Published on 17-Jun-2010
"The benefits were immediately clear, providing accurate figures in a much shorter space of time, Once the finance team started using the IBM Cognos solution word got around. Now you can find the technology being used across many areas of the business including operations, HR and the actuarial team." - Sherain Veale, IBM Cognos Competency Centre Manager at Hiscox
Hiscox has business reporting covered with IBM Cognos solution
The Hiscox finance team found its spreadsheet-based system was becoming increasingly difficult to manage, and needed a more efficient solution for reporting and managing their business.
IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence is used for wide-scale reporting across the company, from operational and financial updates on various areas of the business, to head count tracking and statutory reporting.
Internal deadlines are being met much more consistently. For example, there was a 6 day time saving in preparing management accounting reports for one area of the business.
Among other benefits, the solution provided improved decision making through better performance management; consistency of information across the business; improved access to information for staff across the business; and reduced time to produce management accounting reports.
Hiscox is a specialist insurer underwriting particular personal and business risks. A FTSE 250 company, Hiscox can trace it’s origins to the Lloyd’s market over 100 years ago. With over 1,000 staff in offices across 13 countries, they are experts in insuring people and businesses with unusual and often complicated needs. Who they insure is more important than what they insure.
Hiscox is a recognised leader in areas such as terrorism, aerospace, technology, media and professional indemnity through to high-value personal insurance, such as homes and contents, fine art, bloodstock, kidnap and ransom.
When your business revolves around managing risk, the data and resulting intelligence have a major role to play in its success.
An accurate and up-to-date picture of how the business is performing is required as it can impact on a company’s attitude to risk and influence the decision making process.
Back in 2004, preparing Hiscox’s financial figures was time consuming for the finance team as its spreadsheet-based system was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. With an international presence and an extensive product range, 100s of disparate spreadsheets were involved in producing numerous reports about the business.
“We were experiencing problems due to spreadsheet sizing issues, copying and pasting data from source systems, version control and inconsistent formats, ” explained Sherain Veale, IBM Cognos Competency Centre manager at Hiscox.
Hiscox embarked on a search for a company-wide solution that would help the company report and manage the business much more efficiently than before.
The company approached three specialist vendors, providing each with company data to build an initial model and produce a number of sample reports to show how the software might work.
“After reviewing how the various companies responded to our brief, it was clear that IBM stood out from the crowd. It’s IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence was clearly the solution for us and was able to provide a superior level of reporting,” said Veale.
One of the first projects implemented was an overhaul of the expenses system. This included reporting and analysis of the figures and a restructuring of the allocations procedure.
“The benefits were immediately clear, providing accurate figures in a much shorter space of time,” said Veale. “Once the finance team started using the IBM Cognos solution word got around. Now you can find the technology being used across many areas of the business including operations, HR and the actuarial team,” she added.
Today, there is wide-scale reporting right across the company from operational and financial updates on various areas of the business, head count tracking and statutory reporting.
The technology is also being used to support the management accounts process, expense allocations and reserving. Cognos is also proving invaluable to the actuarial team who use the solution to calculate quarterly reserves and to analyse the uncertainty around the reserves.
Outside of these more traditional areas, Hiscox is also using the IBM Cognos technology to support data validation. The solution is managed by an internal IBM Cognos Competency Centre. This four-strong team advises on solution architecture, standards management and best practice. The Competency Centre is also responsible for mentoring, training and educating staff on using the solution, helping them to create and run their own reports and plans whilst providing further technical and business support if required.
The IBM Cognos technology has had an enormous impact on the way the company’s performance is tracked and reported on.
Overall, there are now much better controls in place and staff are taking a more disciplined approach to the whole reporting cycle. The process is much faster and smoother than before, producing more accurate information.
Internal deadlines are being met much more consistently. For example, there was a 6 day time saving in preparing management accounting reports for one area of the business. This makes the relevant information available much faster to those who need it.
The technology also ensures the company has one single version of the truth on which to analyse the various areas of the business, ensuring a more consistent approach to management and decision-making.
Moving forward, Hiscox is looking to report from OLAP cubes to allow even better analysis of data.
It also plans to go live with IBM Cognos 8 Controller to improve the overall management of the reporting processes.
And, at a user level, the IBM Cognos Competency Centre is working hard to train and educate staff to give them increased control over the reports that they prepare. This will equip them with the skills they need to interrogate the data themselves and answer their own individual enquiries rather than having to rely on the Competency Centre to do this for them, thereby speeding up the whole process.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
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