IBM > Case Studies > Transforming Financial Reporting: A Case Study on Canadian National Railway Company

Transforming Financial Reporting: A Case Study on Canadian National Railway Company

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Technology Category
  • Analytics & Modeling - Big Data Analytics
  • Sensors - Level Sensors
Applicable Industries
  • Consumer Goods
  • Finance & Insurance
Use Cases
  • Inventory Management
  • Time Sensitive Networking
About The Customer
Canadian National Railway Company (CN) is a major economic backbone, with a team of approximately 25,000 railroaders transporting more than CAD250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors. These sectors range from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods. CN operates across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route-miles spanning Canada and mid-America. The company's accounting team is responsible for generating a variety of reports, from quarterly and annual regulatory reports to internal monthly statements and executive analysis.
The Challenge
Canadian National Railway Company (CN), a major economic player transporting over CAD250 billion worth of goods annually, faced a significant challenge in its financial reporting process. The company's accounting team was burdened with increasingly complex accounting standards and internal demands, making financial reporting labor-intensive. The team was responsible for generating a variety of reports, including quarterly and annual regulatory reports, internal monthly statements, and executive analysis. However, many of these processes were spreadsheet-based and had reached their limits. The team was spending more time on low-value activities such as data collection and performing repetitive tasks, which was inefficient and took away from more value-added tasks like analysis.
The Solution
CN embarked on a transformational project to reinvent its financial reporting process. In partnership with IBM Lab Services and Prolifics, an IBM Premier Business Partner, CN built a sophisticated solution that integrated financial data with in-depth analytics, using IBM® Cognos® TM1® and IBM Cognos Disclosure Management. The solution automatically integrated up-to-date data from CN's ERP and financial systems into an IBM Cognos TM1 environment in nightly batch jobs. It also included a TM1-based web interface that allowed power users to load data on an ad-hoc basis, collect statistical data and third-party information, and perform any analysis on the data as part of the disclosure process. CN also built a customized workflow and dashboards that broke down silos between functions, improving collaboration and visibility across the entire disclosure management process.
Operational Impact
  • The transformational project has significantly improved CN's financial reporting process. The new solution has made it easier for teams to collaborate on drafting and reviewing reports, and has given managers greater visibility across the entire disclosure management process. The solution has also shifted the focus of the accounting staff from low-value activities to more value-added tasks. With near real-time figures integrated directly from source systems into the final report documents, users spend less time manually sourcing and validating the data. This has resulted in shorter reporting cycles and a better work-life balance for accounting staff. The company is now well on its way to transforming its financial reporting close into a more controlled, automated, and efficient process.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Saves time on data collection and validation, allowing staff to focus on analysis
  • Boosts scalability to support increasing demand for a variety of reporting requirements
  • Increases collaboration and breaks down silos with new workflow and dashboards

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