Timken execs turn to portal for vital data
Application Development Trends'
2002 Innovator Awards
The year 2000 was a year of change for many organizations, especially
for The Timken Company, Canton, Ohio. An international manufacturer of
highly engineered bearings, alloy and specialty steels and components,
Timken had much at stake when it launched a project to transform the company's
structure and the way it does business. Management wanted more emphasis
on performance, innovation and customer-centricity and realized that an
executive information system could play a role in empowering executives
with information for decision-making.
Thus began the Brio Portal project. Its goal was to use Web technology
to provide management information and key performance indicators that
had been dispersed in different systems. Through single sign-on, the portal,
commonly called the Timken corporate portal, provides a one-stop site
to access and manipulate business data. It provides real-time data electronically
on demand, centralized data customized to individual needs, self-service
access to previously unavailable data, and reduced dependency on IT for
data gathering and analysis.
Timken geared its portal toward upper management. In fact, senior management,
faced with economic challenges due to a manufacturing recession and a
weakening economy, drove the portal effort as a way to make better decisions
with more timely information.
The security around Brio Portal and the page look and feel it presents
attracted Timken to it as a decision support solution. "These kinds
of things ... will allow us to use it as a vehicle for business management,"
noted Carl Musille, manager of CRM and front-end systems support.
Timken uses the Brio Performance Suite, which includes Brio Intelligence,
Brio Portal and Brio Reports. These tools combined to allow users to do
data query and analysis, enterprise reporting and delivery of global information
regarding business performance. The development team used Brio Intelligence
to develop and deploy interactive reports to access a variety of information
across various categories.
The project faced challenges: a tight timeline, a learning curve with
new technology and toolsets, and time to gain confidence that information
was secure. The development team worked with the Brio technical support
staff and consulted other resources to overcome these challenges. Software
development experience among the team members ranged from six months to
more than 20 years. Two members of the team attended administrative support
training in Brio Portal software, and one technical support team member
The development team comprised four or five smaller development teams,
which consisted of a project lead, developers and business/financial analysts.
Each of these smaller teams was responsible for a different business area
of the portal, such as business decision support, engineering and key
The project followed a formal schedule from March to June 2001. It stayed
on target and took approximately 50 person-days to complete. Management
used the Planview project resource-tracking tool to oversee project management.
If Timken could do the project over again, it would start with a longer
timeline and invest more time on upfront training. Management and users
are pleased with the portal's ease of use. Musille anticipates all management
employees will be taking advantage of it eventually. In preparation for
that, he added, "We continue to do more development on it to roll
out additional business decision support tools."
Tools and Technologies:
Microsoft SQL Server, Informix, Essbase, DB2, Brio Intelligence, Microsoft Office Suite and Windows NT
Marcy Stroemple, Shawn Stamp, Carol Main, Josh Davis, Jocelyn Kasler, Kathy Christ, Dick Offenberger, Claire Addessi and John Hare
Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.