Do Your Costpoint Reports Rock?

October 07, 2016
 

Author:    George Lavallee, NeoSystems

Challenges to Maximizing Costpoint Enterprise Reporting

Deltek Costpoint Enterprise Reporting (CER) promises customized, data-driven business intelligence. Fueled by IBM Cognos 10 - a powerful analytics engine with sophisticated self-service capabilities - CER enables organizations to mine their Costpoint data to provide consistent snapshots of business performance, view historical trends, perform what-if analyses, and predict results - all from a unified workspace.

Unfortunately, roadblocks exist that prevent companies from fully reaping these benefits. Unresolved, these challenges cause inaccuracies, consume months of time, and erode leader confidence. But, conquering them delivers significant rewards. Over time, mature business intelligence solutions free days of labor. Depending upon the number of users consuming the data, cumulative time saved could equal months for an organization.

"Cumulative time saved could equal months."

Customization Difficult  

While running CER reports is simple, developing them is difficult for users lacking a deep understanding of Costpoint's underlying data. To solve this problem, Deltek created numerous standard reports covering everything from project management to payroll to procurement, and more. These prebuilt templates enable users to quickly generate initial snapshots and list-based results, but they don't capture your company's specific metrics.

All organizations - even functional areas within organizations - have unique ways of collecting and reporting key performance indicators. Additionally, some companies created user-defined fields when they first deployed Costpoint. CER's standard reports miss these fields.

To capture these data, companies must build custom reports. You can't simply click a button to tailor a report to your unique labor management structure or accounts payable process. Many new and intermediate Costpoint users lack the skills to effectively craft custom reports.

"Many users lack the skills to effectively craft custom reports"

Overwhelming Complexity  

There are more than 1,800 data tables in Costpoint. Access to this wealth of data is both a blessing and a curse. The complexity daunts new users. When building reports, they don't know which data to query or how. Common questions include:

        • What data tables do I access?
        • How do I arrange the data?
        • What charts, visualizations, and scorecards do I use?
        • What are the best rendering options?

Additionally, most organizations want to integrate plan and forecast data into their reports. Such forecasting generally means pulling data from systems outside Costpoint, which further compounds complexity.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) tapped NeoSystems to tackle the complexity and customization required for a new flexible HR Attribute Report. PwC's HR analysts needed to answer questions such as "How many full-time equivalents do we employ?" "What sectors do they support?" "What are their job levels?" But it didn't want a static report with defined columns in a fixed order.

NeoSystems used advanced report development techniques and conditional rendering to develop a report that allows analysts to select from 14 personnel attributes and specify their order. Users also select which personnel records to view - either current or historical records.

This flexibility enables PwC to maintain just one report for all of its HR attribute queries. Training and communication is simplified, as all analysts use this single report for their specific outputs. Should PwC add a new attribute in the future, there's just one report to modify rather than many customized versions to update.

Robust Security  

Data breaches tarnish your company's reputation, expose proprietary data, and sabotage audit requirements. Fortunately, Cognos delivers highly tailorable security controls. The problem: there are literally hundreds of permutations. Many companies are stymied by which settings to activate to protect their data.

Novice and even intermediate users may not realize that out-of-the box Cognos installations contain security gaps. Organizations could inadvertently expose proprietary data and employee information. For instance, you might assume that granting access to the projects package would only enable users to see project-related data. However, by default, those users also have access to personnel data for all employees on the project, including their salary histories

Failure to adequately secure data puts organizations at risk. Uncertainty regarding how to implement security also keeps companies from adding new users—ultimately blocking access to data vital to improving business outcomes.

Inefficient Development  

Unless you're a large company with a dedicated analytics staff, there's a good chance the individuals developing your reports are inefficient. Why? Maximizing efficiency requires experience with both Costpoint and Cognos.

Often, individuals tasked with developing reports have other duties. CER is just a part-time responsibility. They have deep functional knowledge, but minimal understanding of Costpoint and Cognos.

The result is devastating. Inexperienced users take 10 to 20 times longer to develop a report than an expert. What's more, the resulting report often requires analysts to manually manipulate the data they pull because of the report's lack of sophistication. Reports are late, and users have less time to spend on other business-critical duties, which better align with their hired skillset.

"Inexperienced users take 10 to 20 times longer to develop a report."

Inaccurate Results  

Inexperience also causes inaccuracy. Novice users inadvertently query the wrong data, resulting in erroneous reports. Such mistakes put contracts at risk.

Imagine you've tasked your logistics manager with developing an incurred cost submission report. That individual is quite skilled at maintaining your company's supply chain. But he or she doesn't use Costpoint every day and may not understand which direct and indirect cost tables to query. As a result, your report might miss critical costs or inadvertently include unallowable items.

Errors like these erode leader confidence. Just one inaccurate report and senior leaders mistrust all your data outputs. You've damaged your reputation, tarnished the company's image, and possibly jeopardized your contracts.

Neosystems solved the connected problems of inefficiency and inaccurate results for DCS Corp. This large government contractor needed help calculating life and disability premiums. An HR analyst had been using Excel to manually calculate costs for every employee across three companies in multiple states. Each month, the time-consuming analysis took a day to complete and required a massive data dump.

What's more, DCS had discovered its Excel formulas were out of date, resulting in inaccurate premium calculations. NeoSystems used IBM Cognos to develop a new HR Benefit Premium Report that takes only 20 seconds to run saving the HR department 8 hours of analysis labor every month.

Consequences of Inaction  

To fully benefit from Deltek CER, companies must overcome these obstacles or face devastating consequences. Inexperienced users waste time collecting the wrong data and not enough time analyzing results. Inaccuracies cause executives to doubt the validity of all your reports. Poor security exposes proprietary data and compromises audit results.

Deltek CER with IBM Cognos can provide data analytics that shape the future of your business. Not using these capabilities is a missed opportunity. Depending upon the number of users, solving these challenges could save your company months of labor.

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