Queensland Catholic Education Commission boosts reporting accuracy and efficiency

Published on 14-Jun-2012

Validated on 02 Dec 2013

"Now business users can directly access the reporting tools they need, instead of depending on the ICT department. This has allowed greater ownership around all aspects of data quality, control and distribution, and also freed up ICT staff from time-consuming data distribution activities, enabling us to focus on more critical tasks." - Manager of ICT Planning and Information Services at Queensland Catholic Education Commission

Customer:
Queensland Catholic Education Commission

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
Australia

Solution:
BA - Business Analytics, Business Integration, BA - Business Intelligence, Business Performance Transformation, Information Integration, BA - Performance Management

IBM Business Partner:
Bistech

Overview

Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC), headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, is a 16-member body charged with handling state-wide responsibilities for 290 Catholic schools, which educate 135,000 students and employ more than 16,000 people.

Business need:
QCEC was challenged by time constraints in delivering accurate reports, and issues with integration on its existing reporting systems. It wanted to be able to accelerate report generation in order to provide business stakeholders with timely, precise information.

Solution:
Working with Bistech, a long time IBM Premier Business Partner, QCEC deployed IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence 10 and IBM Cognos TM1® software to create a centralised information management platform. Cognos software provides much richer and more consistent insight into student enrolment trends, national assessment program data and demographics, as well as financial data forecasting.

Benefits:
Enables “what-if” analyses and scenario planning, helping QCEC foresee the effects of policy changes and react more effectively to changing situations. Reduced the amount of time taken to produce reports from months to a matter of minutes. Improves data quality significantly by exposing issues at the outset, helping to provide stakeholders with more accurate information.

Case Study

Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC), headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, is a 16-member body charged with handling state-wide responsibilities for 290 Catholic schools, which educate 135,000 students and employ more than 16,000 people.

The Commission’s role is essentially strategic and focuses on facilitating collaboration between Catholic Schooling Authorities and acting on their behalf on a number of matters, which include negotiating and distributing government funding to schools and collecting and managing relevant educational, financial and statistical data.

Inefficient manual processes
QCEC collects large quantities of data from a number of institutions, which need to be compiled quickly and accurately in order to produce budgets, forecasts and other reports for institutional decision-makers. However, QCEC’s existing reporting processes suffered from a lack of source system integration, requiring data to be manually exported from operational systems and integrated using a range of complex spreadsheets. These manual processes were error-prone and often resulted in delays or inconsistent results.

The Manager of ICT Planning and Information Services at Queensland Catholic Education Commission, explains, “Sometimes it could take us months to put the data together, which had a severe impact on vital decision-making procedures. Our stakeholders simply did not have the information they needed to support their various initiatives.”

Additionally, all ad-hoc reporting was performed through live transactional systems, which significantly affected system performance. The ICT department was largely responsible for the compilation and distribution of static reports, a time-consuming activity which distracted them from other important duties. QCEC also used a small number of limited reporting modules that had been custom-developed for its in-house program information management system (PIMS), but these did not deliver the level of analysis that the organisation needed.

QCEC wanted to move beyond static reporting and allow members to undertake detailed self-service, ad-hoc analysis on complex data sets. It also wanted to streamline its overall financial forecasting and analysis processes through a single source.

Streamlining data analysis and reporting
In 2009, QCEC approached IBM Premier Business Partner Bistech about developing a solution that would allow it to improve information management, reporting and analysis processes and financial forecasting capabilities across its operations. In response, Bistech drew up a business intelligence solution roadmap that provided strategic direction and best practice advice on how to undertake a successful performance management initiative.

As a result of that roadmap, QCEC – with help from Bistech – implemented IBM Cognos Business Intelligence 10 and IBM Cognos TM1 software, using it to create a centralised information management platform.

“With Cognos, we have been able to develop reporting and analysis components that draw data from PIMS and other sources,” says the Manager of ICT Planning and Information Services. “The various phases of the business intelligence roadmap developed by Bistech also delivered cubes and reports that provide much richer and more consistent insight into student enrolment trends, national assessment outcomes and demographics, as well as financial data forecasting.”

The deployment of financial data to users in all parts of the organisation has enabled QCEC to gather and share data across operations more easily. This data is being used in ways that were not envisioned before, since the original limitations of spreadsheets no longer apply.

For example, QCEC now uses the consistent data gathered by the Cognos solution to formulate a number of different funding models for the Queensland Catholic Schooling sector, enabling it to plan for changing circumstances more effectively. The data is also used to conduct “what if” scenario analysis around funding distribution to various schooling authorities, helping QCEC assess the probable effects of changes in policy.

Faster, more accurate reports
With IBM Cognos software, QCEC has gained improved ad-hoc analysis capabilities and a single, centralised platform for management of financial and operational information. This enhances its ability to analyse the resourcing profiles of different schools and better inform funding policies. It can now provide schooling authorities with data sets that are relevant to their specific sector, as well as data sets for the state and national levels.

The data that is now surfaced through IBM Cognos 10 and Cognos TM1 helps QCEC to drive a more granular approach to program management. For example, the Bus Fare Assistance programme now has the capability to effectively analyse and forecast reimbursement thresholds for payments to parents whose children travel to school using public transport.

QCEC is also able to turn around requests for information from external parties in considerably shorter timeframes than before. In some instances where datasets could have taken months to put together, reports can now be generated in a matter of days.

“We are able to deliver reports much more quickly, and the entire reporting process has become much more effective,” remarks the Manager of ICT Planning and Information Services. “Now business users can directly access the reporting tools they need, instead of depending on the ICT department. This has allowed greater ownership around all aspects of data quality, control and distribution, and also freed up ICT staff from time-consuming data distribution activities, enabling us to focus on more critical tasks.”

Moreover, data quality has significantly improved following the implementation of IBM Cognos software. Any issues or errors are now exposed at the outset, allowing for immediate rectification. As the Manager of ICT Planning and Information Services notes, “We can now be more confident that the information we provide to key stakeholders is accurate, which in turn helps to drive better decision-making. Reducing the amount of time spent validating data also gives us more scope to concentrate on data analysis itself.”

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
Cognos TM1, Cognos Business Intelligence

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Australia Ltd Level 13 IBM Centre 601 Pacific Highway St Leonards NSW 2065 Produced in Australia June 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos and TM1 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. IBM and Bistech are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Bistech makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models.