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DHB chooses Microsoft BI platform

03 Jul 2012

Capital & Coast District Health Board (C&C DHB) funds and delivers healthcare services in the Capital & Coast district and neighbouring regions. In 2011, it began implementing Six Sigma projects to improve patient services. To help meet project goals, C&C DHB needed to update its business intelligence (BI) solution so that it could give employees more detailed insight, faster and for less money.

The existing BI solution was based on SAP Business Objects and a 150GB data warehouse running on Microsoft SQL Server 2005 data management software, virtual servers and a storage area network (SAN). Hosted and managed by the in-house ICT group, the warehouse stored disparate data from 45 systems, which ran on eight different vendor platforms, using the source-systems’ data structures and definitions.

"Our previous attempt at data warehousing was basically a holding place for data. We needed to complete a solution to translate all of that complexity into something meaningful for administrators, clinicians and executives,” explains Jonathan Jourdain, Director of Decision Support at C&C DHB.

The organisation also needed to boost efficiency and cost savings. For example, rather than relying on email and different repositories to share reports, staff wanted a single location to instantly access and manage BI. In addition, developers needed to speed up reporting processes without jeopardising the performance of clinical systems that also ran on the SAN.

"Just renewing the licenses for our SAP BI solution would exceed our scarce group budget twice over.”

C&C DHB began evaluating BI solutions that could increase the speed and detail of BI, reduce expenses, and be easy to use and manage.

The solution

C&C DHB evaluated BI technologies from SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, ultimately choosing an integrated solution based on the Microsoft SQL Server Fast Track Data Warehouse and the HP Business Decision Appliance with a BI platform based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Both are end-to-end solutions with hardware, software and support.

"The solutions were affordable, easy to implement and deliver predictable, out-of-the-box performance,” says Brian Lee, BI Technical Lead at C&C DHB.

SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services was used to create online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes. Processes were migrated, extracted, transformed and loaded from SAP to SQL Server 2008 R2 Integration Services. In addition, a portal with SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise was created to facilitate collaboration and content management. Reports, dashboards and key performance indicators were included on PerformancePoint Services in SharePoint Server 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services.


In just 12 months, C&C DHB transformed its BI capabilities, cut software costs by about 50%, and improved insight, efficiency and agility for users.

"The migration from SAP to Microsoft and HP was quick, consolidating data and definitions from 45 systems, and building all new BI components. This was done by a small team while maintaining existing services,” says Jourdain.

"The cost of the Microsoft BI solution was about half the cost of renewing our SAP product suite and we gained more capabilities. We set up our new production environment for the same amount of money predecessors spent years ago on consultants who gathered BI concepts but didn’t produce anything.”

Today, employees can instantly access detailed BI which speeds workflow, increasing efficiency and giving them more insight in the business.

"The solution includes SQL Server PowerPivot for Excel which is intuitive so that more users can build the presentations that they need faster. Add to this the advanced analytical tools in SQL Server Analysis Services and you have a powerful BI solution for everyone,” says Bradley Burrows, Business Group Lead, Server and Tools for Microsoft New Zealand.

The C&C DHB IT team have more confidence in the BI solution now because there are fewer interoperability issues, leaving them more time to work on other projects.

C&C DHB can now easily support new requirements and increase collaboration with regional peer organisations. Clinicians and quality leaders can use these tools to reliably access and monitor clinical process improvement initiatives that directly improve patient care.

"By delivering BI on the Microsoft platform, we can meet clinician’s requirements and support Six Sigma initiatives.”