Cost Management TechNews
For internal use only.
The technical update from Arthur Andersen抯 Advanced Cost Management Team (ACT)
What ABC/M Software is Best?
Software Selection with your Clients
Although as an ABC/ABM implementer you can develop many of the skills that you need to use any of the others a strong preference for the software tool you know best, it software tools. The more experience you have with each of is imperative to remain objective in software selection. A the tools, the better equipped you will be to help your next combination of differing project goals, team skills, IS/IT client with software selection, selecting the tool that will requirements, as well as continual enhancements to the truly address their long- and short-term needs. vendors‟ tools, demand that you work with the client to Client Team Skills and Preferences select the best software for each engagement. The client team also comes with its own set of skills and Project Goals biases. These are much more significant than the skills and Project goals range from detailed and fully integrated biases of our team members, since it is the client that will operational (ABM) information analyzed monthly to live with the results and the chosen tools. But, just as you
are cautioned to be wary of your own bias toward what annual reports of product costs to replace a standard cost
system. Don‟t let the goal as stated initially by the client you know, your role as a consultant is to help the client sway you too quickly. Make sure you work with the client work through an objective evaluation of new tools. to carefully define the short- and long-term goals. Often a Certainly if the company has built significant skills using a little education can change the stated goals dramatically, particular reporting package and one of our software which in turn may very well change key criteria for vendors links seamlessly with that reporting tool, there is software selection. When selecting a software tool, good reason to rate that tool high on reporting consider the application‟s ability to support and transition capabilities. But make sure to look deeper. Although not to long-term goals. Think about the system as publicized, could one of the other tools (perhaps one with evolutionary. It won‟t be complete after the first model is other strengths) link almost as seamlessly? The key is to built, but it shouldn‟t be a throw-away system either. help the client balance these features objectively.
AA Team Skills IS/IT Requirements
Sometimes there is a tendency for the software skills your There are two sides to working with IS/IT personnel in AA team brings to the engagement to strongly bias the the software selection process. First the down-side: IS/IT software selection process. It is an important factor, but departments often have rigid requirements for any should be carefully balanced with other criteria. If the software to be used in-house. Control is everything and team has prior experience with one particular tool, it is the list of requirements for any tool to be used can be tempting to use that tool since there will be less of a daunting. On the other hand, as the project progresses, learning curve for the AA team. Check with others who IS/IT personnel often do get involved in the project as have made the transition from one tool to another and data is extracted from existing systems. If the right people realize that there are many similarities among the tools. If are involved early and understand the different tools and you have built a model with one tool, you have learned integration technologies, they often have essential input to
the software selection process.
?1996 Arthur AndersenAndersen Worldwide, SC All rights reserved.
Spring 1996 TechNews Page 1
ABC/ABM Software Features
Each of our primary ABC/ABM software vendors, ABC Sapling released NetProphet version 02.01.4b. Version 04 Technologies Inc., Armstrong Laing Inc., and Sapling includes a number of new features and enhancements Corporation, are moving their toolsets forward rapidly. If including: dynamic data exchange (DDE) capabilities, you have not reviewed the software features in the last six access to model and results tables, capability to print up to months, you are certainly out of date. Typically the 12 boxes on a single page, as well as other printing vendors have been releasing major upgrades or adding enhancements. In addition, the on-line help has been new modules every six months. redesigned, using Microsoft Windows Help conventions.
The release in December (4b) includes new integration
tools: DataManager and ResultsManager. In addition to EasyABC/Oros:
the raw DDE capabilities, Sapling has teamed with Trinzic For those of you who learned to build models using
Corporation, which is now part of Platinum Technologies EasyABC three years ago and were frustrated with the
to provide DataManager and ResultsManager, which are limited reporting capability, look again. ABC Technologies
built with Platinum‟s Forest & Trees technology. released a networked version of the software in the
summer of 1994 called Oros. The primary Oros modules
The Sapling DataManager is a data collector which include Oros ABCPlus, Oros Links, Oros Reports, and
enables users to access data from existing legacy systems, Oros EIS. (Oros EIS was released in July „95.)
data warehouses, text files, spreadsheets, and multiple
data bases (i.e. Oracle, Sybase, Paradox, dBase, Structured Features of the Oros package include: tight integration
Query Language [SQL], Base, etc.). DataManager uses capabilities with ODBC data sources and repositories;
SQL to access the data sources. The data collected at this automation of periodic model updates and reports;
stage is used to repopulate NetProphet models custom reports including stored templates, and with the
automatically. The DataManager includes templates EIS module, the ability to turn your ABC model into a
(model definition tables) for importing and exporting graphical drill-down, EIS reporting system.
