Casey's Byte Inc.: We Build Systems that Automate Financial Reporting and Analysis
Casey's Byte Inc. is located in Bolton, Ontario. Our E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Our snail mail address is 48 Wood Circle, Bolton, Ontario, Canada, L7E 1R3
Casey's Byte Inc. is a software developer specializing in the design of database applications for credit unions. We have been providing development and consulting services since 1986. Our focus is MIS (Management Information Systems) and we build systems that automate financial reporting and analysis, as well as systems that access and process "banking platform" member demographic data.
Our clients include numerous credit unions and credit union centrals across Canada. During the past four years, however, our primary client has been Credit Union Central of Canada, the national association of Canadian credit unions.
Our database applications are designed, written and compiled with dBASE Inc. Visual dBase*. Our reporting elements are created with R&R Report Writer** and PowerPlay*** and we document and help with InfoSelect.****
- * Visual dBASE is trademark of dBASE Inc.
- **R&R Report Writer is a trademark of Liveware Publishing/Liveware Inc. Inc.
- ***PowerPlay is a trademark of Cognos Inc.
- ****Infoselect is a trademark of Micrologic, Inc.
PowerPlay: Custom Interface designed by Al Gillis of Casey's Byte Inc.
PowerPlay is the world's # 1 business intelligence (OLAP - OnLine Analytical Processing) reporting tool from a Canadian Company - Cognos Inc. based in Ottawa. Cognos operations are international US/UK/Europe/Australia etc. and clients include; United Airlines, the NASDAQ exchange, MOEN and most of the Schedule 'A' chartered banks in Canada.
PwrLink is a custom interface designed by Al Gillis of Casey's Byte Inc., a Cognos VAR (value added reseller). PwrLink automates the processing and transformation of MIS data into PowerPlay cubes.
PowerPlay/PwrLink tools allow credit unions to accelerate the rate at which managers can physically process information.
Credit Unions are rich in information assets - they have a wealth of information about their members - (age, net worth, where they live, style of business (electronic members vs bricks & mortar members), how long they've been members (loyalty), investment/borrowing term preferences etc.). Other businesses spend a lot of money - Willingly - just to gather and maintain this information. Credit Unions have the advantage of having this information as a by-product of what they do so there is, comparatively, less effort required to acquire and maintain data.
To successfully market (ie define/package/price/sell/deliver) credit union products and services in a changing world (aging populations, new technologies, dynamic economics) credit unions must harness information to understand the key factors that are driving their business in a multidimensional way.
Credit Union Management need to think multi-dimensionally because the numbers they are attempting to understand are generated by multiple interactions between members, products, salespeople delivery methods and many other variables.
- When was/is business being done? - daily/weekly/monthly seasonal trends
- Who is doing the business? - which branch/which staff
- What business is being done? - which products
- How is the business being transacted? - electronically/in branch
- Which Members are doing business? Age demographic/member profile
- What is the result of the business? Units/cost/income/margin
The concept of multidimensional analysis is important to grasp because it turns out to be one of the primary challenges of business. Take this example . . . you have 12 MSR's/Loan Officers in 2 branches who sell an average of 10 products to each of 100 members every month and the credit union tracks 5 key indicators (probably a very light example!). All the combinations of salespeople, products, months, members and indicators adds up to a sizable number:
12 MSR's x 2 Branches x 10 Products x 100 members x 24 months x 5 indicators
= 2,880,000 Combinations !!!
Delivering this information on paper is not very useful. Even at 50 lines a page, you would be reviewing a report equal in length to several dozen copies of Tolstoy's War and Peace. On the other hand, if managers cannot drill down to a significant level of detail, they never see the real drivers of cost and margin.
To accelerate their understanding of the business, managers need to receive information in a format that matches the way they think. They need to get information in a format where changing indicators is as easy as switching gears in a car. Where navigating through dimensions is as instinctive as finding their way home after work. Where they can make 20 important discoveries about why the business is on or off target - in seconds.
When managers bring this faster rate of processing information to carefully chosen "sweet spots" involved in key manager activities, they remove information gathering as the limiting step in performing these activities. They perform the activity at a higher rate, their output increases. And so does their impact on financial performance.
(The preceding 5 paragraphs were excerpted from " the MultiDimensional Manager" by Richard Connelly Ph.D.,Robin McNeill and Roland Mosimann)
Understanding the difference between "Traditional Reports" and "Cube Reports"
The key difference is dimension. Traditional Reports are as 2 dimensional as the paper they are recorded on. They have length and width but very little depth. The only way to achieve depth is to increase the number of reports which increases the cost/effort and time to produce and evaluate.
Cubes on the other hand have length, width and depth and they are constructed in such a way by PowerPlay/PwrLink to allow (with only a few mouse strokes); drilling down, filtering, slicing and dicing and generation of a variety of display formats from crosstab to bar chart to clustered bar to stack bar presentation which allows the manager to "visually and graphically" analyse and communicate the results. (For an illustration just think of manipulating a "Rubik's Cube" puzzle consisting of dimensions like age group, products, service totals and branches and you can understand how any one dimension can be correlated against any/all of the other dimensions)
PwrLink cubes are based on the "banking sub systems" ( ie. Name/Demographic, Deposit, Loan, Term, Rsp, RIF, Deposit Transaction) files. Each cube has the report generation potential of 100's if not 1000's of views so to say that PowerPlay/PwrLink generates this or that specific report is really an understatement. It's probably more useful in understanding the tool's importance and value to pose the business questions that managers have and to consider the decisions they would make based on the answers that PowerPlay/PwrLink can provide. It's almost paradoxical that in most areas of information processing "the questions are more important than the answers".
Some Practical Business Question Examples:
- What is the age profile of the membership?
- What products are important to/successful in which age groups?
- How long have your members been doing business with you?
- Do more recent members do different/more/less business than longer term members?
- Who are your most important members?
- How does member aging impact the ways they carry on their business (electronic etc.)
- Which branches/staff are more/less productive?
- Based on volumes when are you likely to require additional/less staff?
- Should you consider changing/lengthening/reducing branch hours of operation?
- Changes in the number of electronic transactions are taking place - at what rate?
- What attributes (age/other business/volume) do "pick a service" eg. Borrowers have in common?
- Is member term preference changing/how much/at what rate? Eg. 5 yr term renewing for 30 days
- Do you have a potential market for a proposed new product?
- What portion of your membership does the most business with you?
- What was the cost of funds by product/branch for business in the last month?
- How has that cost changed from previous month(s)?
- What would be the effect of a change in service charge pricing?
- What are the price elasticities of term deposits / mortgage loans?
- How many members have a mortgage loan but no line of credit?
- How many direct depositors do you have?
- How many bricks&mortar/electronic members do you have?
- Is that changing? At what rate?
- How do you evaluate the success of an advertising campaign?
- Why are members leaving?
- Why are members joining? At what rate?
Managers may have "gut feels" about the factors that are driving their business that are entirely accurate. Successful managers, however, require real data to provide the comfort of confirmation or the understanding of why their "gut feels" are inaccurate.