The Challenge: Financial Data and Audit Communication Pain Points
In the utilities industry where market and regulatory complexities accelerate the pace of change, Aclara aims to be proactive. The utility infrastructure company supplies solutions that advance the functionality and value of utility networks. As an end-to-end, smart infrastructure solution provider, Aclara links innovative technology with data-driven tools to predict, plan, and respond to system conditions across multiple networks. The result is networks with optimized resource management, mitigated risks, and augmented infrastructure oversight.
The company lends the same intelligent proactivity to its approach in leveraging its JD Edwards data; continually on a quest to utilize available information as a means of forging streamlined business systems.
With a recent acquisition by Hubbell in 2017, Aclara had to provide its new parent with financial data. The company ran into challenges regarding the gathering and distribution of its JDE data. Since it can be difficult to empower users to perform functions without reporting software, Aclara set out to invest in and equip JDE users with self-service tools. The result is entire business units becoming more powerful through citizen developers.
The Solution: Efficient Report Creation and Distribution
With a brand-new organizational structure, Aclara lacked an efficient mechanism to provide its parent company with the JDE reports it needed. The company’s most complex report, lovingly referred to as the MARs (mother of all reports), incorporated 130 data columns. Combining large strategic MARs with day-to-day SQL Server reports demanded excessive employee hours, server utilization, and ongoing maintenance. So, the company pursued ways to simplify the creation and dissemination of this crucial information.
It discovered an all-in-one, JDE-centric reporting and business intelligence solution, Data Access Studio (DAS). A free DAS trial allowed Aclara to use its own internal JDE data to examine, firsthand, how DAS could streamline its entire portfolio of report creation and distribution processes. Using DAS, the company recreated all of its MARs and SQL Server reports. Automator, an engine for the scheduling and distribution of reports, could then disseminate hundreds of its DAS reports to the business units that required them.
Automator also made MARs manageable by running it at the most ideal times, placing less stress on servers, and distributing the report optimally. Aclara is now able to send its parent company JD Edwards information to feed into its 3rd party financial consolidation tools.
As an added bonus of seamless report management and distribution, its JDE users began sharing reports collectively to create a more collaborative work environment. Aclara now performs report creation and distribution with a drastically reduced level of IT involvement.
Innovative Formation of Vendor and Customer Portals
As the time came to improve its information systems, the company sought better ways to communicate with its vendors and customers.
In order to improve its ordering information systems, Aclara implemented mobie™, a robust business intelligence tool to build dashboards that illustrate business narratives. Using mobie™, the company provided contract manufacturers and distributors access to dashboards to view details on existing orders. Aclara built an exclusive portal with dashboards custom-built for each vendor to grant access to order information from any device, at any time. The final product meant less interface between Aclara and its vendors; consuming fewer resources and providing fast and accurate data transmission for every order.
Similarly, Aclara created a customer communication process that delivered to customers advance ship notices using Automator. An automated advance ship notice allows the company’s clients to benefit from inventory visibility, supply chain optimization, and to manage logistical expectations.
These self-service information portals are an inventive use of business intelligence tools. For Aclara, vendor portals and automated notices eliminated burdens on IT, reduced server strain, and decreased costs for licensing and maintaining databases.
User Access Review Automation for Financial Auditing
With having many JDE users comes yearly financial audit user access reviews. User access reviews are internal analyses that inform auditors which employees have access to certain enterprise financial information for compliance purposes. For Aclara, these reviews involve providing auditors the financial data permissions of nearly one thousand JDE users. This challenge in meeting the need lays in the mere fact that it is a resource-intensive process of individually creating, printing, and distributing 850 different reports. The extensive analysis is subsequently used to create user access reviews and is given to financial auditors.
It comes as no surprise the complex process of forming queries to create user access reports involves excessive back-and-forth between managers, IT, and auditors. So, a strategy was developed to use DAS out-of-the-box reporting templates to automate the information gathering process. Automator could then burst user access reports, providing customizable report distribution lists at regular intervals. Coupling templates with report bursting delivered the required data needed to all managers without running, printing, and distributing reports.
These efforts resulted in a new revamped financial auditing process that significantly reduces auditor-auditee interface. Financial managers are now able to seamlessly query reports at any time to send directly to auditors. Today the company’s user access review process for audits takes hours instead of weeks.
Elimination of Infrastructure, Licenses, Tasks, and Resources
Ultimately, Aclara was able to use the portfolio of ReportsNow tools to solve JDE reporting pain points that haunted a variety of its business ecosystems. Furnishing expanded reporting power to end users relieved the IT department of repetitive report creation and modification requests, provided vendor portals, and made audits easier.