The selection of NOW Consulting to create and maintain Auckland Council’s analytics platform has its historical roots in the Council’s use of WhereScape’s RED data warehouse automation software for the creation of an enterprise data warehouse. The success of that project led to a master service agreement, with WhereScape’s professional services division – NOW Consulting – providing the necessary expertise to maximise value from Council’s analytics investments.
Wearing explains that NOW Consulting was selected based on its demonstrated expertise in data, as the raw material for analytics, as well as how information can be used to create business advantages. “Over the course of a multi-year engagement, NOW Consulting has delivered numerous projects which, together, have resulted in the analytics platform and services which are widely used throughout Council,” he says.
In addition to the ‘mechanics’ of data analytics, including requirements gathering, data models and ‘ETL’ (extract, transform and load) activity, the engagement has also seen Auckland Council look to NOW Consulting for thought leadership and mentoring in its quest for best practice analytics. Other services which have been provided include advisory services, architectural design for analytics systems, a best practice delivery framework, and project management of an end to end delivery.
Wearing adds that NOW Consulting participates on the Council’s Business Intelligence and Analytics Panels, while the professional services firm provides access to additional experienced personnel to augment internal Enterprise Data Warehouse and BusinessObjects resources (the SAP business intelligence software used by Council).
He says that the quality of the interactions between the business users and that of NOW Consulting has been an essential factor in the ongoing success of the project; it is a common challenge for business users and BI consultants to ‘talk past one another’. “The NOW Consulting team, however, has proven accessible and exceptionally helpful in assisting our people to understand, learn and use analytics for business advantage.”
Probably the biggest challenges faced by Council over the course of the engagement, Wearing notes, was the difficulty in gathering business requirements, and building capability around BusinessObjects.