NSW Govt bids for self-service analytics

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NSW Govt bids for self-service analytics

Agencies applaud new workforce reports.

NSW’s Public Service Commission has moved 70 percent of its workforce reports off static PDF files in a bid to reduce demand for custom analysis.

The department was formed in November 2011 and charged with advising its peers and the state government on workforce planning, management and development.

Those responsibilities were previously held by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, which stored agencies’ workforce data in a heavily customised data warehouse that was built in 1999.

NSW Public Service Commission (PSC) information systems program manager Mike Price said the commission had spent about a year implementing new data warehouse and reporting technology.

The commission moved 20GB of data to the new data warehouse, built on Microsoft technology and housed on commodity, Intel-based hardware.

It installed business intelligence software from Microsoft and Qlikview, with the latter used to produce and deliver interactive reporting dashboards for internal and external users.

The NSW Government had previously used IBM’s Cognos TM1 and SPSS to produce what Price described as “several hundred” reports, including more than 200 formal ad hoc requests and “many other” informal requests.

Price expected the new interactive reports to reduce the demand for ad hoc reports by providing users with more visualisation options.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from different agencies and other organisations,” he said.

The commission released its first public-facing interactive workplace profile report in November, alongside the static PDF report that it has produced each year since 1999.

Price said the PSC had taken pains to ensure the interactive report was intuitive and user-friendly. The site has attracted 1400 users so far.

“About 50 [internal users] so far are trained to use Qlikview dashboards for more sophisticated reporting, which we expect to increase in the coming year,” he said.

“Note that other NSW Government users may use the public interactive workforce profile which requires no training.

“For us, the exciting thing about producing the interactive version is that we think it’s a better way to explore data. The revamp gives them a more robust system and better presentation of the data.”

Price noted that about 30 percent of the PSC’s reports were still produced as static reports, using Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services.

He said the PSC would consider moving those to the Qlikview, but it would take time due to design considerations.

Setting up a new data warehouse

According to PSC data, the NSW Government employed a total of 401,703 staff in 2012.

“The NSW Public Sector is the largest employer in the country,” Price said, highlighting the Departments of Health and Education in particular, which employ about 100,000 staff each.

“Data is collected because the Government wants to know who works for it; whether we’re meeting equal opportunity objectives and various other items of interest politically and in the media."

The commission collects about 70 pieces of information about each worker from about 150 different organisations, adding some 400,000 rows of data to its data warehouse thrice a year.

The new warehouse was established as part of the ‘Workforce Information Project’, which had $3 million in funding and involved 15 Capgemini contractors and 10 PSC staff at its peak.

Looking forward, Price said the commission would look to deploy predictive analytics technology, pull in more data sources to inform training and development initiatives.

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