Transpara uses Microsoft Excel to put KPIs in the palm of your hand
Plenty of vendors talk about getting the right information to the right people at the right time, but few actually deliver in a cost-effective or timely manner.
One of the few is Transpara , a small vendor with eight employees that supplies operations intelligence software to the process and utility industries. Visual KPI—Transpara’s flagship product—allows users to create scorecards in Microsoft Excel so key performance indicators (KPI) can be accessed in real time through any Windows Mobile-based device.
“Transpara’s simple, configurable server allows you to essentially go in and, with a spreadsheet, define what information you want sent to which people, and set up how you would like it displayed,” says Dan Miklovic, VP, manufacturing, for Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner . “It’s a huge productivity enhancer.”
|Users can not only access key performance indicators in real time using Transpara Visual KPI software, but also view the data in any format they choose on either handheld devices or a desktop computer.|
Based on Microsoft SQL Server and .NET 2.0 technologies, Visual KPI pulls composite KPIs from any business application that has a Web service access layer or a software development kit, and users can publish data for instant use.
“Our server sits in between two things the company typically has,” says Michael Saucier, CEO of Transpara . “On one side, they have data sources such as MRO [enterprise asset management solution], SAP, or Oracle. On the other, they have Web-based devices and consoles for putting this composite KPI data in front of decision-makers.”
While Transpara’s software also can be used on desktop computers—the software self-determines how it should format information based on screen size—the need for real-time data on the go is more important than ever. After all, says Saucier, “People now are accountable for more things, and less tethered to their desks.”
This functionality on mobile devices isn’t new, but what makes Visual KPI different is how quickly and easily it can be deployed—which is exactly why Gartner placed Transpara in a recent ranking called Cool Vendors in Manufacturing, 2007 . “With configuration and start-up time being measured in hours instead of days,” says Miklovic, “[Visual KPI] has a return-on-investment that can be measured in weeks instead of months or years.”
Other vendors, particularly larger ones, are backing Transpara by reselling Visual KPI. According to Chris Lyden, VP at Invensys Process Systems , “This new technology will enable personnel in our customers’ process manufacturing and utility plants to remotely monitor—in near-real time—both process variables and custom-defined KPIs from their familiar handheld mobile computing or communication devices.”
Another recently named technology partner is SmartSignal , which plans to connect Visual KPI to its solution so customers can access dynamic watch lists and real-time predictive analytics.
Considering its small size, Transpara currently targets process and utility markets, but as the company grows, it plans on expanding into discrete manufacturing and retail. In the meantime, Visual KPI allows manufacturers to share business intelligence data that is typically hard to access and view in a universal way.
“Any time you can give people information in real time, they will manage their processes better,” says Miklovic. “Transpara’s set-up configuration is what makes it cool—how easy and simple it is to use when others have taken a lot of time and money building very sophisticated solutions.”