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RESOURCES CATEGORY: Strategic Planning

PREDICTif delivers a Benefits Compensation Management Solution for a leading communications company

NWS

PREDICTif delivers a Benefits Compensation Management Solution for a leading communications company

CUSTOMER:

A leading provider of communications, high-speed Internet and entertainment services in small-to-mid-size markets delivering advanced communications services through its broadband and fiber optics network in more than 33 states.

REQUIRED CAPABILITIES

  • Rapid data loads
  • Rapid data retrieval
  • Centralized security
  • Improved user interface

CHALLENGES

The customer’s work force consists of approximately 6,000 employees of which, over 1,000 are eligible for bonus compensation beyond their annual salaries. The human resources department is required to maintain detailed information for each employee. They are also charged with providing the supervising managers with processes to set goals for and ultimately evaluate direct reports. The bonus goal-setting and evaluation processes must be accurate and secure.

  • The legacy system was incapable of synchronizing data with the SAP system;
  • Salary adjustments and bonus compensation processing required extensive manual input and maintenance;
  • The existing legacy GUI interface was unpopular with users;
  • The legacy system utilized a proprietary programming language, which few staff members were trained to use;
  • No system reporting tool existed to provide analysis driven reporting.
  • The legacy solution did not allow for querying by specific criteria;
  • Business rules and logic existed in multiple locations, posing significant risk to accuracy; and
  • The existing system was inflexible, un-scalable and could not accommodate company growth.

SCOPE

The Benefits Compensation Management solution used IBM Cognos TM1 as the backbone technology and delivered functionality that is easy to use with a flexible and scalable architecture that is highly interactive.

  • Integrated with the SAP system to retrieve and update human resource and workforce information;
  • Provided a user friendly interface that required minimal training and a mild learning curve;
  • Produced a solution that the HR department can support and upgrade independent of IT support;
  • Offered sophisticated reporting functionality for analysis and process enhancements;
  • Created a single version of truth for all data, business logic and rules; and
  • Provided initial product training to power users and post-production solution specific training to end users.

SOLUTIONS

In late 2007, the customer evaluated a number of business intelligence and performance management systems. IBM’s Cognos TM1 was selected for its ease of deployment, scalability, flexibility, and MOLAP (Multi Dimensional Online Analytical Processing) architecture.

The customer’s initial deployment of Cognos TM1 centered on its Bonus Awards Management

System. Teaming with PREDICTif, the customer arrived at a solution that combined Microsoft Excel templates with TM1 functionality. Once employee data was loaded in the designated cubes, calculations and updates were performed and saved in a single location providing “single version of the truth” processing and reporting.

  • Delivered a Benefits Compensation Management Application to process and report from its employee bonus payout program;
  • Supervising managers could review employee bonus forms easily and quickly. Any updates made by supervisors were saved to the TM1 server;
  • The Excel interface coupled with TM1 Perspectives permitted deployment with minimal training requirements;
  • Group security was provided to the element level using a TM1 security scheme; and
  • Calculations occurred on the TM1 Server preserving integrity.

RESULTS

The solution delivered significant results and met all business objectives as defined by the customer. Delivery increased the productivity and efficiency of the HR department as well as enhanced the employees’ satisfaction and morale.

  • A “single version of the truth” was attained;
  • Analysis based reporting and querying was readily available;
  • Effort required to complete annual bonus processing was greatly reduced;
  • Overall manual effort was significantly decreased;
  • Employee and organization hierarchy changes were synchronized with SAP using TM1 Turbo Integrator processing; and

Security settings were available for groups to the element level.

High-Value Health Check to Enhance Existing BI Solutions

NWS

PREDICTif Delivered a High-Value Health Check to Enhance Existing BI Solutions and Develop a Master BI Implementation Plan

CUSTOMER:

A leading Oil and Gas Equipment services company.

