REVIEWER: Susan Loth, director of fundraising for Disabled American Veterans.

BACKGROUND: Disabled American Veterans (DAV) members are men and women disabled in our nation's defense. DAV has a single purpose: building better lives for all of our nation's disabled veterans and their families. Formed in 1920 and chartered by Congress in 1932, the million-member DAV is the official voice of America's service-connected disabled veterans ­ a strong, insistent voice that represents all of America's 2.1 million disabled veterans, their families and survivors. Its nationwide network of services, free of charge to all veterans and members of their families, is totally supported by membership dues and contributions from the American public.

PLATFORMS: DAV is running Producer on an NT server with an Oracle database.

PROBLEM SOLVED: To support the fund-raising and membership-building activities of the organization, DAV relied primarily on direct mail campaigns approximately twelve times a year, ranging in size from 2 million to 6 million pieces. The database information-gathering phase took more than three weeks to complete. With the goals of increasing donations to DAV, ensuring the best use of technology and business practices, and refining fund- raising programs with innovative methodologies to optimize results, DAV turned to Producer from Protagona Worldwide.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Producer offers the ability to identify, segment, create and execute campaigns with a comprehensive interface and application. Producer also contains integrated modeling capabilities for detailed analysis, and DAV plans to explore the use of this feature. The biggest advantages realized are having direct data access and no need to type in SQL commands. To build queries, you just click and drag the links.

STRENGTHS: The major strength Producer provided DAV was a dramatic reduction in the campaign cycle time. This outcome was achieved by having the ability to look more closely at data and the ability to gain actionable insight from its analysis. Another of the advantages has been the ease of use ­ you don't have to be a programmer to use it. Producer is an application designed for marketers; everyone was able to learn the tool and use it productively in a short period of time. DAV has also found the solution flexible. As new solutions are developed, Producer provides the ability to respond to the changing business needs.

WEAKNESSES: DAV is currently using version 4.6, which has some limitations with multiple campaigns. Also, when DAV began using Producer, all product support was located in the UK, which made the time constraints for the support challenging. Support is now available in the Chicago office ­ this is no longer an issue. In the next few weeks, DAV is upgrading to version 5.5. The enhancements will enable multiple campaigns to execute simultaneously. Also, the new cartridges feature allows the DBA to tune the SQL code that is generated by Producer. The enhanced security features will provide a level of security that is needed in an installation with multiple people at different levels using Protagona for various purposes. The Agent tool will allow for automated kickoff of third- party applications, and the list output enhancements will allow more complex matrix definitions.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We outlined a twelve-step process resulting in an RFP that was distributed to six vendors. DAV chose Producer because of its ease of use ­ Producer was a tool that would be used and was easy to understand.

DELIVERABLES: Using Producer, DAV has been able to reduce the preparation time from three weeks to approximately two days because the marketing department has direct access to the data. DAV now spends the extra time optimizing other activities or running more campaigns. Additionally, Producer provides DAV with the capability to analyze the data and to glean more accurate customer information. Producer enabled DAV to find donor records that had been improperly coded. More than 100,000 donors coded as lapsed were actually active donors.

VENDOR SUPPORT: DAV has not had to use the Protagona help desk very often. As part of DAV's agreement with Protagona, collaborative consulting was provided after the classroom training. DAV and Protagona Worldwide consultants built and tested two campaigns as part of this effort.

DOCUMENTATION: The manuals have been very helpful when searching for an alternative method, but DAV has found Producer reasonably easy to use.

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