Westminster boosts financial reporting with analytics engine

Westminster City Council is about to go live with an analytics engine to give it more control of its financial reporting and monitoring, which it runs on a reporting platform from Oracle's JDE.

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Westminster City Council is about to go live with an analytics engine to give it more control of its financial reporting and monitoring, which it runs on a reporting platform from Oracle's JDE.

The council bought Applix TM1 in June to gain better control of its five-year-old JDE system. The bolt-on will enable so-called super-users within the council to generate targeted reports without the need for programming.

It said it wanted a market solution because it was proving increasingly time-consuming, difficult and costly to keep employing contractors to interrogate its ERP data, and the skills base for JDE was dwindling.

Pete Carpenter, deputy director of finance and resources for Westminster, said integrating the servers was proving straightforward and the switchover to the new system "should happen in early October."

The Applix TM1 analytics engine will be taking data sources from across the council's disparate IT infrastructure and integrate closely with Excel 2003, which is in widespread use across the local authority.

It should enable the council's accounting staff of about 80 spread across six teams to stop relying on spreadsheets. It will give them extra reporting functionality and version control, to improve the efficiency and accuracy of operations across the authority.

Two Applix servers will be housed in the council's Sheffield datacentre, hosted by one of its outsourcing partners, Liberata.

In the first instance the Applix tool will be used for financial monitoring of current-year budgets, but if it proves its effectiveness it is likely to be rolled out to budgeting and forecasting operations next year.

Carpenter said implementing TM1 was also very cost-effective because of Applix's licensing model which works on the basis of concurrent users. The council has 20 concurrent licences of the system currently, but around 50 users in total.

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