In 2013, Gisborne District Council engaged professional services company PwC to audit its financial management and reporting systems. The clear feedback received was that the systems needed to be upgraded.
However, the council had committed to increasing its rates by only 2% per annum for the following three years and needed to get creative to bring their systems up to speed on a very small budget.
To resolve this predicament, Gisborne set about building a solution using Datacom’s Ozone Local Government ERP and SQL database and reporting tools rather than replacing the system. The council worked on the reporting and presentation layer, and we then developed the back-end solution to extract, transform and load data from their existing data warehouse.
The result was a business intelligence/data warehousing solution for the council’s finance department, which they named FBI (Financial Business Intelligence). Financial managers can now pull information from their data warehouse, track statistics and trends on financial performance against forecasts, and manage projects. Comprehensive dashboards provide significantly greater visibility over financial transactions, enable more consistent and timely reports, and provide the ability to make more informed decisions, faster.
FBI also gave council managers a higher level of understanding and ownership of their data. They were able to measure results at a level not previously imagined, which led to more effective decision-making and efficient business processes.
The tangible benefits were immense. External debt was reduced to 84% of budget, which was a requirement going into the organisation’s 2016 long-term plan. The council completed 99% of its capital programme – almost unheard of in the local government sector – and year-end operating expenditure was pulled back to within 3% of the council’s budget.
From the beginning, we recognised the value Gisborne District Council was creating in the reporting and analytics space, and bought into the roadmap and architecture. As a result, we now have exclusive rights to sell the solution, alongside other local government data and analytics solutions, across New Zealand and Australia.
FBI won the Association of Local Government Information Management award for innovation in 2015.
“FBI provides transparency in our expenditure – in essence, we were generally spending blind until we received financial reports that were often two months in retrospect. I now can see what my outgoings are in a more real and timely manner and can actively keep on top of my finances. I also don’t have to rely on asking the finance team for information because I can access the system easily.”
Nedine Thatcher-Swann, Group Manager for Planning and Development, Gisborne District Council