REQUIRED CAPABILITIES

  • Remedied performance and instability issues existed with the BI applications
  • Delivered a master Implementation roadmap for an enterprise BI and FPM architecture

CHALLENGES

The customer has over 25 subsidiaries, many acquired through acquisition. Each subsidiary had built out its own business intelligence (BI) and finance performance management (FPM) solutions using a myriad of BI and FPM products. As one of the leading global equipment service and pipeline construction companies, the customer faced numerous challenges related to instability, inconsistency and slow performance of BI applications. In preparation for the opportunities and demands of becoming part of a publicly held company, the customer needed to expand its BI and FPM architecture beyond the business unit level.  Before further expansion could take place, the customer needed to consolidate their division level BI and FPM initiatives as well as map out a strategy and roadmap to establish an enterprise BI architecture. The existing BI systems presented numerous deficiencies in terms of people, process and infrastructure:

  • All its business units had their own BI and FPM technologies, support teams and project initiatives without an enterprise level governance and standard;
  • There was no single version of truth in terms of data on the enterprise level which rendered the enterprise level reporting and financial consolidation inaccurate and labor intensive;
  • The existing BI infrastructure contained a myriad of technologies and products making support and maintenance difficult and cost of ownership extremely high; and
  • Lack of a BI competency center rendered uneven quality of delivered BI applications that resulted in slow performance and instability.

SCOPE                      

Conducted a health check to identify areas of risks and opportunities, recommend remedial measures, and produce a master implementation plan and a roadmap to build an enterprise level BI architecture.

  • Examined existing BI infrastructure and organizations in terms of people, process and infrastructure to discover areas of risks and opportunities, and more importantly, produce a list of actionable recommendations to improve the overall BI strategy and execution;
  • Reviewed the existing architecture, configurations and codes;
  • Identified bottlenecks that were causing slow performance and instability;
  • Aligned business objectives and priorities with BI initiatives;
  • Created organizational philosophy and culture to support an enterprise BI strategy; and
  • Developed a master implementation plan and roadmap for an enterprise level BI architecture.

SOLUTION

PREDICTif Solutions was engaged to provide a 2-week health check. PREDICTif’s senior architects reviewed the existing BI infrastructure, made recommendations for improvement and delivered a master implementation plan for rolling out BI to the entire enterprise.

Based on PREDICTif’s standard health check agenda and customer priorities, PREDICTif and the customer created a detailed agenda before the engagement. The agenda addressed both tactical and strategic aspects of the customers business. The tactical aspects were to analyze the existing BI solutions to identify areas of risk and opportunity as well as provide recommendations on both. The strategic aspect was to understand the customer’s business priorities and deliver an enterprise BI implementation plan.

The two week agenda was filled with workshops, interviews and document reviews during which, PREDICTif’s architects met customer’s personnel from numerous areas of the business to discuss business objectives, current BI architecture and business user concerns. Conversations focused on areas such as data quality, data governance, data modeling, report requirement gathering processes, architecture, support/maintenance and technology best practices. The architects also discussed future plans, business initiatives, short term and long term business goals as well as technological direction in the BI and FPM arena.

The PREDICTif resources combined our own set of BI and FPM best practices and standards with information gathered from the discussions in order to produce a  set of documents:

  • The tactical health check deliverable is in the form of a Microsoft Word document and a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation both of which outlined areas of opportunity, improvement and identified risks as well as the necessary steps to mitigate those risks.
    • In this case, the PREDICTif architects discovered that the BI architecture was not designed appropriately for the increased number of users and business cases which caused significant degradation of performance and stability;
    • The customer did not have a well defined data governance process that was accepted by all business units. It resulted in poor data and metadata modeling as well as an overall lack of data quality and transparency;
    • The architects made recommendations to improve the Bi architecture in terms of performance and stability; and
    • The architects applied PREDICTif developed and tailor-made data governance and data modeling best practices to the customer’s business and IT environment.
  • A master BI implementation plan and roadmap was delivered in order to consolidate the dispersed BI architecture as well as establish an enterprise level BI infrastructure.
    • The implementation plan entailed a multi-phased project plan that detailed the sequence of activities, dependencies and high-level estimate of effort as well as timelines;
    • It illustrated a 18-month BI architecture evolution through the phases of implementation;
    • The roadmap also considered the trend and best-in-class BI technologies; and
    • The implementation plan included the steps to establish an enterprise level BI competency center and governance process.

RESULTS

PREDICTif delivered considerable value to the customer’s return on the software and IT infrastructure investment. The health check’s findings and recommendations significantly improved both the performance and the stability of the customer’s existing BI architecture. The implementation plan provided a clear roadmap to establish an enterprise level, world class BI architecture.

  • The improvement decreased the rendering time of a complex report from an average of 6 min to less than 30 seconds, greatly increasing the productivity;
  • The upgrade and addition of hardware and software instance increased the overall uptime from 95% to that of 99% which was a requirement of the business;
  • The customer completed all three phases of PREDICTif’s recommended implementation plan and the overall BI initiatives continue to gain adoption and approval from the business use population.

