District of Ebersberg
Relevant reports for policy decision-making at the push of a button
Although it’s one of Germany’s smaller districts in terms of surface area and number of inhabitants, the district of Ebersberg has been doing big things for years when it comes to reforms, modern administration, and a focus on innovation. It was the first Bavarian district to switch over to double-entry bookkeeping in 2005, but Ebersberg has been using Axians Infoma and the Infoma newsystem process since the end of the 1990s in its reform efforts.
By deciding to use a business intelligence solution, the Upper Bavarian district has now secured targeted support for its strategic controlling processes. One of the key reasons behind this decision was an interest in significantly reducing the time and work needed to create reports for policy makers. The district established a standardized reporting system over the last four years, but the evaluations to be submitted by all expert committees required a large amount of work to prepare. The information relevant for decision-making, gleaned from Infoma newsystem financial accounting, had to be carefully collected and prepared in Excel tables. The committees had to repeat these steps three times every year.
Brigitte Keller, Head of the Controlling and Financial Management area, felt that Axians Infoma’s Business Intelligence (BI) system, specially tailored to the needs of local governments, was the ideal tool for analyzing, and interpreting important information from the different spheres of activity, then deriving controlling processes. “Our strategic controlling was based on this data even before we were using the BI system. However, the advantage is that it’s available ‘at the push of a button’ now; in the past it took a large number of work steps to generate this information,” Brigitte Keller says, explaining her decision. “Another important point for us was that we have all of this data cast from the same mold.” The district never considered using an interface solution.
Having selected it only for use in the controlling and financial management areas, Ebersberg first implemented the solution in the spheres of activity finances and cost and results accounting. Key information was provided from the analysis areas of earnings, financial statements, and balance sheets, open items and payments, as well as payers, cost center groups, and cost types. This works very well with the district’s flexible reporting system concept. “We use only a few standard reports, since we have our own requirements,” Brigitte Keller says. Axians Infoma supported the district in setting up customer-specific reports for the budget, interim, and closing reports. “The system is powerful and can do a lot of things. The real difficulty is always having the resources on site, and recognizing the possibilities of the BI and using these for our own purposes.”
The information serves as an important basis for decisions by policy makers. Currently, the council members are the only ones who use this information, since Ebersberg manages controlling through a top-down process. They use the reports to identify benchmark specifications for administrative budget planning and to control the planning process for cost center groups and payers. At the end of the year, the closing reports from the previous year are tracked in order to generate improvements for the upcoming year.
Although the district is only getting started with development, Brigitte Keller is very satisfied with what they’ve achieved so far: “Standardization with the BI is already finished for one reporting cycle. We can now call up closing reports directly in Word with updated graphics for the data from the previous day. What remains is to interpret the figures – we no longer need to worry about preparing them.”
Instead, applications for forecast calculations is one current topic of discussion. Various calculation models have already been prepared. The district is now reviewing which calculations are most precise. “We want to present the forecast calculations to policy makers in 2013 and use them to refine our forecasts,” says Brigitte Keller, describing their plans.
In addition, Ebersberg plans to standardize interim and budget reports as one of its next steps. Afterward, the departments will also receive the finished analyses, which they’ll only need to interpret. For Brigitte Keller, this is an important basic step towards allowing administration to focus more on controlling and less on preparing figures: “This is a very important step to even more efficiency in both the departments and in the central controlling offices.”
District administration truly values the benefits they’ve gained from the business intelligence system: this is clear from their decision to use Axians Infoma’s experience to build up internal expertise on these complex issues. An employee from the controlling area has even been released to work part time on collecting this expertise.