Animal Health Board gets smart with BI project

New software helps board manage decentralisation

Decentralisation has prompted the Animal Health Board to embark on a business intelligence and reporting project to service regional managers’ information needs.

The board has chosen IBM Cognos TM1 for its new reporting tools regime.

Finance manager Joy Tracey says the regulatory body has become more decentralised, with the managers of its five regional offices now requiring financial information.

“We’ve had a change in operation, bringing vector management in-house,” she says. “Previously, we used to contract that to regional councils.”

The board is legally responsible for managing and implementing the National Pest Management Strategy for bovine tuberculosis. Its powers derive from the Biosecurity Act 1993, with a stated aim to eradicate bovine TB. The board’s $85 million in funding comes from farmers and the Crown.

Tracey says the existing reporting package was limited. “We went through an investigative process and identified a number of options. I had previously used Cognos at Defence and at NZ Post and I knew its capabilities.”

She says the tools enable the cost centre managers to get what they want.

“The product doesn’t look much different than Excel. We did a training session with each regional office and when we left they had draft budgets complete.”

Implementation began in mid-February, with a draft budget delivered by March 31. Monthly reporting went live two weeks later.

Tracey says stage two of the implementation will involve taking data from VectorNet, which covers all possum eradication work, and reconciling it to the general ledger. After that, Animal Health will develop a key performance indicator dashboard.

Cognos sits across the existing Solomon financial package.

IBM bought the business intelligence software company early last year for US$5 billion.

Tracey says the major benefit is improvement in efficiency. “Previously, our budgeting and forecasting was done by spreadsheet. This removes time to consolidation. It also gives us the ability to drill down and see transactional data.

“It gives us a hierarchical way of looking at data, as well as being able to readily extract ad hoc information to support analysis and forecasting.”

All up, including licences, Animal Health spent around $200,000 on the implementation, she says.

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