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2004 World Class Solution Awards

Established in 1996, DM Review's World Class Solution Awards mark the elite within the business intelligence, analytics and data warehousing industry. This prestigious award represents the industry's best practices - showcasing those vendors and companies that have implemented solutions that address a persistent business problem and, in turn, provide a significant return on investment.

As in the past, this year's winners were selected by a panel of industry experts, and judging criteria included the degree the solution solved a business pain, demonstrated innovation, and demonstrated measurable return on investment and/or business benefit.

More than 20 experts participated as judges for the World Class Solution Awards. DM Review wishes to express sincere gratitude to the 2004 WCSA judges, including: Sid Adelman of Sid Adelman & Associates, Barb Brahmstedt of BPM Partners, Steve Craggs of Integration Consortium, Jonathan Geiger of Intelligent Solutions, Claudia Imhoff of Intelligent Solutions, Mike Jennings of Hewitt Associates, Chuck Kelley of Navigator Systems, Stephan Kudyba of Null Sigma Inc., Michael Kuhbock of Integration Consortium, David Loshin of Knowledge Integrity, Joe Luedtke of Whitman Hart, David Marco of Enterprise Warehousing Solutions, George Marinos of PricewaterhouseCoopers, William McKnight of McKnight Associates, John Monczewski of Booz Allen Hamilton, Sue Osterfelt of Bank of America, Craig Schiff of BPM Partners, Dan Sullivan of Ballston Group, Richard Wang of MIT and Colin White of BI Research.

Click on the winners to read summaries of these World Class Solutions.

Analytic Applications
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida with SAS

Business Intelligence
DuPont Inc. with MicroStrategy, Inc.

Corporate Performance Management & Balanced Scorecard
Miles Kimball Company with Geac

Data Acquisition & Integration
CNA with Informatica

Premier, Inc. with Knightsbridge Solutions

Data Management
Jefferson County Public Schools with Teradata, a division of NCR

Data Quality
Bombardier Transportation with Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks

High Availability, Performance & Systems Management
T-Mobile (UK) with Proxima Technology

Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads with IBM


This year’s winners are featured in the October 2004 issue of DM Review. Recipients of DM Review’s 2004 World Class Solution Awards are:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
with SAS

CATEGORY: Analytic Applications

With a citizenry that ranges from retirees and recent immigrants to typical working-class Americans and their dependents, Florida boasts one of the most diverse populations in the United States, ranking No. 4 in population among the 50 states. Despite their demographic differences, the 16 million residents of Florida have one thing in common: the need for affordable, reliable health insurance. Celebrating its 60th anniversary and serving more than 6 million people, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) and its family of subsidiaries are dedicated to meeting that vital need.

With such a large population base and variety of employers, the field of insurers vying for business in Florida is crowded and complex. To stay ahead of the competition, BCBSF must measure the detailed costs of doing business to maintain competitive pricing while adequately funding the risk and ensuring a fair profit. To achieve the right balance, BCBSF uses SAS Activity-Based Management to facilitate product profitability reporting, providing detailed analyses of product profitability by customer and customer profitability by product. Further, BCBSF uses the solution to identify opportunities for internal process improvements.

BCBSF followed a deliberate process in implementing its activity-based management solution. A steering committee, composed of senior management from the operations, systems, finance, marketing and actuarial departments within the Diversified Business Sector, met monthly to provide guidance, support and approval to the project team that was charged with implementing the solution.

Membership of this team was fluid, depending upon the needs associated with each phase of the implementation. Leading the team was Robert Pallais, vice president and treasurer. He was joined by Lee Boardman, director of accounting, who served as project manager and Larry Miller, a part-time technical resource. In addition, each department manager participated on an as-needed basis. Cumulatively, the team’s membership consisted of three to fifteen people, all with a minimum of 10 to 15 years of experience in their respective areas of expertise.

In implementing the solution, the team followed a rapid development approach that called for minimal complexity and speedy implementation. Indeed, the solution was fully implemented within three months. More than 450 activity drivers, including 418 collected on a monthly basis, were selected based on their cost to measure as well as whether or not they were already being measured. With such a large amount of data involved and a diverse user base that spanned 60 different cost centers, the project team looked for a solution that could meet all of the allocation/reporting requirements yet was still easy-to-use, moderately priced and backed up by exceptional vendor support. SAS met each of these key criteria.

SAS Activity-Based Management provides decision makers at BCBSF with the detail they need to make effective, insightful decisions to improve financial performance. Unlike traditional accounting systems that are geared for external reporting, the SAS solution provides accurate financial information in a form that illuminates the day-to-day activities of the people, equipment and processes that directly impact BCBSF’s bottom line.

The team uses SAS to run monthly reports that augment previously existing processes. Data – such as the number of claims processed, the number of inquiries answered or the number of contracts by product line – is loaded into the system as it is received. The data is then incorporated into financial reports and distributed to different business and product managers throughout the organization.

By integrating the cost of specific activities with budget figures each month, SAS allows BCBSF managers to compare budgets to actual costs. They can also drill down to find more detailed information about specific costs to uncover inefficiencies. Profitability reporting enhances the expense management process. Departmental expense analyses by product help managers see costs in terms of activities, enabling them to improve efficiency and to direct work efforts appropriately. Product-level cost information is developed for business and operational planning and decision making. Actual expenses by product are captured and compared with planning assumptions to monitor variances from the profit plan and to troubleshoot problems.

SAS Activity-Based Management provides a realistic gauge, which readily assists in determining product modification, enhancement, growth or obsolescence. Moreover, it provides verification that the services provided to customers ensure BCBSF’s solid financial performance and long-term financial success.

In one instance, Boardman’s group used SAS to help show a profit with a disability product that had previously reported high administrative costs. Using SAS, BCBSF discovered that the administrative fee it was charging did not cover the internal costs of administering the claims process.

As a separate project, the team identified manual processes – such as weekly check-writing, claim-payment reporting, and tax-withholding and payment processing – that could be automated to save time and money. By using SAS to identify inefficiencies, BCBSF was able to reduce the time required to process disability claims by 90 percent. The cost per claim has decreased from more than $80 to $20, making this disability product profitable.

SAS Activity-Based Management also has enabled the company to raise rates when necessary without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Using SAS, BCBSF can now document and report to the customer the group’s actual costs compared to rates paid. With the SAS solution, BCBSF was able to develop a pricing model that gave the company the ability to:

  • Determine customer price based on specific attributes of a customer.
  • Perform "what-if" analysis based on numerous pricing scenarios.
  • Customize pricing structures for individual customers.
  • Determine price as an unbundled rate, bundled rate or on a per member per month basis.

Such information is used to generate regular reports on customer profitability that are used to determine when contractual adjustments are necessary. Customers have embraced this information and have proved willing to pay more for quality, reliable service. BCBSF had three customers for whom it had to triple rates, and all three stayed with the company. In addition, BCBSF uses SAS Activity-Based Management to determine costs incurred in a "cost-plus" arrangement with a muti-million dollar account, which allows BCBSF to recover the actual cost of servicing the account while ensuring a healthy revenue flow.

Further, activity-based costing has been a useful tool for allocating limited resources. Specifically, managers have used the solution to help prioritize activities and to track employee workloads.

The solution’s effectiveness is measured by how easily it:

  • Provides opportunities for identifying process improvements. In some cases, the activity-based costing process revealed such opportunities before the implementation was completed.
  • Reports product profitability. When unprofitable products are identified, BCBSF uses the solution to identify opportunities for process improvement, product modification or enhancements, pricing adjustments, or discontinuation of the product line.
  • Supports product pricing. Data is used to help establish pricing assumptions, and performance is monitored against these assumptions.
  • Provides customer profitability reporting, enabling BCBSF to identify unprofitable customers and manage them to profitability or drop them altogether. Additionally, the solution is used to help develop pricing levels for future customers, ensuring their profitability from the start.
  • Identifies the costs of activities and unit cost measures. Both measures are compared regularly against internal standards for the identification and resolution of problems.

Because the SAS solution gives BCBSF detailed information that mirrors the day-to-day activities of its people and processes, it enables the company to continually monitor and improve procedures, readily adapting to changes in the business environment – whatever they might be.

