Atlantic Container Line AB used to keep its budget in a spreadsheet. “It was designed by one person who was intimately familiar with it,” says Robert Moore, vice president of business control for the Swedish steamship line, with American headquarters in South Plainfield, N.J. “But it required onerous work to change the spreadsheet if we wanted to add something.”
The company purchased Adaytum Planning, from Adaytum Software Inc. (www.adaytum.com), partially because of the built-in multidimensional database. “We have numerous routes between North America and Europe, plus cargo types and so forth, and the software lets us store the data in a cube with a number of different dimensions,” says Moore. “It lets us look at our data more easily from a number of different perspectives.”
Adaytum Planning is priced starting at $46,000, considerably lower than some of its competitors’ prices, which often exceed $100,000. Major competitors include Hyperion Pillar (from Hyperion Software Inc.; www.hyperion. com), which requires Hyperion OLAP to produce multidimensional database capability; and BudgetPlus (from Comshare; www. comshare.com).
Still, Adaytum has its limitations, says Gartner Group analyst Joyce Boland, adding that only a midsized company or a department of a larger company should consider using the alternative software. “Adaytum is priced lower,” says Boland. “but it doesn’t have the functionality and scale to handle everything that Pillar does.”
Zeroing In on the Culprit
———————————————————————— ——————- Tools to help companies fix their Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problems are getting smarter. That’s what Patrick Dowling, Y2K project coordinator at Commerce Bank Inc., found when he purchased CA-Fix/2000, a new mainframe Cobol remediation tool from Computer Associates Inc. (www.cai.com).
Commerce Bank is using CA-Fix/2000 on 1,500 Cobol programs, containing 700,000 lines of code. The tool finds coded date references and fixes them automatically, according to Dowling. “We had estimated it would take 2,000 hours to do the remediation,” he says. “We were able to accomplish it in only 400 hours, a savings of almost 80 percent.”
The CA product uses advanced technology, according to William Ulrich, president of the consulting firm Tactical Strategy Group Inc., which specializes in Y2K solutions. “The process it uses to find date-affected code is equivalent to other good tools on the market,” Ulrich says. He cites NeoMedia Technologies Inc. (www.neom.com) and SEEC Inc. (www.seec.com) as competitive products. But, he notes, “CA’s tool runs on mainframes, while the others run on PCs.” CA-Fix/2000 is priced at 30 cents per line of code processed, with quantity discounts available.
New Help for EVA Users
———————————————————————— —————— Preparing to evaluate a project with economic value added (EVA) or any of the other metrics? Now there are software products specially designed for that purpose.
Fast-food franchiser AFC Enterprises Inc. uses Alcar for Windows, from The Alcar Group Inc. (www.alcar.com), to determine shareholder value for each of its product lines. “Our business is set up by brands, ” says director of finance Christopher December. “We have a lot of assets and a lot of income-producing areas, including franchisers and company-owned stores within each brand. [Alcar’s] product lets us look at each component alone and determine which is creating or diluting value.”
Alcar charges $45,000 for a five-user copy of the module for building financial models. Cost varies by client for the entire planning system.
Alcar’s major competition is Finanseer, from Stern Stewart & Co. (www.sternstewart.com), the company that trademarked the EVA name. The price for Finanseer is $15,000 for five users, and $1,500 for each additional user.
“This kind of software is different from the financial software that computes profit and loss,” says Vinnie Mirchandani, a research director for Gartner Group. “This is much more cash flow-based, which is the hot thing for acquisitions or Wall Street analysis.”