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CASE STUDY - Process-centric Business Intelligence Improves Collaboration and Delivers Impressive Productivity Benefits

Commentary by W. Michael White, Director of Financial Planning and Reporting, and Eric Kline, Director of Enterprise Applications Operations, UGS PLM Solutions
The Challenge

UGS PLM Solutions (an EDS company), a rapidly growing product lifecycle management software developer, found itself burdened with an inefficient and complex business reporting system consisting of Microsoft Excel to track business performance; SAP R/3 for financial transactions, sales, distribution, and human resources; and Hyperion Pillar for annual financial planning and forecasting.

As the company grew, so did the complications of maintaining such a system. The unsophisticated system restricted IT to generating only monthly reports, and the finance department was dissatisfied because the reports were limited and not in real time. Moreover, the system lacked proper security integration.

The finance and IT departments jointly outlined requirements for a solution that would improve decision support by enhancing the enterprise management reporting and analysis systems. In addition to reducing monthly report generation processing time, replacing unsupported legacy systems, and improving flexibility, the solution would also need to increase user friendliness and speed of access by offering Web-based data delivery.

The Solution

Ultimately, arcplan emerged as the optimal BI solution for UGS. The ability to access any and all data sources enables arcplan customers to develop interactive BI applications in record time (installation time averages less than three months) and cost effectively by avoiding costly data migrations. W. Michael White, director of financial planning and reporting, commented, “Other applications would have required us to develop an overlay security system, thus adding to the project cost and time. arcplan Enterprise provides boardroom-quality reports. It empowers the end user to slice, dice, drill down, drill up, and drill through all types of data sources.”

The ability to mimic existing systems led to rapid user adoption. “If they can use a browser, they can understand the logic behind arcplan,” White said of the business users. “We purchased arcplan in March, integrated it with Hyperion in May, and by early July, we were running the first arcplan apps. Financial ‘super users’ quickly became fluent in arcplan, and in two weeks were able to replicate the original Excel reporting structure,” White recalls. “The beauty of arcplan is that the finance staff can be the ones to develop the appropriate end-user reports without having to go to IT for development resources.”

Our arcplan deployment dramatically increased business user, analyst, and developer productivity. It demonstrated that we could be flexible even with massive increases in data.
W. Michael White, UGS PLM Solutions


The Benefits

Six months after go-live, system resources faced a major test—a merger. UGS PLM Solutions is the combination, through acquisition, of SDRC and Unigraphics. “Here’s where arcplan’s flexibility really shone, and it’s probably the biggest advantage we’ve realized, although we couldn’t have predicted these circumstances a year earlier,” said White. The reporting templates were implemented within two months after the organization and systems were consolidated.

arcplan enables organizations to roll out process-centric BI analytics in less than one-third of the time of other BI deployments and against existing, disparate data sources, improving decision making and reducing ongoing IT costs. “Our arcplan deployment dramatically increased business user, analyst, and developer productivity. It demonstrated that we could be flexible even with massive increases in data. And it clearly succeeded in helping us get information quickly to our executives,” said White. “We identified that over a period of five years, the Web deployment would create over $500,000 in true system cost savings,” he continued.

Eric Kline, director of enterprise applications operations, explained IT’s perspective. “The combination of arcplan and Essbase allows for a dramatic improvement in the user-friendliness of our reporting environments. It further enhances the access to multiple dimensions of data in various formats from an end user perspective. arcplan’s report development flexibility and ease has reduced the dependency of IT personnel from having to write custom SAP performance measurement reports.”

Looking ahead, White states, “We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of arcplan’s potential.”

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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