How the State of Tennessee Cashes in with Business Intelligence Software

Richard Taylor
Project Manager, Office of Shared Technology Services
State of Tennessee
nashville, Tenn.

Manager’s Profile: Oversees technology projects and implementations for finance and administration for the state.

Scattered Data: Until May 2002, state workers tracked and forecast expenditures against budgets by taking extracts of text files from their Cobol-based financial system and re-keying them into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. But those records were compiled from different sources in different departments, with no standardization. On top of that, Taylor says the Cobol system did a good job “crunching numbers,” but didn’t have built-in analytical tools.

His Project: After building a series of databases designed to serve as the central source for budgeting, vendor relations, general ledger and payment records, Taylor and his team looked for a business intelligence tool that could handle large volumes; at the time, Tennessee had database capacities topping 250 gigabytes.

Heavy Loads: In choosing MicroStrategy, Taylor cited the independent OLAP Survey (OLAP stands for online analytical processing, the base technology for business intelligence tools), published by analyst Nigel Pendse and, which found that MicroStrategy’s customers had a median database size of almost 300 gigabytes. He also liked MicroStrategy’s Web-based tools and security. Had the state had smaller volumes, however, “We would have had more options,” Taylor adds, because there are more vendors serving that segment.

Cashing In: Taylor says the biggest benefit is the ability to analyze financial records to produce budgets and forecasts. After an investment of slightly more than $2 million, he says the state has saved $500,000 a year in reduced man-hours, compared with the time spent using the previous system: “That’s half a million, each year, in improved productivity.”