HyperABC: ResultsManager is an integrated tool which allows users Armstrong Laing‟s HyperABC for Windows has been in to query and analyze NetProphet business models. Users the marketplace for almost a full year. can calculate NetProphet results, execute commands and access results within ResultsManager. ResultsManager HyperABC includes three modules: HyperPort for uses DDE to extract data from NetProphet tables and translating files for import, HyperABC for manual model perform drill-down analysis and EIS reporting needed for building and cost calculation, and HyperLink for decision making and strategic support. reporting. HyperLink allows you to access your model information directly from within Excel, Lotus, or EIS/DSS Future Updates : tools. For notification of future enhancements from any of the vendors, check AA Online (BC/Cost Management Although the first release of the Windows version did not Competency Center/ABC Software - Resources) for include multiple period capabilities, the latest release announcements of new features as well as an updated (version 5.0, due to be released soon) has added period software matrix, comparing the features of these software capabilities including period groups and the ability to tools. create a new period with the data from a previous period (making what-if modeling easier). Other 5.0 features Bottom Line include: method scaling, cost driver weighting, Multiple-Before you select software for your next engagement, Document Interface (MDI) allowing multiple windows make sure you have all of the facts and are not overly open at one time, standard reports, and unit costs for biased by past experiences, positive or negative. The tools activities. Version 5.0 also includes a HyperPort Wizard are changing rapidly and we have several which allows you to build reports by building queries in a implementations using the latest versions, building highly point-and-click environment and a “TABLE” function integrated information systems with our clients. If you which allows data and results to be exported from have any questions about selecting software or late-HyperABC into either Lotus 123 or Excel in a tabular breaking news about any of the vendors, contact Cathie format. Wier at 415-328-6699 or post a question on AA Online.
NetProphet II :
Spring 1996 TechNews Page 2
Software Tool Tips
This section will address some of the latest tips and activities will be displayed in the right screen. Next techniques in solving implementation problems. These highlight the activities in the right screen, hold down the comments come directly from the vendors as well as from shift key and the left mouse button, and drag these some of you that have found solutions. Please send your activities from the right screen to the “group” activity in tips to Cathie Wier on Lotus Notes, call 415-328-6699, or the left screen until the “group” activity is highlighted, fax 415-328-7999. then release. To view these activities, put the cursor in the
left screen, hold down the right mouse button and select ABC Technologies: Oros ABCPlus “Expand all”.
TIP 1: When building large models, your computer These results can also be attained electronically through configuration really does make a difference. Yes, Oros using HyperPort and importing the information into the runs on 486 machines with 4Mg of memory, just like V2-A_HIERARCHY table.
Windows 95! But for large models, you will pay ; in
hours. Don‟t upgrade just to a Pentium, but one with This example creates only one view of an activity loads of memory as well. (This should be a consideration hierarchy. HyperABC allows for unlimited views of before the project starts, rather than at the end of the hierarchies, i.e. an activity can belong to any number of project when you are in crunch mode.) In general, the “Groups”. The only restriction is that HyperABC will not processor speed will help on the cost calculations and the allow “double counting”, in another words, it will not memory will help most with the import speed. Oros takes allow a “group” to contain an activity more than once. An advantage of the memory available, so going from 8 to 16 important benefit in the way HyperABC handles Megabytes will increase performance noticeably. In attributes/tags through the use of “groups” is that the addition, it won‟t hurt to follow all of those other user can physically view these hierarchies while in the Windows optimization tips such as defragmenting your HyperABC engine, versus seeing them in reports. hard drive and setting up a good size permanent swap
file. (In fact, this recommendation holds for large models TIP 2: If a model contains large numbers and number in any tool. If you are building a large model, make sure symbols (#####) are displayed instead of the numbers, you have the horse power you need to work with the the font can be changed to allow the numbers to be data) viewed more easily. From the menu bar, select Options/Fonts and HyperABC will allow a smaller size TIP 2: If you are building a model using bill of costs (bill font to be selected in order for more numbers to be of materials information), make sure to import all of the displayed on the screen. In the next release, HyperABC assignments in the model first, before importing the bill of will automatically scale the numbers for the user. costs information. Oros ABCPlus carries out extensive cycle checking when importing assignments after bill of Sapling: NetProphet costs information exists in the model, which will slow TIP 1: Sometimes after making changes to a model, when down the import considerably if you reverse the order of you open it, the Reading... dialog box shows “Scenarios the import files. incompatible” in red. This message appears because you had saved some scenarios before you changed your Armstrong Laing: HyperABC