The information uncovered by the solution led the company to expand the process to include not just administrative costs but the characteristics of the individual customers. Armed with such vital information, BCBSF can adapt its strategies to manage costs and customer relationships proactively.

Currently, the team is facing the new challenge of modeling changes resulting from an organizational restructuring. A new senior management team is in place, and groups are being aligned by function (e.g., service, support) rather than business unit (e.g., dental, workers’ compensation). Because the solution has proven to be so flexible in accommodating other changes in the past as well as annual updates, Boardman is confident it is up to the task and views these efforts as just another step in the continuing expansion of the solution’s reach.

list of winners

DuPont Inc.
with MicroStrategy, Inc.

CATEGORY: Business Intelligence

DuPont Crop Protection serves production agriculture with products for the grain and specialty crop sectors as well as forestry and vegetation management. It includes global herbicide, fungicide and insecticide products and services. Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, DuPont Crop Protection is part of the overall Agriculture & Nutrition business. The mission of Agriculture & Nutrition is to best satisfy the world's need for food and nutrition by transforming the ways renewable resources are grown, processed and distributed.

DuPont is undertaking a new initiative across its business units to streamline operations by implementing new and innovative business processes. As part of this new initiative, DuPont’s Agricultural Crop Protection Business Unit implemented the Development Data Warehouse using MicroStrategy’s integrated Business Intelligence Platform because they needed to be able to analyze, summarize and create reports on their global field data for regulatory agencies.

DuPont discovered that their current systems were not fast enough to effectively analyze and summarize its data. They were eager to speed up the ability to make more strategic business decisions on new product data in order to reduce time to market and drive increased revenues. In addition, DuPont wanted to decrease their regulatory timeline – the time spent from product discovery to product licensing from the regulatory agency – in order to market and sell products in a more efficient manor. The combination of having accurate, timely information available with the new ability to easily write license reports has significantly reduced DuPont’s regulatory timeline.

Another key reason that DuPont implemented the Development Data Warehouse is because they needed to increasingly collaborate in their use of global data resources; MicroStrategy’s integrated Business Intelligence Platform provided the scalability and flexibility that DuPont needed. DuPont’s existing systems did not allow for the collection, standardization, and sharing of valuable field information. By more extensively collaborating in the utilization of global resources, DuPont’s field staff could significantly reduce the amount of repetitive work being done and increase efficiencies, thus saving time and money.

In today’s dynamically changing agribusiness environment, it is crucial that DuPont’s field staff be equipped with timely and accurate information to provide adequate product support and be revered as field experts. The new business intelligence tool arms the field staff with the knowledge and decision making potential that they need.

The DuPont Development Data Warehouse is a business intelligence tool that analyzes, summarizes, manages, and reports on global field development trials for crop protection chemicals. DuPont’s BI solution is unique in that it involves the collaboration, support and technologies of five companies – CSC, MFG, Heartland, MicroStrategy, and DuPont – making this a complex and technically challenging project to implement. Coinciding with the development of the new BI solution, DuPont also had to upgrade its existing data input system so that it would most effectively integrate and scale with the new system.

The Development Data Warehouse was created as a project with clear defined milestones including design, build, test, and pilot phases. The total time that the Development Data Warehouse took to implement – from the requirement gathering phase to full implementation – was approximately 22 months and was completed on time for the target rollout date in October 2003. DuPont utilized a development team of approximately 13-15 people, which included a technical architect, business intelligence architect, project manager, and quality assurance personnel amongst others. In addition, DuPont utilized a global user group to help identify the business needs and requirements of the solution.

DuPont’s BI solution has several custom applications including Custom dynamic grouping, consolidation and business decision management; Management Console, warehouse management for ETL and maintaining global standards; and Enterprise Manager, report usage statistics distributed via email. Using these custom applications, DuPont generates over 4,000 reports a month.

The MicroStrategy platform adds additional functionality including providing drag-and-drop report formatting, drop-down menu bars and right-mouse click drill-down features, and custom individual ad hoc reports. MicroStrategy business intelligence helped DuPont not only deliver information more quickly, but ensured the high quality and accuracy of that information, driving better business decisions and enhancing productivity and efficiency.

Data warehouse: Oracle 9i
Hardware: Sun
Business Intelligence: MicroStrategy Business Intelligence Platform

DuPont has realized many benefits from the Development Data Warehouse. With MicroStrategy’s user-friendly reports, DuPont’s employees are empowered with added insight to make more strategic and proactive decisions in a significantly decreased timeframe. In addition, the new solution allows managers to improve workflow management and assess areas where improvement is needed.

One of the primary drivers behind implementing a BI solution was to streamline operations through innovative technology solutions. The new BI tool has not only improved productivity and efficiency, but it has also generated a company-wide awareness for the need to create and adopt technology standards within the organization. The adoption of technology standards is cultivating new and more strategic business processes, which is changing the business dynamic and culture of the company. Global field staff has praised the system, reporting that they are able to perform analysis and create reports in as little as 30 minutes compared to several days before. DuPont can now maintain its competitive advantage by collaborating globally on business-critical information.

DuPont Crop Protection Development recently completed an extensive reengineering effort to improve its productivity and effectiveness. By carefully measuring costs of current work flow practices and processes, financial base line measurements were constructed and business metric goals were established to continuously monitor any newly implemented process changes with respect to business impact. The reengineering effort required change in the way people work, efforts to streamline processes, and implementing effective new tools, such as MicroStrategy. Examples of increased demonstrated business value enabled by improved data management are:

  • By enabling more effective product development for faster introduction of new products, DuPont projects a potential of $10-50 million in new revenue per new product introduced.
  • By reducing the number of field trials needed to make biological decisions, DuPont will save $.5-1 million per year.
  • By reducing the time needed to analyze and summarize data, DuPont will save $.5-.75 million per year.
  • The use of standards and templates for initiation, planning, analysis and reporting of field trials will lead to a reduction in the number of incomplete studies, yielding a cost savings of $.5 million per year.
  • By establishing a common system to capture all data generated from field trials, DuPont will save $.9-1.2 million per year.
  • By arming DuPont’s field team with real-time product information, they are better positioned as technical experts for both internal and external customers.

By subsuming all of DuPont’s disparate resources onto a single platform, the Development Data Warehouse provides DuPont with an innovative environment that is not limited or hampered by IT. DuPont is able to continue to enhance and develop new business models, new business processes, and new decision-making techniques that will drive success and grow and adapt with today’s dynamic agriculture market. DuPont also plans to leverage this solution to refine its processes for data mining and establish a long-term knowledge management solution. As the solution is based on MicroStrategy's easy-to-use and flexible business intelligence platform, this provides an inherent usability to help ensure the solution’s long-term sustainability and delivers continued value over time, including new MicroStrategy Report Services and MicroStrategy Office tools. DuPont’s Development Data Warehouse and integration with its previously released MicroStrategy Research Data Warehouse information system is believed to be the first significant R&D data warehouse implementation that integrates data from a broad range of scientific disciplines. The solution has given DuPont the opportunity to explore areas and insights into its business that were previously unobtainable.

The integrated solution allows DuPont to provide a leveraged support team dedicated to maintaining and upgrading the solution so that it remains a dynamic force driving DuPont’s innovation forward.

list of winners

Miles Kimball Company
with Geac

CATEGORY: Corporate Performance Management & Balanced Scorecard

Miles Kimball Company is a leading direct marketer of consumer gifts and household products, mailing out 55 million catalogs per year. Their challenge was to perform the "balancing act" of keeping inventory as low as possible without adversely affecting order fulfillment or customer satisfaction. This required integrating the customer relationship management, order fulfillment, and financial information systems so that managers could analyze and track sales by item, product group, and even page position within the catalog. Only by having real-time access to this key data could managers accurately forecast sales, assess previous catalog cycles, and ensure the availability of the most popular items at the best prices. In addition, because of the highly competitive nature of the retail industry, it was necessary for Miles Kimball to be able to perform an ongoing analysis of marketing, sales, and margin data by product, category, and division.

