CATEGORY: Data Mining & Visualization
REVIEWER: David Edwards, data warehousing specialist for Weiser Lock, Inc.
BACKGROUND: Founded in 1904 as a family-owned foundry, Weiser Lock started out specializing in hardware and ornate custom-designed locks. Masco Corporation acquired Weiser Lock in 1985, and the company is now part of the Masco Building Products Group that includes other famous brands such as Delta Faucet, Baldwin Hardware and Merillat Cabinets. Today, due to the success of its innovative products, Weiser Lock has moved into second place in the $1 billion-plus lock industry's mid-price residential segment. Weiser Locks are now sold in more than 40 countries worldwide.
PLATFORMS: The data warehouse is running in SQL Server 2000 and Analysis Services on a dual- processor Windows 2000 Server.
PROBLEM SOLVED: While undertaking a major ERP implementation, Weiser Lock simultaneously moved its production facilities to Mexico. As a result, it encountered severe production problems resulting in late orders, high levels of scrap and extensive rework. The company's inability to quickly extract valuable management information became even more pressing. Actionable information from the new system came out as a trickle - when the demand for information was growing. We were writing as many as 300 Crystal Reports from the Baan ERP system for management when we realized there had to be a better way. The report turnaround time was weeks, months, sometimes even years. We decided to implement a data warehouse with ProClarity as the front end to empower our users to access their own data. The advantages were immediately evident.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: ProClarity's Desktop Client is easy to use and requires very minimal training. Business users are productive by the afternoon of a one-day training class. They are able to analyze the information that is most relevant to them. The improvement has been dramatic - we used to receive requests to modify various reports, but that changed overnight with ProClarity.
STRENGTHS: In my opinion, ProClarity Desktop Client has several main strengths. It simplifies the generation of actionable information from our transaction systems. We have realized huge cost savings with ProClarity by automating the extraction process. Reports can be run against dimensional models instead of the source database. IT generates the model once and doesn't have to return to the source again. The data warehouse has a consistent set of credible numbers that everyone agrees upon. ProClarity's QuickStart implementation had us up and running in two weeks.
WEAKNESSES: In my opinion, ProClarity has two main weaknesses. The desktop client is complex and can be intimidating to users that are not computer literate. These users require additional support and training to become productive with the tool. Also, the Desktop Client must be installed on every user machine. This created deployment issues with our outside sales reps in Canada.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The main reasons we selected ProClarity were cost and ease of use. We looked at other data warehousing and business intelligence products, but ProClarity was an irresistible value - lower in cost and superior in performance. We're saving tens of thousands of dollars; but even more importantly, we're producing more information that is more accurate. Ease of use was also important - ProClarity is extremely easy to use and requires very minimal training. From a per seat license basis, ProClarity was very inexpensive. It has already paid for itself and we've only had it four months!
DELIVERABLES: Specifically, our two-week ProClarity QuickStart engagement accomplished buyoff on the project from the business community, including upper management; complete knowledge transfer; and the amount of actionable information being delivered to business users has increased tenfold. The major thing that ProClarity provides is the ability to communicate all on one level. When we implemented Baan, it was extremely painful for our business to get the information we needed. The difference ProClarity has made is amazing.
VENDOR SUPPORT: ProClarity's QuickStart program included 10 days of consulting. This was the key to successfully implementing the data warehouse. The knowledge transfer was excellent during the engagement. We only had two minor issues post- implementation, which ProClarity's support staff fixed within 24 hours.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is clear and straightforward. The product has been so easy to use that we have not looked at the documentation since the first week of implementation.
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