Published on 17-Dec-2009
"The exception reports are really what drive our billing process. The billing system itself has its own reports, but they aren’t meaningful, so we’re able to refine some of that logic and create our own reports. That means we can accelerate our billing time with the IBM Cognos system. " - Matthew Wesolosky, Manager, Accounting & IT, Delta Natural Gas
Delta Natural Gas
Energy & Utilities
The IBM Cognos solution met Delta Natural Gas’ analysis and reporting needs for a wide array of data, and was recommended by satisfied users.
Aggregate data to obtain real-time, highly accurate, consolidated views of budgets, customer and employee information, so executives can have more insight when making decisions.
The IBM Cognos 8 BI system allows Delta Natural Gas to have widespread, real-time access to financial, payroll and customer data from a single Web portal.
A faster, more efficient billing process; quick, customized, ad hoc reports for business queries; in-depth analysis of operations and budget data; rich integration with multiple data sources; single-portal, interactive access to reports in a wide variety of easily readable formats.
Delta Natural Gas Company, Inc., headquartered in Winchester, Kentucky, distributes and transports natural gas in central and southeastern Kentucky, serving approximately 38,000 customers in 23 predominantly rural counties. Founded in 1949, Delta Natural Gas also owns approximately 2,500 miles of natural gas distribution and transmission pipeline as well as gathering, storage and compression facilities.
Delta Natural Gas operates both in regulated and non-regulated segments. The regulated segment distributes natural gas to its retail customers. Delta also transports natural gas to industrial customers on their distribution systems, as well as on behalf of local producers and customers not on their distribution system. The non-regulated segment purchases natural gas in the open market and from Kentucky producers, and resells this gas to customers both on and off the company’s system.
In 1996, Delta Natural Gas Company implemented an ERP solution with limited reporting capabilities. The organization wanted to have access to more structured information in a timely fashion, and data on operations and budgets needed to be made available on the fly. Additionally, there was a need to provide a single source for all data, so executives could view several different types of reports in an easy-to-use format, and conduct better, more up-to-date analysis of data. The organization also wanted the ability to drill down into its IBM® DB2® database.
Then, in 2001, Delta realized it needed to have more effective and streamlined reporting capabilities to enhance its internal controls to comply with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Spreadsheets, which have an inherent risk for error, were used widely before turning to the IBM Cognos® solution, needed to be replaced with a more efficient system that could quickly produce reports with reliable data on everything from budgeting to payroll to customers. Previously, Delta Natural Gas had been relying largely upon spreadsheets for these tasks, but like countless other organizations, the company realized that Microsoft® Excel® lacked the appropriate controls it needed.
Using earlier versions of the Cognos software, Delta Natural Gas was able to successfully address these challenges. The company deployed the latest version of IBM Cognos 8 BI in fall 2009.
After implementing the IBM Cognos solution in 1996, Delta Natural Gas quickly started using the solution for several different tasks within its Finance Department, including ad hoc reporting. Citing its flexibility and ease of use, Delta chose the IBM Cognos solution for its reporting needs, in part based on the strong recommendations from another systems vendor. Once the system was implemented, executives all the way up to Chief Executive Officer were able to view easily readable and insightful reports on everything from budgeting and employee data to HR and customer information. There are now eight users, including the Chief Financial Officer, Manager of Accounting & IT and several employees in accounting.
“Our reporting was limited and we needed something that would be able not only to create reports on the fly, but also to dig deeper into the data,” says Matthew Wesolosky, Manager, Accounting & IT, Delta Natural Gas.
Realizing how many different types of reports it could streamline in short order, Delta Natural Gas quickly started using the solution among its many users. Today, Delta Natural Gas also uses reports to:
- • Calculate the rates that it bills customers
• Summarize capital spending and revenue summaries for management
• Perform consolidations for SEC reporting
• Prepare reporting for all levels of the budgeting process
• Reconcile the general ledger to subsidiary ledgers.
“Basically the IBM Cognos system has so many uses within our organization. We have users who are running reports during billing cycles to create exception reports for items they need to double check. We have other reports that actually calculate rates we bill certain customers,” Wesolosky says.
Delta Natural Gas runs more than 100 reports every month, and thanks to its use of the IBM Cognos solution, the company now turns around bills for customers much more quickly. In 2000, Delta Natural Gas undertook a large initiative to improve the efficiency of its billing process and ever since then, the entire procedure has been streamlined significantly. Even today, the company continues to streamline operations based on the IBM Cognos system.
“The exception reports really drive our billing process,” Wesolosky adds. “The billing system itself has its own reports, but they aren’t meaningful, so we’re able to refine some of that logic and create our own reports. That means we can accelerate our billing time with the IBM Cognos system.”
Delta Natural Gas’ accounting and IT department continues developing new customized reports if people have specific questions or needs, and they are confident they will continue to expand on their success. Regardless of the report, the organization is able to do more in-depth analysis of operations and budget data. The reports grant users quick access to data in the format they require. In most cases, highly detailed reports are generated in less than 20 seconds. Reports can be viewed in several interactive formats, all of which are easily readable for non-technical users.
For its next steps, the company wants to build dashboards for executives so they can see financial snapshots and performance data at any time. This, coupled with the ability of the IBM Cognos solution to build reports in Excel for a familiar look and feel, made the decision to upgrade an easy one, Wesolosky notes.
“With the IBM Cognos system, we continue to find better ways to report information to the decision-makers,” he adds.
About IBM Cognos BI and Performance Management
IBM Cognos business intelligence (BI) and performance management solutions deliver world-leading enterprise planning, consolidation and BI software, support and services to help companies plan, understand and manage financial and operational performance. IBM Cognos solutions bring together technology, analytical applications, best practices, and a broad network of partners to give customers an open, adaptive and complete performance solution. Over 23,000 customers in more than 135 countries around the world choose IBM Cognos solutions.
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Cognos 8 Business Intelligence
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2009 IBM Canada3755 Riverside Drive Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 4K9 Produced in CanadaNovember 2009 All Rights Reserved. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos and DB2 are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Microsoft and Excel are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study is an example of how one customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference in this information to non-IBM Web sites are provided for convenience only and do not in any manner serve as an endorsement of those Web sites. The materials at those Web sites are not part of the materials for this IBM product and use of those Web sites is at your own risk.