BACKGROUND: Distribution and Auto Service, Inc. (DAS) is a leader in the vehicle processing industry with operations in 10 cities in the United States and Canada. The company provides its customers with a broad range of logistics and vehicle processing services including receiving, distribution, vehicle storage, accessory installation, damage surveys, damage repair, rail loading/unloading, systems support, predelivery services, quality assurance programs and transportation coordination. DAS customers include Nissan, General Motors, Subaru, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Kia, Daewoo and Infiniti.

PLATFORM: STRATEGY is an end-to-end enterprise business intelligence tool suite that provides ad hoc query, enterprise reporting and analytics for AS/400 clients worldwide.

PROBLEM SOLVED: DAS processes an average of 4,500 vehicles per day. From an operations' perspective, the company is creating a relational repository of data that will become the basis for many multidimensional data warehouses which will allow DAS to track the location and service status of each vehicle at any given time, as well as the costs associated with the services DAS provides. The company has daily opportunities to acquire new business or to improve profitability based on decisions it makes. For financial accounting, DAS uses the J.D. Edwards Financial System. In addition, DAS's finance department uses the Essbase/400 on- line analytical product to quickly generate standardized reports as well as ad hoc analysis. Using Excel in conjunction with Essbase/400 makes creating reports very simple and user friendly. ShowCase's Query and Report Writer desktop products have greatly improved DAS's analytic and decision support capabilities. DAS can now make real-time decisions based on accurate and robust data.

FUNCTIONALITY: ShowCase Essbase/400 enables DAS' director of finance to generate accurate reports in about 30 minutes. Previously, these reports took three to four days to compile and contained only about 40 percent of the information they provide today. Generating reports now requires much less time and eliminates the potential for human error. DAS continues to use J.D. Edwards as an interface for financial data verification and collection.

STRENGTHS: This product allows for complete integration from the J. D. Edwards system using STRATEGY Warehouse Builder to create the multidimensional data warehouse. The data warehouse gives any employee that knows the database the capabilities to use the system. The system is extremely easy to use from an IS standpoint. STRATEGY warehouse management capabilities such as security, data views and query management mean that the IS department can easily deploy the warehouse and that the system is truly self- supporting. The integrated nature of STRATEGY and the training ShowCase offered allowed DAS to get its system up and running quickly. ShowCase used real data examples during the DAS' training session and created a data warehouse that was nearly functional. In just two short weeks, the DAS team had the background they needed to use ShowCase STRATEGY. The multidimensional aspect of the ShowCase tool is state of the art, and the Query and Report Writer desktop products both use SQL. All of those elements were a big plus in helping DAS select the software.

WEAKNESSES: Documentation on some of the more advanced software products, such as Warehouse Builder and Warehouse Manager, would benefit from more detailed information. However, the ShowCase help desk is extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

SELECTION CRITERIA: DAS was looking for a total package that was both user and department friendly. The system had to run on an AS/400 without requiring significant IS resources and customization. The tool had to be fast and multidimensional with the capabilities to capture data and break it down to a finite level by service area. Every DAS user must have access to the ShowCase toolset, be able to query the same data and come up with the same results.

VENDOR SUPPORT: ShowCase trained the DAS team using DAS data. That was a requirement because DAS was looking for ways to substantially improve the effectiveness of its financial department. The trainers were very skilled and well equipped. Together, the trainers and the DAS team created a financial cube in the two-week training period.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is excellent, especially on the Essbase/400, Query and Report Writer products. The manuals and the on-line help are more than sufficient.

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