Increased ICT costs and competition hurt QV

Increased ICT costs and competition hurt QV

Project Monarch completed on time and under budget, company said, and is delivering value

Raewyn Lovett (Quotable Value)

Raewyn Lovett (Quotable Value)

Credit: Quotable Value

QV faced stiff questioning in Parliament after combination of tough competition and unexpected increases in IT costs damaged the company's performance.

Un-budgeted costs were incurred in, among other areas, a project to shift the government-owned property information company's infrastructure from Spark-owned Revera to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

QV came clean on the issues in answer to questioning by Parliament's Primary Production Committee last month after the committee expressed its disappointment that variations in results had not been fully explained.

The quality of QV's financial controls had earlier been downgraded from "good" to "needs improvement" by the Auditor-General. The committee also asked broad questions about differences between forecast and actual performance.

QV answered that it is continuing to invest in technology, tools and approaches to enable it to grow and evolve from a traditional valuation business to a "broader, more agile digital business".

"To help achieve this transformation, our IT infrastructure was transferred to AWS from locally hosted services using Revera," the company explained.

The migration was more complex and time consuming than expected, resulting in additional costs.

"It was difficult to assess the complexity of the legacy infrastructure which had been in Revera’s data centre for 10 years," it said. "The estimation of the transition cost from Revera to AWS when the statement of corporate intent (SCI) was approved was based on best available information at the time.

"As soon as the effect of the transition was known in February 2018, we informed Treasury of the effect on the SCI."

Last October, QV told Reseller News it had brought its Project Monarch transformation project home under budget. That investment is now delivering benefits, QV told the committee.

However, chair Raewyn Lovett also told the committee that QV is now working on business cases to make improvements to the system "as needed".

"The Monarch programme and organisational process improvements that have been put in place are beginning to deliver operational and financial benefits," QV told the committee.

"We have recruited new product and marketing capability to develop strategies to drive revenue growth through the implementation of design thinking methodologies and discovery workshops with selected partners and customers"

This will inform QV's product road-map and go-to-market strategies.

"We are now equipped with technology and capability which is helping us build new product offerings to better serve our customers," QV added.

One example was QV Costbuilder, which provides elemental cost breakdowns for residential and commercial building costs. Another was Real Time Values, a product being piloted for residential properties that provides real time valuation results.

Asked what it was doing to improve the accuracy of its forecasting, QV said it had engaged EY to assist in modelling assumptions, as well as expertise from finance partner Deloitte to assist future planning.

"We plan to implement a new budget/forecast module as part of our FMIS project this year to automate the process and improve accuracy and timeliness of business intelligence across the business for future years," it said.

In November, QV upgraded its Microsoft Great Plains accounting software and GO!, its time and cost software to improve its financial management information system.

Further enhancements to reduce manual processes such as automated invoice capture and approval are planned for implementation before 30 June, it said.

It had also centralised some processes to gain efficiencies and ensure the appropriate resource allocation and was investing in technology to boost efficiency, including being able to automate manual processes across the business to reduce costs of delivery and improve quality.

"We have recruited a contract and performance manager to review and align our technology supplier arrangements to ensure value for money and the most effective contract arrangement to support the business," it said.

Fixed costs are also being reviewed while on the business side, QV also faced stiff competition.

Core revenues were $1 million lower, with most of that is in relation to the cyclical nature of rating contracts in which activity is spread unevenly over three years.

Also, QV subsidiary Darroch lost two large property management contracts to larger competitors, resulting in a revenue decrease of $1.4 million year-on-year.

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