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Home care business implements 'right time' Oracle BI

Mark Fontecchio

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Industry: Home care for the elderly and disabled

Company: ResCare, Inc., based in Louisville, Ky., has 48,000 employees helping to provide home care services to people in 41 states.

Problem: In 2006 ResCare hired a new CEO, Ralph Gronefeld, who made focusing on metrics to better manage the business part of the company’s mission. As a result, the company created an “operations scorecard” that included about 60 different business metrics, dividing them into several categories such as quality, staffing, revenue, cost and risk.

The problem was that compiling the scorecard was often a tedious process. It usually took six to eight weeks to compile the information, and it wasn't finished until after each fiscal quarter ended.

“Some of the metrics she was hand calculating,” Joe Lichtefeld, vice president of application services and project management at ResCare, said about the person in charge of creating the scorecard each quarter. “A lot of it was following up with people who needed to give her the data. It took her a long time to get the various pieces of information.”

As a result, operations directors across the country received outdated metrics. The company needed to get more timely information into more people’s hands so they could make quicker decisions.

Solution: Install a business intelligence (BI) system that could digitize the operations scorecard and make it timelier for directors in the field.

Implementation timeframe: Analysis of three BI platforms – Oracle, IBM and SAS – began in the summer of 2009. The company went live this February with Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE).

Implementation details: The company used an independent consultant to help choose a BI platform. In the end, ResCare chose Oracle BI largely because it already had a lot of Oracle infrastructure in place, such as Oracle Database and E-Business Suite.

It then hired Optimum Solutions, a systems integrator and Oracle partner, to help move the project forward. Early in 2010 the company realized it had to broaden the scope of its project.

“Some of the initial scope was to primarily do the financials and HR,” Lichtefeld said. “Rather quickly we decided that instead of just doing each piece, we would do the entire scorecard.”

That pushed back the timeline. The company initially intended to go live last August, but moved that date back to this February.

Expanding the scope meant analyzing more metrics and determining exactly how each was calculated. Some of them could be pulled directly from E-Business Suite; the company culled others from its human resources system. Still others require manual file loads – employees must send regular Microsoft Excel files into a specified folder so that OBIEE can pull the information into its system.

The company is running its database and BI platforms on IBM AIX and Microsoft Windows 2003 servers.

What’s next: Lichtefeld said the company wants to get away from manual file loads and move toward more automation.

“This is not the state we want to remain in,” he said. “We will be tackling those file load processes as we go through the evolution of our BI system.”

The company considers itself in the second phase of the project, one that will bring more automated metrics to more lines of its business. The line of business that has thus far gotten the most out of the new BI platform is its home care services for the elderly. But the company has three others– home care for the disabled, its largest, workforce services for those looking for employment, and youth services focused on education and jobs.

Lichtefeld said the elderly home care services business works with a custom-built scheduling system that predictsschedules for the next six months. ResCare can use OBIEE to leverage this and do calculations such as projecting revenues months in advance. One of the company’s goals is to bring this system to its disability residential care line of business.

ResCare has also realized that it’s not able, and doesn’t need, to have real-time information for every one of its dozens of business metrics.

“Sometimes the right time for a particular metric is daily. Sometimes it’s weekly or monthly,” he said. “We’re delivering one version of the truth at the right time, but not necessarily in real time.”


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