Alpha Natural Resources
The operations staff at Alpha’s four mining companies located in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky were having difficulty accessing data and running ad hoc reports from their many disparate databases. The way in which reports were written in Oracle Applications was complicated and Alpha needed to rely on specialized consultants to build them against the tables in the database. As a result, the current reporting solution, Oracle Discoverer, was barely being used because of the amount of training, ramp up and IT help required to access the complex data Alpha’s business and super users needed.
Alpha looked at several other business intelligence reporting solutions, such as Business Objects, and determined that the manual mapping these tools required to connect to disparate databases was still an arduous one. Company representatives went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, a current Noetix customer, and used their implementation as a benchmark for the types of reporting from Oracle Applications Alpha was striving toward. They discovered a single, easy-to-use reporting solution that could seamlessly combine data from multiple databases without having to rely on IT resources.
A high priority for Alpha was bringing real value to its users. In January 2005, the company implemented Noetix and in less than 3 weeks, Alpha had the product and its users up and running.
Noetix required very little training and allowed the mine operating staff to standardize on one tool. Alpha’s users now have the freedom to move from one mine operating company to another without having to be retrained on a new reporting tool.
“Using the ability of Noetix to query custom Oracle reports in Excel, we’ve been able to put several simple and fast purchasing, accounts payable, and cost reports into the hands of our users that can be run and refreshed from their desktops without the need to access Oracle or Noetix,” said Jim Tiscornia, director, MIS, Alpha. “These tools are receiving rave reviews with several users touting that this is the single most useful Oracle feature delivered to them to date.”
Noetix has given Alpha’s operating staff control over and access to financials data that’s been hidden away in Alpha’s Oracle Applications database. The three main groups currently using Noetix to view the critical data needed to effectively manage the business are purchasing, financial analysts at each mine company, and corporate human resources.
“The most important feature of Noetix is that you can quickly get to the information you need,” added Tiscornia. “I want to know what I’ve spent and if I’m over so I can adjust accordingly. Running these reports daily leaves no surprises at month’s end. I take this data and use it where I can to help manage our business successfully. It’s so easy and quick to use, you can spend an hour customizing and creating a report and if you don’t like it, you can throw it away, start all over and it’s no big deal.”
With Noetix, Alpha now has a much broader user base. Because of the complexity in how data is stored in Oracle Applications, report development was the responsibility of outside consultants and, therefore, often ignored. Noetix has filled this void by expanding the power of Alpha’s IT department and pushing reporting to its company-wide end users.
Noetix has significantly reduced the time Alpha’s mine staff spent on getting to the data they needed. The company estimates it saves at least an hour a day of information gathering. There are approximately 60 users using Noetix to create and manipulate reports, and Alpha is currently in the process of rolling this out to other units. This summer Alpha plans to implement Noetix Dashboards for senior managers so that they can stay informed of the day-to-day operations at each mine company.
Alpha Natural Resources
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