Exploiting Microsoft Access for Corporate Performance Management and Business Intelligence

Custom application gives Alameda County just-in-time funding, allocation, forecasting, as well as KPIs, management dashboards and balanced scorecards.

Alameda County’s General Services Agency (ACGSA ) retained Strategic Enterprise Solutions and Help4Access for a comprehensive data management strategy to enable the agency to capture, store, and access relevant data.

“Government agencies like Alameda County’s GSA face the challenge of servicing their internal clients who need IT,” said Sasha Froyland, Help4Access CEO. “They also need to comply with state regulatory requirements, meet quality and cost expectations of taxpayers, and do all this within a very specific budget.”

Selecting the most valuable KPIs

Help4Access’ team worked closely with the team from Strategic Enterprise Solutions and the GSA executive team to develop a strategic vision for overall data management and to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that would align with GSA organizational objectives to help achieve goals in service-level improvement, operational efficiency, communications and sustainability.

This initial vision led to a multiphase project comprised of management consulting, mentoring, and delivery of a database application and supporting systems.

Because Microsoft Access is the fastest software prototyping tool available, it was the platform that Help4Access chose to build the custom database applications for the GSA. Combined with the Help4Access Bolt-On Library of pretested code modules, the result was a system delivered within weeks at a fraction of the price of traditionally developed software solutions.

“Dashboards and balanced scorecards allowed ACGSA to establish service-level targets and monitor ongoing metrics.”

Using a variety of technologies including Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Crystal Reports, and Microsoft SQL Server, the team developed highly customizable reporting capabilities that provide critical metrics in timely fashion to support effective managerial decision-making.

The new system implemented dashboards and balanced scorecards, and allowed ACGSA to establish service-level targets, monitor ongoing metrics, and continuously improve the quality and efficiency of the services the County provides.

The GSA’s new system also provides the ability to forecast funding requirements based on historical data and quickly allocate funds to the appropriate service areas as needs arise. Supporting a just-in-time funding approach, the system is expected to provide significant cost savings.

Takeaway: Business intelligence and performance management are not just for the commercial sector; governmental and not-for-profit organizations also benefit from fast access to the right metrics. Many agencies must comply with state-specific reporting and compliance mandates, making it less likely that a packaged application exists to fulfill their requirements. A well-designed custom solution based on Microsoft Access can satisfy not only the compliance and reporting needs, but add the benefits of modern corporate performance management—often delivered through dashboards and balanced scorecards that incorporate well-chosen KPIs.