Scalable financial reporting solution for healthcare management

NWS

PREDICTif delivered a scalable financial reporting solution for a leading health management services and equipment company

CUSTOMER:

A leading health management and diagnostic services and equipment company.

REQUIRED CAPABILITIES

  • Financial consolidation and reporting
  • Interactive analysis
  • Forecasting and Budgeting
  • Cognos TM1 Web

CHALLENGES

As one of the leading construction multimedia companies, this customer is faced with the following challenges: inefficient central financial reports, reliance on manual inputs, and cumbersome Excel intensive reporting tool. With financial data coming from 8 different data sources, a central reporting tool to consolidate all the reports is needed. The business is presented in six platforms and each platform gets the data from its own data source.

The chart of accounts is compiled from a string with over 20 characters.  The accounts dimension hierarchy was set up in such a way as to hinder reporting leading to miss interpretation of data and errors in reports.  Each of the six platforms has their own chart of accounts and reporting method making it difficult to consolidate in a single tool. Therefore, a lot of manual methods are involved in creating reports.   Heavy reliance on Microsoft Excel to input budgeting data is present.  As a Solution, PREDICTif Solutions proposes an end to end solution to centralize the financial reporting system to provide budgeting and forecasting for the organization.

SCOPE

  • The objective of the project was to deliver a solution that leveraged TM1’s in-memory OLAP capabilities and simplified the monthly financial consolidation and reporting process.
  • Centralized, efficient and ease of use access application which can reduce preparation time. Instead of spending time on preparing reports, users can now focus on analyzing data.
  • Instill ‘one version of the truth’ consolidation reporting system that can be applied to six platforms
  • Provide a proficient budgeting and forecasting web based process that allows users to input data at the line item level.
  • Give ability to end users to build and analyze reports without reliance on IT or the Accounting department

SOLUTIONS

After evaluating several world class solutions, IBM Cognos TM1 was selected for a number of reasons – one of them being that IBM Cognos TM1 provides a real-time approach to consolidating, viewing, and editing enormous volumes of multidimensional data.

PREDICTif was engaged to provide an end-to-end solution delivering 25 Cubes with dimensions ranging from 5 to 15 in order to provide Financials and Assumptions models. Changes in financial forecasts, assumption metrics and indirect expenses were made via customizable Excel templates as well as directly through the TM1 interface.   Reports created both in TM1 and Excel were readily accessible through the web with no additional effort.

  • PREDICTif Solutions was able to create a set of multidimensional cubes utilizing OLAP technology that can dynamically slice and dice through data sources.
  • Design a user-friendly excel input templates which can access through TM1 web. The cubes support consolidation and reporting of both budgeting and forecasting data as well as allocation.
  • An automated data extraction using by TI processes (ETL) tool that can update multi dimensional cubes from 8 different data sources.
  • Users can use dimension editor as primary method to maintain or update dimensions that are not from the source system
  • Setting up different instances for security purposes and separate the finance consolidation modules, budgeting applications and compensation modules will be given access by corporate controller.
  • Substantially reduce time spend on creating monthly financial reports. Reports are easily access and produce with little or no reliance on the accounting and IT department.
  • Provide a real-time consolidation reports and offer an automated tool for producing annual budget and monthly forecast process.
  • Eliminate manual effort and errors of gathering data from multiple reports, spreadsheet and data sources
  • Provide power users training and knowledge transfer to the client so they will be able to build additional reports, budget templates and forecasting procedures out of the cubes.

RESULTS

PREDICTif solutions delivered measurable results to the client.  Now the client is able to provide “one version of the truth” in their reporting system.  Customers can now use the centralized financial reporting cube to analyze data across six platforms and they now have an automated ETL process to update dimensions and cubes from 8 different data sources.  The TM1 web based input budgeting and forecasting system also allows users across the enterprise system to input data at the line item level.  The application significantly speeds up the budgeting and forecasting process and empowers users to create or modify input templates without IT department influence.

  • With the deployment of the TM1 solution, the number of hours spent generating consolidated financial statements were reduced considerably, allowing more time for analysis;
  • Multiple disparate business units were brought together under one streamlined reporting process with a standardized company-wide output;
  • The finance group supported and upgraded the solution and the accompanying infrastructure through its own staff, without dependence on the IT support; and
  • Consolidated financial reports have obtained further reach as a result of the use of TM1 web.

