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Responsive Analytics using Microsoft PowerBI

Sean Spann
For more information about
our analytics solutions,
please contact Sean Spann.

Buchanan & Edwards prides itself on being at the forefront of technology to better serve its customers from both a functionality and price perspective. To demonstrate this, BE has completed several customer implementations of the Microsoft Power BI suite in support of a single interface to analyze financial transactions across multiple disparate systems. BE supports this tool as Spend Analytix. Typically, this type of implementation involves a separate database to store the data, an ETL tool to transform the stored data and a final top layer to provide reporting of the data. However, using Spend Analytix, BE was able to provide a solution using only Excel 2013 and some ingenuity.

The first step to any Business Intelligence solution involves the acquisition of data, through a one way connection. Spend Analytix provides this functionality within the familiar interface of Excel. By allowing a direct connection to a variety of data sources, the procurement of data can be accomplished in a matter of seconds. The USDA uses Spend Analytix to connect to over 20 different data sources, comprising over four million rows of data. In addition to the USDA data sources, BE created and maintained more than a dozen additional data sources that add value to the overall solution. Once the connections are in place, refreshing for the latest data is as simple as a mouse click.

Getting the data is the easy part. Transforming the data into something useful is where human ingenuity comes into play. BE uses the Spend Analytix tool to provide additional layers of value not available anywhere else. Though a fully repeatable process built into the tool, BE provides categorization of HHS contract data that is more accurate than any other process used today. This allows the HHS Strategic Sourcing group access to information that will better inform spending decisions, saving the department millions of dollars. A second layer of added value comes from the consolidation of alternate spellings of vendor names. By building a repeatable process that correctly assigns a common name to the same vendor, Spend Analytix lets HHS analyze the roll up of spending by vendor. Without this process, spending on a single vendor would display across a variety of vendors.

Finally, after the data has been acquired and fully transformed, Spend Analytix provides users with a view into the data using familiar Pivot Chart, Pivot Tables, and newly developed Power Views. Reports are developed to serve both high level, executive focused visuals as well as more granular, lower level drill down tables to examine the data more closely. Spending information from several systems at the USDA can now be viewed by organization, type of spend and quarter over quarter changes. This allows the Strategic Sourcing group to better understand the utilization of contract vehicles, and to drill into the organizations that are not fully realizing contract savings.

Spend Analytix provides the government with next generation analysis capabilities, giving them the capability to save millions of dollars using smarter Strategic Sourcing. BE continues to enhance the features available within the tool, providing additional value without the need to purchase additional hardware or software.