Miles Kimball implemented Geac Performance Management, a single application with integrated modules for planning, budgeting, forecasting, financial consolidation, reporting and analysis, and strategy management. The solution offered the enterprise-wide reporting and analysis functionality the company required, while centralizing and integrating key data from the customer relationship management, order fulfillment, and financial information systems. Geac Performance Management was implemented on the web to provide immediate online access to information, and was fully integrated with Excel for easy, user-driven reporting. The system's design included customized key performance tracking by department that can be adjusted daily and built-in exception alerts for proactive decision-making. The solution was implemented in three phases. Phase I consisted of implementing Reporting and Analysis to Gross Margin by catalog, by product category, and by channel. It took 4 months to build cubes and reports and 4 more months for Data validation. Phase II was the implementation of Budgeting and Financial Reporting, including the automation of budgeting processes and actual versus variance reporting, and took 3 months. The company is currently in Phase III, which consists of implementing a company wide business performance management initiative, including rolling out the Geac Strategy Management module to departmental managers. This Phase is still in progress.

To date there are 50 User IDs in effect at Miles Kimball. There are 20 users of the budgeting system.

Since implementing Geac Performance Management, Miles Kimball has experienced a tremendous savings in report generation time, allowing more time to be spent analyzing data and enabling responses to be made in a timely manner. The application gives management the ability to analyze marketing, sales, and margin data by category, division, and SKU. Merchandising managers are able to track sales for each item, and drill down to detailed information when corrective action is needed. Built-in exception alerting, notifying managers of out-of-range results or trends, promotes proactive decision-making and enables quick corrective action to be taken. More accurate and readily available forecasting capabilities have provided better inventory control, enabling catalogs to be planned further in advance and ensuring that staffing is maintained at appropriate levels. Senior managers are already using the Strategy Management module of Geac Performance Management to identify key performance indicators and build budgets and plans that translate corporate strategies into day-to-day operations. With the roll-out of Strategy Management to departmental managers it is projected that strategic goals, tactics, and metrics can be further intertwined in the company’s day-to-day operations.

Some of the most profound benefits of the Geac solution, such as better decision-making and an increased ability to align operations with strategy, are difficult to quantify. Dana Gilman, Miles Kimball’s Vice-President of Product Planning and Analysis, has stated that "Geac Performance Management combines the best attributes that technology and business practice can provide in a single system. Users have the ability to move around in the data, slicing and dicing it in different ways, so they can be true analysts – not data gatherers." According to Mike Muoio, the President of Miles Kimball, "Geac

Gilman states that because of the efficiencies provided by Geac she was able to eliminate 2 positions within her department, and that a current acquisition, which in the past would have required 4-5 people to manage, is only taking 1-2 people thanks to Geac. She also confirms that Geac has opened up the budgeting process to as many as 20 contributors, whereas previously there were only 5 budget holders. As a result, budgets are more reliable and realistic, and there is far more widespread buy-in.

A major part of Miles Kimball’s decision to implement Geac Performance Management was a recognized need for faster access to data in order to keep pace with the highly volatile consumer market. The ability to centralize and analyze information from multiple perspectives helps Miles Kimball create catalogs that feature popular new products, or find replacements for products whose sales have not matched projections. Miles Kimball can also use Geac to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing programs, so they can reallocate resources based on which programs are most effective (i.e. internet vs. postcards) or take advantage of new marketing opportunities as they arise. Geac is currently helping Miles Kimball manage a major corporate acquisition, so the applications adds value by helping Miles Kimball continue to grow and expand. Mike Muoio, President of Miles Kimball, has stated, "Geac Performance Management is critical to our future growth."

list of winners

with Informatica

CATEGORY: Data Acquisition & Integration

Commercial insurance is arguably the most data-driven and information-sensitive of industries. The data that a large insurer maintains is complex, dynamic, and voluminous to such a degree that it can be difficult to simply manage – much less exploit for competitive advantage.

CNA, the fourth largest commercial writer in the U.S. with $12.3 billion in annual revenue and more than $60 billion in assets, recognized that challenge. With data scattered across 26 legacy systems, the Chicago-based insurer embarked on a massive data integration project for property and casualty coverage, its principal line of business.

The objective was to – for the first time – consolidate policy data in a central data warehouse, called Merlin. This high-profile project enjoyed the backing of Stephen W. Lilienthal, CNA’s chairman and CEO, and involved dozens of senior managers in aligning business and IT objectives and strategies.

With Merlin, more than 1,300 CNA managers, analysts, actuaries, and underwriters would gain unprecedented visibility into detailed data to more precisely manage and measure rate, profitability, retention, and claims. In the past, CNA could not easily measure those crucial metrics across the entire company; with Merlin, they would be measured by lines of business, branches, underwriters, regions, and other dimensions.

CNA also recognized a need for greater business speed, flexibility, and accuracy. To this end, it devised a unique solution that leverages the Informatica Power Center data integration platform to perform complex numerical calculations – an ambitious actuarial number-crunching system that would ensure data was poised for business exploitation as it entered the Merlin warehouse.

Finally, Merlin would answer business needs for improved cross-departmental collaboration, cross-sell and up-sell, and customer service through a common data model and integrated foundation.

The CNA solution consists of two principal data integration elements, both facilitated by Informatica PowerCenter:

  • Sourcing data from 26 legacy systems, located in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., and moving it to the Merlin warehouse.
  • Executing complex numerical calculations through custom actuarial algorithms and business rules written into PowerCenter that draw on hundreds of variables to generate rate (fees charged to customers).

The task was formidable. CNA’s 26 source systems span 50 property and casualty lines of business, such as machinery, marine, engineering, and commercial property. These systems had evolved over years into data silos with varying data models and algorithms on a mix of platforms, including IBM VSAM mainframes, and IBM DB2, Oracle, Sybase, and Paradox databases.

CNA developers mapped and modeled over 10 years worth of property and casualty data, totaling nearly 6 terabytes, including:

  • Analysis of 78,000 data elements
  • Selection and cross-referencing of 11,000 data elements
  • Creating more than 3,500 source-to-target mappings
  • Creating a common data model across 26 systems and 50 lines of business

CNA’s IT team leveraged PowerCenter for the complex actuarial calculations necessary to determine rates and measure rate achievement (the rate of profit or loss). CNA developers wrote algorithms and business rules into PowerCenter that draw on highly granular and interdependent data points such as changes in coverage, limits, deductibles, claims, and regulations and rate parameters that vary by state and nation.

With this approach, CNA innovatively extended PowerCenter beyond its traditional role of transforming data formats. For CNA’s solution, PowerCenter executed numerical calculations that generated wholly new data sets – a task deemed too complex for a front-end business intelligence tool. As opposed to post-load analysis, CNA determined that pre-load PowerCenter calculations would be faster, more reliable, more repeatable, and more cost effective.

Pre-load calculations via PowerCenter were also judged superior to the alternative of using UNIX scripting, PL/SQL and stored procedures for the number-crunching. A key disadvantage to that approach, used in an early data warehouse initiative, was that calculation code had to be dispersed and maintained on individual source systems.

Instead, CNA opted for the flexibility of a state-of-the-art data integration platform. With PowerCenter, calculation code is centralized and easily maintained, and also exacts less of a penalty performance on operational applications.

CNA runs its weekly data loads from source systems to Merlin using an HP Superdome and Oracle 8i as its data warehouse infrastructure. To support ongoing demands, CNA is transitioning to the Oracle 9i database and IBM p690 servers with 32 CPUs running at 1.7GHz and 150GB of RAM.

The key benefit from Merlin is that CNA has, for the first time, a comprehensive view of all its property and casualty data – consistent across the enterprise and ready for accurate reporting and analysis to help the company make profitable decisions about reserving and the pricing of its products. Previously, business analysts who needed detailed data had to request a custom report from an IT specialist – with Merlin, analysts can more quickly and cost-effectively conduct detailed analyses themselves, freeing IT specialists to work on more strategic initiatives.

Today, the 6-terabyte Merlin warehouse is the lifeblood of CNA’s business and is accessed by approximately 100 managers and analysts; the audience will broaden to more than 1,300 users throughout 2004 to support:

  • Fine-tuning rates and rate achievement
  • Detailed analysis of revenue, cost, and profitability
  • Performance measurement by line of business, branch, and underwriters
  • Improved risk management, actuarial precision, and recognition of changing conditions
  • Higher quality customer service in outbound communications and call centers
  • Identification of new cross-sell, up-sell, and business generation opportunities
  • Collaboration among business units atop a "single version of the truth"
  • Superior accountability, auditing, and security

In addition, Merlin greatly enhances CNA’s ability to provide uniform, verifiable, and quantifiable information to independent rating agencies. High marks from rating agencies are crucial to a commercial insurer’s ability to win market share and credibility among customers.