master model; therefore, your saved scenarios are now TIP 1: HyperABC‟s approach to using attributes/tags is
incompatible with your new master model. You can through the use of groups and hierarchies. Accounts,
eliminate the message two ways: departments, activities, cost drivers, and cost objects can
be put into groups. For example, if a user wishes to group
Go into File Manager and select the directory in which a series of activities to form a process they would do so by
your master model and your saved scenarios are stored. using this function. To manually perform this step, when
Master models have the extension „.mas‟. For each master in HyperABC, select the Activities icon and then select the
file with saved scenarios, there is one header file with the insert command button. When the dialog box appears,
extension „.shd‟, and for each saved scenario, there is one type in the name of the process, a description if desired,
file with the extension „.sxx‟ (xx is the number from 01 to select the box for the group, and then select the OK
99). All the files have the same name. Delete all the files button. The “Group” activity or process name has now
with the „.shd‟ and the „.sxx‟ extensions. For example, been created. In order for this “group” or process to
your master is „xyz.mas‟. You have saved three scenarios contain the appropriate activities, highlight the activities
and therefore have four additional files: „xyz.shd‟, in the left screen that you wish to give this “Group” name
or attribute. Once highlighted in the left screen, the
Spring 1996 TechNews Page 3
xyz.s01‟, „xyz.s02‟, and „xyz.s03‟. Delete all four files to TIP 2: The new Print Boxes feature allows you new eliminate the message. flexibility in printing multiple boxes to a single page.
However, sometimes the boxes on the last few pages print Save a new scenario. This will reset the „.shd‟ file and very small. Be aware that it takes some time to set up a restart the „.sxx‟ file numbering at 01. By doing this, you Print Boxes print job. While this is happening you might have created new „xyz.shd‟ and „xyz.s01‟ files and will no go to another application. Unfortunately, the way longer see the “Scenarios Incompatible” message. The files Windows currently works, this disrupts the print buffers named „xyz.s02‟ and xyz.s03‟ will still be listed in your and causes the boxes to print very small. The simple model directory; you may want to delete these files. solution is to wait for the print job to complete before
switching to another application.
HyperABC 5.0 is expected to be released soon. It has been Latest versions:
released in the UK, but the US office is currently putting it EasyABC: 2.6
through some rigorous testing and completing new Oros ABCPlus: 2.6
documentation. Work on 5.1 is already well underway, Oros Links: 1.1
with plans for “What-if” capabilities, published API, more Oros Reports: 1.1
standard reports and allowing full absorption of SPARE Oros EIS: 1.0
and BUSINESS SUSTAINING costs. Expect new releases from ABC Technologies in the first The two day training class will be updated for the new half of this year. The new releases will include a new version. interface for EasyABC and Oros ABCPlus, query enhancements for Oros Links, enhanced drill-down capability in Oros EIS with PowerPlay, and Survey, a new tool to assist in data collection.
Upcoming Training: St. Charles
ABC Technologies Sapling:
Intro to Activity Based Concepts Feb. 19 Latest Versions:
ABC Modeling Feb 20-21 NetProphet II: 4b
(EasyABC & Oros Modeling) DataManager: 01
ABC Model Case Studies Feb 22 ResultsManager: 01
Advanced ABC Modeling Apr 22-23 Integrating ABC Systems Apr 24-25 In addition to the recent release, NetProphet and (Oros Links & Oros Reports) DataManager/ResultsManager are available in developer
and analyst versions. (The analyst versions allow read-Sapling:
only access to the data as well as scenario playing and The Model Approach Feb 5-6 Apr. 15-16 reporting capabilities.) This flexibility may become an The Workshop Series Feb 7 Apr. 17-18 issue when your clients are considering rolling out their
implementation and purchasing multiple copies of the Armstrong-Laing:
software. Intro. Activity-Based Concepts Apr. 1
HyperABC Complete Apr. 2-3
Sapling anticipates the release of their UNIX based version
of NetProphet in late February. One of the enhancements For information about these training classes, call Chris A. in the UNIX version is extended model capacity to 5000 Bowles at 214/741-8088.
The first user training for DataManager and
ResultsManager will be conducted in Early February
(TBA). Details will be posted on AA Online when they
Spring 1996 TechNews Page 4