4-page Case Study - Posted 4/18/2007
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Financial Group Improves Quality and Delivery of Management Reporting with New System
Fortis is an international provider of banking and insurance services. The company ranks among Europe’s top 20 financial institutions, with a market capitalisation of more than €40 billion (U.S.$53 billion), operations in 50 countries, and more than 60,000 employees. To support the company’s growth strategy, managers needed improved insight into the performance of various lines of business and a better understanding of performance drivers. With these goals in mind, Fortis deployed a new performance management system based on Microsoft® technologies. The system has automated time-consuming data gathering tasks, freed employees to focus on value-added analysis, and increased transparency on reported key performance indicators. Reports, based on timely, accurate management data, help managers make the best business decisions and increase responsiveness to changing market trends.
International financial services provider Fortis Group delivers banking, insurance, and investment services to individuals and businesses. The company offers a comprehensive package of products and services through its own channels, in collaboration with intermediaries, and through distribution partners.
With a market capitalisation of more than €40 billion (U.S.$53 billion), Fortis Group ranks among the largest 20 financial institutions in Europe. It has a presence in 50 countries and a professional workforce of 60,000 people. The ability to provide clients with optimum support helps the organisation maintain competitive advantage.
To optimise operational efficiency, ensure better business decision-making, and support plans for future growth, the board of directors, top level managers, and departmental managers must understand performance data from various lines of business and geographical locations. This must be effectively translated into accurate analysis of results, the ability to set objectives, and identification of prospects, such as growth areas and cost reductions.
At the start of 2005, an inventory of available corporate management information was initiated. In March, all business groups had listed and consolidated available sources of data related to finance, customers and markets, process and operations, and human resources. This data was compiled in upgraded management reports presenting key performance indicators (KPIs) and circulated to senior managers.
Jean François Gigot, Group Performance Project Manager Fortis, says: “The process of reporting on performance was conducted manually across all areas of the business, leading to heavy workload and lack of transparency. The reports were manually entered into Microsoft® Office Excel® spreadsheets, increasing the risk of data input errors and making it difficult to provide access to up-to-date business information. Most importantly, we lacked the process-oriented information flow required to analyse financial and non-financial information in a goal-orientated way.”
This issue was complicated by the heterogeneous infrastructure elements in place to support Fortis Group operations at the regional level. Mr Gigot says: “Data at Fortis Bank Netherlands, for example, is managed differently from data at Fortis Investments or Fortis AG, making it difficult to compare performance figures across the entire Fortis organisation. We decided to roll out a new Management Information System to streamline and automate reporting worldwide, while optimising the collection, storage, and processing of performance data at different business levels.” Solution
In 2006, with support from Microsoft and Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner's Accenture and Avanade, Fortis deployed the new system to streamline performance management. The architecture is based on the Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005 database, Microsoft Analysis Services, and Microsoft Reporting Services, which integrate and manage performance data from multiple business divisions and sources.
Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 and Windows® SharePoint® Services 3.0 are used for data collection, validation, reporting, and analysis. This software allows performance managers to define KPIs and scorecards that can be used to compile critical business reports. Office Excel 2003 has long been the chosen application for building and delivering analysis and reports. The new solution is fully integrated with this the latest version of this technology, Office Excel 2007, allowing employees to continue working in a familiar interface and minimising the requirement for staff training.
Performance information from disparate sources is fed into the new architecture in a number of ways. In some cases, an automated interface with a source system transfers data into SQL Server 2005. The process can also take place semi-automatically using a contract file, with different business divisions deciding how best to supply data. In addition, employees can input data manually, ensuring that all kinds of data from any source are captured by the system.
“The new tools centralise management and presentation of performance data, but are flexible enough to support working practices across the group,” says Mr Gigot. “As a result, business divisions that work in different ways, such as Fortis Curaçao and Fortis Luxembourg, can be compared effectively in terms of business performance at all levels. In this way, the system provides flexibility for user reports but, at the same time, brings consistency, harmonisation, and structure to the way performance managers work.” Benefits
Using the new performance management architecture, Fortis Group has automated previously time-consuming data gathering and data crunching tasks and increased the time employees spend on value-added analysis.
Reduced Risk of Human Error
The new technology architecture helps Fortis Group employees build performance reports more accurately. “People working in the performance reporting community previously extracted data manually from a range of systems and rekeyed it into Excel 2003,” says Mr Gigot. “This lack of integration between data sources and the front-end presentation of reports threatened consistency and reduced the integrity of our figures. By contrast, the new system connects back-end systems, including the SQL Server 2005 database with Excel 2007 at the front end. This reduces the risk of error and ensures the integrity of analysis and reporting. As a result, our managers always make the best decisions based on current, accurate business data.”
Rapid Response to Market Conditions
The new system allows Fortis Group to react more quickly to changing market trends. “We can now provide our managers with timely, reliable, and forward-looking information so they can make better, faster decisions,” says Mr Gigot. “When we observe a downturn in the economy, we can react to it quickly and increase our investments if we see signs of growth.”
Integration of Management Data Management data from across the Fortis Group has now been centralised using SQL Server 2005. This supports in-depth analysis of information that was previously difficult to collect, including income from new customers. Mr Gigot says: “With Analysis Services and SQL Server 2005, we have a complete, optimally integrated analysis service with Web support. The speed with which data can be called up is unrivalled.
“In addition, we can now view data from any source—including SQL Server 2005, other relational databases, or worksheets—quickly and effectively. With Analysis Services, our users can perform advanced analysis on vast quantities of data, and we can use this to discover patterns and trends and anticipate new opportunities.”
Familiar Interface Minimises Training
For many years, performance managers at Fortis Group have been using Excel 2003 to build comparative reports and simulations. To speed adoption of the new performance management tools and reduce employee training requirements, the company decided to maintain the use of Excel 2007 as a fully integrated function.
“We wanted to integrate performance management applications with Excel 2007 because this is what people are used to working with,” says Mr. Gigot. “By integrating the technology with the underlying business intelligence platform in this way, we have minimised disruption to normal operations and allowed employees to continue working in a familiar Microsoft Office system environment.”
Support from Leading Technology Partners
To support its performance management project, Fortis Group engaged the help of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner's Accenture and Avanade. “Once we had decided to build the solution on Microsoft software, we engaged support for development and implementation. Accenture and Avanade offered us valued functional expertise for the design and translated our business goals into technical requirements for the developers.
“After this initial phase, Accenture and Avanade provided us with personnel with expertise in specific technologies, such as Windows SharePoint Services, Office Business Scorecard Manager, and SQL Server 2005. Its support was essential for the success of our new project. The new solution closely matches our initial expectations.”
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This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.Document published April 2007