In 2003, Elliott was running an IBM mainframe environment that had become somewhat antiquated. Most of the applications in use did not enable the company to access legacy data. At the same time, the company required a new application to support engineering with documentation as it pushed technically advanced products through the lifecycle development process. Consequently, it was decided that Elliott would start fresh with an entire new enterprise system.
The company decided to use Oracle E-Business Suite as the ERP solution, which served its financial, service, and manufacturing departments. Elliott already employed Lotus Notes as their document control solution, which was in the process of being replaced by Agile/Eigner as their product lifecycle management system. This is the vehicle the company is using to store engineering documentation, drawings, commercial specifications, and all information related to customer contracts.
Elliott’s 18-person IT department was able to replace its entire ERP system in the record time of 11 months. However, they now faced another problem: the inability to extract information in an effective manner. The IT department estimates that they struggled for approximately a year and a half trying to obtain the necessary information from the new ERP system. They spent three months alone generating one critical financial report and this timeframe was unsatisfactory to Elliott’s Board of Directors.
In early 2006, Elliott’s IT department began to search for tools to help ease the burden on making data visible across the organization.
“We wanted a tool that would enable us to extract data from multiple applications because there are certain subsets of reports that we generate where we want to check time and labor with material costs and then associate that with a specific part number,” said Paul Pawlik, director, Corporate Information Services and Technology. “We were looking for a reliable solution that would tie in to all of our base applications.”
After reviewing a number of applications, Elliott chose the Noetix Platform and installed the solution in February of 2006. The IT department liked the fact that Noetix automatically mapped to specific fields inside of Oracle’s application tables and hadn’t seen another business intelligence product that could achieve this with Oracle.
At the same time, the IT department created an intranet site they called ‘Solutions’. The Solutions site is a combination of Web page information and static reporting and it leverages Noetix software to collect live data out of the ERP system, PLM System, and legacy systems so that users can access real-time and historical business information. For example, a purchasing agent can enter Solutions to determine the number of purchase orders they are responsible for, or the number of vendors that are currently late on shipping materials.
Within six months, Elliott’s IT department was able to populate this system with 217 reports and 11 dashboards which approximately 500 people – or 80 percent of the user community – have instant access to. Noetix Dashboard provides a graphical representation of key operating metrics, offering executive management and key department managers a method to obtain a simple, easy to view summary without the need to review detail. An example of a dashboard currently in use permits a summary view of each department relating to manufacturing performance enabling managers to react accordingly to resolve issues. Drill down capability also permits Elliott to review the detailed metrics that form the summary report. The company plans to add another 200 reports within the next six months.
Overall, the feedback on Noetix has been very positive. “Many of our people have been flying blind for about a year and a half,” said Pawlik. “Now they’re seeing information that enables them to make decisions. Rather than being reactive, they have the data they need to be proactive.”
Using Noetix, Elliott is now able to determine the cost of a project more accurately than they were ever able to do in the past. The company has even set up a separate group called the Project Cost Administration Group which actually obtains information from the ERP system to tell various departments where they stand with respect to the progress they’re making on a project. The company is therefore able to project well in advance whether the project will be over or under budget. Management has also found that margins are much more efficient than they were two years ago.
Finally, Noetix has helped make Elliott’s IT department much more efficient. Pawlik estimates that efficiency within the group that is responsible for reporting has improved by at least 50 to 60 percent.
Director, Corporate Information Services and Technology
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