SAS Data Management Review

One-stop-shop solution for sorting, categorizing and summarizing your data

What is our primary use case?

SAS Data Management is not only for data management, it is a complete solution to access the data from the various sources, which can be a text file, Excel file, raw data file, CSV files, or even manual entry, and then it reads the data. Once that data is fed into the SAS, the management includes the feeding, cleansing, and then finally managing that particular data in a preferably structured way of rows and column with the proper headers that is recorded as a variable. In this way, it is similar to how a data structure will be created and the data available for reporting purposes. 

For a use case, we were using it to access the data from the various sources, even from the database. Then we used it to connect to the different databases and to try to phase the required information. Then finally, to gather all that in a single table. SAS Data Management is particularly used for data visualization and data reporting purposes.

How has it helped my organization?

In terms of how SAS Data Management has benefited our company, firstly through the processing part. As we are dealing with a very large amount of data, before we started using SAS Data Management we realized that when we try to access and manage a large quantity of data, it was taking too much of our time and too much effort. With the use of SAS it is much faster and it can manage and access the data of even terabytes or petabytes in a really fast manner. When we try to access a database that has a terabyte of data, with records, with its feature, functionality, and processing parts, which are inbuilt now in the SAS, it performs the actions very fast and gives us the results we are looking for. Previously this was taking too much time. Now with the SAS it is very fast.

What is most valuable?

In terms of which features I have found most valuable, I would say the importing and exporting features. Additionally, the data sorting, categorizing and summarizing features, especially how it can summarize based on categories. These are the key features.

SAS Data Management is a one stop solution where we are not dependent on the sources because it can connect to any source and it can report to any source. This is a very important feature when we are trying to access any type of data to do the data management. The core feature is that we can access and manage the data very easily.

What needs improvement?

One problem is accessing the data using a solution other than SAS. The SAS data, which we create in the SAS, cannot be accessed by other tools. We can't open those data in other applications. So we need to have that application in place. Suppose I have created some data in my system and send it to another person who does not have the SAS access or application, then he won't be able to access that particular data. But there are other improvements they already did. We can export that particular data into Excel or PDF or Word file, or all other sources where we don't need to have SAS in place. But it is a challenge to share the data management activity with a person who does not have SAS.

Initially, if you had asked me what needs improvement two years back, I would have said that it is only a desktop specific application, I had to install it on my desktop to be able to access it. But now it is completely cloud based. I don't need to have my laptop or the system with me. I can go anywhere with the link and log in using my credentials to access the application. This cloud based application is now also in place to access and do the data management.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using SAS Data Management for almost nine years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

SAS Data Management is a really reliable and very efficient tool because the purpose of this tool initially was data access management and reporting, and finally prediction on the data. When I say data prediction, it's of course a modeling tool, but the accuracy of the tool while doing the data prediction is quite high and very reliable. It is globally recognized as accurate.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

SAS Data Management is very scalable. I get different solutions in one application to do all the activities you require for achieving your tasks. Based on that, we can configure or place this particular solution and that can be built it into one application. It's a very scalable application.

In our organization for the project I'm working on there are 2000 users. They are in separate roles - they have the developer role who does the management activity. There is the operational role who is monitoring and executing the data sets. Then there is the business user who uses the particular data which is required for the application input or for the reporting purpose.

In terms of maintenance, we have an operational team and a development team who do all the maintenance work. This includes the deployment required for the latest releases and the changes in the application. If those are hot fixes that are released then deployment is required. That only matters when it is an enterprise level user. This is not a frequent activity, but it is required. On the data level, as data changes or something is happening to the data or deliveries are not appropriate, then of course, the operational roles come into the picture.

We are already on a plan for using SAS Data Management on a broader scale. Initially, when we started, it was on a particular set of people. Then we increased for the business users, then as the set of businesses grew we created another level, so that on a business user level, they can also do the exploration in the data and provide the reports to the end user as well. So there are now four levels. We have the developer, operations, business users, and end users. These four levels are expanding the scope.

How are customer service and technical support?

When we purchased the solution from SAS, it always has their solution support in place. Anytime we see something where our team can't figure out how to resolve the problem, we can always raise the track or the ticket to the SAS, and they will answer our queries.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

For data management and analytics I used to use Excel.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. Usually we have the administration team deploy it because it is a one stop solution not only for data management, there are other solutions integrated into the one deployment. So it requires an admin role. There is a site administration type of role as well, who installs and configures the whole application. If it is an enterprise level version, then of course the administrator is required to manage that particular application.

Of course, it depends on the user, number of users and if it is an enterprise level or user level. If it is a user level, it takes them around an hour or two to complete deployment. But if it is an enterprise level, it takes almost a week or more, based of the number of users who are going to use that particular application.

The beauty of the tool is that they provide a strategy plan or deployment plan to the user or to the enterprise. They also have a service which they provide if we are willing to purchase it to do the deployment. Basically, they always provide an object list and the way to do the installation and configuration, but on other hand, they are ready to provide the service to do that duties for us. Both options are available.

What was our ROI?

There is a huge ROI. We are just at the initial level, when you talk about licensing or use. But for the banking finance and the pharmaceutical domains it is widely and heavily used and they always find the ROI advantage when using this tool. The work is very efficient and fast.

Another beautiful aspect is for the data management on pharmaceutical sectors. It is mandated by the US FDA that if you want to submit the report for any drug to get approved by the FDA, the report has to be generated by this app. That was mandated because of the accuracy, scalability and ease of access. That is the reason the FDA made a mandate that everyone in the pharmaceutical industry has to use this app to deliver or do their data management and reporting.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I know that the pricing is on the higher end, in fact that was one of the other challenges where people were not really going to buy the product locally because it's pricing is higher. The reason for the higher prices is because it is providing not only data management, they also have a collaborative of multiple solutions integrating into the one application that is given to the users. That is the reason for the high price and that's the reason it is not coming up at the top level.

Licensing is currently on a yearly basis and I hear that they will be coming up as a cloud platform. They already have open source access for students or people who want to start with the trial. The cloud-based application is already in place where we can freely access the tool and do some activities. Of course it is only for learning purposes and not for the enterprise level.

What other advice do I have?

I would surely recommend SAS Data Management. When you see the pricing you may feel like, no, it's on the higher scale, I can't do it. But if you skip that and go for the best, then it's going to be a good ROI, and it is really helpful for your future.

The biggest lesson I have learned using SAS Data Management is the level of accessing the data and actively providing accurate results. I really saw the accuracy of the knowledge, which had already been built into the SAS. It gives more than 90% accuracy on the available data. This is good for not only making current decisions based on the data, but also providing future decision-making capability. That is a biggest lesson as a part of using this tool. Based on the current data, what can you do in the future that will also be suggested by this tool.

On a scale of one to ten, I would give SAS Data Management an eight.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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