REVIEWER: Mary Fent, director of application development at Tanning Technology Corporation.
BACKGROUND: Tanning Technology Corporation is an IT services provider that develops and deploys IT systems that reduce cost, improve performance and drive competitive advantage for leading companies worldwide. Tanning focuses on mission-critical business systems that are engineered to integrate, perform and scale reliably and predictably. Tanning's solutions are targeted. Its domain expertise is focused on industries in which mission-critical, high-performance IT systems provide competitive advantage, including financial services, logistics, travel and transportation, insurance, healthcare and telecommunications. Tanning has offices in Denver, Chicago, New York and Hyderabad, India.
PLATFORMS: Tanning is presently running dynaSight on a Windows NT Server. All users access dynaSight through Windows 2000 clients.
PROBLEM SOLVED: In mid-2000, Tanning's finance department purchased Hyperion Essbase. After some time, they found that the creation and distribution of reports for key performance indicators had become very labor intensive. Excel spreadsheet reports were pushed to key management via e-mail. The department recognized the strategic value of this data, but needed to deliver this data in a format and process that would save person-hours and facilitate more proactive response from a decision support perspective. Moving from a push to a pull environment represented a significant cultural change for Tanning. This new format would have to preserve data integrity and ensure security, yet be user intuitive.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: First, we automated our finance department's report creation process to include a dashboard view for managers. They access typical financial reports such as project tracking, budget versus actual, consultant utilization, as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) such as A/R aging, burnout ratios, project status, spotlighting and bench utilization. The dashboard offers users the opportunity to view data from many different dimensions: from top-down views all the way down to project specifics. Other departments learned of the finance department's success, and the application was rolled out company-wide to sales, marketing and HR. Each group has requested its own data views. While this has kept our department busy, thanks to dynaSight's ease of application development, we haven't been overwhelmed. In some instances, users are creating the applications themselves.
STRENGTHS: We like dynaSight's flexibility going against Essbase its ability to go against other relational and multidimensional data sources is also a real plus. Its rapid development environment has been a tremendous time-saver for our developers, enabling critical data to get to the end user quickly and easily. dynaSight's transparency to the user is essential. One report can pull and integrate data from multiple data sources. It has been very well received by the users as there was virtually no ramp-up time to learn how to navigate the system.
WEAKNESSES: dynaSight's printing functionality could be stronger. The documentation could be more extensive, thus enabling Tanning's application developers to uncover more "hidden treasures."
SELECTION CRITERIA: In addition to flexibility and data transparency, we were looking for a product that would enable the finance department to create their own reports, thus minimizing IT's involvement. Write-back functionality to Essbase and other data sources was also a key consideration. arcplan met all these criteria and had the additional advantages of its rapid development and implementation time.
DELIVERABLES: Presently we have two dashboard reporting systems. The first system is for the finance department, which aggregates and updates Tanning's KPIs. The other reporting system is corporate- wide. This is updated weekly and provides views into operational data including project tracking, sales and marketing, consultant utilization, defect tracking and earned value.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Before the sale, arcplan really went the extra mile to make sure Tanning did a thorough proof of concept to ensure we would reap the full potential of dynaSight. We haven't really needed much post-sales support. However, Tanning recently participated in arcplan's inaugural advisory board meeting. There, we had the opportunity to share experiences with other customers and also provide candid feedback to arcplan on their development efforts and strategic direction. Doing so made us think that this is a company dedicated to customer needs and continued product improvements.
DOCUMENTATION: dynaSight's documentation is fine from a basic level, but really doesn't highlight the vast scope of the application's potential.
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