With employees' increasing Internet use, new tools are becoming available to monitor network activity. Tropicana Dole Beverages NA uses one of the newest, Telemate.Net, from Telemate Software Inc. (770-936-3700; www.telemate.net). "This product provides the detailed reporting we need," says Frank Roe, a technical architecture analyst at the Bradenton, Fla.-based firm.
Telemate.Net takes advantage of the masses of raw data produced by the Internet firewall, the software that separates and protects the firm's internal intranet network from the outside one. When an employee makes an Internet request, it goes through the firewall, and the firewall tracks it in its log. Telemate.Net processes each firewall's data log daily and prepares the reports. The cost is from $2,495 for up to 50 users, to $7,995 for 250 or more users, and $1,995 for each additional firewall.
Telemate.Net can produce regular reports, but does not produce the real-time statistics some other products do. For example, Net Access Manager, costing $999 for five users (from Sequel Technology Corp.; 800-973-7835; www.sequeltech.com), manages and monitors Internet and intranet usage virtually on a real-time basis, but it exacts a performance penalty because all requests must pass through the program.
Whittling Down Workers' Comp
Many companies ad-minister employee illnesses, disability, and injuries separately, depending on the insurance that applies. But Nevada Power Co. decided that the way to save costs was to have one person track all absences among the company's 1,800 employees. That person is Judith Hammer, human resources department case manager at the utility. As a result, the company has reduced its workers' comp premiums by two-thirds and lowered overall illness.
To help with her caseload, Hammer uses Return, a case management software package from Health Management Technologies Inc. ($30,000 and up for most corporate users; 800-647-7007; www.hmtreturn.com). This is one of a new breed of software that focuses on the ill or injured worker. Others include CareWare (from The SSI Group Inc.; $25,000 for five users; 800-881- 2739; www. ssigroup.com) and Systoc (from Occupational Health Research; $7,500 on average for single user system; 800-444-8432; ohr.systoc.com).
These packages are all primarily targeted to health care providers, but more companies are beginning to use them. "By coordinating activities, you cut down on administrative costs and get a far better picture of each person's true absenteeism," says Hammer.
Typically, companies spend tens of thousands of dollars on the committees and consultants that take part in just the decision-making process for large software and hardware purchases. And too often, that process focuses too much on functions and features, and too little on implementation and support costs. Until recently, reliable, unbiased advice has been hard to find--but at least two new services have now become available.
When the Bureau of National Affairs Inc. (BNA) wanted to replace its mainframe-based accounting software with a new client/server system, it purchased a one-year subscription to the advisory service Decision Drivers Inc. (203-316-6046; www.gartner.com), a subsidiary of Gartner Group Inc. Their subscription offers a decision-support software package and telephone access to a Gartner Group analyst.
"We used the service extensively last year," says Jack Lord, technical project manager for the BNA. "The software helped us structure the search and narrow the list of vendors, and the analyst gave us behind-the-scenes information about the different vendors."
Another consulting firm, Meta Group Inc. (800- 945-META; www.metagroup. com), offers a similar service, Software Product Expertise, although it provides written documentation instead of a decision support software package.
In either service, the user purchases a particular module, depending on the category of acquisition to be made (these include everything from financial to human resources to manufacturing). Each Decision Drivers module costs $8,000 to $10,000 for a one-year subscription. A one-year subscription to the Meta Group service, including access to an analyst, is $3,000 per module.