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Getting the financials right

Hamish Barwick | Jan. 2, 2014
iiNet has reduced the time it took to generate financial reports by implementing a new business intelligence system. It is now looking to upgrade its ERP system, Hamish Barwick finds.

Working directly with the iiNet finance team, NEC conducted an assessment of the scenario and proposed a phased design and implementation. Budgeting and forecasting was completed in the second phase.

The detailed distributed planning application was activated with budget data collection, workflow control with integrated security assignments and monthly rolling forecasting processes.

iiNet has automated processes for subscriber revenue, operational expenses, capital expenditure, depreciation/amortisation, working capital/debt modelling and tax calculations.

The third phase was integration of the BI solution, running on top of other financial data delivered by the earlier projects, which automatically generates most of the financial month-end reports that were previously complied manually. Toohey said the shift from manual spreadsheets to automated reports means staff can now trust the integrity of company data.

iiNet financial controller, Ben Jenkins, said there was "a lot to learn" with the new platform, so getting the right training from NEC was important to ensure employees were making the most of Cognos reporting.

"NEC kept members of the project team onsite after the platform went live and was available to answer questions and help us with any problems. This saved us time and helped us get up to speed with the system quickly."

Jenkins' advice for other CIOs when dealing with two vendors on a project is to establish a strong relationship with all parties. "This lowers program risk and maximises engagement output between vendor, supplier and company. You should also apply ownership when the vendor is a recommended partner of the supplier," he said.

"Make sure the supplier understands that you are using the vendor on its recommendation. This creates a reputational responsibility for the supplier to ensure delivery from the vendor is in everyone's best interests."

iiNet also uses IBM technology to support its database environment including storage, network, servers and operating systems. The vendor's SPSS modeller is used for BI predictive modelling.

IT projections
Turning to other projects, Toohey is now looking to replace its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The current ERP is Microsoft Dynamics Navision 5.1 and was last updated in 2007.

"We have recently decided to upgrade to Dynamics NAV 2013 to take advantage of the improved functionality available," he said. This upgrade will be completed by early 2014.

According to Toohey, iiNet is moving at a "lightning pace" when it comes to technology projects. In the first 10 months of 2013, the information services team completed 116 projects.

One of these included changes to its customer service platform. For example, customers can use self-service options rather than waiting for a customer service representative. This has also created strong operational cost decreases throughout the business, said Toohey.

 

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