Featured Case Studies
Suncorp banks on Cortell and leads the pack with next generation business reporting … SBR XBRL 2.1
APRA introduced XBRL 2.0 taxonomy in 2002 and it was replaced in July 2011 with the SBR Taxonomy XBRL 2.1. Being one of the early-adopters of the 2.1 taxonomy, Suncorp Bank quickly identified a substantial difference in the release of 2.1.
The introduction of dimensions to the taxonomy added the complexity of tagging source data across many different business dimensions and consolidating 14 source systems. Where previous versions may have required tagging against a single Profit and Loss account, 2.1 meant tagging had to be applied at a lower level and across not just one, but potentially many different dimensions, such as closing account balances (product dimension) for all non-resident customers (customer dimension) for a particular month, e.g. July (period dimension).
“The dimensional tagging forced us to rethink how we completed our tagging and reporting, and the tools we used to generate APRA forms,” said James Corner (Executive Manager Suncorp Bank Financial Control)
Their processes at the time involved tagging to be completed in MS Access databases or MS Excel. Data was prepared in a series of linked spreadsheets and databases that passed through multiple teams and accountants and other financial leaders' hands before a two-dimensional report was produced. These processes were inadequate to meet the multi-dimensional requirements of 2.1 and future taxonomy releases. Nor did these processes address the common problems of manual, error prone processes that were time consuming and difficult to audit.
Kincrome Australia discovers the right tool ...
IBM Cognos Express TM1 provides immediate business insight for improved decision making
Kincrome was drowning in Excel spreadsheets in an effort to manage their rapidly growing business. Inventory Forecasting was completed using multiple Excel spreadsheets and SQL queries.
The time taken to retrieve ‘I need it now’ information was unacceptable. Martin Richards, Kincrome’s Financial Controller explained, "Our Gross Margin Return On Inventory (GMROI) report was taking one full day per month to prepare. I had to run multiple SQL queries in Excel to get data from our Pronto ERP system to populate pivot tables.”
The Daily KPI’s Report would take two hours to prepare in Excel, and once again, there was a need to run SQL queries against the Pronto database. Any questions arising from the one page report had to be addressed by ad hoc SQL queries.
Profit & Loss reports by managers were not easy to generate. Often a question had to be answered by retrieving values for multiple accounts, one by one, and adding them together.
Managers could use enquiry screens to select data in the Pronto system, and if they had the skills they could write SQL queries to load pivot tables in Excel. Knowledge of the Pronto tables varied between managers too, so it was difficult to determine the one true version of the truth.
Network Ten creates Prime-Time with Cognos Express TM1… producing more with less!
Network Ten runs a complex business and as such have complex reporting and analytical requirements. The Finance Department relied heavily on manual processes, merging multiple Excel spreadsheets and capturing data through direct entry to consolidate the information required to report the business as a whole. This process was needed given the breadth of reporting required and the standalone production systems used. It was however very time consuming, expensive and complex, and the output lacked the analytical capability required to derive deep insights into the business.
When the CEO and Board demanded greater analysis, in greater depth, more frequently, things had to change.
“Over a number of years we examined a range of solutions to improve our reporting and analytical processes within Finance. We were unable to find a solution that was cost effective, could be implemented quickly, and most importantly, driven and managed by our team. These challenges were further exacerbated when changes at a Board level resulted in new mandated reporting and analytical capabilities for Finance. It wasn’t until we reviewed an implementation of TM1 in Network Ten’s Digital Media unit, and saw the output, that we felt we could readily accommodate these requirements. We needed a solution that quickly consolidated our data … something we couldn’t attempt without TM1, as it would simply be too time consuming,” said Jason Bosch, Financial Controller, Network Ten.
The new reporting requirements included:
- weekly reporting to NPAT to senior management
- detailed channel profitability reporting
- Board reporting pack
- improved insight and analytical capability
- faster delivery of critical business information
- do more with less - reduction of FTE’s involved with the process.
Bond makes smart decisions with Cognos Express and TM1
Bond needed to enhance the university’s ability to analyse and report on data to make accurate, timely and informed business decisions in setting and achieving key strategic and operational goals. At the time many decisions were arrived at after manual, time consuming, and non collaborative processes were run to obtain key data across multiple enterprise system sources. "There was a lot of SQL data analysis but we couldn’t pull it easily into one report," said Sue Davis, Director of Finance, Financial Services, Bond University. Bond identified at the time that they needed to find a way to significantly improve their ability to:
- develop an integrated student enrolment and revenue model that captured extensive data on new enrolled students, integrated into the continuing pipeline of students at EFTS level with full revenue implications disbursed into a budgeting model
- allow extensive analytical reporting over enrolled student data for strategic marketing purposes
- develop an integrated budget model incorporating the student enrolment model into revenue, a human resource model that allowed FTE analysis by employment status that integrated into an operational expense model and inclusion of capital expenditure
- reduce preparation time of annual budgets by allowing the functionality of faculty and departmental data entry sheets collating simultaneously into one new central system with new reporting capability with a further two year outlook
- allow what-if and sensitivity analysis over budgeting and forecasting information
- provide accurate semesterly forecasting, cost analysis and management of expenses
- have a governance framework around critical data that provided a disciplined approach to consistency in reporting, i.e. one version of truth.
