Virgin Holidays is turning its back on spreadsheets for business planning and is using software from business intelligence vendor Cognos to build a consolidated view of its activities.
The travel company is implementing a central planning system to integrate product and brochure planning with operational data such as costs and resources.
This will help Virgin speed up forecasting across the business, improving decision making and ensuring that staff have up-to-date information readily to hand.
Employees in sales, marketing, call centre and passenger services previously relied on the finance department to bring together separate spreadsheets and match results to overall goals and communicate any changes.
Ashley Royston, general manager of product and commercial at Virgin Holidays, told vnunet.com that the Cognos Enterprise Planning application would speed up decision making across the business and allow the company to update forecasts on a monthly basis.
"With spreadsheets it can be difficult to have an audit trail and it's difficult to interface overheads into basic above-the-line information," he explained.
"The travel industry is unique in that passengers book many months before they travel. In December 2003 we'll be selling holidays through to April 2005. Quite often we need to look much longer term than one year out."
Using the system will allow the company to run 'what if' scenarios with data.
"It will help us make decisions across the business more quickly and allow us to be more in control. We want to know which destinations are most profitable," said Royston.
Phase one of the project, to build data cubes for each of Virgin Holidays' destinations, started in April and was completed last month.
Phase two will see the development of overhead modules and interfacing into the business and is due to go live in October.
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