RESEARCH & RESOURCES

CASE STUDY - Operational Performance Reporting Applications Help MFS Improve Regulatory Compliance, Enhance Productivity, and Expand Global Operations

Commentary by Joe Piotrowski, Vice President and Development Manager, MFS
About MFS

MFS is a global asset management firm that serves investors around the world. The firm’s global research team covers the world through offices in five international cities—Boston, London, Mexico City, Singapore, and Tokyo. MFS invests in securities in more than 60 countries.

The MFS Challenge

As MFS expanded its global operations, the company needed to find an easier way to deploy research without having to install and maintain applications in remote offices. MFS had integrated Crystal Reports with its desktop application, but Crystal did not offer a Web-based reporting solution at that time.

MFS did not have a centralized reporting function and had multiple reporting technologies throughout its organization. Employees manually created ad hoc reports, a process not only time-consuming but also prone to user errors and version control issues.

The MFS Solution

MFS selected Actuate for operational performance reporting based on the following criteria:

  • Proven scalability
  • Web-based solution
  • Support for VB COM and distributed COM components
  • Robust development and scripting environment

The biggest Actuate users at MFS are the equity, fixed income, fund treasury, compliance, and HR groups. According to Joe Piotrowski, vice president and development manager at MFS, “If you are not using Actuate in our key market groups, you can’t do your job. Throughout MFS, all of our report development is being done with Actuate.”

MFS has leveraged Actuate’s open, flexible architecture to create innovative functionality for its operational performance reporting application. First, MFS has leveraged the Actuate application program interface (API) to create conditional scheduling that automatically generates and schedules reports when new data becomes available. The reports are accessible through the Web portal.

Second, MFS has developed a method to automatically generate a personalized criteria page for users. MFS leverages the Actuate API to comb through the metadata, gather the attributes of the user, and then dynamically create a personalized Web front end.

MFS utilized Actuate e.Services and three internal MFS developers to complete the implementation in less than six months. Since MFS executives support Actuate and the users endorse the product, use of Actuate is spreading throughout the company to approximately 800 users.

Benefits of Actuate

Enhanced Productivity

Employee productivity has increased because of the time saved by using Actuate to automatically generate and deploy reports. “This automated process ensures important reports are delivered to management on a timely basis, saving MFS managers about one-half hour per day,” states Piotrowski. “They now have more time to focus on strategic initiatives and decision making.”

Enabled Global Expansion

Actuate has helped MFS to expand its investment operations worldwide. Because Actuate is Web-based and secure, investment professionals can access reports from any browser worldwide as long as they have a security ID card. Actuate has cut down on the amount of support required to expand its global operations.

Improved Regulatory Compliance

As a financial services company, MFS has to comply with increased federal and state regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley. According to David Domenicone, systems architect at MFS, “We have ever-increasing audit requirements, and Actuate reports have been key in meeting many of them.” Actuate provides MFS a means to create accurate audit reports to monitor and comply with regulations.

Controlled Development Costs

Because of Actuate’s component object model (COM) support, MFS was able to leverage existing code to run reports making it an easy migration from its desktop application to a Web platform. Code written for the desktop was easily deployed to both Web and Actuate servers.

MFS can now provide reporting capabilities cost effectively to anyone in the company. There is no incremental cost to bring Actuate to an additional department apart from setting up new data in tables. MFS no longer struggles to provide Actuate to smaller departments.

Increased Employee Satisfaction

MFS employees have been happy with the Actuate technology, and usage has increased throughout the company, with 100 percent user adoption. Actuate provides a consistent set of reporting interfaces for investment areas to enhance usability.

The MFS Future

MFS will continue its migration from Crystal Reports to Actuate and is evaluating how to integrate Actuate with its PeopleSoft application.

“Actuate has enabled MFS to enhance productivity, enable global expansion, and comply with regulations,” says Piotrowski. “MFS will continue to leverage Actuate and expand its usage throughout our organization.”

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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