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Post: Providence St. Joseph Health Achieves BI Development Standardization with MotioCI

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Providence St. Joseph Health Overcomes Disorder and Achieves Standardization in their BI Development Process with MotioCI

Executive Summary

Providence St. Joseph Health selected IBM Cognos Analytics as its reporting platform for its data modeling and self-service capabilities. Source control or version control was also a requirement for Providence St. Joseph Health so that they could standardize their report development process and eliminate the challenges they experienced with their previous reporting platform. MotioCI was the recommended digital solution that Providence St. Joseph Health selected for their version control requirement that saved them time, money, effort and was the most compatible with Cognos Analytics.

Providence St. Joseph Health’s Version Control Challenges

Before implementing Cognos Analytics and MotioCI, Providence St. Joseph Health was facing challenges of not having a reliable source control system in place for its previous reporting software. Providence St. Joseph Health had a team of developers spread across locations in California and Texas and had no way to prevent two developers from working on the same report at the same time. Providence St. Joseph Health also found that the latest version of a report wasn’t always the latest version. Changes to reports were getting lost and entire reports were getting deleted. They had no reliable method of identifying who made changes, what exact changes occurred, and reports were inadvertently deleted occasionally. Sometimes, development processes would not sync, which caused a large amount of rework to be performed. These recurring issues warranted that version control was a number one priority for Providence St. Joseph Health.

MotioCI Gives Providence St. Joseph Health Control Over Report Development

At Providence St. Joseph Health, both traditional report developers and special groups of “super users” are responsible for developing reports. One of the reasons IBM Cognos Analytics was chosen, was so that this group of super users could take ownership of some of the report development. These super users play a critical role at Providence St. Joseph Health because they have both the clinical and technical knowledge to understand and develop the reporting needs of nurses, nursing managers, and other healthcare roles within the hospital system. With reports being worked on by multiple people and in multiple locations at Providence St. Joseph Health, MotioCI provides the control they need over the entire development process. For example, Providence St. Joseph Health no longer has to worry about multiple developers encroaching on each other’s work. A report must be checked out before any changes can be made to it and to save those changes, it must be checked back in. This feature of MotioCI provides a controlled workflow, ensuring that only one person at a time can edit and save changes to a report. In the scenario where Cognos content was promoted incorrectly, using MotioCI to redeploy the content took Providence St. Joseph Health 30 seconds instead of 30 minutes. With MotioCI in place, they can manage the development of a report from start to finish—when it was touched, what changes were made by whom, did it validate in testing and production, and if it was not authorized, they can rollback.

MotioCI Enforces Standardization at Providence St. Joseph Health

Several features in MotioCI allowed Providence St. Joseph Health to impose their desired standardizations. Providence St. Joseph Health wanted to ensure that all development work is being done within the development environment. Version control provides the visibility that ensures all modifications are being made within the development environment and not within testing or production. For deployments, MotioCI is the required method for promoting reports, datasets, folders, etc. from development, to UAT testing, to production. Without MotioCI for example, someone could just go in and create their own folders in 3 different environments. MotioCI provides an audit trail, ensuring that developers are adhering to the guidelines, naming conventions, and formatting standards for content deployments at Providence St. Joseph Health. Before deploying content to the testing and production environments, developers at Providence St. Joseph are making use of execution time and data validation test cases from MotioCI. Developers are taking a proactive approach and running these test cases to make sure the data is returning as expected and the runtime is within specified thresholds. This way they can troubleshoot the underlying issue before their Cognos reports move further along its development cycle. This process has saved Providence St. Joseph Health approximately $180 per day during the 2-year conversion project by eliminating the wasted back and forth time that used to occur between the testing and development teams.

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Providence St. Joseph Health chose IBM Cognos Analytics for its self-service capabilities and MotioCI for its version control features. Cognos Analytics allowed more people at Providence St. Joseph to take on the role of report development, while MotioCI provided an audit trail of BI development and prevented multiple people from developing the same content. Version control empowered Providence St. Joseph to achieve their standardization requirements and saved them time and money previously associated with deployments and rework.


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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.