Managing the student enrolment model, load forecasting, cost management and understanding the financial implications at Bond was at times very manual and labour intensive. The processes were slow, difficult to change and difficult to integrate end to end and placed heavy burdens on individuals to manage and maintain. Bond needed a solution that provided one principal source of information and could provide accurate and timely data to support and drive decision making, strategy and improvement for the university as a whole and within the faculties and operational departments.
Cruising ahead with TM1...
Carnival can now work out total cruise costs and individual elements in less than an hour
Carnival needed a platform that was flexible enough to cater for individual components of its operations whilst integrating the cross business functions. They needed to have the insight and accuracy required to drive efficiencies and provide analytics for their service and product offerings.
Cortell implements advanced student load forecasting & cost management at Griffith University
Managing the student load forecasting, cost management and consequential financial implications at Griffith was at times a very manual and labour intensive process, something Stuart Jones, Deputy Director, Planning and Financial Services at the University sought to improve.
“The current processes placed heavy burdens on certain individuals to manage and maintain. The processes were slow, difficult to change and certainly difficult to integrate, end to end. The university was very reliant on the skills of a select few and a heavy Excel based framework to support its core financial and student modelling environment.” (Stuart Jones)
The university also ran a centralised data warehouse and an activity based costing solution built on an Oracle and SAS platform. The data warehouse captured information relevant to the operational aspects of the student but didn’t provide the flexibility and dynamic modelling capability required to capture, consolidate, forecast and model student load plans and subsequent financial metrics. Further to this the activity based costing module was too difficult to maintain and ideally needed to be integrated to the student and financial planning models.
Cortell Australia and Cognos TM1 give freedom to Steinhoff’s Finance Team
In the past, Steinhoff’s budgets were completed centrally by its finance team, but the company wanted business managers to be more directly responsible.
“We wanted ownership of the numbers to be with the relevant managers to make them accountable for their targets and responsible for their results,” says Louise Cooper, Group Accounting Manager, Steinhoff.
To support this approach, Steinhoff required a new budgeting, forecasting and planning solution that could collect a wide range of operational and financial data.
The system had to include advanced business rules (including franchise calculations) that the company could apply when developing planning scenarios.
Other considerations included the transparency of calculations, and the ability to consolidate data so that it reflected both company and brand results. Steinhoff also wanted to minimise the learning curve for their managers.
Zurich Australia Gains Deeper and More Accurate Insights into Business Performance
Zurich had been using spreadsheets for the budgeting, forecasting and planning process across 380 cost centres. Up to 180 managers were involved in the process. Considerable amounts of data needed to be manually consolidated during, and at the end of each budget process and review.
The company realised it had to standardise the budgeting processes, and streamline financial modelling. This would reduce inefficiency and allow the production of reports and scenarios within shorter timeframes, and with much greater accuracy and collaboration.
Zurich were looking for a scalable solution that would be easy to use, and provide more precise numbers each month, based on actual data.
CiSRA Improves Resource Planning Accuracy with help from Cortell
CiSRA had been using spreadsheets for business intelligence but this unsophisticated approach was not an effective way to plan and budget resources on a weekly and monthly basis.
“It became increasingly difficult for project managers to budget and forecast their labour, capital and other expenses,” says CiSRA IT & IS Manager Shane Youl.
CiSRA also had to address technical issues that compromised data consolidation. Because of delays, slow batch processing and manual processes, critical information was not available in a timely manner and, more importantly, was inaccurate.
To support its rapid growth, CiSRA had to revamp its workflow controls to reflect current and future requirements.
WorkPac solves financial reporting challenges with IBM Cognos and Cortell
Andrew Crealy, Chief Financial Officer joined the company in 2007 as Operations Manager for Finance. His task is to manage the day to day running of the financial and accounting reporting and improve the commercial running of the business.
In 2008, Andrew decided it was time for WorkPac to look for a new finance system for forecasting and budgeting. They needed a system that could sit well with the company’s existing platform and one that would enable the forecasting and budgeting to be conducted and produced online.
“When I joined the company we were producing reports in hard copy and sending them out to the branches. It took 3 weeks to produce and mail out the monthly accounting reports and this was just too long. By the time the branch managers received their reports they were already focused on closing the next month rather than the sales and profit budgets,” said Andrew.