REVIEWER: Amy Whitehead, manager of business systems and procedures for The Monarch Beverage Company.
BACKGROUND: Known for leading brands such as All Sport, Dad's Root Beer, and Rush! Energy, The Monarch Beverage Company owns the trademarks to more than 200 beverage brands worldwide. The company works with 150 bottlers to manufacture, market and distribute a full range of beverages in 35 countries.
PLATFORMS: The Monarch Beverage Co. runs Geac Performance Management on the Microsoft business intelligence platform.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Monarch's transaction-intensive business had no reporting system other than what came out of the general ledger, and we were quickly outgrowing that system. Senior management needed a more effective tool to spot market trends, analyze sales performance, understand the impact of their marketing incentives program and better manage cash flow.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We chose Geac Performance Management running on Microsoft SQL Server for global reporting, budgeting, financial consolidation and forecasting. The Web-based architecture allows us to do global budgeting without having to roll out applications on client machines for our subsidiaries in Mexico, Brazil, China, Singapore, France, the Ivory Coast and South Africa. Our Geac application receives transaction data from the company's general ledger system as well as sales and marketing data from our CRM system. Now we can do things such as slice and dice our income statement by department and line of business. It used to take months to build all these reports directly in the GL system.
STRENGTHS: Geac Performance Management is Web-based and easy to administer. It runs on Microsoft SQL Server, which allows us to get additional value from our investment in the Microsoft business intelligence platform. It has worked well without customization, but even if we wanted to do some custom work, we could easily get a reasonably priced consultant to do it. You don't need a big IT department to make Geac Performance Management work.
WEAKNESSES: Geac Performance Management does not have a data-mapping tool. Custom code is required to write the mapping procedures in order to load data automatically from another source. While this may not be hard for someone that knows how, it is a challenge for companies without the proper resources.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated competing products from Hyperion and Cognos. Hyperion's proprietary database and Cognos' product design indicated that we'd have platform integration issues and would need extensive support from an IT department. The investment of time and money to resolve these issues wasn't worth it for a company of our size. We chose Geac Performance Management because it gave us all the functionality we needed without customization, had a Web interface designed to be used by finance and had a central database that would be easier to maintain.
DELIVERABLES: Geac Performance Management has enabled us to view and analyze financials, performance ratios, exchange rates, trends and nonfinancial data in the form of interactive, multidimensional reports and charts. The fact that we can pull all this information together in one place is a huge benefit. The information is updated daily so our sales managers and senior management have up-to-date data with which to make decisions. We also use the product to control certain aspects of operations such as inventory. Inventory roll-forwards are completed monthly to support the month-end physical. We also use Geac Performance Management to calculate and report broker commissions every month.
VENDOR SUPPORT: I've worked with six other vendors - Geac's help line blows them all away. Their consultants were experienced and professional; we benefited from their best practices knowledge as well as their project management expertise. Application maintenance is handled by one person at Monarch and does not require IT knowledge.
DOCUMENTATION: Everything from training manuals to online help is provided to assist the administrators as well as every user in understanding how to use the software. There is documentation for upgrades, implementation best practices, installation and customizations. The product is easy to maintain without having to continuously refer to the admin guide; however, should a user or administrator need more info, the documentation is complete. The online support center is especially useful. Prior questions and/or resolutions from the Geac customer base are posted to the site and made available to all customers. I have had to use other vendors' support sites and documentation and Geac's is by far the most comprehensive.
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