REVIEWER: Steve Greenwood, manager of budgets and reports/project planning at Sun World International.

 

BACKGROUND: Sun World, a longstanding U.S.-based producer and marketer of fresh fruit, operates one of the world’s largest table grape and stonefruit breeding programs. Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the company’s research and development center has released more than 60 new varieties with improved flavor, size, color, shelf life and extended seasonality. In addition to production of its own California properties, Sun World and/or its licensees grow these proprietary varieties in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, South America, the Middle East and South Africa.

 

PLATFORMS: Windows XP and Office 2003.

 

PROBLEM SOLVED: The first problem solved for Sun World was the time-consuming, error-prone process of manually entering data for the many general ledgers (GLs) into Excel spreadsheets. This function would take a group of three people several hours. Now, with Cognos TM1, the process is automated and takes a matter of seconds. Data is loaded from the GL systems directly into the application with a click of a button. With expansion due to M&A and the need to respond quickly to a changing market, the team had to assess the operating efficiency of harvesting and crops to obtain more detailed cost analysis. We realized we already had the solution - Cognos TM1. The system was expanded to include Web reporting, and an information-rich portal was developed so that we could view and analyze key operational drivers and details. Today all the required information is uploaded continuously and is available via the Web for real-time access and analysis.

 

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The team uses the software to analyze costs per acre to grow each fruit and vegetable. For example, Cognos TM1 assesses the cost of processing a box of grapes from out of the field and into the cold storage. Additionally, with the ease of use and the speed of the product, we are able to use the information on a daily basis to identify problem areas or crews and solve those small problems before they become large issues. The functionality of TM1 actually allows us to identify and solve problems while there is still time to get things back on track. The most powerful analytics offered by the system is its ability to analyze farming crews by their harvest, identifying how many boxes per hour each crew harvests. This translates to the cost per box - the more the crews pack per hour, the lower the cost to pack the boxes.

 

STRENGTHS: One of the most important aspects for our team is the Web reporting functionality, which means tremendous time savings. Prior to the deployment of the new system, three employees needed one full day to create the first pass of management reports. Now this process takes minutes. Because the platform is very intuitive and easy to use, reports are being accessed by all senior management and department managers, the most active users being the CEO and the CFO.

 

WEAKNESSES: While we like that it has surpassed the original objectives, our initial view of the technology resulted in us underestimating its capabilities.

 

SELECTION CRITERIA: Several factors were involved in our decision, but in reality, we selected Cognos TM1 because of its in-memory capability. We knew this would make the product very fast and efficient, and that was one of our main criteria.

 

DELIVERABLES: We use Cognos TM1 for all of our reporting needs: we use it for our Web reporting, and all of our monthly financial reports are created from Cognos TM1 (income statement, balance sheet, cash flow). All of the operating reports sent to department managers each month are created using TM1. We also send a monthly package to our board of directors, and most of this package is created using TM1. We use TM1 for all of our budgeting processes and for all of the cost-accounting analysis of our farming and packing projects. The list goes on, but that covers the majority of our uses.

 

VENDOR SUPPORT: Applied Analytics, the TM1 partner who worked with us to implement the solution, follows a philosophy of teaching clients to achieve self-sufficiency. They provided the Sun World staff with the training to readily assume ownership, acceptance and understanding of the solution.

 

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is complete and easy to understand.

 

Cognos TM1 Version 9.1
Cognos Incorporated
289 Turnpike Road
Westboro, MA 01581
(508) 870-0300
http://www.applix.com/

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