Cost and Challenges
Gilman says the company spent less than $300,000 to implement the Geac PM system, including training from Comshare consultants. Most of the staff training occurred in-house, she says, although a few employees went to Chicago for specific classes.
The greatest implementation challenge, she notes, involved data validation. “We wanted that part of it to be seamless and reliable, and it was tough to do,” she recalls. The difficulty lay in extracting data accurately from Miles Kimball’s order processing for import into the Geac PM system.
“We would build what we thought were solid business rules for data extraction and then learn that, for a variety of exceptions, the extraction would miss data, or the data would change,” Gilman explains. Achieving accurate data extraction was a time-consuming, but necessary, task in setting up a BPM system, she adds.
Gilman cautions others thinking about a BPM system to get cross-functional people involved early in the planning stages. “Have them identify their business-process needs upfront,” she says. “It’s much easier than trying to incorporate their needs later in the process.”
That’s the same sage advice Marketing Vice President Vicki Updike offers regarding the database her department recently installed.
More Accurate Marketing Forecasts
While Geac PM views data from the product/campaign summary level, Miles Kimball’s new relational marketing database views customer data and transaction detail specifically. The database is a custom-built solution from CSC Advanced Database Solutions, which recently was purchased by DoubleClick.
“[The database] shows us, for example, how many catalogs an individual was mailed between purchases, how many items were ordered, how many of those items were on sale, how many were bought through a special promotion and much more,” says Updike. “It’s a much ‘cleaner’ database environment, and it enables us to forecast much more accurately than we could previously.” Currently, all marketing and merchandising analysts use the database.