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PMR Employees Analyze RDBMS Data Using Blue Data's ERA

Published
  • March 01 1999, 1:00am EST

BACKGROUND: PMR Corporation is recognized nationally as a leader in the development and management of programs designed to assist in the recovery of individuals with serious mental illness and chemical dependency. Clients include private hospitals and community mental health centers ­ businesses that tend to process and maintain relatively large amounts of customer and legal documentation.

PLATFORMS: Running on a Windows NT server, Blue Data's Enterprise Reporting and Analysis (ERA) software can extract information from and support the analyses of both legacy documents and databases that are ODBC compliant, such as Oracle, Informix, DB2, Sybase and SQL Server.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As a manager of health care services, PMR has some unique data processing requirements. Managers and other key personnel need point-and-click access to a variety of documents that include financial and other confidential information. Furthermore, they need to analyze this data from anywhere in the company without compromising security.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ERA distills information from legacy reports, databases, data warehouses and other company sources and creates operational summaries ­ all via the Internet/intranets. Simplicity and ease of use have been emphasized and are reflected in an intuitive GUI interface. Users need only a browser to point and click from menus. ERA allows users to produce summaries that give insight into company operations from invoices, purchase orders, backlog, production status, finances, resources, price lists, etc. With ERA employees can expend their energies exploring and analyzing summaries of key documents and RDBMSs rather than having to deal with sophisticated data mining tools. The result is improved decision making at all levels.

STRENGTHS: Installed on a company Windows NT server, ERA is being employed to filter, sort, summarize and graph information stored in a SQL Server data warehouse. Whether the source is a legacy report or an ODBC database, the user is presented with a table that may be relatively long and can have up to 64 fields. By pointing and clicking, the user filters and aggregates to create an operational summary. This is displayed in tabular or color graphical form and can also be exported to Excel or another spreadsheet or desktop database application. The software can also extract information from legacy reports. In the case of a report, a database table is created by a special routing that can place a box around candidate fields that an operator decides are most relevant. Thereafter, the software automatically duplicates these selections with subsequent versions of the report.

WEAKNESSES: At present the extraction process is automated, but the analysis phase is carried out by the user. Although the Analyzer is quite easy to learn and use, an improvement would be to make it possible to produce individually tailored reports on a periodic basis without any operator intervention. Blue Data is working on such an improvement.

SELECTION CRITERIA: PMR selected Blue Data's Enterprise Reporting and Analysis Software because it wanted employees in a variety of locations to analyze company information in the form of legacy reports and ODBC databases. It was important that company employees carry out this data mining with only browsers on the Internet/intranet and that security be maintained at all times.

DELIVERABLES: It was straightforward for PMR to load the ERA software on one of its Windows NT servers and bring it up. There was no need for an extensive training course by Blue Data. Members of the IT department found the software easy to understand and learn. The IT department conducted short training courses for employees that were to be given access to ERA. The security system offered by Blue Data serves its purpose without requiring significant time from a database administrator. PMR anticipates a successful deployment of the technology because it was able to produce ad hoc and summarized operational reports meeting the requirements of upper management and key personnel in a very timely manner.

VENDOR SUPPORT: As an early adopter, PMR has been able to make a number of suggestions for improving ERA which Blue Data has incorporated into the product. Blue Data has supported the product in very responsive manner.

DOCUMENTATION: Blue Data has made available both a complete document set and on-screen help.


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