CATEGORY: Analytic Applications and Performance Management

REVIEWER: Dave Stack, manager of corporate financial planning and analysis for RSA Security.

BACKGROUND: Massachusetts- based RSA Security is the most trusted name in e-security. With thousands of customers worldwide, we are recognized as the strategic e-security partner to many of the largest and most successful companies, leveraging the Internet to grow their businesses and improve their bottom line. With far-reaching multinational growth in Japan, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe, RSA Security's product managers needed more timely access to consistent product and geographic information and a clearer view of their own operating budgets and expenses.

PLATFORMS: Comshare MPC integrated formerly disparate processes and systems while it complemented RSA Security's Microsoft business intelligence platform. Integration with RSA Security's SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and use of the Web to roll out the application to our worldwide user base minimized internal support requirements tremendously. The application's integrated Excel functionality has been a critical element in our recent gains in efficiency and accuracy.

PROBLEM SOLVED: RSA Security has seen a 50-percent improvement in the timeliness of its budgeting, forecasting, planning, reporting and performance tracking since it implemented Comshare MPC software for corporate performance management (CPM). RSA Security's worldwide users have Web access to an innovative application of the software – championed and developed by the financial planning and analysis team – all without IT intervention. Our product managers can see the relationship between forecast and actual performance online, with the touch of a button.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: RSA Security leverages data in Comshare MPC enabling divisional vice presidents and senior management to see quarter by quarter, year by year, line item by line item how each location is performing against plan, with revenue and expense data tied back to each product line. With Comshare MPC, RSA Security decision-makers evaluate trends, reallocate resources and plan strategically. Comshare MPC is clearly improving our ability to plan and predict the future. How closely our plan matches actual results every quarter is a true indicator.

STRENGTHS: Comshare MPC is a flexible tool that automates budgeting; tracks key expense, head-count and salary data; and compares plan versus actual performance. We plan down to the detail level of each employee and asset to add more insight into our operational performance. With our expenses tied so closely to resource allocation and product and geographic profitability, senior management plans and manages operations more effectively by making educated decisions supported by the most current operational information Comshare MPC can give us.

WEAKNESSES: RSA Security was a bit nervous about being one of the first Comshare's customers to use the relational platform Comshare MPC is designed to run on. Once the system was fully implemented, however, we happily became a reference account for the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Comshare offered the best value proposition, complemented our existing Microsoft BI platform and had a product vision that matched RSA Security's long- term needs.

DELIVERABLES: Comshare MPC enables us to see trends that are a key component to strategic discussions as we plan for the future. Now that we can do real-time analysis, we are using the application to make better business decisions. In terms of the return on investment, Comshare MPC far surpassed my expectations. We had a number of acquisitions last year and were able to successfully model the impact of those changes because of the accuracy of information the application provides. Comshare MPC gives us a great deal of comfort because it fully validates our assumptions. It is an essential tool for critical financial analysis provided by the Planning and Analysis group. Our CFO and CIO are extremely pleased with our vision, the system's evolution and its minimal maintenance expense. As our business evolves, Comshare MPC remains flexible and continues to provide us with the capabilities we need.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Comshare is a customer-centric company. Its helpline operators are excellent resources who keep us productive through changes and adjustments to the system. Our Comshare consultant has also been exceptional. He is aware of our business needs and our specific systems and can hit the ground running. The Comshare annual business conference helps us network with other users and business professionals while we hear about product direction from Comshare product managers who host forums for our input.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was a valuable resource during the initial implementation. We then created training materials that focused on our specific system and the required budgeting and forecasting process for end users.

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