CATEGORY: Query & Reporting and OLAP

REVIEWER: Duncan Moran, technical lead reporting department for Zoot Enterprises, Inc.

BACKGROUND: Zoot Enterprises, Inc. provides customized instant credit decisions to seven of the top 10 financial institutions in the U.S., as well to many industry leaders such as the Lending Tree, Wells Fargo and Spiegel Catalog. Zoot's forte is providing customized solutions that integrate into customers' business systems.

PLATFORMS: Windows 2000 and Linux Apache Web server. We use Crystal Decisions' Crystal Enterprise and Crystal Reports with Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access and proprietary data sources.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Zoot's reputation for custom solutions has grown with the company, to the point where it became obvious that its inflexible, outdated reporting solution was not keeping up with the business. Zoot wanted to upgrade their reporting capabilities to deliver their clients valuable, timely and accurate information that would actually help them manage the entire life cycle of their own customers' credit applications. Zoot chose Crystal Decisions' enterprise reporting solution to provide customers with accurate, up-to-the-minute information on their applications at Zoot. Crystal Decisions allows Zoot to deliver to its clients a means to become increasingly competitive in their respective market spaces. Not only can Zoot differentiate itself by this value-added service, but also it can help its clients differentiate themselves by arming them with valuable information.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Crystal Decisions enabled Zoot to increase their overall report output from roughly 25 to approximately 150 reports, reduce the time it takes to create one report from two months to just a couple of hours and reduce report solution IT maintenance costs by $25,000. Zoot Enterprises has saved an estimated $85,000 in developer costs required to achieve a level of client reporting that surpasses all competitors.

STRENGTHS: Crystal Decisions' flexible, GUI-based report development environment delivers the agility required for Zoot to respond quickly to individual clients' unique information requirements. Instead of taking weeks to answer specific information requests from clients, Zoot can produce a report for them on the fly. Zoot has done away with a six-month report backlog and is now focusing on providing up-to-the-minute, actionable reports their clients need. Crystal Decisions also enables Zoot to capture data from the systems it uses to monitor a client's IT performance. If a customer approaches Zoot with a suspected problem, the company can provide customized information to help them solve the issue internally, saving everyone time and money.

WEAKNESSES: Zoot Enterprises experienced challenges with scheduling program objects when migrating from Crystal Decisions' Seagate Info to Crystal Enterprise. However, Zoot is enlisting the help of Crystal Decisions to resolve this issue.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Zoot was looking for a flexible, user-friendly enterprise reporting solution that would support their reputation for responsive, customized service. Also, they had noticed a transition from financial analysts to business analysts among the end users of their solutions and wanted their reporting to address that by delivering more than pages of tiny numbers. Crystal Decisions answered the company's requirements for a user- friendly and Web-enabled reporting infrastructure that was flexible and quick to implement.

DELIVERABLES: Offering clients instant actionable information and powerful analytics to manage their own credit applications is an attractive component of their product that Zoot Enterprises expects to drive sales and increase customer loyalty. Using Crystal Decisions to monitor its clients' systems is expected to help Zoot provide better customer service. Using Crystal Decisions, clients' credit policy managers and other managers can track the progress of campaigns in real time and respond proactively to daily changes in the market by adjusting their rates and price structures to keep their products moving. Improved analysis of credit approvals and declines, customer demographics and sales campaigns allows management to allocate resources more effectively.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Zoot Enterprises took advantage of Crystal Decisions' training classes and technical support and is very pleased with Crystal Decisions services, support and professionalism.

DOCUMENTATION: Crystal Decisions includes comprehensive documentation on all aspects of the product.

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