ProClarity Analytics Platform 6REVIEWER: Michael Smith, vice president of IT for Rentcash Inc.
BACKGROUND: Rentcash Inc. currently owns and operates more than 330 stores in more than 90 cities in nine provinces and two territories within Canada under the following banners: The Cash Store, Instaloans and Insta-rent. The company currently employs more than 1,200 people with its head office located in Edmonton, Alberta.
PLATFORMS: Windows 2003, SQL Server 2000, Microsoft Analysis Services, Microsoft Reporting Services and ProClarity Analytics Platform 6.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Data management and information delivery used to be considerable issues for Rentcash. The lack of a centralized data management system resulted in each store acting as an independent database, and the organization's reporting process was completely manual and time intensive; several people were involved in the data preparation process alone. Manually generated reports were distributed via e-mail, and accounting representatives would simply cut-and-paste information from the Word documents to analyze performance trends. This process alone routinely took 15 hours or more each week. Additionally, Rentcash had no effective means of sharing the information in these reports with other departments, and it was difficult to do any kind of operational analysis because the data was limited to static reports. If an alternative type of report was needed, the IT department was forced to call in an outside Cobol developer who would write and deploy the new report code. As such, it would sometimes take weeks to make the necessary changes - meaning the information was often outdated, security of the data was subpar and reusability of the reports was extremely low.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using ProClarity as a front-end tool to Microsoft Analysis Services has provided the organization with a much more flexible and intuitive BI solution. The ProClarity Analytics Server brings together disparate data from each of the stores within a common, automated decision-support environment. With the data centrally stored, Rentcash has been able to completely replace the manual cut-and-paste routine for data clerks, saving approximately 75 man-hours per week and enabling the company to focus on the core business. Rentcash's implementation of ProClarity has been so successful that executives have changed their home page in Internet Explorer to ProClarity Dashboard Server showing the performance of key performance indicators (KPIs).
STRENGTHS: Strengths of the product include: 1) integration: the solution integrates seamlessly with the Microsoft suite of products; 2) intuitive user interface: the business user does not need previous development experience to create reports and perform sophisticated analysis; 3) reports/analytic capabilities; the business user has the ability to create his/her own reports rather than depend on developers to provide reports.
WEAKNESSES: Business users would like the ability to view ad hoc reports from Reporting Services "within" ProClarity, rather than needing to "link out" to Reporting Services.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Rentcash employed the services of Ideaca, a Canadian-based technology consulting firm, to research potential vendors for the solution. Integration with the Microsoft platform and low cost of ownership are what initially drew Rentcash to ProClarity. After an on-site demonstration, Rentcash dove "head first" into the ProClarity application in July 2004 because it provided a cost effective solution to all of the company's needs.
DELIVERABLES: Because ProClarity is showing us important trends in store performance and more about how the business runs, it will directly affect the bottom line. As an example, the CFO can now easily view month-to-date performance using a ProClarity dashboard and immediately take action on that information. Executives now have a logical dashboard display telling them exactly how business is going for that day. ProClarity enables business users to easily manipulate reports and perform thorough analysis.
VENDOR SUPPORT: ProClarity made the selection and implementation easy.
DOCUMENTATION: The ProClarity documentation was complete and easy to understand. Once installed, use is intuitive and requires relatively little training.
500 South 10th Street
Boise, ID 83702
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