In designing and developing Merlin, CNA used a disciplined project management methodology that outlined timeline, budget, deliverables, responsibilities, and objectives. Performance was measured against a set of metrics, such as critical path analysis, schedule variance, and earned value. This structured framework proved instrumental in enabling the project team to deliver the solution within its 11-month deadline, and below its multi-million dollar budget.

The value of the solution has been widely recognized by CNA management. In 2003, CNA management cited the Merlin 2.1 project team for four awards given to successful IT efforts:

  1. Best Business Partner for Development of Technology
  2. Best Performance in a Support Role
  3. The Team that Went the Extra Mile
  4. The Most Results Driven

CNA regards Merlin’s sophisticated data management capabilities as a significant competitive advantage that its competitors have yet to match, and which obviates the lost-opportunity costs associated with the alternative of having continued past practice.

From a business perspective, Merlin provides CNA with new ability to monitor and react to the highly dynamic drivers of commercial insurance, such as catastrophic loss and event-driven risk recalculation. It enables CNA to proactively respond to changing conditions, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate adverse consequences with far greater speed and precision than had been possible in the past.

Moreover, Merlin provides a technical and business foundation from which CNA intends to spin off new business initiatives. Notably, Merlin will support at least three data marts that CNA intends to deploy: A sales and marketing data mart for cross-sell and up-sell, an actuarial data mart for pricing and reserving actuaries, and a claims data mart for claims resolution.

These business-specific data marts – subsets of summarized data from Merlin – will provide users with key metrics, pre-built queries, and information targeted to their specific needs. Though 2004 and beyond, such Merlin-based initiatives promise to deliver quantifiable value to CNA’s bottom line.

Merlin has not only accomplished its goals for the business, it has also set up the architectural pattern for building business intelligence applications at CNA. Part of the solution’s adaptability to changing business requirements is driven by a strategic architectural decision to have a table-driven implementation using the ETL code. This approach enables IT administrators to rapidly accommodate changing demands and parameters (rates that vary by state, for instance) without hard-coding.

list of winners

Premier, Inc.
with Knightsbridge Solutions

CATEGORY: Data Acquisition & Integration

Premier, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest strategic healthcare alliances offering group purchasing and performance improvement services to the healthcare industry. Within its performance improvement, or Healthcare Informatics division, Premier provides hospitals and pharmaceutical companies with clinical comparative data that enables them to gauge and improve hospital and drug performance, fulfill regulatory reporting requirements, and operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Premier loads cumulative data from member hospitals into its Perspective data warehouse, which cleanses, maps, transforms, and standardizes the data. Perspective is the nation's largest clinical comparative database supplying hospital and pharmaceutical customers with critical insights that ultimately help improve patient care. In fact, there are 17 TB of data used throughout Perspective Data Warehouse process. This is comprised of five billion rows of data, of which two billion rows are patient records.

Business Reasons

Historically, Premier Healthcare Informatics had focused their business on group purchasing and clinical and financial performance-based reporting for their hospital customers. But recently, Premier Healthcare Informatics identified there was significant opportunity to improve hospital performance and quality of care by enhancing the clinical aspect of their warehouse through collection of clinical indicators. For Premier Healthcare Informatics, this would be a strategic way to continue to add customer value and position the company as a leader at the forefront of an emerging trend in hospital performance management.

However, the volume of data associated with these indicators in addition to the steady growth of their client base put Premier Healthcare Informatics at risk for meeting their data load cycles. Building a new technology solution would be no small undertaking, given the complexity of the data and data sources.

The nature of source systems and the complexity of the data involved posed challenges to data integrity – a critical issue considering in some instances lives are at stake based on the right data for quality healthcare. Source systems include more than 500 individual hospital systems contracted to submit data to Premier. Without direct ownership of those systems, Premier has little control over the quality of data. Also, the data is very detailed and extremely complex—one patient could have hundreds or thousands of records with relationships across records that must stay intact throughout the data warehousing process.

New ETL System Identified to Enhance Perspective Data Warehouse

Premier's Healthcare Informatics customer base had grown by 30 percent and was continuing to grow. The company expected to more than double the number of hospitals whose data was being processed each quarter—from 200 to 450 hospitals.

An assessment of Premier's data warehousing environment revealed that in order to achieve these growth objectives, the system would require complex code changes, additional hardware, and a larger staff, all of which were costly and resource-intensive solutions. Instead, Premier worked with Knightsbridge Solutions to build a new extract, transform, and load (ETL) process. This new process would revive the data warehousing environment by scaling to accommodate exponential growth in data volumes while enhancing current processing time and preserving quality standards—all at a lower cost of ownership.

The Solution

Premier Healthcare Informatics group embarked on a mission to reduce costs and improve the performance of loading data into the Perspective Data Warehouse through a complete redesign of its data load cycle. This undertaking was called the "Perspective Data Warehouse ETL" (PDWE) data load process.

The new architecture dramatically reduced landing data while making significant use of parallelism in an expandable server configuration. Premier and Knightsbridge developed a new ETL process for the Perspective data warehouse using Ab Initio's general-purpose data processing platform to achieve scalability through parallel processing. The new process incorporated mechanisms for ensuring data quality and improving maintainability and operability of the system. The software combined with adherence to design principles provided Premier with an architecture that could expand across servers while making extensive use of parallelism in all phases.

Once a submitted set of hospital data is marked clean in Perspective Transform it can be picked up by the AutoSys scheduled ETL. The extraction from Transform is done using many parallel tasks that feed many more parallel transformation processes that will ultimately load this base data into the warehouse.

To reduce maintenance and ensure quality of reference data, a Central Reference Data Repository (CRDR) was created to hold all standard lists. All processes now use CRDR as the single source for standard descriptive data. The appropriate maintenance procedures were put in place for the CRDR to verify this architecture principle would continue. This included naming a CRDR manager.

The ETL architecture also included several initiatives for operational effectiveness. Checkpoints in the design give the operation team several opportunities to restart from consistent points after any kind of failure. Errors are communicated by email that can be redirected to pagers.

Implementation of this design has reduced processing steps from 96 to five, consisting of two "Movement" and "Handling" steps, two "Process Control" steps, and one "Execution" step.

Timing & Maturity

The nine-month project made its first production run on June 28, 2002, and the company continues to make enhancements to further increase Premier Healthcare Informatics’ clinical performance-based reporting capabilities.


The updated system serves nearly 3,000 executive and clinical users who run a total of 35,000-80,000 unique, on-demand reports each month. User titles include CEO, CFO, CIO, CMO, Clinical Analysts, DSS/Financial Analysts, Management Engineers, Physicians, and Clinical Quality Managers.

Solution Team

Total internal Premier Healthcare Informatics data warehousing team members included the following:

  • 10 Developers
  • 9 Data management QA
  • 4 QA testers
  • 1 Project manager
  • 2 Data/technical architects
  • 9 Operational personnel
  • 6 External consultants provided by Knightsbridge Solutions

Impact of the new Perspective Data Warehouse ETL process on Premier:

  • Dollars saved:
    • Ultimately, a faster processing environment and more efficient technical environment saved Premier nearly $2 million per year.
  • Business strategy supported:
    • Allows Premier to lead its industry during a time when increasing emphasis is placed on clinical performance-based reporting.
    • Allows Premier Healthcare Informatics to continue to grow and operate in a way that fosters lower costs and faster adaptability to business and regulatory conditions and demands.
  • Client base grown:
    • Premier is now able to increase its client base cost-effectively without impacting the quality or timeliness of the data it presents to clients.
  • Technical efficiencies realized:
    • Improved processing time and ability to continue to meet same timeline windows with almost twice the amount of data
    • Less manual data checking required, thus reallocation of available staff to other responsibilities.
    • Improved data quality due to less potential for manual error.
    • Ability to easily plan additional software version releases.
    • Enhancement of the QA process for the ETL’s development and the QA of the data that is moved.
    • Deployment of a fully scalable ETL product utilizing enterprise class servers and accessing enterprise class storage.
    • Reduction of over 100 processing steps.
  • New opportunities for technical staff
    • Career growth opportunities were opened for staff.

