1300 words (12 minutes reading time) by Colin Weatherby
I am trying a new approach with this post and using ChatGPT to provide a summary with short and long versions to match your reading appetite. It might be a little repetitive if you read them all but it will reinforce the key points! Your feedback will be appreciated.
Business intelligence (BI) is a set of techniques and tools used to analyse data and make informed decisions. It is widely accepted in the private sector but is still evolving in local government where data collection is mainly driven by performance reporting requirements. However, with the financial challenges faced by councils, many are starting to adopt a ‘BI approach’ to understanding their financial position and improving decision-making. Councils can benefit from a BI approach that is tailored to their specific challenges and priorities to support performance monitoring, decision-making, and service delivery to the community.
Recently, I was talking with a colleague about the financial information they were using to understand the impact of rate capping on the financial sustainability and resilience of their council. This led us to discuss what kind of business intelligence councils need.
Business intelligence, or BI, is defined in the image above. In the private sector, BI is widely accepted and standardised, and there are consultants who provide these services to companies. Companies know what decisions they need to make and that the data to support those decisions is available, they just need it to be discovered, collated, and analysed. However, in the council sector, access to data and data collection is typically driven by performance reporting requirements, rather than a the need for improved data in decision-making.
Businesses use BI for various purposes, including decision-making, performance monitoring, trend analysis, data-driven planning, competitive advantage, and fraud detection. Councils, on the other hand, may have different priorities and challenges. While competitiveness may not be a high priority, customer satisfaction and loyalty can still have a significant impact on the council. The recent financial crunch due to rate capping and high inflation has prompted some councils to start using BI to understand their financial position over time.
Therefore, it’s beneficial for councils to adopt a BI approach that incorporates their specific challenges and priorities to support decision-making and performance monitoring. This can include data analysis, performance monitoring, requirements gathering, process improvement, and budgeting and financial analysis. The goal of BI in local government is to improve decision-making, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and enhance the delivery of services to the community.
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