CATEGORY: BI Tools

REVIEWER: Brent Lank, business improvement coordinator for Subaru- Isuzu Automotive Inc.

BACKGROUND: Subaru-Isuzu Automotive Inc. (SIA) is a joint Japanese automotive manufacturing venture between Fuji Heavy Industries and Isuzu Motors Limited. In business since 1987, SIA produces the Subaru Legacy and Outback sedans and wagons; Isuzu Rodeo, Rodeo Sport, and Axiom SUVs; and is a contract builder for the Honda Passport SUV. SIA is headquartered in Lafayette, Indiana, and has 3,500 employees.

PLATFORMS: We are running Windows NT Server and some NT workstations. Most of our 600+ PCs are Windows 95, with Office 97 applications.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Prior to using pbviews from Panorama Business Views, we had multiple platforms for maintaining data that were not interrelated, including traditional applications such as Excel, Access and Paradox. Additionally, we migrated all of our HR and cost accounting functions to SAP and had no effective method for linking to it for measure data. Multiple users maintained much of the same data in multiple locations. This not only resulted in some mistakes, but also, of greater concern, meant wasted time due to multiple entries by multiple personnel. There was an inability to accurately trend data over a period of time when we wanted to know the "longer period" performance instead of just period-to-period performance. We also spent much time looking for data and reports on our LAN and generating hard copy reports for distribution.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We have used pbviews for three years. In that time, we have seen magnificent growth of the product, due in large part to the solicited input of end users. When we first started using pbviews, I would have rated the functionality at about 80 percent. With any product there is the desire to have the "perfect, do- everything-you-want-whenever-you-want-it" application, and Panorama Business Views continues to work toward that goal. The product functionality, after three years of use, continues to amaze me. More importantly, pbviews gives the end users the data they need in an extremely user-friendly format.

STRENGTHS: I consider the product to have two major strengths. The first is product layout: the overall format of the product and, more specifically for our users, the Briefing Book, which is the main selling point for us. With Version 5.2, the information is Web-based, which provides end users with a more Internet-friendly method of accessing the information they need. The Briefing Book provides all information in a "one-stop" location. The second strength is what I feel is the most important. It is the dedicated people at Panorama Business Views who are never satisfied with the end product. They have what is considered the best performance measurement and management software application on the market, yet they are focused on continuous improvement. As long as that type of commitment is behind the product, I am confident that each release will provide our organization with more and easier methods of displaying and improving our performance.

WEAKNESSES: The report functions, while good, are not customizable, which minimizes the number of changes that can be made to the layout.

SELECTION CRITERIA: While Panorama and other vendors had efficient database applications, the selling point for Panorama was the Briefing Book layout. Everyone agreed that this method for displaying the performance data, trend chart capabilities and links to related reports and documents was exactly what we were looking for.

DELIVERABLES: The output we are most pleased with is the ability to view performance history over chosen periods of time. With the ability to compare performance data over an extended period, you can look at true performance.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The vendor support is the strongest point of the whole company. From the initial contact, through to day-to-day technical support, Panorama is a world-class leader in this area. I use customer and technical support on a regular basis, and the concerns/questions are answered immediately. In rare instances, it may take a few hours to get a response if the question involves a programming concern.

DOCUMENTATION: Support documentation is very easy to understand, with both pictures and detailed text provided. The electronic copy of the user manual works very well in answering our users' questions.

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