NE Ohio Regional Sewer District
In 2005, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s IT Department implemented Oracle E-Business Suite in order to better serve the organization’s Finance and Human Resources (HR) departments. As part of this implementation, the team also began to roll out Oracle Discoverer as a reporting engine since it came pre-packaged with the Oracle E-Business Suite of applications. However, initial feedback from the District’s end users confirmed that Discoverer was “complex and cumbersome” and not as user-friendly as expected. This made it a challenge for end users who were not accustomed to creating reports they needed on their own.
“We had our fair share of experiences with different reporting tools,” said Humberto Sanchez, manager of IT Project Management Services at the District. “In the past, we had resistance to adopt because some of these tools can be quite technical. What we came to find out within the IT Department is that it didn’t matter what tool was used, that inherently the users need to have an understanding of their data and how to ultimately find it within their application’s table structure. For example, they want a report that gives them a view of employee salaries and they know all the data labels for this, but when they looked at the Oracle tables or field names, data elements are presented without using common names, and are therefore very difficult for a user to identify.”
Sanchez and his team determined that IT would have to closely collaborate with the end users in order to gather the information necessary to help the organization report, manage, and run smoothly. “We assumed there was no reporting tool out there that could magically prepare the report a user requested without a lot of customization and data mapping exercises.”
During this time a District business group member attended an Oracle Application User Group Conference and witnessed a demonstration of the Noetix technology. After connecting with other local organizations that use Noetix, the District’s IT Department discovered they were not the only ones who struggled to obtain data from Oracle applications and that Noetix was a tool that could be very helpful to them.
The initial Noetix roll-out was limited to users within the HR and Finance Departments who would actually be responsible for generating the necessary reports for their Departments and other internal customers.
With a long-term vision of providing mid-to-senior level management with the ability to use Noetix, the IT team and Finance business users developed a pilot group that represented several key departments within the 600-person organization who were responsible for creating reports or require data to manage their budget areas throughout the District. This group included a range of people from those who were extremely technically savvy to those who had no technical experience. After the Noetix training session, the group was given a month to use Noetix and practice accessing and utilizing the information they needed with this tool.
The pilot went very well, drawing praise from all of the users who confirmed that Noetix was so easy to use that an official training session was not even necessary. The group successfully used Noetix to find their data and build reports with drilling capabilities enabling managers to review their budget areas and make timely decisions for planning purposes.
“Noetix has been so well received across our organization that interest has spread word of mouth and is now expanding to people that weren’t part of the original pilot project. We’re hearing more and more people saying, ‘Hey, I want Noetix,’” said Donice Bell, the pilot’s Project Manager. The IT Department is now expanding to additional District management staff to enable the maintenance and management of their respective budgetary areas.
One of the larger objectives for the Noetix implementation was to streamline and increase the efficiency of reporting processes across the District. Traditionally, the District’s overall operational budget had been managed through a monthly budget report that came from the Finance Department for each one of the cost or budget centers. Finance would print out these reports and send them off to each appropriate manager. Because the reports generally took at least a few days to arrive, the information was already out-dated by the time it was received. Finance had also been handling end-of-year budgeting in this way, and due to the complexity of that process, the annual data that arrived on manager’s desks was typically one-to-two months out of date as well.
Today, the District has eliminated the old system of printing budget reports and the Finance Department has conveyed a savings of about eight hours per month by using Noetix. Reports now arrive electronically, in real time, enabling the District’s managers to make faster, more sound business decisions. And while these savings are quite modest, the larger benefit is the ability to provide the reports on time or at the click of a button and give more control to staff in managing their budgets. The District’s goal of using technology effectively has been achieved.
In 2008, the IT Department plans to expand its community of users to provide the capability to connect and extract data from multiple Oracle-based enterprise applications. This will be another opportunity for District management to obtain relevant data for planning and reporting purposes that will support its mission of providing high-quality wastewater treatment.
Manager of IT Project Management Services
NE Ohio Regional Sewer District
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