Flexible financial and operations reporting solution for Texas Grocer

NWS

A Texas grocer engages PREDICTif to deliver a flexible financial and operations reporting solution

CUSTOMER:

A regional chain of grocer, pharmacy and retail.

REQUIRED CAPABILITIES
Manage financial and operation reporting with different rules for different accounts, as well as for different business units; but with one final standardized output. Handle multiple hierarchies, centralized security and quick response times.
CHALLENGES

Operating over 100 supermarkets in both metropolitan and rural areas of Texas and Louisiana, the customer faced numerous challenges related to its financial and operational reporting as the company became reliant upon an inefficient, highly customized reporting application. The application was based on an antiquated and unsupported technology, Query 2000. Further compounding the difficulties associated with reporting on a customized system was the fact that the customer had no dedicated vendor support or experienced technical resources which in and of itself resulted in multiple technical limitations:

  • Difficult to create and maintain the reports;
  • Manual process required to generate reports;
  • No scheduling capabilities;
  • Reports couldn’t be published which causes duplication and inaccurate reports;
  • Was difficult to modify and reuse existing report templates;
  • Lack of templates resulted in longer cycles to develop new reports;
  • Generation of reports was slow as they were directly processed out of AS400 Mainframes;
  • There was no alerting and bursting capability to detect and manage business significant
  • events;
  • Legacy solution was burdensome as it related to the creation of ad hoc reports;
  • Did not support the customer’s data retention schedule and data cleansing; and
  • Newly developed reports can not be tested by users to ensure accuracy.

SCOPE

The objectives were to provide the customer the capability to accurately report on a timely basis, reuse templates and achieve self sufficiency after the project.

  • Deliver a financial reporting solution that leverages the TM1 9.4 OLAP engine and Cognos BI 8.4 report studio;
  • Automate the report process and make it easy for business users to create new and ad-hoc reports;
  • Provide training and knowledge transfer so that business users are self independent in terms of support and enhancement; and
  • Implement alerting and bursting capabilities to manage critical business events and support data retention process

SOLUTION

The customer acquired IBM’s Cognos BI 8.4 and TM1 9.4 to address the constraints of the legacy solution. The IBM Cognos suite provided the customer the flexibility to generate and reuse reports as well as the ability to automate report generation and alert/burst functionality for significant events.

After a thorough vendor selection process, PREDICTif was selected to implement an end-to-end reporting solution for the customer. The project encompasses the entire life cycle of software installation, configuration, customization, testing, implementation, user groups training and knowledge transfer. PREDICTif delivered the solution under budget and before the planned completion date.

  • Developed a comprehensive project plan with detailed scope and timelines;
  • Created business requirements documentation and technical requirements documents for the project;
  • Installed and configured Cognos 8.4 on DEV, QA and Production with QA and production being multi-server environments to improve performance and ensure redundancy (3 application servers, 2 web servers and 1 content server);
  • Converted all existing Query 2000 reports to Cognos reports using Report Studio, Query Studio, Analysis Studio and built cubes using Framework Manager Models;
  • Created 45 additional complex reports;
  • Developed and delivered the ability to create Ad hoc reporting;
  • Completed ETL Mapping (Fact builds and Dimension Builds) function using Data manager;
  • Designed and implemented a Datamart for the customer’s HR Department;
  • Consolidated/replaced a quandary of spreadsheets into one single company wide data entry by utilizing TM1;
  • Used F5 load balancers to conduct thorough load balance and fail-over testing to ensure the performance and robustness of the BI solution;
  • Provided thorough documentation of all the reports and user manuals; and
  • Offered training to both power users and end users on Query Studio, Report Studio and Analysis Studio.

RESULTS

PREDICTif’s TM1 solution streamlines the customer’s financial and operational reporting process and enables the customer to have accurate information at hands in order to make critical and timely business decisions.

  • The number of hours spent generating consolidated financial statements was reduced substantially allowing more time for analysis;
  • Multiple disparate business units were brought together under one streamlined reporting process, with a standardized company-wide output;
  • The comprehensive training and detailed documentation that the customer’s personnel received equipped the customer with the knowledge to support and maintain their system with minimal assistance from its IT support; and
  • PREDICTif helped establish best practices and project methodology within the customer’s organization that will benefit the customer in its future BI implementation projects.
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