This case study was originally published in 1999. Andersen Consulting has since changed its name to Accenture and a separate company Ficosnet now develops and markets Ficos Open.
Editor's note: UNIX customers may have moved to Linux or Windows since this case study was written.
In 1995 Andersen Consulting Spain selected an open LANSA solution to take its financial package Ficos outside the AS/400 market. The new version was ready in only 18 months and Andersen is now enjoying increased sales. Ficos Open stands apart from other financial solutions with platform portability from a single version. While many new sales are to Windows and UNIX sites, AS/400 sales have been boosted by the openness of the LANSA solution. A broad range of companies including Nestle, Nabisco, Bridgestone, Volkswagen Finance, Bacardi & Martini, Lidl and 3M uses Ficos Open to control their finances.
LANSA's Object Repository has massive benefits for development and maintenance
David Parrilla, Ficos Open Development manager, explains "Our old financial package was RPG based and had evolved from the System/38 to the AS/400. Although it was functionally complete after 10 years, maintenance was cumbersome and the user interface was unattractive."
"Customers and prospects wanted a more open solution. Even loyal AS/400 shops do not want to be locked into an AS/400 only solution nowadays."
"We wanted to expand our market outside the AS/400, but not be burdened with having to maintain multiple platform versions. We also wanted to deliver a new solution fast and bring a new version to market well within two years."
"We evaluated several tools and selected LANSA. The main reason was that with LANSA we only needed to support one source and could deploy to multiple platforms. A second reason was the LANSA Repository with its centralized rules and triggers."
"We looked at several traditional fat client - thin server solutions, but rejected them as too much logic moved to the client, creating maintenance and performance problems."
"Financial calculations can be fairly complex. For example a single amount field, such as projected bank balance may require data from over 10 files."
"We needed a solution with strong centralized server logic, not just a database server that transfers records from the 10 files in order to calculate a single amount."
Multi-layer solution brings productive environment
"The Server logic layer in Ficos Open is developed in LANSA's productive 4GL, while the Client presentation layer is developed with LANSA Open and Visual Basic. All customer interaction with the application is graphical."
"We make extensive use of LANSA's Repository features such as validations, virtual fields, triggers and multi lingual definitions. To have most logic centrally defined in the LANSA Repository has an enormous productivity benefit in both development and maintenance."
Multi-platform supports with a single system
"In 1995 we began to develop Ficos Open. Within 18 months we had a version that our existing AS/400 users could convert to. Now we have 55 customers of which 10 run on Windows with SQL Server and 3 on UNIX with Oracle."
"Having a software solution that runs on multiple platforms has enormously boosted our sales. Even companies that have an AS/400 now want to have the freedom to change to another platform later and ask for a portable solution."
"Our sales to both AS/400 and non-AS/400 sites have improved significantly by offering our customers an open solution. It is a definite marketing benefit to offer a multiple platform solution. "
Multi-currency and Multi-lingual support has little impact
Many LANSA customers have benefited from LANSA's in-built Impact Analysis tool to identify changes needed to support Year 2000 and Euro currency regulations. The benefit of the LANSA Repository architecture and Impact Analysis was confirmed when Andersen made Ficos Open Euro compliant.
David explains. "Of course when we built Ficos Open 3 years ago, we made it Year 2000 ready from the start. However, some of the Euro regulations were not yet clear at that time and we had to change our software extensively to meet the final requirements for 1999."
"One of the Euro requirements is to use 6 digits after the decimal point in currency calculations. Ficos Open initially used only 5. The triangular relationship between currencies which we have to deal with during the Euro change over period is complex as well."
"Impact analysis has helped us enormously to determine in the scope of work in advance and assure us that we didn't forget a single amount field or calculation."
"For large applications like Ficos Open with over 7500 fields and 500 files you need impact analysis."
"And thanks to the multi-lingual capabilities of LANSA we ship Ficos in English and Spanish with translations to additional languages already scheduled."
A portable solution running on Windows & UNIX platforms has boosted AS/400 sales
Ficos puts customers in control
At Bacardi & Martini, the Ficos Open treasury module provides a very powerful tool to manage banking relationships. Bacardi reconciles its financial situation on-line by connecting with home banking to automatically detect incorrect application of banking conditions. "This reconciliation puts us in control of all banking operations and has strengthened our negotiating position on bank conditions. In fact, in the first few months we recouped our investment in Ficos Open."
Jordi Colome, Ficos Open Manager, concludes, "Having a strong financial solution that can be deployed in AS/400, Windows and UNIX environments has been of enormous benefit to our consulting business. Now we offer one of the strongest financial solutions in the market. "
Company and System Information
- Ficos Open provides modules for Cash & Treasury Management, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, General Ledger, Controlling and Fixed Assets.
- Of these modules Cash & Treasury Management is the most important. Many Ficos Open customers purchase these modules only and integrate this with the financial modules from other providers, such as SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft.
- Ficos Open offers a standard interface to the financial modules of SAP and customized interfaces include PeopleSoft and Oracle Financials.
- Ficos Open is a very large application consisting of 500 physical files, 800 logical files, 7500 fields, 6000 validations and business rules, 1000 LANSA functions and 700 VB forms.
- Find out more about Ficos Open