Umgeni Water, the KZN water authority, has dramatically improved, hastened and saved on its analysis of resource consumption, and also paved the way for improving operational outputs in the future, with business intelligence (BI) software from QlikView South Africa.
In 2009, the state-owned provider of bulk potable water realised it needed better insight into its use of chemicals, energy and human resources in a drive to better improve operational efficiencies. Ultimately, it realised, this would give greater insight over plant operations and output quality, says Radesh Padayachee, Umgeni Water business systems manager.
Building their own
To achieve this, the company requested demos from business intelligence (BI) providers, including Durban-based Insight Consulting. Based on QlikView’s features, integration and dashboards, Umgeni went on to request a proof of concept (POC) financial data model from the provider, and when that succeeded, signalled that it wanted to embark on development of a full-scale financial data model.
Roy Beni, business analyst at Umgeni, says based on QlikView’s reputation for ease of use and development, the authority wanted to build the fleshed-out data model itself and train its own users, having closely observed the three-day POC. Where needed, Insight Consulting stepped in with guidance, says Upuli de Abrew, Insight Consulting director.
Current and future application
The financial data model remains Umgeni Water’s flagship BI application, but the company has extended it to other areas of the business, to enable financial modelling in the areas of lab statistics, telephone cost management and so forth.
“Currently we have 18 live data models,” says Raj Moodley, Umgeni Water’s Financial Controller.
Umgeni lists its quantifiable savings as paper (reports are no longer printed) and productivity – that is, time spent on analysis. Umgeni’s enterprise resource planning system allows it to draw financial data from operational systems, but this could take up to two weeks.
“With QlikView, business users have direct access to operational intelligence, without delays. They love it. From plant supervisors tracking electricity use to engineers measuring wastage to compliance officials gathering audit stats, users love the point-and-click results, graphical views, quick updates, anytime access and flexible queries. Our entire user base of 54 got to grips with the software in half an hour.
“As for the financial department, it is the best thing I have had as a business management tool.”
The abovementioned gains in productivity and paper savings have already translated into impressive return on investment, Moodley continues.
“We are at financial year-end, and haven’t been able to move beyond the financial data models, but in the near future the software could provide the basis for activity-based costing that will have an impact on plant outputs, which we can then feed into the tariff system to benefit customers.”
The future
What else is in store for Umgeni Water and QlikView’s future together?
“We have a best-of-breed enterprise software policy,” says Padayachee. “That is why we have chosen QlikView. The key feature of QlikView is its ability to respond to our information strategy and there is no doubt that it will play a very strategic role in the delivery of information dashboards and reporting to all levels of the organisation.”