Taratahi Institute of Agriculture is New Zealand’s largest Agricultural Vocational Education and Training Provider. It has been successfully preparing students for careers in agriculture since 1919. It offers a wide range of full-time courses, diploma programmes, short courses and an Agriculture in Schools programme. They have residential campuses near Masterton in Wairarapa where the Leadership Team is based and at Balclutha. There are also non-residential campuses in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and Southland. Taratahi also operates 7 commercial farms across dairy, sheep, beef and deer that provide students authentic learning experiences.
- Producing meaningful, timely information for management.
Taratahi uses Xero across multiple branches and cost centres. With 50 cost centres, it was a time consuming, error prone, manual process to extract information from reports. They needed to be able to share the results across the team but also be able to restrict individual user access to what they are allowed to see.
- Inability to do forecasting and cash flow modelling.
Taratahi were using complicated spreadsheets for forecasting as there is no way in Xero to record forecast balance sheets and cash flow. It was very time consuming and the information was always late – 3-4 weeks after it was really needed. They were unable to provide consolidated information to all the managers. They could only see individual information contained in different spreadsheets.
What We Did
They are now able to extract their data from Xero and display it in Microsoft Power BI. This gives visibility of the P&L actuals and forecasts and variances to budget and to forecast at month, year to date and full year. Information can be displayed by individual cost centre, by groups of cost centres and by period. Managers can drill down to different levels of the P&L and to individual general ledger transactions.
Through the use of our secure login process and row level security, confidential information is displayed depending on the user’s permission level. Managers are able to create new P&L forecasts based on the actual results and these are then loaded back into Power BI.
We extracted consolidated financial P&L forecasts from Power BI and brought this into an Excel forecast model. The resulting forecast balance sheet and cashflow can be brought back into Power BI for reporting purposes.
Taratahi are now able to provide timely reports for governance and management.
See below for the range of reports:
End of month reporting is down from 6 weeks to 2 weeks and decreasing. It is also saving at least 3 days a month of trying to create reports in Excel.
All the information is in one place whereas previously it was across a number of separate spreadsheets. It is easier to understand what is happening and they have more confidence in the information. The reports are easy to share, and managers only get to see what they are allowed to see.
Management are now more aware of what’s happening. It makes a big difference in discussions and decision making by having a better visibility of performance and how projects are tracking.
They have financial visibility of the organisation through to the end of the year and beyond. Forecasts can be extended out for multiple years and provide a bridge to 5-year planning – important for predicting capital investment and debt management.
They will definitely continue to use Smetric in the future. Taratahi are looking to extend the use of Power BI into other areas as they digest what we have done so far and see further opportunities in other areas of Taratahi’s operations.
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