CATEGORY: Query & Reporting and OLAP
REVIEWER: Don Lew, accounting analyst for Oregon's State Controller's Division.
BACKGROUND: The State of Oregon is a medium-sized state government comprised of 130 agencies and 44,000 employees with a budget of more than $10 billion annually to serve Oregon's population of 3.5 million. As a government organization spending taxpayers' money, there is tremendous legal and ethical accountability and visibility required for every transaction. Law requires strict adherence to tax collection, spending, purchasing and benefit distribution guidelines, policies and procedures. In order to meet that level of accountability, the state needed access to accurate data and an efficient way to analyze and act upon that data.
PLATFORMS: The State of Oregon's accounting data mart is housed in an IBM DB2 database, located on a Sun Solaris platform.
PROBLEM SOLVED: The State Controller's Division (SCD) had a lot of transaction data captured in the statewide financial management application. Although the system did a good job of recording transactions, its reporting functionality was severely limited. It came with standard report-generation features that were expensive, difficult to modify and often took months and thousands of dollars to complete a single report. The SCD accounting data mart was created in 1997 to overcome deficiencies in the reporting system and provide all state agencies with the information they need to effectively run their operations. With the SCD's data mart and Brio Intelligence, employees all over the state are able to effectively monitor weekly and monthly expenses, track funding inflows from a wide variety of taxing sources, compile Oregon's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and monitor the performance and cost of social programs such as adult and child welfare, services to seniors and disabled persons, and youth corrections.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Today, decision-making employees in departments all over the state are using Brio Intelligence to access the data mart, which enables users to quickly prepare all financial reports, conduct in-depth analysis and share work across departments. Several hundred reports are produced monthly, with generally 50 to 100 users running queries and reports at any given time. With Brio, consolidated financial statements for the entire state are prepared with only 10 people. Additionally, across the state, agency personnel save more than 40 percent of their time gathering data and creating reports. That time is now spent conducting analyses and creating and delivering programs to better serve Oregon's citizens.
STRENGTHS: Brio's biggest strength is its ease of use. The State of Oregon was looking for a query, reporting and OLAP analysis solution easy enough to use for the varying technical proficiency levels of users across the state, and that is exactly what Brio provided. Additionally, Brio's solution integrated seamlessly with the data mart to accommodate the unique reporting and analysis needs of each individual state agency.
WEAKNESSES: It takes longer to access reports from the Web clients than with a client/server connection, which can be an issue with extremely large reports.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Report generation from Oregon's transaction system was completely inadequate for responsible management of the state budget. Brio was the only data access, analysis and reporting solution we found that met the varied criteria of Oregon's state agencies including seamless access to DB2 data, identical use across desktop platforms, ease of use for nontechnical users, complete ad hoc flexibility and minimal user training.
DELIVERABLES: Brio Intelligence significantly enhanced the way Oregon's agencies conducted business and made spending decisions. Using Brio Intelligence, the state no longer needs to produce a large number of reports from the legacy accounting system, saving significant time and money. The mainframe reports were expensive, as the design, development and testing process typically required three to six months to produce a report. Additionally, the state is able to use administrative resources more efficiently and enhance programs that directly benefit citizens.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Working with the Brio team has been a very positive experience. Brio's expert services played a valuable role in our initial rollout and training our staff. We continue to enjoy a great working relationship with the Brio team.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation was easy to understand, and Brio's training materials helped empower our employees with the exact skills and knowledge needed to analyze and extract complex data housed in the data mart.
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