What does the Perspective Data Warehouse ETL mean to Premier’s clients?

Hospitals and health systems using Premier Healthcare Informatics’ comparative information and performance improvement services report significant cost savings and improved clinical outcomes. Some fast facts on results include:

  • Lives saved:
    • One South Carolina hospital implemented a "Clinical Effectiveness" program as a hospital-wide, physician-driven quality improvement approach to produce major breakthroughs in clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and reductions in expenses. Clinical comparative information from Premier Healthcare Informatics' Perspective data warehouse and database provides the foundation for the methodology. So far, the Clinical Effectiveness program has achieved:
      • 157 lives saved.
      • 108 potential readmissions avoided.
      • 7749 potential days saved.
      • $6,406,229 potential dollars saved.
      • 377 potential complications avoided.
    • One study of the PDWE data found that for patients who received a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and were given an aspirin, mortality rates were 3.4% lower than those who weren’t and the cost per patient dropped by $2,043.
  • Dollars saved:
    • Premier Healthcare Informatics’ offers to contract "performance engineers" to hospital clients to better leverage their Perspective data. Analysis showed that in the last fiscal year, hospitals achieved a 5:1 cost-benefit ratio for performance engineers. This resulted in a reported $26 million in member-validated savings.
    • One Midwest hospital saved $5.6 million on CAP and CHF patient groups after modifying their care processes via intelligence gathered from Premier Healthcare Informatics comparative data.
    • For those patients with potentially preventable postoperative physiological and metabolic derangements, the analysis of PDWE data revealed that costs per patient could be reduced by $22,628.
  • TCO: The new ETL process will dramatically reduce long term investments in the Perspective data warehouse:
    • The new process allows Premier to process 50 percent more data without increasing run times or increasing staff size.
    • To expand, only hardware additions are necessary.
  • ROI: The new ETL process paid for itself as early as the first quarter the production system was up and running and from that point on has only become more efficient:
    • A more efficient technical environment and faster data processing times, save Premier nearly $4 million per year.
    • The new ETL process enables Premier to generate additional revenue from its rapidly growing client base.
  • Maintain service levels: Premier is now able offer more value-added services and take on new customers and their data at a much faster pace and in a more cost-effective manner.
  • Success is also measured by improved savings and performance for Premier’s customers.

The entire Perspective data warehouse ETL system was based on the ability to adapt quickly and efficiently to changing business needs.

  • Lowering TCO:
    • Previously, to achieve business goals and meet new business requirements, the ETL system would have required complex code changes, additional hardware, and a larger staff, all of which were costly and resource-intensive solutions. Instead, the new process scales to accommodate exponential growth in data volumes while enhancing current processing time and preserving quality standards at a lower cost of ownership.
  • Ensuring data quality:
    • The new process incorporated mechanisms for ensuring long-term data quality and improving maintainability and operability of the system. The software combined with adherence to design principles provided Premier with an architecture that could expand across servers while making extensive use of parallelism in all phases.
  • Continued enhancements:
    • Premier anticipates to continue realize additional savings based on the work completed with the ETL redesign to date and on future releases and enhancements. Future releases will add significant processing to the ETL and require more storage per patient record set. A future release will extend this potential with the addition of meta data capabilities.
  • Scalability
    • These life-saving quality and safety indicators would not be possible in the original architecture since there was limited opportunity to expand the processing capacity. The new architecture has time left in the processing window and can expand with only hardware additions.
  • Maintaining high level of customer service during growth
    • Finally, Premier is able to accomplish all of this and is able to expand its client base efficiently without any impact to the quality or timeliness of the data presented to clients.
list of winners

Jefferson County Public Schools
with Teradata, a division of NCR

CATEGORY: Data Management

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) serves more than 96,000 students in the greater Louisville, Kentucky region. JCPS employs 18,000 people and is the largest school district in the state and the 26th largest in the country. The district serves a population of both urban and rural students across more than 152 locations. It has an annual operating budget of $600 million.

For such a large enterprise, optimum performance and productivity were critical. JCPS needed systems that enabled it to track information, identify trends and use business intelligence to make better decisions. However, a legacy mainframe system made it difficult for JCPS to provide the desired level of service to all its stakeholders. The IT team was struggling to meet information requests, with the system not able to support the type of interactive questioning that decision makers needed. JCPS wanted a solution that provided responsive service to all departments – one that could help improve the instructional component of schools, enhance the ability to avoid cost and streamline funds management, and support accountability across the district. JCPS had the information it needed, but it needed a solution that could help it deliver a single, integrated view of its business quickly and responsively to all stakeholders.

JCPS selected Teradata, a division of NCR, to create a Teradata® Warehouse that could support its ambitious service and performance goals. Since the original implementation in 1988, the JCPS IT infrastructure has grown and developed – and the applications for the data warehouse have evolved, too. What began as a tool for IT-led decision support has matured into an enterprise solution that more than 1,000 users throughout the district rely on to support data-based decision making. Today, JCPS uses the Teradata solution in diverse areas that range from managing federal funding to correlating professional development and specialized service with student test performance and achievement. Users can ask any question at any time, without restriction, and get nearly instant answers through easy-to-use, off-the-shelf desktop tools. The warehouse helps JCPS identify complex interrelationships, providing knowledge that supports complex decision-making and creates a springboard for new opportunities for achievement. Moreover, it has turned a huge collection of JCPS information into a highly valuable asset.

The solution consists of student, employee, facility, and financial data – both detailed and summary – for all schools and support departments. As such, it serves as a single view on information about all aspects of JCPS operations. It also offers tools to generate reports and perform analyses. All of the data comes from operational and transaction processing systems throughout JCPS; information from these systems is placed into the data warehouse for evaluation and analysis. The data has been collected over many years, which means that JCPS can use it to perform historical and longitudinal analyses. All decision support activities are executed on the Teradata Warehouse.

Two high-speed channel connects link the mainframe to the Teradata Warehouse. Warehouse users are connected over a TCP/IP fiber optic network. Each of the organization’s 152 school locations has Internet access and thus access to the data warehouse.

The JCPS warehouse includes approximately 1,800 relational tables with both detail and summary information about students, employees, facilities, and finances. Table sizes range from one or two rows to 130 million rows (one row for each student per day since 1994). As a result, production storage requires more than 700 gigabytes of disk space. Tables are normalized and have been designed with the novice user as the target. Consequently, tables describe a single entity and column names describing entity attributes are created to be clear and unambiguous with only obvious abbreviations.

Using the Teradata FastLoad utility, JCPS updates approximately 90% of the data in the warehouse each night. Business rules are employed to ensure data accuracy and integrity. These utilities re-engineer the updated transactional data in the mainframe and load it into base tables in the relational database. In addition, some data is restructured from the base tables to build additional summary tables that simplify decision support. Data is reused from table to table as necessary, but updated and kept current at the detail level to ensure integrity.

Four IT employees staff the Teradata Warehouse, with one DBA, one systems programmer who develops complex queries and reports, and two developers. JCPS first implemented the data warehouse in 1988. From 1988 to 1993, JCPS upgraded its solution numerous times. Software upgrades have been implemented as the power and elegance of the solution grew.

The solution delivers immeasurable cross-enterprise cost savings, new efficiencies and opportunities. Accurately quantifying the value is difficult, however JCPS conservatively estimates its ROI to be between 10 and 15 times the cost of the annual investment.

The Teradata Warehouse has been instrumental in assisting JCPS achieve many of its performance goals by helping:

  • Manage 450 grants and awards worth $150 to $200 million. Preparing these grants used to take one week every month to prepare. It now takes less than one day per month.
  • Report on budgets, payroll, attendance and expenditures.
  • Track funding for free/reduced-cost lunches, protecting distributed funds through audits and discovering savings.
  • Analyze 200-5000 call center requests per week.
  • Serves as the backbone of transportation management for more than 1,500 district vehicles.
  • Deliver decision support capabilities that help each school identify trends and correlate special behaviors with results – improving educational quality.
  • Evaluate programs for students and professional development.
  • Identify and support children requiring English language assistance.
  • Correlate cognitive and non-cognitive student data to identify at-risk children who need additional support.
  • Document truancy problems and highlight the financial value of enhanced student attendance, helping cut truancy rates and increase state funding.
  • Provide data needed for media requests, legal actions and stakeholder information – quickly and cost-effectively.

