REVIEWER: Chris Dautel, director of financial planning and analysis for Raycom Media.

BACKGROUND: Headquartered in Mont-gomery, Alabama, Raycom Media, Inc. stretches from Syracuse, New York, to Honolulu, Hawaii, with businesses in 21 states and more than 2,800 employees. The television stations cover 10.2% of the U.S. television households. Raycom Media businesses go beyond just broadcasting and include event management, distribution of syndicated television programming, information systems support, and design and hosting of Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Web site.

PLATFORMS: Raycom Media runs Geac MPC on the Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Raycom's previous method for budgeting lacked confidentiality safeguards. Consolidating the data from 30 different spreadsheets into a single report was a logistical nightmare - even more so as the company continued to grow.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Raycom uses Geac MPC to centralize and automate budgeting, forecasting and reporting. Critical business knowledge is consolidated into a single system, providing summary and detailed budget information down to the network, department and account level. Authorized users review their completed reports online and make further changes before filing a preliminary income statement and budget forecast. Geac MPC supports online information collection and reporting, ad hoc reporting and analysis, and rolling forecasts, while its production reporting functionality supports budget and actual comparisons. The application also automates periodic reports and focuses attention on possible trouble areas via its exception alerting capabilities. In addition to generating annual budget projections and related documentation, Raycom uses Geac MPC to compile and report weekly spending and cash flow statements as well as monthly and quarterly closing statements.

STRENGTHS: Geac MPC's ease of use is the greatest benefit. The application combines strong user functionality with user-friendly tools that are accessible via the Web, which allows our employees to complete their budgeting responsibilities in less time and share the information company wide. The online templates created in Geac MPC help ensure consistent reporting across all stations. Having all our enterprise-wide data consolidated in Geac MPC has also helped me produce faster and more reliable financial updates for our executive board.

WEAKNESSES: There is some complexity in making structural changes to entity trees. You cannot print "books" of reports. Reports must be printed by report, and there are several settings that must be maintained at the end-user workstation in order for everything to work correctly.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Raycom selected Geac MPC over competitors' products because it had the strongest overall functionality and was competitively priced. In addition, it was easier to use and allowed us to leverage an existing investment in the Microsoft BI platform. We looked at Cognos and found that it relied on proprietary technology that would not allow us to use our established Microsoft investment and knowledge base.

DELIVERABLES: Geac creates production quality reports very quickly. Forms and reports can be sent to various outputs including a printer, file, PDF and Excel.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Geac has a great installation team, good post-implementation support and they are responsive to phone calls.

DOCUMENTATION: I have not cracked the book since receiving the training. The system is intuitive and easy to follow - point and click.

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