Austin Energy has provided the city with electric service for over 100 years. Austin Energy is the ninth largest public power utility in the nation. Austin Energy provides power generation, distribution, transmission and substation transmission. The utility continues to provide award-winning service to its industrial, commercial, and residential customers. The Electric Service Delivery business unit of Austin Energy was the first in the nation within its industry to receive an ISO 9001:2000 Quality certification. Austin Energy’s utility revenue bonds rate AA- stable from Fitch, Inc, A1 Positive from Moody’s Investors Service, and AA Stable from Standard and Poors. The utility holds over $3.5 billion in assets, and generates over $1 billion in annual revenue.
Burdened salaries for highly-skilled IT professionals tasked with building and maintaining these systems is often at the peak of professional-services costs, and retention of these employees can prove difficult. Proprietary technologies add to costs, issues with interoperability, ongoing licensing requirements, and specialized consulting or contracting to enable a successful system. Although a request for an executive dashboard had been officially recognized as a project within Austin Energy for years, a deliverable that would meet the requestor’s requirements had yet to be produced, primarily due to following the traditional business intelligence and data warehouse model.
In June of 2009 an evaluation of technologies that could meet the rigorous demands of the solution proved extremely successful. All of the objectives could be met through the acquisition and deployment of just two technologies, a Business Intelligence suite of tools provided by Jaspersoft, and a revolutionary column-based database engine available from Infobright. Through the use of these solutions, two project managers, working part-time over six weeks, were able to meet all of the requirements of the project and subsequently begin a staged institutionalization of the performance management solution.
Availability of financial data reduced data age from up to six weeks to over night, a factor of 1/42nd. Using this new data warehouse, creation of dashboards and reports was simply a matter of drag-and-drop with iReport, Jaspersoft’s report designer. These reports are incorporated into a secure dashboard, using Jaspersoft’s JasperServer that also allows the user to do ad-hoc queries. In addition, access and authority rights provided by Active Directory govern the systemvi. This last item is important to note. By simply tying in to the existing organizational structure, the project was able to provide relevant information at the user level: Executive Dashboards were available to only those users with rights to view them, while reports and ad-hoc data analysis became available to individual contributors and supervisors/managers with their own corresponding data access privileges.