ADP studies Cognos customers’ “war wounds”

While ADP Canada mulls its upgrade path to a set of Cognos 8 tools, the HR giant is also looking ways to improve software management through a set of best practices blueprints.

Ottawa software firm Cognos Inc., which released version 8 of its software last month, is making a set of blueprints available to guide customers through planning, budgeting and forecasting deployments.

Toronto-based ADP Canada already uses Cognos for planning and analytics, but is considering using the blueprints to implement new planning processes and possibly revising existing ones, said Bobbi Slater, the company’s financial information systems manager.

“Just by looking at (the blueprints), I knew this would have been so helpful to us,” she said. “We’ve been on the Cognos planning platform for four years now. When we started that whole process, it would have been so nice to have this type of thing to give you the idea of where to start instead of basically staring at a blank screen.”

Cognos has made blueprints available for just over a year and distributes them either as download or sends them directly to customers on CD. “It’s data models, process models and policy models. It’s a head start,” said vice-president of product marketing for Cognos Doug Barton.

The blueprints are compiled from customers’ previous implementation experiences, then refined by Cognos itself. “We have a forward-thinking installed base of customers that bring to us some of their war wounds . . .things about what they learned about designing these processes,” said Barton.

There are 130 users across Canada that contribute to ADP’s budgeting and forecasting models, said Slater. Some of those models may undergo revision.

“We’ve gotten into habits of how to build models. So we’re looking at the blueprints that they’ve already got out there and we’re checking to see, ‘could we do this better?’ or ‘yeah, this makes more sense,’” she said, adding that using blueprints could cut implementation times by one quarter.

ADP Canada is best known as an HR and payroll outsourcer. The company estimates it handles the paycheques of one quarter of Canadians employed in the private sector. Any revisions the company is making to its internal systems and processes will be completely separate from the work it does for clients, said Slater.

“We keep the information extremely separated,” she said. “As a company philosophy, we keep client data at a whole other degree of secure. We keep our internal data pretty secure; we keep our client data even more secure. We don’t really tend to think about using something that we use internally for client data.”

As part of the work it does with customers, ADP Canada could be working with Cognos tools, but it “may be Business Objects, it may be any type of mainframe extract that the client requires,” said Slater.

ADP Canada still uses Business Objects for some its reporting needs, but may consider moving to Cognos reporting tools as part of an upgrade to Cognos 8, said Slater.

ADP Canada is still in negotiations with Cognos for the software, but Slater said she expects the entire upgrade will completed within three to four months.

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