Consolidated, accurate and trusted data are essential elements of any business reporting system, but all the more so when operating in the field of personal finance.
Recognising the threat in trying to make decisions based on information from disparate systems, Maravedi Financial Solutions, a member of the JD Group, recently invested in a data warehouse and business intelligence solution from Intervate. Maravedi provides and manages the store credit cards for brands in the JD Group, including Incredible Connection and Hi-Fi Corporation.
"Prior to the implementation of the new system, there was no consistency in the reporting because we weren't able to generate a single view of the business," says Maravedi Group CIO, Leoni Groenewald. "This was due partly to the way the personal loans side of the business evolved, but also because decisions on the software and systems were not made by the IT department. We ended up with silos of disparate information that was then presented in different formats to the business, clouding the picture."
The disparate nature of the legacy system meant reports had to be extracted manually, increasing risks of human error and the potential for the same information to point to differing conclusions.
Intervate was therefore approached to develop a solution that would give Maravedi a consolidated view of both its financial and customer data in an easily digestible and customisable fashion, enabling managers across the business to extract the information in a format they needed.
"I had worked with Intervate previously when they implemented a data warehouse solution for us at JD Group, so I was confident they would deliver what we needed," says Groenewald.
Intervate's Team Lead: Data Visualisation, Ian Gatley, stresses that a shared vision and commitment to building the system properly from the start was key to the success of the project. This required buy-in from the business to remain committed to a process that would deliver the desired results.
"We were all clear from the outset what we wanted to achieve and that we would not compromise on quality because of pressure from the business to deliver services before they were ready," he says. "This meant that there was a continuous give and take throughout the project lifecycle to ensure the solution was the one we set out to build."
Allied to this approach was the determination to build the solution on a solid architecture that conforms to industry best practice. This foundation will enable Maravedi to accommodate future growth easily, while reducing its reliance on third-party vendors to extract the information.
Drawing on Intervate's vast experience in presenting disparate sources and forms of information into usable and accessible forms, and its close partnership with Microsoft, the team delivered a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 data warehouse solution.
SharePoint 2010 is Intervate's chosen ‘go-to' tool for instances such as Maravedi as it provides powerful back-end capabilities, including specific BI functions, with a familiar browser-based user interface that offers many customisation and visualisation options.
The ability for users to view information instantly in simple and understandable formats such as dashboards and scorecards is certainly a big advantage. SharePoint 2010's ability to establish easy workflow and authorisation levels simplifies the segmentation of reports and data according to business roles. Gatley says the system allows Maravedi to target the type and format of information that makes sense to the organisation; for example, providing concise daily reports to operational managers so they are kept fully informed at a glance.
"The feedback from the business has been phenomenal," enthuses Groenewald. "The control it gives them from their desktop has changed how they work and gives them immediate access to the right, trusted information. One of the reasons it has gone so smoothly is that we delivered the personal loans module first as this is the set of data they are most familiar with, thereby allowing them to become familiar with the new system."
Gatley adds that the project was designed to deliver new services every quarter so that the business could adapt to new functionality and tools.
Importantly, the solution provides Maravedi with a strong reporting system that enables it to comply more easily with regulatory requirements while improving its integration with its holding group's reporting needs.
"The Maravedi project points to the fact that BI solutions are unique in the way they bridge technical and business challenges and require strong technical and business acumen to deliver a solution that meets the business needs," says Gatley. "The fact that they now have a consolidated view of essential data that is immediately available is very powerful and will enable the business to grow without worrying about how to integrate new products or services into their existing architecture."