against actual performance across their lines of insurance and can use Forest and Trees' drill-down feature to custom analyze more than 15 different business indicators. The current version offers powerful, true 3-D visualization technology which will enhance the presentation of business data to executives.

STRENGTHS: As an authoring environment for decision support, Forest & Trees enables developers to quickly build customized desktop applications that retrieve and graphically depict large amounts of detailed information. Forest & Trees comes complete with all of the necessary components required to produce powerful applications, making it extremely easy for developers to quickly build or enhance existing programs. Additionally, users rely on the tool's alarm feature to alert them when goals are not met. This allows Executive Risk managers to quickly address issues and support our "management by exception" system, which is based on the concept that managers should concentrate on areas that need improvement.

WEAKNESSES: Forest & Trees would be further enhanced if it supported an internal data structure that included indices. While the same functionality can be accomplished within Forest & Trees by creating local database tables, it would be more convenient to use it within an internal data structure.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We required a rapid decision support development tool that would enable our developers to quickly and easily build, adjust and deploy feature-rich reporting applications. Additionally, one of the developers at Executive Risk is experienced with Forest & Trees, minimizing the amount of time and effort for training. With this in-house experience and with Forest & Trees' intuitive decision support interface, which includes 3-D visualizations, buttons, graphs, cross-tabs, application navigation, alarming and Web interaction, our developers can more easily and quickly build applications.

DELIVERABLES: Executive and top-level managers at Executive Risk now rely on the company's Forest & Trees decision support application to measure sales and expense performance against predetermined goals. The solution allows executives to focus on business objectives, pinpoint areas that need to be improved upon and prioritize actions by automatically alerting them when the goals have not been met. Our developers routinely release upgrades to the application every six to eight weeks. Additionally, the company was able to eliminate "paper" reports and rely on "screen" reports. Users can also e-mail reports to co-workers and management at the touch of a button and are able to download information into convenient formats, such as Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Because of Executive Risk's in- house experience with Forest & Trees, our staff required minimal product training and support. The best part of working with PLATINUM and its technical support staff is that the best interests of their customers always come first, and they are there when you need them.

DOCUMENTATION: PLATINUM's on-line help is excellent.

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