As a result of using the Teradata solution, JCPS has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, including:

  • 2000 TechnoVision Education-Government Award, an honor awarded in the Louisville area to programs in cutting edge technology in both instructional and administrative areas.
  • 2001 grant from the Broad Foundation to showcase technology usage.
  • 2003 National Dropout Prevention Network’s Crystal Star Program Award of Excellence in dropout recovery, intervention and prevention.
  • Nominated as one of the nationwide 2003 finalists for the "Most Outstanding School District in the Country" award, sponsored by the Broad Foundation.

JCPS is a data-driven organization. Users at JCPS agree that the Teradata solution provides the visibility and powerful business intelligence needed to support better decision-making throughout the district.

In the 15 years it has been using the Teradata solution, JCPS has never had to change its tables or index structure to accommodate system growth, new platforms, or software migrations. As a result, the Teradata warehouse has lent JCPS tremendous stability, even as the enterprise has dynamically changed.

As the data grew, JCPS scaled from an 8-gigabyte solution to a 1-terabyte warehouse, without ever changing the structure of any tables. JCPS fully expects to grow to at least 5 terabytes of data and beyond, without compromising its response times. Critical to the success has been ensuring the solution supports a single view of the enterprise. Key to this effort has been ensuring the system has well designed summary tables, which mean any question about any function can be answered in a timely fashion.

JCPS is moving to make aggregate enterprise data available on all school desktops so that schools may determine how they perform within the overall organization. The object is to promote healthy competition between schools in such critical areas as attendance. Such aggregate data is currently only available in printed media such as booklets, periodicals and newspapers.

To ensure the solution continues to meet users’ needs, JCPS has a formal system whereby users submit requests for changes as well as reports, labels, and other normal activities provided by IT departments. In addition, in cases where there are more difficult data warehouse queries, the IT developers will directly help users or complete the query and results in its entirety. This close connectedness to users acts like a buoy to surface enhancements and helps to further align IT department activities with organizational objectives and goals.

Despite its size, the data warehouse is a dynamic tool that can be readily and easily aligned with any changes in the business objectives of JCPS. For example, JCPS has an objective of having every student in the district reading at grade level by 2008. This objective is very ambitious – currently only approximately 80% of district students can read at their grade level. A structure for success was built – the community became involved, a plan was formulated and funding was obtained. The final task was accountability and measurements for progress so that daily tactics will focus on the objective. Several tests were reviewed and plans are underway to implement these tests to measure various aspects of reading progress at all levels. As soon as test results are received, data warehouse developers will immediately begin the process of loading the data from disperate sources to the Teradata data warehouse. Due to the maturity of the JCPS environment, this process is measured in hours and days rather than weeks or months. Thus the data warehouse will enable JCPS to hone in on the reading objective by tempering and adjusting day-to-day decisions based on this single version of the brutal truth. Very early in the process, teachers and administrators will know how they are doing and not have to guess at what to do next.

list of winners

Bombardier Transportation
with Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks

CATEGORY: Data Quality

Bombardier Transportation manufactures and services a wide variety of rail transportation vehicles and transit systems. This organization has grown tremendously since its inception in 1974. Part of this growth is due to strategic acquisitions, focused on other companies with proven designs and innovative technologies in the train/rail space. While this organizational strategy has placed the company at the very top of their market, it has also created a very challenging IT situation, with product, supplier, and customer data silos existing in more than 70 databases in eight "Silo" legacy systems, spread across the enterprise. Another complexity Bombardier faced is that they use more than 2.8 million parts to manufacture and service their products, work with over 200,000 suppliers, and conduct business in five different major languages.

As the organization grew, it became most clear to Bombardier that they needed to integrate all this information in order to achieve a global overview of their business. Strategic decisions impacting effective management of their international inventory, procurement, and sales and order processing were dependent on their integration initiatives. However the magnitude of disparate data sources, varying data standards (particularly of product and materials data), and the language barriers accompanying global data made this a daunting task, ridden with risk. Success was contingent upon ensuring adherence to standards and delivering a system with data integrity that users trust.

Bombardier’s solution is architected to integrate data from legacy systems using an ETL tool for data movement, and the Trillium Software System for cleansing, standardization across foreign domains, and verification of all product and material master data, supplier name and address data, and customer name and address data, then populating SAP Business Intelligence Warehouse (SAP BW). Nine million records of data are integrated into the enterprise data warehouse on a weekly basis, which supports about 300 business users primarily performing functions in strategic analysis, inventory management, procurement, and sales order processing.

The project, scheduled to be completed in 14 months with a budget of €8.9 million (~$12 million), was delivered under budget, and just two weeks after the initial production date goal. The initial load processed about 6 gigabytes of data, and each update load processes delta files from legacy systems, accounting for nearly 3 gigabytes of data.

The greatest challenge for Bombardier in populating their enterprise data warehouse lay in integrating their product data. Bombardier selected the Trillium Software System to play the key role in integrating and standardizing data from the various legacy systems. While most institutions consider data quality tools only for name and address data, Bombardier has successfully implemented a data quality solution to manage their data quality standards for product and material master data, showing true innovation in their use of the tool. Much of the product business rule content development occurred during two six-week spurts, with a group of four technologists literate in (collectively) each of the five languages. Commodity codes are assigned within the Trillium Software System Business Data Parser to product and material records, by translating local standard product codes and relying heavily on translating key words in the description fields. Some data sources contributed more headaches than others. Some systems sourced many product records tying back to essentially a dummy product code, employed by users to speed the data entry process.

Bombardier also addresses more traditional data quality concerns around names and addresses by processing their supplier and customer data through the Trillium Software System as well. Their global presence, both as a purchaser, and a product and service provider, adds a layer of complexity to this processing, as they must account for a wide variety of name forms and addresses from countries all over the world. However, systematically addressing these data quality concerns allows them to link supplier records across divisions and ensure more timely delivery to their customers through using valid addresses in any of the countries where these entities exist.

Bombardier not only shows technical prowess in the efficient and powerful solution they provide, but also demonstrates business acumen by taking advantage of the dual data quality solution functionality available within standard licensing of the tool. There are a number of benefits, both hard and soft, that Bombardier achieves having implemented the Trillium Software data quality solution at an enterprise level. Obvious benefits include a global overview of Bombardier’s total business, enabled by their single, harmonized data source. Prior to deployment, it could take up to six months to collect information necessary for a report, at which point the accuracy of the report was called into question, simply because of the latency of the data. Now, that same information is available every week, refreshed systematically. Users now trust the accuracy of the data they consume in order to make strategic decisions for the organization.

The cost and time investment to ship parts from a warehouse in another country, but necessary for immediate train/rail manufacture or service, e.g., diesel engines or bogies (running gear), is significantly less than purchasing the same item. Inventory management has been able to more effectively use existing stock and control purchasing specialty parts, significantly reducing costs and decreasing manufacture and repair time schedules.

The procurement of new stock (~€1 billion per annum) is more accurate for the organization’s true needs across all the divisions and more favorable contracts can be negotiated with suppliers, based on total organizational single contract volumes (€111 million) versus substantially smaller divisional single contract volumes (€3 million). Although Bombardier is still going through their post go-live 12 month structured benefits tracking phase, they anticipate that they will be able to conservatively attain 3-5% savings on their supplier agreements alone.

Sales order processing analysis is helping Bombardier more completely understand their own product landscape, the standard lifecycle of various parts and products, and anticipate problems before they manifest themselves.

