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Business Intelligence Case Study

- Education Service Provider

Key Business Requirement

Budgeting is a big part of any education provider. An internally designed system using Excel spreadsheets was distributed to around 50 department managers, based at three local campuses and four regional centres. Each manager worked on their own spreadsheets, then returned them for central collation. This was inflexible and time consuming, let alone prone to errors.

In addition, analysis was limited and the entire system relied on one or two individuals who knew how it worked.

“We spent 80% of our time trying to get the information out of the system rather than analysing it in any detail". And, the entire budget process could take up to three months to complete. This was unacceptable.

A business intelligence application was sought to integrate with payroll, general ledger and student management systems.


Business Benefit

Producing the annual budget used to be a complex and unwieldy task for planning staff. More time was spent extracting data from financial and student management systems than actually analysing it. The business intelligence solution means staff no longer have to pore over reams of hard copy spreadsheets.

The new budgeting system, allows us to monitor the budgeting progress of Managers against defined timeframes, which in turn, enabled tighter deadlines.

Managers can now compare data from three sources - payroll, general ledger and student management systems - in one place, this has considerably shortened the budgeting process.

The data input and collation of the budget this year took two weeks compared to 1 to 2 months. This provided more time for analysis and challenge processes to occur.

“We use these reports as an analysis tool to look at which costs are going up and down and for what reason.”

We can also now forecast student numbers with more accuracy.


Existing Data Infrastructure

Reporting and forecasting capability had been limited due to the difficulty of extracting and comparing information from three different sources.

Around 100 people use the new BI system.



Several vendors were considered.


Applix TM1 Business Intelligence Software. A large part of this decision was based on the presence of a local implementation vendor, with a track record of several large implementations.


Solution Delivered


  • The past five years data was imported to provide a basis for predictive analytics.
  • Live data is automatically updated when changes are made.


  • Budgeting system implemented
  • Reporting and forecasting tools added to forecast student numbers and costs and revenues relating to those volumes.
  • Custom budget review reports were designed, which compare expenditure to date with last year’s budget.
  • Contract-based revenue budgeting is provided, along with the necessary audit trail.


Planned Next Step

No future development plans stated


Business Feedback

"The new system has given a lot more power to the department managers....They can switch between views, look at information based on student numbers, information based on revenue and can see what student volumes are worth in terms of money.”

Also see:

How Macquarie University uses BI to improve its world ranking

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