​Suncorp Group realises AU$6m in benefits moving off Excel

Suncorp Group's statutory claims business has helped the company save AU$6 million in benefits, as predicted during half year 2014, after moving its staff performance reporting from Excel.

Suncorp Group has realised AU$6 million in predicted benefits, as a "release of reserves" during half year 2014, since it moved its week-on-week staff performance reporting off Excel and onto Tableau six months ago.

Speaking at the Tableau Conference on Tour event in Sydney, Mark Nelson, Suncorp Group performance analyst, explained that when the company introduced its WOW (week-on-week) performance reporting platform it was initially built on Excel. Prior to this, performance reporting occurred each end of financial year.

Nelson explained WOW was initially designed to help the company better gauge the performance of staff in its statutory claims business, saying that because personal insurance is a "long tail business", and unlike the rest of Suncorp that is focused solely on financial outcomes, it does not abide by the same rules.

"Because we have to ensure you're all back to good health and we've covered all the costs related to that injury that could be over a few weeks or a lifetime, this means it becomes quite difficult for us to gauge the performance of the people who work in our claims business," he said.

"We needed to be able to measure them on their performance that is not related to a financial outcome."

A typical WOW report, according to Nelson, displays rankings to allow team leaders to understand the movement of individuals week to week, as well as graphs and tables to allow individuals and teams to compare their results against performance targets and other teams.

Nelson said given that WOW was built originally on Excel, the system required users to insert weekly and summary results into the system using a series of formulas in order to retrieve rankings each week. The weekly results and summary relied on 25 different metrics that was delivered from the company's internal Cognos system, Nelson said.

However, Nelson said the main issue about relying on formulas in Excel was that it would often break. "If a formula breaks in one section, it's broken the way whole way through so we used to have a lot of errors."

As a result, the company decided to move its data sets onto Tableau, which Nelson said has helped the company improve its development and user experience.

For example, errors in the data are now easier to identify. Nelson highlighted that Tableau identifies and will signal when an error occurs, which he says minimises the risk of getting the wrong performance results about a staff member.

At the same time, Nelson said accessing raw data is much simpler with a single right click on the relevant component, versus the prior experience with Excel that required people to unhide the right sheet to look for the raw data.

Looking forward, Nelson said he hopes to see the Tableau system rolled out to other business units within Suncorp Group.