The effectiveness of the solution is being measured against baseline values using a series of KPIs within each of the primary business functions:

  • Inventory Management—
    • Cost reduction of purchasing surplus parts that already exist in warehouses
    • Reduction in slow moving or obsolete parts
  • Procurement—
    • Savings on Supplier agreements (anticipated to be at least 3-5%, within 9 months),
    • Decreased number of suppliers
    • Identify and eliminate "Maverick" spending, or off contract agreements
    • Decreased overall spending by leveraging total spending across all divisions
  • Sales Order Processing—
    • Decreased number of invoices less than €150
    • Increased speed of product delivery
    • Apply common pricing policies across countries
    • Increase sales opportunities through cross country selling (Global customers)

Bombardier included several key design elements to support global solution growth.

  1. Data is aligned to published standards, e.g., product and material codes are standardized to UNSPSC (United Nations Standard Products and Services Codes) and FSF codes, the German national rail standard for train components. The supplier and customer master records are enriched with the Duns global numbering system, which is used to harmonize multiple instances of records. Conversion to ISO country codes during integration processing facilitates currency conversion and unit of measure standards. As data from additional countries folds into the system, these standards will continue to provide a consistent view of the organization.
  2. The system was built using a generic data model to accommodate functional expansion, additional data sources, and new requirements.
  3. Software applications for developing and maintaining the system were selected partially due to their ability to easily implement global growth and changes over time. Bombardier knew the solution will eventually expand to more parts of the world: Australasia, China, and further penetration in the Americas. Their selection of Trillium Software System as the data standardization and cleansing tool is primarily because it is architected to evolve with businesses. Utilities and functionality exist within the application to isolate data anomalies, report on cleansing and standardization deviations, and update processing rules to accommodate the organization’s changing data landscape. Bombardier has established resources with organizational responsibility for actively maintaining and tuning the system to adhere to their data quality standards. Bombardier uses features (Investigator, Parser Tuner, Matcher Tuner, client word pattern tables) to adapt processes to accommodate new business needs as they develop.
list of winners

T-Mobile (UK)
with Proxima Technology

CATEGORY: High Availability, Performance & Systems Management

In this fast moving IT-dependant business world, timely information about the critical operations helps executives make intelligent decisions and address unexpected problems. T-Mobile (UK)—one of the world’s largest and most successful worldwide mobile telecommunications carriers required a solution that would provide a holistic view of its business operations and in doing so, would:

  • Align IT with business objectives
  • Automate IT service reporting
  • Optimize IT-dependant business processes

Although interested in increasing efficiencies in multiple business operation areas, T-Mobile (UK) specifically focused on the following business feeds:

  • Billing
  • Provisioning
  • Customer Services
  • Whole sale
  • Wireless Number Portability (WNP)
  • Network Service; and
  • Trouble Ticket Service

To achieve this, T-Mobile (UK) turned to Proxima Technology’s Centauri Business Service Manager (Centauri). Centauri integrates applications, databases, and other infrastructure components, providing a single view into the overall status of an organization’s business operations – while providing advanced alert notifications and automatic reporting capabilities.

One of the strongest examples of an area where T-Mobile (UK) needed absolute operational efficiency was with its crucial WNP process; which gives subscribers a choice to keep their mobile phone numbers when changing service carriers. WNP was mandated in 1999 by the UK regulator for the telecommunications industry—Office Telecommunications, Oftel. It established that all wireless providers comply with the mandate and the service level agreements (SLAs) governing this process. When a subscriber submits a porting request to leave the carrier, the carrier has 2.5 hours to complete the transfer on the agreed porting day.

To comply with this government regulation and not incur WNP penalties, T-Mobile (UK) turned toward Centauri to measure IT service levels to ensure business objectives are aligned with T-Mobile’s technology infrastructure to help mitigate risks of severe fines and penalties. Should a problem occur, the business process owners, IT service delivery managers, and support staff are proactively notified to take corrective action.

Another example is, if an IT infrastructure problem occurred affecting T-Mobile’s customer service call center, the call center manager gets alerted and will immediately advise his or her client representatives on how best to handle incoming calls from frustrated clients. By mitigating the consequences of a problem, this directly impacts T-Mobile’s bottom line. Meanwhile, the support staff can work on fixing the problem to reduce further impact on the business.

Centauri supports T-Mobile’s business operations— whether activating a new mobile service or taking a client call in the customer center— by spanning multiple business processes, departments and application systems. Centauri currently has a configuration of 2,000 services defined and growing. The critical internal applications include T-Mobile’s billing system, customer care, number portability, wholesale, provisioning, network service, and trouble ticket system. The more generic applications—SAP and Oracle—run on over 500 servers and other infrastructure components.

Network systems management tools such as Patrol, Remedy, Netcool and Precise are integrated with Centauri directly. The retrieved data is correlated and analyzed to provide information back to appropriate T-Mobile users via Centauri’s digital dashboards to provide a single snapshot of the business operation.

To streamline operational efficiency, Centauri automates the reporting process—automatically generating PDF reports and distributing them via email. The targeted recipients are defined in Centauri and reports are tailored to fit their needs. Therefore, reports have the look and feel that conforms to each business function; from Information Systems (IS) performance reports to providing useful information to decision makers in both the Sales & Marketing and Finance departments.

To ensure a successful implementation, T-Mobile's IT staff were trained on Proxima Technology's Centauri Method. The Centauri Method is an approach based on the Six Sigma quality management process and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practice. This is a five-step process that consists of Business Analysis, Process Analysis, Team Preparation, Implementation and Control.

The first phase involved creating a service catalogue, which identifies T-Mobile’s critical business processes. Phase two involved analyzing the IT components and determining which of the business processes the IT components support. The information gleaned during the first two steps of the project allowed T-Mobile to then assemble a team of people with the appropriate skills to successfully complete the project.

The implementation phase started with benchmarking to determine the level of service provided, allowing T-Mobile to measure service improvement, as well as detect any service degradation. During this phase, digital dashboards were created to indicate the real-time status of each business process being modeled. The service catalogue was used to determine where the information was obtained to then display it in the dashboards. It also dictated the work required to ensure Centauri was able to retrieve and correlate this information.

The final phase, Control, ensured that a skill transfer occurred during the implementation and ensured the project continues to have ongoing benefits to T-Mobile.

In total, the complete implementation process took approximately 2 months.

"The key value that we get from using Centauri is the ability to have, in real-time, business performance information that helps our decision makers," says Kevin Giles, Service Delivery Team Leader, T-Mobile (UK). "This enables our business managers to improve business operations, and it enables us to keep our competitive edge with new technology."

Giles continues, "Centauri provides T-Mobile managers with insight into the operational effectiveness of our wholesale business. Business information includes impact on provisioning systems, network operations, billing system and other activities such as service activation time, and inter-company data exchange are reported in real-time. Centauri enables us to consolidate all the information under a single pane of glass and share the information with appropriate stakeholders."

Therefore, Centauri delivers business answers. The solution presents decision makers with a zero latency enterprise framework to see, understand and respond with an act now attitude.

Currently the Centauri dashboard is shared among 20 business directors and the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at T-Mobile (UK). There are six key operations; resellers, corporate clients, service partners, IS key performance indicators (KPIs), network services, and customer services.

In addition, countless business activity metrics and service level agreements (SLAs) that compose the business processes are displayed under each key operation. Examples of business metrics include: average service activation time, short messaging service (SMS) and voice mail availability, call processing activities, number of completed porting requests, which competitor subscribers are porting to or from, resellers activities, so on and so forth. Digital dashboards show IT’s contribution to the business users’ day-to-day operation. Hence, if the email system is affected by a problem, everyone can see that support staff are working on fixing it. This has a very practical value since it reduces the excessive call volume in the helpdesk.

By measuring and reporting accurately in real-time on churn activities, service assurance, customer service, provisioning and financial performance, Centauri allows T-Mobile (UK) to:

  • Make more informed business decisions and improve quality of operation by removing latency in operational decision-making.
  • Improve communications between IT and other business groups by sharing real-time information.
  • Strengthen their competitive position by having the right information for sales and marketing initiatives.
  • Improve positioning in taking advantage of new opportunities.

Specific Example: WNP
As mentioned earlier, Centauri provides a centralized approach to managing the different systems in T-Mobile’s infrastructure. Where problems occur either in the execution of the process or in the IT infrastructure, the appropriate people are alerted.

