Mondi Forests recently initiated a project with the objective of standardising and integrating its various business systems, a remnant of past business structures and mergers.
The business analysis phase of the project once again highlighted just how critical spatial information was to the business. The spatial extent of forestry land was identified as a critical building block for strategic planning through to daily forestry management. It provides the unit of measure for work to be carried out and for the calculation of standing timber inventory.
The company realised that a GIS business system should become part of everyday business, thus highlighting the need for integrating with other key business systems, especially the Forestry Management System.
The Forestry Management System maintains the forestry database and is used for all levels of forestry planning, budgeting and progress reporting. It goes without saying, that the Forestry Management System has close ties with its J D Edwards Financial Information System.
Besides the need to integrate with other business systems, other business needs were identified.
Firstly, a centralised system was required. This would eliminate duplication of data and ensure that all company employees had access to the same and latest data. Centralisation would also make integration with other business systems possible and would simplify the implementation of upgrades, providing users with instantaneous access. Secondly, the system had to be usable for the forestry business user ie, non-GIS experts.
Before any development took place, the Mondi Forests Business Systems Department undertook thorough business process analyses to ensure that all business requirements were met and that the system would become part of standard business processes.
Mondi Forests also had several technological requirements. Thin client technology was chosen to distribute centralised information systems around the country to several operational offices. IBM's DB2 database was the preferred database upon which future information systems were to be developed.
Based on the business and technology requirements, the GIS business system solution (MondiGIS) built upon IntelliGIS was developed by Information Software Systems. The complete solution involved the following:
* The conversion from an ESRI ArcStorm database to an IBM DB2/ArcSDE database.
* The development of a map plotting application that allows users to select and print maps from a set of standard maps (identified as essential for management in the business analysis phase of the project). Users do not have to create maps themselves, but merely select the type of map and other criteria such as scale. Non-spatial data pertaining to spatial features is extracted from other business systems and is used for map creation where necessary eg, compartment polygons are colour coded according to species from data that is stored in the Forestry Management System.
* The development of specific forestry data editing tools (eg, compartments, roads). This application included user editing rights, business rules, data integrity rules (including topology) and the synchronisation and/or updating of spatial edits with their associated business system (eg, Forestry Management System).
* The development of database administration tools eg, data checking routines for data received from contractors or outside sources, ArcSDE data import and export routines, editing logs, map printing logs.
* The development of a GIS-based cadastral and title deeds tool that interfaces with the asset register in the JDE Financial System.
* The development of a GIS-based open area management (non-commercial areas) system that interfaces with the Forestry Management System.
* The development of a GIS-based road management system.
* The development of a GIS-based area of special interest system.
Before the advent of MondiGIS, the GIS department maintained the entire GIS system from a central office. Edit requests were sent in from around the country to the central GIS office for updating. There was often a large backlog of updates to be performed by the GIS department. Centralised updating led to a lack of ownership of spatial data by operational staff. Furthermore, the GIS department plotted maps for the entire company, a huge task. The introduction of MondiGIS has allowed the maintenance of data and the plotting of maps at the appropriate management units, distributed around the country by the users of the Forestry Management System.
As spatial data is edited, it is synchronised with the Forestry Management System, ensuring that the two information systems are always aligned. GIS departmental staff now utilises their high-level GIS skills using ArcGIS to create spatial output that adds considerable decision-making abilities to the business. They also are responsible for providing extensive support for operational users.
Ben Pienaar, Mondi Forests' GIS Manager commented: "We now have a cost effective, secure, accessible centralised system without loss of data ownership by operational personnel. The GIS department now focuses on standards, support and most important, value addition by turning our data into information to make better decisions - GIS working for us. IntelliGIS made this possible by providing the flexibility and integration we required."
IntelliGIS was chosen as the GIS development platform because of its ability to customise and integrate with other business systems. Mondi Forests has a truly integrated GIS business system that not only takes care of daily operational requirements, but also facilitates the use of GIS decision-making technology.
"MondiGIS has made good on the promise of value add by our GIS systems and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved with the assistance of Information Software Systems," says Unoos Adam, the IS Development Manager for Mondi Forests.
For more information contact, Information Software Systems, 082 745 3611.