Stellar & Plunket

A data analytics case study

For 110 years, Plunket has been giving New Zealand children the best possible start in life.

The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society provides a health, development and wellbeing service to every child in the country, designed to make a difference during each child’s first 1000 days.

Like many non-profit organisations, Plunket has been focusing on the essential roles of technology and information. In April 2016, Mike Rankin was brought aboard as head of business intelligence, to devise initiatives and lead Plunket through a data-driven transformation.

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Sharing the knowledge

Business intelligence (BI) and analytics is all about information – giving organisations the data they need to generate positive outcomes. In Plunket’s case, establishing a solid knowledge base was a critical first step.

“The more we know about children, and can map outcomes to the conditions and demographic situations we see, the more we can help people,” Mike says.

“It’s about knowledge management as well as BI and the analytics across the top. How do we take the collective knowledge and apply it to 800 nurses across the country, predict what’s going to start happening for certain segments of the children that we see, and improving the long-term outcomes for these children?”

Using data and analytics, Plunket aims to predict each child’s likelihood of various health, social and environmental outcomes. That’s not only good news for children. Mike notes that just a 1 per cent improvement in outcomes would contribute $1.8 billion to the New Zealand economy each year.

“If you can prevent someone from going to prison or being in long-term hospital care because you intervened early to identify prospective issues, and they contribute to society rather than detract from it, that’s millions of dollars of cost removed,” he says.

Plunket’s partnership with Stellar Consulting

Achieving that sort of return on investment doesn’t happen overnight, however – something Mike had in mind when searching for a digital partner for Plunket.

“I partnered with Stellar because they have a very strategic mindset. They understand the long-term objective, and take it into account when calculating where they can add value. There’s a whole bunch of small steps to get to the big strategic goals, but the work we’re doing enables nurses to do more, faster, and with greater compassion because of the understanding we’re creating.”

Stellar worked with stakeholders to understand how Plunket’s operations work, what data was available, and what would add the most value for their purposes, says Stellar senior consultant Jason Campbell.

“We initially created a prototype dashboard using Microsoft Power BI, that brought the necessary data straight out of a SQL Server data mart. This only reflected the data from a single source system, however. Once the prototype was approved, Plunket provided the code to merge data from the two main source systems that were necessary to provide a complete picture.”

“I partnered with Stellar because they have a very strategic mindset. They understand the long-term objective, and take it into account when calculating where they can add value. There’s a whole bunch of small steps to get to the big strategic goals, but the work we’re doing enables nurses to do more, faster, and with greater compassion because of the understanding we’re creating.”

Mike Rankin, Head of Business Intelligence, Plunket

The final solution used SQL Server, Integration Services, and SharePoint to daily provide fresh data to a dashboard which is accessible through the Power BI service.

“The solution highlights metrics and context that enable Plunket to better manage staff caseloads and delivery performance,” says Jason. “It enables them to make sure that crucial child milestones are met in time, and assists staff to more efficiently plan appointments with clients.”

Given the long-term nature of the project, Stellar Consulting’s work with Plunket is still in its early stages, but Mike and his team are pleased with the progress.

“We have been working with Stellar on a dashboard for frontline engagement, and they have developed a very good-looking and informative solution that has really made a difference to our nurses. People are really excited about the information and what they can do with it, and it is improving the service that nurses can provide,” Mike Rankin, Head of Business Intelligence, Plunket.

“We’re also in the starting stages of the data warehouse build, and Jason is adding value, not just from an experience and data warehousing perspective, but also because he’s a highly engaged and approachable person. He’s really helping with the business engagement, which is critical to any BI piece of work.”

It’s the beginning of a long digital journey for Plunket, but with Mike’s dedication and the team at Stellar Consulting devising BI and analytics solutions, the future for New Zealand’s children is looking brighter.

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