APRA to ditch spreadsheets for BI

Lack of integration a significant problem

Financial services industry regulator the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) will move away from legacy spreadsheets to a networked software solution for financial modelling, forecasting, and reporting.

APRA will engage with a vendor for an "off the shelf" software solution that can deliver business intelligence with the IT architecture and infrastructure, including servers and storage, to be handled in-house.

The project is likely to be completed in a single phase over a 26-week lifecycle from design to close in February 2008.

"APRA has a business requirement to improve its planning, budgeting, forecasting and reporting processes to provide increased control, improved productivity, and enhanced business decision making," according to one document.

APRA's finance department runs distinct levy modelling, budgeting, forecasting and performance reporting functions with a "complex array" of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents.

With separate applications controlling distinct functions, the process of structurally linking all documents to form a cohesive and robust financial planning, management and reporting model is too complex.

APRA's business services department runs the strategic and operational business planning function, also with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, and is lacking structural or systemic linkage to finance's downstream budgeting, forecasting and reporting functions.

"The planning, budgeting and forecasting functions are reliant upon non-standard data definition, manually intensive data capture, non-standard and non-secure financial modelling, (principally MS Excel spreadsheeting) and do not support iterative production and analysis of primary business drivers," according to APRA.

APRA is implementing a SAN using HP's EVA 6000 and adding servers based on HP's c-Class Blade infrastructure. This is due for completion this month and APRA expects all applications to be hosted on the blade systems with data stored on the SAN.

The core financial system is Oracle Financials and HR and Payroll is managed with Aurion. Oracle is also used for data warehousing and remains a "preferred supplier" to APRA.

Microstrategy is used for front-end reporting and is also a preferred supplier.

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