REVIEWER: Bob Simms, financial applications support team leader for the Idaho Power Company.

BACKGROUND: Idaho Power is a progressive, regulated utility dedicated to providing quality electric service to 393,831 residential and business customers in a 20,000-square-mile service territory that covers Southern Idaho and Eastern Oregon. The company owns and operates 17 hydroelectric plants on the Snake River and its tributaries.

PLATFORMS: Servers using Windows 2000 and a variety of client workstations using Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Idaho Power was faced with controlling costs and maintaining efficiency while managing constricting supply and growing demand. Cost controls in developing capacity, delivering power and providing service have a direct effect on the consistent supply and price of energy. The delivery business unit, responsible for providing power service to most of the state's population, had to control costs in order to maintain consistent energy supply. The finance and construction functional groups were concerned with overhead and the costs of adding capacity. Idaho Power turned to ProClarity to help them become more efficient.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ProClarity is used daily by cost center managers, project managers and leaders to help them make enlightened decisions before they affect customer supply. To control costs, approximately 100 cost managers located throughout the state compare labor and materials costs to budgeted figures and make adjustments. They also correlate power emergencies with overtime pay to determine whether overtime is directly linked to crucial activities and then make staffing decisions based on the findings. In the financial department, analysts and managers use their applied labor cube to examine avenues for overhead cost reduction.

STRENGTHS: ProClarity's ease of use and intuitive user interface are the main strengths for Idaho Power. Prior to using ProClarity, printed reports were distributed on a monthly basis. They were very cumbersome to print, and it was difficult to derive value from them. With Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services and ProClarity, cubes are updated nightly which means completely updated information is available to decision-makers each day. This solution has resulted in significant time savings, better decisions based on up- to-date information and a streamlined communication process throughout the organization and within regions. ProClarity is used by multiple functional areas throughout Idaho Power ­ recent count is over 150 total users accessing more than 20 different MOLAP cubes. ProClarity has helped satisfy customer demand by enabling us to determine solutions for inefficiencies in producing and delivering power.

WEAKNESSES: We would like to see some enhanced functionality in modifying items displayed, such as the ability to sort displayed members, remove headings not selected for display and view favorites when the dimension hierarchy is changed.

SELECTION CRITERIA: ProClarity was chosen for its intuitive interface, its ease of use for users and the technical staff, and its unique data visualization techniques. The ability to provide regularly updated information to users throughout the organization has enabled them to make informed decisions more quickly.

DELIVERABLES: ProClarity has helped Idaho Power run more efficiently by controlling costs, constructing new capacity and providing excellent customer service. The delivery business unit uses ProClarity to evaluate usage, mileage and maintenance of the $36 million fleet of service trucks in five regions. They realized strong efficiencies in allocating higher cost rates for those trucks that operated within cities versus those that logged miles on the highways. They also determined a shortage of vehicles in some regions and a surplus in others and reallocated resources accordingly. ProClarity has also streamlined paperwork in the administration business unit. Managers can directly access ProClarity to evaluate the live overtime data. What previously required reams of paper now occurs with the click of a mouse. In the construction functional group, project leaders ­ who are evaluated relative to construction budgets and are under even stronger financial scrutiny than before ­ forecast and track costs quarterly using ProClarity.

VENDOR SUPPORT: ProClarity has been extremely supportive in both pre- and post-sales support. We have not required extensive support or professional services. The product has been very robust and easy to use.

DOCUMENTATION: Because ProClarity is both intuitive and Microsoft standards-based, there was little need to rely on documentation to understand the product's functionality or its deployment requirements.

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