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Post: MotioCI Testing Ensures Accurate and Consistent Data at Ameripath

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Ameripath’s BI Challenges

Ameripath has an extensive diagnostics infrastructure that includes over 400 pathologists and doctorate-level scientists providing services in over 40 independent pathology laboratories and more than 200 hospitals. This data-rich environment has seen BI play an evolving role as Ameripath developers meet new standards for data accuracy and an increased demand from both their labs and from corporate users. In order to meet these demands and standards, Ameripath required a method to automatically ensure the consistency and accuracy of BI content in their ever evolving environment as well as proactively detect and correct BI performance issues.

The Solution

In recognition of this dynamic environment, Ameripath partnered with Motio, Inc. to ensure that their Cognos based BI initiatives provided accurate and consistent BI content. MotioCI™ has enabled the Ameripath BI team to configure suites of automated regression tests that continually verify the current state of the BI environment. These tests check each report for:

  • Validity against the current model
  • Conformance to the established corporate standards
  • Accuracy of the outputs produced
  • Adherence to expected performance requirements

The continuous verification of MotioCI has empowered Ameripath’s BI team to proactively discover issues very soon after they are introduced. By providing visibility into “who’s changing what” in the BI environment as a whole, MotioCI has also enabled BI team members to quickly identify root causes of these issues. Such visibility has led to much quicker identification and resolution of issues, increasing both productivity and quality. MotioCI has also served a valuable role in providing implicit configuration management for the content produced by BI team members. On many occasions, MotioCI has helped resolve ambiguities by enabling users to trace the lineage of each report, seeing its entire revision history and what portions/changes were made and by whom. MotioCI’s version control capabilities have also played an important role on several occasions when BI content was accidentally modified, overwritten, or deleted.

Ameripath addressed these demands with the testing features of MotioCI. Automated, continuous tests were configured to check BI assets and instantly help Ameripath identify issues that relate to:

  • Data validity
  • Corporate standards conformance
  • Output accuracy

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As the BI space evolves, organizations must take into account the bottom line of amassing analytics assets.
The more assets you have, the greater the cost to your business. There are the hard costs of keeping redundant assets, i.e., cloud or server capacity. Accumulating multiple versions of the same visualization not only takes up space, but BI vendors are moving to capacity pricing. Companies now pay more if you have more dashboards, apps, and reports. Earlier, we spoke about dependencies. Keeping redundant assets increases the number of dependencies and therefore the complexity. This comes with a price tag.
The implications of asset failures differ, and the business’s repercussions can be minimal or drastic.
Different industries have distinct regulatory requirements to meet. The impact may be minimal if a report for an end-of-year close has a mislabeled column that the sales or marketing department uses, On the other hand, if a healthcare or financial report does not meet the needs of a HIPPA or SOX compliance report, the company and its C-level suite may face severe penalties and reputational damage. Another example is a report that is shared externally. During an update of the report specs, the low-level security was incorrectly applied, which caused people to have access to personal information.
The complexity of assets influences their likelihood of encountering issues.
The last thing a business wants is for a report or app to fail at a crucial moment. If you know the report is complex and has a lot of dependencies, then the probability of failure caused by IT changes is high. That means a change request should be taken into account. Dependency graphs become important. If it is a straightforward sales report that tells notes by salesperson by account, any changes made do not have the same impact on the report, even if it fails. BI operations should treat these reports differently during change.
Not all reports and dashboards fail the same; some reports may lag, definitions might change, or data accuracy and relevance could wane. Understanding these variations aids in better risk anticipation.

Marketing uses several reports for its campaigns – standard analytic assets often delivered through marketing tools. Finance has very complex reports converted from Excel to BI tools while incorporating different consolidation rules. The marketing reports have a different failure mode than the financial reports. They, therefore, need to be managed differently.

It’s time for the company’s monthly business review. The marketing department proceeds to report on leads acquired per salesperson. Unfortunately, half the team has left the organization, and the data fails to load accurately. While this is an inconvenience for the marketing group, it isn’t detrimental to the business. However, a failure in financial reporting for a human resource consulting firm with 1000s contractors that contains critical and complex calculations about sickness, fees, hours, etc, has major implications and needs to be managed differently.

Acknowledging that assets transition through distinct phases allows for effective management decisions at each stage. As new visualizations are released, the information leads to broad use and adoption.
Think back to the start of the pandemic. COVID dashboards were quickly put together and released to the business, showing pertinent information: how the virus spreads, demographics affected the business and risks, etc. At the time, it was relevant and served its purpose. As we moved past the pandemic, COVID-specific information became obsolete, and reporting is integrated into regular HR reporting.
Reports and dashboards are crafted to deliver valuable insights for stakeholders. Over time, though, the worth of assets changes.
When a company opens its first store in a certain area, there are many elements it needs to understand – other stores in the area, traffic patterns, pricing of products, what products to sell, etc. Once the store is operational for some time, specifics are not as important, and it can adopt the standard reporting. The tailor-made analytic assets become irrelevant and no longer add value to the store manager.