Focusing on the great outdoors
TPWD introduces the right programs and operates more efficiently
With nearly 100 state parks and historical sites, 51 wildlife management areas, eight fish hatcheries, and numerous field offices statewide, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is charged with managing and promoting the use of millions of acres of park lands and waterways. But while TPWD employs thousands of people and hundreds of biologists, all of whom provide unmatched expertise to manage wildlife populations across a variety of challenging environments, this agency increasingly found that it wasn't wildlife that needed to be the sole focus – it was Texans themselves.
Thanks to constantly changing social, cultural and demographic factors, TPWD needed to ensure that it fully understands the population it serves. For instance, despite an image of a large state where the "deer and antelope play," 85 percent of Texas' population is concentrated in nine urban centers. Adults and children alike are spending as much as 90 percent of their time indoors. And while the state's population has doubled in the past 50 years, participation in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing has remained flat.
"It was clear to me that we needed to ensure we remain relevant to our public – and that means having a much stronger, clearer understanding of who we serve," said Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD. "How can we be sure we're changing attitudes about conservation and creating support for our programs if we don't take the time to understand our constituents?"
LURES gives 360-degree view
To achieve those crucial insights, TPWD turned to SAS® for business analytics and optimization. The result was the License Utilization and Revenue Enhancement System (LURES), a comprehensive analytics application that provides a 360-degree view of the customer – parks, hunting, fishing, boating, magazine subscriptions and more. "Tools like SAS enable us to link and analyze all of our customers – the people who buy more than 200 different types of hunting and fishing licenses, who subscribe to our magazine, who visit our parks, who receive our email alerts – essentially anyone who does business with the department," said John Taylor, who leads TPWD's LURES project. "For the first time, SAS has let us create individual customer profiles through customer relationship management software that pinpoints trends down to different neighborhoods so we can see their leisure, parks utilization and purchasing patterns."
For instance, using GIS and SAS analytics, analysts uncovered opportunities to develop the popularity of fishing among urban demographic groups, specifically middle-class Hispanic families in the Houston metropolitan area. This allowed TPWD to expand its popular "Neighborhood Fishin'" program (which regularly stocks nearly a dozen strategically selected lakes near urban populations with catfish and rainbow trout) by stocking a Houston lake that was nearer to neighborhoods with higher concentrations of Hispanic families.
One of the department's most popular programs is "Big Time Texas Hunts," which gives hunters the chance to buy entries to win one-of-a-kind hunts for everything from bighorn sheep to trophy white-tailed deer. "This is an important revenue generator for our department," said Darcy Bontempo, TPWD Marketing Director. "We used marketing segmentation to identify the profile of likely buyers and those who are more cost-effectively reachable by email. We reduced our mailing costs by 90 percent and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars while increasing our return on investment by 240 percent. SAS LURES will allow for even more sophisticated analytics in the future."
We are the public's fiduciary of these natural resources, which is a deep, long-term responsibility. Knowing our audience as much as possible and serving them efficiently goes to the core of our mission. SAS helps us do that. For our department, this is a game-changer.
Strengthening budget and financial reporting
Not surprisingly, SAS software's ability to deliver strategic insights caught the attention of the department's Planning and Analysis financial reporting team as well. Around the same time LURES was created, the department was migrating to a new financial system and a new way of accounting, which created exponentially more data. "That data adds a lot of value," explained Alejandro Farias, from the department's Planning and Analysis team. "But it also creates a lot of reporting complexity.
"The standard reporting tools that came with our new Oracle accounting system were taking longer to generate reports, so we decided to use SAS Business Intelligence tools for some of our budget and financial reporting needs. The difference was like night and day. We can now create customized reports and generate them much, much faster. We also started to perform automated reconciliations between our internal accounting system and the state's USAS mainframe accounting system for expenses and revenues. What previously took three or four days, we can now do in about an hour. Demand for the SAS BI tools and generated SAS reports has increased significantly since LURES was created. We've only started to scratch the surface of what SAS can do for us."
"The bottom line is, SAS is making our department a lot smarter about the social and human dimensions of our work as well as the operational aspects," Smith said. "We are the public's fiduciary of these natural resources, which is a deep, long-term responsibility. Knowing our audience as much as possible and serving them efficiently goes to the core of our mission. SAS helps us do that. For our department, this is a game-changer."
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TPWD has expanded the demand for and use of its wide array of natural resources, waterways, hunting and fishing licenses, magazine subscriptions, and more. TPWD has also used SAS to dramatically reduce times required to produce management reports and reconciliations.