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IN RETROSPECT: PLANNING IS DIVERSE

The company CoPlanner was founded 30 years ago. Right at the beginning the focus was on the development of a planning solution with the same name. Influenced by my university education in accounting, controlling and EDP as well as 10 years of work in a French-British raw materials group with overall commercial responsibility for financial management, the extensive planning and budgeting experience was to be put into practice. Initially still based on MS Excel, the first application of an "Integrated Planning Solution" was developed. It was to appear in bookstores four years later.

MS Excel was revolutionary at the end of the 1980s and replaced other spreadsheet programs such as Open Access (as a complete package including database system), Multiplan, Lotus 1-2-3, Peach-Calc etc. In the mid-90s the platform was changed and the application was lifted to a pure OLAP database (TM1). Many and large projects were the result. In 2002 another platform change was made to meet the rapidly changing market requirements. Faced with constantly increasing data volumes in customer projects, we decided to combine a relational and analytical (OLAP) database. CoPlanner on the MS Business Intelligence Suite was born.

The retrospective reveals interesting market trends. While until the mid-1990s software solutions with pre-defined planning standards were being sought, so that the decision-making authority was to be borne by the controlling department, in the years thereafter it was the IT department that attempted to manage the rapidly growing technology through a variety of acquisitions of tools of all kinds. Reporting solutions, analysis tools, original planning approaches, ETL support, etc. were analysed like mad on the market and attempts were made to integrate them into the IT landscape. Recently, the departmental fronts have re-calibrated themselves and they are striving to make the software selection together. In almost all decision-making processes, business and IT managers are once again sitting at the same table. What has actually changed compared to previous years?

We recognize that business and IT standards are important and form the basis for every decision. However, the main focus of a new application is on software customization. Flexible and timely customizing dominates the decision-making process. Current BI solutions must be fit and kneadable for business and IT adaptations. In order to be able to fulfil this wish, a comprehensive survey of the requirements profile is required, both for the purchase decision and for the subsequent implementation. This entrepreneurial homework is very often neglected. The opinion to have all requirements in one's head anyway but not on paper and to gain decision facilitating information from "manufacturer audits" can quickly bring every project to failure.

For this and of course other reasons, we want to use this magazine to present diverse BI projects with different customer requirements in order to show readers the broad spectrum of Business Intelligence as a technology and as a solution. At the end of the reports, we offer a decision tree for the software selection process, which should present and facilitate the so-called "preparatory homework" in a simple structure.

AUTHOR

Dr. Walter Frühwirt completed his diploma in business administration and the corresponding doctoral studies at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz. From 1979 to 1982, Dr. Frühwirt was a university assistant at the Institute of Corporate Management. Later, he was, among other things, Chief Financial Officer of an English-French raw materials group. Since 1989 Dr. Frühwirt has been a managing partner of CoPlanner Software und Consulting GmbH. Since 1986 he has also been a university lecturer at the University of Graz, the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, the University of Linz and the FHS Wr.

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