For forty two years Kidney Health Australia has been promoting kidney and urinary tract health to consumers and the medical profession. During that time it has funded more than $23 million for research into kidney disease. The organisation continually funds and implements awareness and education programs to help reduce the incidence and impact of kidney disease in the community, plus it provides a national network of education, care and support for patients, their families and carers.
As a not for profit organisation, Kidney Health has long understood the cost saving and efficiency benefits that come from investing in the right tools. They teamed with Professional Advantage to deploy Microsoft Dynamics GP, a professional financial management solution. To help manage call centre and fund raising activities, the two organisations designed and deployed a solution based on, Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Both software investments have provided management with far more insight into the organisation's operations and continue to inform decision making to this day.
The limitations of spreadsheets
Kidney Health CFO, Rosanna Care realised that management reporting was failing to keep up with the company's growing information needs. Data for senior management and board reports was being compiled using Microsoft FRx before being exported to Microsoft Excel for review and dissemination. Frequently however, the accounting team would find that changes were required to the base data. New line items may be required or there would be edits to existing information. With each change, finance staff would have to amend the source data before generating a new spreadsheet.
The problem was all the to-ing and fro-ing took time, and what's worse, the manual methods meant occasionally, errors would creep in. "We realised we would need an automated system at some point to eliminate problems, speed the process and improve accuracy." In addition, the charity wanted to be able to conduct more complex analysis on its financial data.
Seeing is believing
It was around this time that Manish attended a Professional Advantage seminar and demonstration of the business intelligence tool, QlikView. Used by organisations across the globe, the software enables users to assemble data from multiple sources, view and analyse the information and to solve business problems in new ways.
Manish immediately realised that he'd found the solution to Kidney Health's financial reporting problems. "When I saw QlikView I recognised that it would make reporting easier and, in addition, could be a live reporting tool for our board members," he says. Manish referred a business case to CFO Rosanna Care, highlighting the benefits of speedier information. It was quickly accepted by Rosanna and, with the help of Professional Advantage staff, deployment began.
An evolving journey
Deployment was carried out within a matter of weeks in May, 2012. Before the end of month the software had been installed, initial reports built and QlikView was being tested by a small group of users. Manish anticipates that even at this early stage, QlikView will deliver significant time savings for the finance team.
"To begin with we're looking at doing month-by-month reporting in exactly the same format as we used in the past. We'll be closing at end of month and expect that by the second or third working day of the following month, reports will be ready for board and management to view," he explains.
In addition to board reports, QlikView will be used to prepare statutory accounts, thus speeding end of financial year processes.
The first users of QlikView will include the company's finance team, senior management and board members. Users will be able to simply log on to QlikView using Kidney Health supplied tablets for anytime, anywhere access to the charity's reports. The browser based access is an important capability given board membership is drawn from right across Australia.
The new technologies also bring the potential for greater collaboration. Board members will be able to conduct video conferences with each other to discuss any issues while still referring to their QlikView reports.
Other benefits are anticipated due to the introduction of electronic distribution. This will help to reduce staff workloads, and remove the copying and distribution costs previously incurred under the hard copy reporting system.
Over time, Manish believes QlikView access will be expanded to include other members of the organisation.
"This is an important difference. In Excel reporting, you don't have "what if" conditions. That kind of analysis has to be set up separately. But with QlikView it's easy. So for example, if we are planning a lottery campaign and the lottery manager wants to see the impact of an increase in ticket price or other variables, the analysis can easily be done."
Manish believes that with so much additional valuable information about to be made available within the organisation, decision making will become faster and even more informed. "We have another two or three projects in the pipeline that the board wants to link with QlikView. It's too early to discuss these now but they will be launched into the Australian market shortly and QlikView will provide the analysis," Manish concludes.