With Bull’s help, the city of Marseille has developed a cross-departmental business control tool that has won over its different functional teams.
When, in 2007, the city council in Marseille decided to completely overhaul its financial management systems, its initial feasibility study showed the need for a management control tool that spanned all its business functions. As France’s second biggest city, with over 850,000 citizens and a €1.7 billion budget, Marseille particularly wanted to implement a general review of municipal resources or RGMM (Révision générale des moyens municipaux). Following the principles of the national public policy revision program, the RGPP, this involved a detailed analysis of the council’s actions and its available resources, to give itself greater room for maneuver. To achieve this, it is essential to take other non-financial elements into account such as business and HR factors. So the new management control system had to be independent of any financial tools, and the decision was taken to implement it without waiting for this to be replaced, a move planned for 2012.
As a result, the new management control tool had to be able to work with existing systems and data, while still being scalable enough to integrate with the new financial management application at a later date. Although the concept of management control is a familiar one to the various departments within the city council, each having their own BI system, this time the focus was different, decided at a higher level. The objective is to implement a global solution, which will offer a cross-departmental and consolidated view. “This is a major change, and in order to bring together the different functions around this plan of shared data, the project had to be demonstrably rapid, persuasive and to set a good example,” believes
Fabienne Marty, Deputy Director responsible for Innovation at the Marseille city authority’s IT Department.
The watchword: efficiency
So the key watchword for this project, which was launched at the end of 2008, was efficiency. At the stage when the strategic focal points for analysis, and the indicators and dashboards derived from them, were established, pragmatism prevailed: only indicators that used existing data were selected. At the end of this initial phase, five strategic areas were identified (active debt management, better control over expenses, revitalization of revenues, management of multi-year commitments and improving operational performance), broken down into 80 indicators divided across 10 different dashboards.
Always with efficiency in mind, the implementation phase was also guided by this principle of realism. First of all, the City of Marseille chose SAP BusinessObjects Xcelsius: a business control tool recognized for its ease of use and educational value, which was also proven in other local authorities. And to implement it, Bull was the city’s chosen partner. “On the one hand, Bull has the specialist skills in Xcelsius and on the other the necessary technical expertise to build a business intelligence solution in an extremely heterogeneous environment. The infrastructure, for its part, is based in an Oracle 10gR2 database,” stresses Fabienne Marty.
Bull supporting the change
In parallel to the technical analysis and the building of the data warehouse, Bull provided vital change management support thanks to its specific expertise in data restitution. To make sense of the indicators, highlight their usefulness in operational contexts and enable users to gauge their interest in them, ergonomy was a critical factor. “This is not something that we anticipated, and the workshops that Bull organized with the business to present the indicators and dashboards played an essential role in gaining acceptance for the solution”, Fabienne Marty confirms.
Winning over the users
The speed of the project (around 50 indicators set up in just six months) and the close involvement of users meant the latter were won over by the BI solution which is destined for them, given that they can now see its potential. “The project had great educational value and the main aim, which was to raise expectations, and to win acceptance and confidence in this approach, has been achieved,” says Fabienne Marty, with satisfaction. Once the solution has been aligned with the new organization, it will be up to the business to incorporate the dashboards into their own management processes and make more detailed use of the indicators, even ensuring that they evolve over time. As for Bull, the company is still working closely with the City of Marseille because its integrated financial management software package Coriolis, specifically designed for local authorities, has been chosen as the council’s new financial system.