In the WNP example, Centauri mitigates the risks of non-compliance by mapping the IT infrastructure to the process, tracking SLAs and penalties and then reporting back in real-time to the process owners, IT service delivery managers, and support staff. Clearly, other valuable information about this process—including the churn rate and the competing network operators—provides critical marketing intelligence and a real-time indication of consumer behavior that helps sales and marketing initiatives.

"We believe that by delivering key business information to the right people, Centauri helps us strengthen our competitive position in the market," reports Giles.

As with the case for WNP, all wireless providers need to comply with the mandate and the SLAs governing this process. When T-Mobile must complete a porting request for transfer in 2.5 hours, on the agreed porting day, Centauri provides a centralized approach to managing the different systems in the infrastructure for the process. Where problems occur either in the execution of the process or in the IT infrastructure, the appropriate people are alerted.

"The effectiveness of the Centauri solution is beyond calculation; Centauri has provided us with a reporting tool on business critical information, helped automate the process and improve our operational effectiveness," said Giles.

By combining the Six Sigma quality management method with comprehensive support for the Service Level Management function of ITIL service delivery, Centauri ensures a high quality of IT service in critical to quality (CTQ) business areas. Centauri allows IT organizations to capture, measure and track user perception of service; create service catalogues, define, monitor and publish adherence to SLAs; automatically alert Administrators to service breaches and manage the configuration that provides a service. As a result, IT organizations have the information they need to continuously improve service - responding faster to intermittent problems as well as eliminating more fundamental architectural or configuration flaws inhibiting service.

Centauri generates detailed service reports by analyzing and correlating status information about the components that provide a service. This data is retrieved from existing systems management tools, directly from the application components, or a combination of the two. Information about service quality and cost to the business is shared using an appropriate reporting mechanism (i.e. Web-based digital dashboards, PDF reports, and/or pager/email). Service level information can be reported in real time and is stored in a database to provide a historic reference point. Centauri provides a complete environment for developing sophisticated digital dashboards or can supply an enterprise portal with meaningful data about service quality.

Additionally, operational performance indicators about current business status can also be retrieved from transactional applications and presented to executives through a digital dashboard alongside information about IT service quality. This gives business process owners real insight into the actual business status. Digital dashboards lead to improved decision-making and allow executives to take tactical actions to deal with problems that might impact the business.

A key component to how Centauri adapts to changes in business requirements is through its support of "disintermediation," or the process of removing redundant intermediaries from a systems management infrastructure, to significantly lower systems management costs. Centauri makes disintermediation possible by providing a low-cost event management solution that unifies performance data and event messages under a common umbrella. Centauri’s event correlation capability identifies both the cause and effects of a problem. When a failure occurs, Centauri alerts the appropriate administrators and dispatches advisory "take no action" messages to administrators affected by the problem but not responsible for it. This ensures that no one wastes time researching problems for which they are not responsible. It also allows for business process owners and IT administrators to gain value in each other’s roles.

list of winners

Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads
with IBM


The Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads (PSC) in Newport News, Virginia, prides itself on its cutting-edge facility. Using the latest medical technologies, surgeons can even show patients how they will look after surgery via a digital imaging system that manipulates photos.

In contrast to these state-of-the-art advances, Plastic Surgery Center’s office management system had remained decidedly low-tech, and its internal communications network consisted of a PA system with wall speakers. Patients signed in using a pen and paper, and employees could not track patient status--a big problem if someone called to check on a patient.

Despite PSC’s exceptional clinical offerings, its outdated business processes were preventing prompt and professional service, and the facility was at risk of losing its patients, who won’t stand for long waits in the examination room, bottlenecks at the reception desk and overhead speakers. The doctors, five surgeons with rates of $2,500 an hour, often sat idle due to delays in patient processing. Not only was PSC in danger of seeing its patients slip away; they envisioned physicians leaving as well.

Moreover, PSC would lose its accreditation if it didn’t update its registration process to comply with mandated federal guidelines under the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA).

To solve its problems, the $6 million-a-year clinic needed to transform its processes to improve speed, efficiency, privacy and better service. Specifically, PSC needed to employ industry-leading workflow technologies to increase office efficiency and the productivity of its doctors, thereby improving the patient experience. A key criterion was the ability to enable real-time communications between doctors, nurses and administrative staff.

To accomplish its goals, PSC migrated its internal business processes to a responsive patient management portal that tracks patient interactions in real time, improves productivity and provides a higher level of patient service. The online solution lets PSC capture critical patient flow information and communicate it instantly and silently to any employee. The system also complies with all HIPAA federal guidelines.

Nurses can now manage traffic flow between various rooms remotely. If a patient is waiting in any location for more than 15 minutes, the screen in the 15 terminals throughout the center turns red and hence notifies the staff and doctors of the backup.

Using IBM Business Partner Ascendant’s PASS software (Patient Authorization and Sign-In System) on a pen Tablet PC, PSC’s solution is enabled with easy integration with the center’s existing Microsoft Windows 2000 server. The solution is based on WebSphere Portal Express running on WebSphere Application Server, the runtime environment for the Java components. Lotus Instant Messaging is also used, to enhance collaboration, proving to be a helpful tool for rapid communication.

To assist in the implementation process, representatives from Ascendant Technology worked side by side with members of the PSC family, ensuring an effective and successful portal.

With the comprehensive solution PSC has put into place, doctors, nurses, administrators and patients can all benefit from the use of technology to make the doctor-patient experience a more pleasant one.

The pen Tablet PC, also serving as the patient sign-in tablet, allows patients to sign in confidentially upon arrival. Once the software captures this information, staff members can check the system for an available examination room and notify the surgeon that the patient is ready to be seen. PSC can also respond more quickly to its patients. The new system speeds up the registration process, reduces the time patients have to wait to see a doctor and eliminates the need for someone to manage the sign-in station. With improved communication, the solution has increased the productivity of PSC’s entire staff, enabling the organization to work more efficiently and ultimately be more responsive to patients.

The solution has also assisted in PSC’s compliance with HIPAA guidelines, while simultaneously increasing physician efficiency. Each of PSC’s five doctors can now see three more patients per week, with no added strain to his workload. This, in turn, has led to a substantial increase in annual revenue.

In effect, the key benefits of PSC’s portal solution are as follows:

  • A transformation of internal business processes for superior efficiency, enabling it to respond to patients more quickly, improve profitability by $250,000 a year, increase staff productivity and realize rapid ROI
  • Standards-based environment which supports business growth
  • Easy integration with PC Local Area Network and most patient administration systems
  • HIPAA compliance

Due to the dramatic increase in physician productivity, PSC’s new system had paid for itself in three weeks. The number of extra patients each doctor can now see, combined with lower administrative costs, helps PSC generate an additional $250,000 in revenue per year. Furthermore, PSC has increased patient loyalty and trust as a result of the center’s enhanced responsiveness and the enhanced comfort of the patient experience.

Moving forward, the clinic plans to create interfaces to its existing marketing and billing applications, to further streamline its business processes. And it intends to round out its Lotus solution with IBM Lotus Web Conferencing, to conduct eMeetings among its three facilities.

Moreover, the openness of PSC’s system means that the center can grow, as can its solution, with minimal impact on the overall system

As PSC grows, or as it needs to connect previously separate areas of its business, PSC can leverage advanced portal function - including out-of-the-box, preintegrated, preconfigured portlets and built-in collaboration tools. WebSphere Portal software features a collaboration center that enables a business to quickly build and deploy collaborative B2E or B2C portals, should PSC decide to implement WebSphere Portal in a different, additional functionality - as PSC continues to grow its business and patient-base.

Moving forward, the clinic plans to create interfaces to its existing marketing and billing applications, to further streamline its business processes. And it intends to round out its Lotus solution with IBM Lotus Web Conferencing, to conduct eMeetings among its three facilities.

Moreover, the openness of PSC’s system means that the center can grow, as can its solution, with minimal impact on the overall system

As PSC grows, or as it needs to connect previously separate areas of its business, PSC can leverage advanced portal function - including out-of-the-box, preintegrated, preconfigured portlets and built-in collaboration tools. WebSphere Portal software features a collaboration center that enables a business to quickly build and deploy collaborative B2E or B2C portals, should PSC decide to implement WebSphere Portal in a different, additional functionality - as PSC continues to grow its business and patient-base.

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