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City of Albuquerque Delivers Key Information to Employees and Citizens with Cognos

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Chris Framel, systems analyst II for the City of Albuquerque.

BACKGROUND: The City of Albuquerque in New Mexico provides a wide range of municipal services to constituents including police, fire, paramedic services, water, public services, residential and commercial development planning, and senior affairs. The city employs approximately 6,000 employees in a town with a population of approximately 450,000 citizens.

PLATFORMS: Cognos PowerPlay Web, IWR, CQ, ReportNet and NoticeCast run on Windows 2000 and 2003, using Oracle, Sybase and DB2 databases, as well as many others.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Before implementing Cognos, the city was using a mainframe-based financial reporting system that had a number of limitations. End users in different departments could not generate their own reports. We also lacked a simple method of sharing information between different city departments. The process of information collection was highly manual - and reports were paper based - placing a significant burden on IT and administrative staff. City officials needed to provide managers and decision-makers with an analysis and reporting solution that was both easy to use and provided a high degree of accurate visibility into operations across departments. Given the scope of the project, the city demanded a solution that can deliver 24x7.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: For many of the city's workers, Cognos Series 7 and Cognos ReportNet provide an integrated Web-based interface that offers point-and-click access to a vast array of other municipal services information. Cognos' robust analysis and flexible reporting capabilities on the vast stores of data in disparate information systems allow users to consolidate information and quickly identify trends. With our extranet site, the public can access information they need, when they need it. Everyone from the personnel in the mayor's office, to city officials, to the average citizen can get daily updates on public safety, campaign records, taxes and other information across the extranet site.

STRENGTHS: The ability to break down islands of information is critical in today's public sector environment, and city officials are very confident that they are able to get quick and timely access to key information. The need for rapid information is apparent in the use of Cognos Series 7 ad hoc query capability. City officials are also able to share information between departments, allowing managers to work in a more coordinated fashion to ensure effective municipal service.

WEAKNESSES: Most BI solutions are very well suited to the analysis and reporting of numeric information. Given the high-touch customer experience being created for the city, a solution that could also allow for the navigation, analysis and reporting of textual information was needed. We feel that no current BI solution does this effortlessly, but the Cognos solution allowed us the flexibility to accommodate this information and stretch the boundaries of its capabilities to allow us to search and report on city concerns.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In late 1997, the city began searching for a reporting solution. It had previous positive experience using Cognos PowerPlay on a limited basis, and decided to deploy Cognos' business intelligence tools on a wider scale. In February 1998, we began deploying Cognos solutions, with the help of four internal information services staff and consultants from Cognos. In January 1999, Cognos PowerPlay and Impromptu Web Reports modules were deployed to 400 users in different departments. All 400 users went through a half-day training session during the six months following the deployment.

DELIVERABLES: By deploying Cognos internally to all units and via the Web to external groups such as vendors, the city has reduced the number of phone calls received by employees in the finance, human resources and planning departments. Also, prior to the implementation, IT personnel would spend approximately 1.5 hours each day creating ad hoc reports; now, many reports require no IT time involvement. Finally, the city was able to identify and rein in costs such as excessive cell phone usage and overtime labor.

VENDOR SUPPORT: What made Cognos so appealing was the intelligence of their people. The quality of their customer experience was really excellent. We were also satisfied with the way they took the time to understand how the technology they were offering would relate to the business application.

DOCUMENTATION: The Cognos solution is user-friendly and provides excellent online help. The manuals are well-written and complete.

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