CATEGORY: Business Intelligence
REVIEWER: Tom Urzillo, ERP manager for Sartomer.
BACKGROUND: Sartomer manufactures specialty chemicals that are tailored to meet specific customer requirements and is part of ATOFINA, the chemical branch of Total. Sartomer provides a variety of specialty chemicals including monomers, oligomers, photoinitiators and specialty resins designed to enhance processing and performance characteristics in coatings, inks, elastomers, adhesives, sealants, composites and other demanding applications. Our products are an integral part of end uses as diverse as hardwood flooring, rubber hoses, wire and cable coverings, printing plates, golf balls, compact disks, package coatings, furniture, printed circuit boards and eyeglasses - and many others.
PLATFORMS: Windows using SQL Server 2000 as the primary database platform.
PROBLEM SOLVED: The main problem we hoped to address with Vanguard Graphical Performance Series (GPS) was information access. We lacked the ability to get the business information we needed, model it, share it with coworkers or analyze it in detail. People in product management, sales, purchasing, quality assurance and supply chain management all had a need for better information to support their decision making and business processes. We needed a single resource for business information and the tools to analyze and share it in a meaningful context.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Most importantly, GPS gives us easy access to information directly from our ERP system - there's no intermediate stage or warehouse to worry about. All of our people have access to data that is timely and accurate. This architecture also allows us to quickly expand GPS over additional types of information to facilitate the required business analyses. GPS presents information in a way that is clear and easy to apply in a business context. Our users are busy businesspeople who need easy-to-use tools that require a minimum of training. GPS lets our businesspeople do their own analysis, slice and dice information and create reports or graphs - all without getting help from IT. Our supply chain VP has used GPS to analyze and reduce our inventory costs. Our product managers use it to evaluate new product sales and profitability. Our quality assurance people use it to analyze aging inventory and manage production.
STRENGTHS: The ability to get true business intelligence and reporting functionality without building and maintaining a separate data warehouse is a real strength of the product. This capability has allowed us to quickly rollout GPS for the different business areas with a relatively small investment of time and money. Ease of use combined with analysis features for business users has also been very important. Business users can learn GPS in just an hour or two. It provides shortcuts to frequently used analysis as well as the capability for ad hoc analysis, exporting, graphing and reporting. The eDeployment function has been valuable to us as well. eDeployment takes a single template view of information and publishes it to the users with only the information their security allows. We think that pushing information to the business users in this way has helped with adoption and acceptance.
WEAKNESSES: Our business users have many ideas for making the GPS business user interface more powerful while also easier to use and more efficient. Their ideas include streamlining analyses by reducing the mouse clicks required to perform functions such as sorting and highlighting. Additionally, they are looking for more user savable options for graphs and analysis shortcuts that allow specific subfiltering. We are working with Vanguard to have these features included in the product.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Vanguard primarily because of their relationship with our ERP vendor, Agilisys, and their premapped integration to our Agilisys ERP system that provided a starting point for our implementation.
DELIVERABLES: In a general sense, GPS lets us deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. We deliver information to personnel at all levels of our organization and in several different functional areas. We use GPS in finance, supply chain, inventory, customer service, quality assurance, purchasing, sales and product management.
VENDOR SUPPORT: This has been one of Vanguard's strengths. Our product and feature recommendations are taken seriously, and we feel like we have a real voice in the product development process. GPS is a vital application for us, so we rely on Vanguard's support team, and they have been very responsive and efficient.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is clear, thorough and provides the information we need.
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