Published on 24-Nov-2010
"The planning tool really improves efficiency. It helped our branches to quickly see where they are compared to budget during the year. This has helped the bank enormously, especially in light of the current economic conditions." - Ike Aslam, First Vice President & Information Services Manager, BankPlus
Business Intelligence, Smarter Analytics
IBM Business Partner:
The IBM Cognos BI and Planning solution had the flexibility, scalability and capacity for seamless integration across multiple branches required by BankPlus.
To deploy a business intelligence and planning solution across the entire banking organization; to better equip branch and department management with key budgeting and reporting information on demand, including a view into financials, budgets and operational trends.
The IBM Cognos solutions provided BankPlus with robust reporting capabilities, ease of use and strong budgeting and analysis functionality for stronger, more accurate decision making.
Improves decision making with accurate and timely access to information; rapid access to trends and budgeting information; helps bank staff quickly refine strategies; allows delivery of new reports in a much shorter timeframe; enables staff to answer ad-hoc questions immediately.
BancPlus Corporation is the parent company of BankPlus, which was founded in 1909 as Citizens Bank & Trust Company (CB&T), in Belzoni, Mississippi. CB&T grew to include locations throughout Mississippi. The name was changed to BankPlus in September 1994, when Southeast Mississippi Bank in Quitman was merged into the banking system, extending the service area to the southeast region of Mississippi.
Since 1909, BankPlus has built a network of well-run community banks, a dedicated team of employees, and a variety of competitive products and services. Since 2000, BankPlus has grown from $1.1 billion to over $2 billion in total assets and currently has over 60 offices in 33 Mississippi communities.
The BankPlus strategy for success focuses on knowing the customer, building strong customer relationships and increasing profitability. The old manual, labor-intensive and paper-based method of reporting made achieving these goals a difficult and inefficient process.
“The Excel-based system we were using previously was prone to errors,” explains Ike Aslam, First Vice President & information Services Manager, BankPlus. “Under the old reporting method, it was difficult to get agreement on metrics across all the branches, so the organization knew they needed to adopt business intelligence (BI) and Planning solution in order to create a real business view.”
BankPlus undertook a selection process to find the right BI and Planning solution and created a short list of BI vendors. In the end, they selected IBM ® Cognos® 8 BI and Planning because it scored highest based on the bank’s list of needs including ad-hoc reporting, planning and analysis, and measurement.
Although the bank took the lead on its BI and Planning implementation, it worked with IBM Cognos partner Lodestar Solutions, Inc., a Premier IBM Cognos partner, to help implement the solution. Through the successful partnership with Lodestar Solutions the bank has been able to complete a number of initiatives from the creation of cubes and specialized reports, to performing a migration from IBM Cognos Series 7, v. 7.3 to IBM Cognos 8 BI, v. 8.3. Lodestar Solutions also mentored the BankPlus team throughout the process.
“The team at Lodestar Solutions was in lockstep with us from beginning to end. They helped ensure the migration was seamless and their setup and knowledge on the solutions were incredibly deep and impressive. They truly helped push us along into the new version of IBM Cognos 8 BI with relative ease,” comments Aslam. “Additionally, they facilitated a move to a new portal we developed in-house that has been instrumental in helping with customized PDF reports that can be generated easily. This was a relief, given our previous process was cumbersome and manual.”
Working with Lodestar Solutions, Aslam, along with Amy Moore, Vice President and Financial Reporting Manager at BankPlus, rolled out the IBM Cognos Planning solution and migration to IBM Cognos 8 BI, v. 8.3 across all banking centers and administrative departments within the organization. BankPlus held training classes for users so they would know how the solution worked. Since BankPlus utilizes a bottom-up budget approach, a Core module is used to budget loans, deposits, non-interest income and expenses by general ledger account. Also, a separate compensation module is used to budget salary by employee. Currently, 70 employees use the solution while reports from the BI and Planning solutions are viewable bank-wide.
BankPlus is making use of the scorecarding and reporting functionality within IBM Cognos 8 BI to track revenue, number of checking accounts, net-new checking accounts, and key ratio reports for each banking center compared to budget. BankPlus also uses IBM Cognos Planning to produce monthly financial statements for senior management.
“In terms of reports, we had an initiative to grow the number of checking accounts we opened. We created a report which compares budgeted checking accounts to actual checking accounts opened in a given time period,” said Moore. “We also developed a report that shows key expenses by each banking center – so we can compare expenditures in key areas to budget. In addition, we developed a report to track loan growth, deposit growth, net interest margin, net income and earnings growth to budget.”
BankPlus also created a budget variance module which allows each banking center and administrative department to review their balance sheet and income statement for any given month during the year and compare actuals to budget year-to-date. In order to gather more information on larger variances, BankPlus built in a calculation that flags the user to comment on the variance if the GL account is greater or less than a certain threshold. This was previously unavailable in the variance process and is very useful for the bank.
The IBM Cognos solution is now used successfully throughout the bank for a variety of reporting and analysis tasks. The ability to centralize, standardize, and verify information has led to more accurate reporting and has made the budgeting process more streamlined and less painful.
Feedback from users has been nothing but glowing: “Of course, budgeting can be a tedious process. Now that a lot of the calculations are built right in, it’s a much more efficient process. Data isn’t lost or miscalculated, and the shift away from Excel spreadsheets has been welcomed,” comments Moore.
IBM Cognos 8 BI and Planning has also greatly improved efficiency across the BankPlus banking centers, giving finance and accounting teams the ability they need to quickly determine where they are compared to budget, and to pinpoint budget variances so they can make more informed decisions going forward. Achieving the bank’s financial goals is made easier with IBM Cognos Planning in place, “because we know our numbers, which is important especially in the current economic environment,” notes Moore.
Since utilizing IBM Cognos 8 BI and Planning, each banking center and administrative department has a clear sense of the budget process through entering their budgets and analyzing significant budget variances. During the year, if a request is received for an event or sponsorship, users can quickly see how much was budgeted for that event, and make a decision as to whether that expense still benefits the bank. This has helped each banking center meet its goals in terms of managing expenses and enables BankPlus to perform more effectively and profitably.
Overall, the IBM Cognos solution has helped BankPlus shift resources from maintenance and administration of information to analysis and action. Report requests are delivered quickly and accurately, depicting anything from budget to actuals to drill-down reports on specific requests. Also, users can view key metrics through a portal that has been created internally for organization-wide use. This ability allows BankPlus to analyze spending patterns, loan and deposit growth, and net interest margin.
“Quite simply, we just know our numbers now. With quick access to IBM Cognos, we have a much stronger insight into the health of our business, which is crucial in today’s business environment. We are able to know where we are financially and are able to react as needed to changing dynamics. IBM Cognos has truly enabled that; it has been amazing,” concludes Aslam.
In the future, BankPlus may begin forecasting with IBM Cognos Planning and developing executive dashboards and scorecards with IBM Cognos 8 BI.
About Lodestar Solutions
Lodestar Solutions is a Premier IBM Cognos reselling and implementation partner helping client realize the benefits of robust business analytics and reporting. Lodestar Solutions, Inc. www.lodestarsolutions.com
About IBM Business Analytics
More than 1,000 financial services institutions worldwide, including seven of the top 10 insurance companies in the United States, use IBM Business Intelligence and Performance Management to build a platform for market growth and operational excellence.
IBM Business Analytics 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 Business Analytics
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 Business Analytics solutions.
Products and services used
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010 IBM Canada Ltd. 3755 Riverside Drive Ottawa ON K1G 4K9 Canada Produced in Canada September 2010 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com and Cognos 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 ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. 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.