BACKGROUND: Yellow Corporation is a Fortune 500 holding corporation for a family of companies specializing in less-than-truckload (LTL) freight transportation. The company, headquartered in Kansas, employs approximately 29,000 throughout North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific and the Caribbean. Yellow Services, Inc., ensures that the operating companies have access to advanced services and information systems that are now required to meet the ever-increasing information needs of transportation customers.

PLATFORMS: Yellow Services is running PLATINUM ERwin on Windows NT Workstations. PLATINUM ERwin also supports Windows 95 and 98; NetDynamics, PowerBuilder, Progress and Visual Basic application software; and all of the major client/server databases. PLATINUM ERwin also offers generic ODBC support, enabling users to connect to nearly any database in the world.

PROBLEM SOLVED: About five years ago, Yellow Services sought a data modeling solution to support its first substantial client/server project. Traditionally a mainframe-centric organization, Yellow Services planned the development and maintenance of a major client/server application roll out to support its customer service center. Service representatives required effective applications for the management of large volumes of customer information, such as contact names, addresses, special pick-up and delivery instructions, and hours of operation in their offices and on their loading docks. Yellow needed a tool that would enable the team to build databases that would integrate with its existing data store so existing customer information could be leveraged in the new application.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Yellow leverages PLATINUM ERwin to help design, generate and maintain high-quality, high-performance database applications. The tool offers impressive functionality, allowing users to develop logical models of their information requirements and the business rules that define their databases, as well as physical models optimized for the specific characteristics of target databases. PLATINUM ERwin enables Yellow's data team to visualize the proper structure, key elements and optimized design of their databases. PLATINUM ERwin includes "complete-compare" technology to allow iterative development so models are always synchronized with databases. The Yellow team also leverages PLATINUM ERwin's volumetrics capability, which enables users to gather sizing information about individual tables and calculate the overall size of the database. Yellow is currently using PLATINUM ERwin 3.5, which offers new functionality, such as support of core views and independent domains. PLATINUM ERwin supports the IDEF1X database design methodology. This provides users with a common approach that everyone in the data team can use to design and develop databases. PLATINUM ERwin also supports information engineering (IE) symbol conventions, a second prevalent database development methodology.

STRENGTHS: PLATINUM ERwin offers a unique combination of functionality and ease of use. It is also a cost-effective solution, enabling users to take advantage of a wide array of features without necessitating a substantial investment in CASE tools. The speed of development ERwin enables also brings value to Yellow's team, ensuring that users can understand requirements of a project early on and use modeling techniques to communicate and confirm understanding before the application development process begins.

WEAKNESSES: The distinction between logical and physical data models is a bit limited. There is no real import capability for physical information, so data entry can be somewhat labor-intensive. However, compared to competitive tools that may be stronger in these areas, PLATINUM ERwin continues to offer the most functionality combined with the friendliest learning curve.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Yellow Services sought a data modeling tool that would speed modeling time, integrate new databases with existing databases, offer an export facility and load to 15 workstations without requiring a significant investment in CASE tools. PLATINUM ERwin delivers on all of these requirements.

DELIVERABLES: PLATINUM ERwin offers a wide variety of reporting capabilities, presenting users with a comprehensive and flexible report selection.

VENDOR SUPPORT: PLATINUM offers very good support.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is very thorough and detailed.

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