By improving Financial and Board Reporting and Budgeting and Forecasting, Interact Australia has fostered a culture of financial visibility and responsibility.
Interact Australia is a not-for-profit that provides community, employment, training and hospitality services. The organisation provides services for Federal Australian Government including Job Services Australia and Disability Employment Services funded by the Victorian and Queensland state governments.
As a not-for-profit, Interact’s charter is delivering as much value from its community services. However, effective financial management requires more than good-intentions. Here we speak with Phil Tankey, General Manager Corporate Services on how Jedox has helped Interact foster a culture of financial visibility and responsibility to manage their resources for better community outcomes.
Naked Data: What difference has Jedox made for Interact?
Phil Tankey, GM Corporate Services, Interact Australia: Jedox gives us the ability to access data easily and in real-time. We’ve improved our managers’ accountability because they can see their own numbers. And they’re expected to – accountability is really important for us! With Jedox, managers can drill-down and understand the information that applies to them in more detail. We’ve provided greater visibility – and greater accuracy.
Naked Data: What business issues did you originally face?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: We had our legacy accounting system, Attaché which had limited reporting. There were two main things we needed. Number one was more flexibility with reporting, and second was accessibility. Our Finance system only had a few users in head office, but we needed to share financials to people in the field as well. We needed to help them understand and manage their part of the organisation. The idea of using a BI [Business Intelligence] solution was to make sure they could access what they need rather than us just manually sending out reports when asked – obviously a clunky process.
Naked Data: So you wanted to empower the staff in the field and give them more insight?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: Yes, absolutely.
Naked Data: And what attracted you to Jedox initially?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: When we looked at Jedox, we saw we could improve things quickly. BI implementations can be long-winded and take time, but Jedox’s short implementation time was very attractive. Because it had an Excel feel to it, we could use it comfortably. This was especially important for the people in the field, as they weren’t that systems savvy – they’re operations people, not huge computer users. Instead of adding them to the Finance system, which meant learning all sorts of new skills, we could just hand them Jedox via Excel, which is really easy to get around. It was easy for them to adapt to.
Naked Data: How was knowledge transfer in practice?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: Our staff had reasonable Excel skills so the transfer was very smooth. They picked up on using the product well and it was easy for them to grasp the concepts.
Naked Data: Who now uses Jedox in your organisation?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: We have a combination of site managers, cost centre managers and Finance. All the people onsite use it for reporting and drilling-down when they need to check their P&L statements, and see how they’re going against budget. In Finance, we do corporate-level reporting and Board reporting as well.
Naked Data: You’ve worked with a few from our Naked Data team – how have you found us?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: We first started with a Jedox Bootcamp where Chris Mentor built the P&L model. Working with Chris was very good. I found it was easy to work with Chris, because he understood what we needed quickly. He appreciated what we wanted to achieve and had a very practical approach. We’ve also worked with Halim Joe. Halim always understands what we need. He always catches on very quickly, and I enjoy working one-on-one with him. He always gets the right results, we’re very happy with his work.
Naked Data: Angela Ho also worked on your model recently.
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: Yes, and we now do Balance Sheet reporting with Jedox. We had Balance Sheet reporting before, but now it’s more sophisticated and we can run Cash-Flow reporting out of it. We wanted to take the data we were getting from the P&L, and input some budget and forecasts into the model.
I had a lot of confidence in how Angela did things, and it worked well. We got the outcomes, and it all happened in about a week. She set up a really good reporting system. I’ve been really happy with how everything’s worked and with the quality we‘ve received from Naked Data.
Naked Data: You mentioned one of the original challenges was less financial visibility than you were happy with. Has Jedox helped you in that regard?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: Yes, it certainly has. You feel like you’ve got your finger on the button a lot more, because Jedox provides us with information more readily. Things are easy to find, and Finance gets to be proactive. We can now review any cost centre P&L in seconds and during month-end we get more accuracy by quickly identifying possible errors. Rather than having to request a report from someone I can just look and find out exactly what I need. That certainly helps.
When I get queries from the CEO or the Board, I can address those queries myself. I can create ad-hoc reports quickly and analyse, which is really useful. With our Board reporting, we’ve got templates set up so that we can hit a button and have a report instantly. If I’m in a meeting and the Board want to see something, I can just bring it up straight away.
Naked Data: Are you using Jedox in ways you didn’t anticipate?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: One thing we have done is forecasting. We take the budgets and re-forecast two or three times a year, and do a full reforecast. When we first brought in Jedox in, I hadn’t anticipated being able to do that, but after we setup reporting, we realised what we could get out of it, so we started forecasting as well.
Naked Data: Looking to the future, what else will you use Jedox for?
Phil Tankey, Interact Australia: Greater analytics on labour costs. As services organisation, we are a labour intensive business. Right now, labour costs come through our underlying payroll system Chris21, which gets fed into our Finance system, and then that flows through to Jedox. We want to provide secure and confidential analysis of that data direct from Jedox.
Summary Jedox Business Intelligence model: Management and Board Reporting, P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, transactional drill-through, Budgeting and Forecasting. Industry: not-for-profit Source system: Attaché.