Business Analytics Coaching Blogs
Below is a massive list of coaching blogs. To search for a specific topic, use the search bar to the right.
Stop Running Analytics Projects Backwards! End User Testing Is Key!
Hey…This is Melissa Bryan, your Business Analytics Coach. It’s my continuing quest to socialize the nerds so that the world[...]
Let’s Hit The BAR! Lodestar’s “Business Analytics Roadmap Program”
Sounds like fun, right? As Business Analytics Coaches, we are often asked questions like, “I own Cognos and I don’t[...]
Lodestar’s Strategy For Working Remotely With Clients
As a business analytics coach, it is our passion to talk about things that make your job easier. Today, we[...]
Ditch Your Business Analytics Project Charter!
I have always strongly recommended that all business analytics clients complete a Project Charter. The Project Charter is a working[...]
Increase End User Adoption with BAAM
As business analytics coaches, it is our passion to talk about things that make your job easier. Today we are[...]
Choosing A Visualization For Your Dashboard
A C-level executive recently handed a 42-page stack of tabular reports to me and said business dashboards would need to[...]
Heather Cole on Business Analytics Coaching
Since our Lodestar coaches are gearing up for more client-filled success stories in 2016, we wanted to take you back[...]
Business Analytics Coaching – Drowning in Data & Starving for Wisdom?
Have you purchased expensive business intelligence tools and feel like you might have wasted your money? Are you drowning in[...]
Save time with Agile Scrum for BI and Analytics
Do you wish you had more time to work on your Business Analytics strategy? Looking for faster cheaper analytics? As[...]
Lodestar Solutions 2015 Year in Review
2015 has brought some exciting new programs and changes to Lodestar Solutions. Not only have we implemented a new goal[...]
IBM ILMT – Do I Need To Install For Cognos BI, TM1 or Express Environment?
If you have an IBM support renewal coming up, it is a great time to check the requirements of having[...]
Determining KPI’s & Metrics For Your Dashboard
Do you have dozens of performance metrics and measures but are looking for a simple dashboard of 5-10 key performance[...]
What is Watson Analytics
Call me one of those sticklers, but each time I hear the United States referred to as a Democracy, it[...]
Dashboards & Data Visualization With Color
Are you a numbers person like me? Do you struggle with what color to put on your dashboards and data[...]
Make Better Decisions at Work
Think about it. You make thousands of decisions each day but have you ever really thought about the process behind[...]
Heather L. Cole On Why BI Projects Fail
Our friend Joe Stangarone, President of mrc and 30+ year IT professional, wrote a great blog post on how many[...]
Financial Planning Process Improvement With Storyboarding
Does anyone dispute that the budgeting and forecasting processes are necessary overhead activities? How painful was your recent process? Are[...]
MotioPI, QubeDocs, Esri Maps – Great Tools for Cognos
As a Business Analytics Coach, I’m often asked about security and version control. As most Cognos BI admins know, security[...]
Social Responsibility of Business: Make Profits!
Today we will take a slight detour from the blog topics we traditionally write and explore some business philosophy. Hopefully[...]
Evaluating and Choosing a Cognos Consultant
Evaluating and Choosing a Cognos Consultant You know what's possibly the biggest factor in the success of your Business Analytics Project? Choosing business[...]
Why You Struggle To Get Executive Buy-In For Your Data and Analytics Projects
As a Business Analytics Coach, I work with executives, managers and the people in the trenches to help them create[...]
6 Things Taylor Swift Knows about Business Intelligence Success
It’s an undeniable fact that Taylor Swift towers over and dominates everyone when it comes to the music industry. And[...]
Reduce Compliance Cost with IBM Cognos Disclosure Management
Ironically, transparency is making us blinded by paper (and electronic copies) of narrative data. The Wall Street Journal recently published[...]
Cognos BI Reporting – User Testing & Deployment
As a business analytics coach, I’m often asked about user testing and end user deployment when it comes to BI[...]
Predictive Analytics Success For TV & Music
How is predictive analytics being used these days? Let’s look at two examples of how gathering information through social media[...]
7 Practical Ways To Improve BI User Adoption
Heather Cole, President of Lodestar Solutions, was interviewed on her insight in to ways to improve BI user adoption. Below[...]
Struggling To Find Cognos BI and TM1 Talent? Coach It!
As a Business Analytics coach at Lodestar Solutions, clients often ask me, “Where can I find talented Cognos BI and[...]
Convenient Cognos Training At Night Opportunity
Convenient Cognos Training At Night Opportunity As we were planning our training calendar for the year, someone made a joke[...]
Things Successful IBM Cognos Business Analytics Clients Will Never Say
Why are some projects more successful than others? Why do some Cognos Business Analytics clients feel accomplished while others feel they[...]
How to Lead Innovative Organizations with Data and Analytics
How prepared are you to lead your organization to capitalize on the analytics age? Heather Cole, a thought leader and[...]
7 Keys to Building Dashboards for the C-Suite
Lodestar Solutions was recently interviewed for their thoughts on building dashboards for the C-Suite. We discuss Building Dashboards for the C-Suite! Businesses[...]
How to handle crazy BI reporting requirements – Ask the 5 “W’s”
Have you ever received a custom reporting request or data request that makes no sense? Maybe you ask questions and the response[...]
BI Requirements Gathering – Insight From A Scavenger Hunt
We at Lodestar have geared up for 2015 and one of our big topic has been BI Requirements Gathering. During the[...]
5 Tips to Designing Executive Dashboards
Are you designing executive dashboards that will be useful to the entire company as well? 1. Dashboards must be interactive[...]
16 Technology Phrases That Would Have Sounded Crazy 25-30 Yrs Ago
16 Technology Phrases That Would Have Sounded Crazy 25-30 Yrs Ago Have you ever actually listened to some of the[...]
Recruiting BI Talent – Business Analytics Internships!
Are you struggling to find time for new IBM Cognos development? Wanting to implement the new IBM Cognos Business Intelligence[...]
How to Demo Cognos Mobile on a Projector
How to Demo Cognos Mobile on a Projector Are you looking to roll out a mobile solution to your organization[...]
IBM Support OnBoarding & Getting Started with IBM Help
We know from experience that finding information can be difficult while trying to navigate on IBM’s website. However, IBM Support is trying to make[...]
How Fast Is Knowledge Doubling?
The total amount of information in the world is increasing. Simple enough concept to grasp, right? Obviously, we would then[...]
Lodestar Partners with Heatherized to Improve Your Analytical Skills
Lodestar Solutions, a premier IBM reseller and educator of analytics, has formed a strategic partnership with www.Heatherized.com. Heatherized is a[...]
What are the Skills for Successful Business Analytics Implementation?
I believe most organizations aren’t even tapping 30% of the potential benefits they could realize from their Business Analytics/Intelligence Solutions. [...]
Forward Looking Business Intelligence
What is Forward Looking Business Intelligence (FLBI)? Most of IBM’s Cognos customers may not know this yet, but IBM has[...]
There’s An App for That! Lodestar’s Recommended Productivity Apps
In today's world, there seems to be an app for everything, so we at Lodestar thought it would be a good idea[...]
Tip for BI Success: Stop Hiding Behind Email
I recently posted a discussion in the LinkedIn CIO group, stating: “Studies show up to 93% of all communication is[...]
Our BI Survey – What’s Important to BI Professionals?
We recently put out a Bi survey and what we learned was pretty eye opening…. Our survey of our internal[...]
Hated “Buzzwords” Rant of Summer
Hated “Buzzwords” Rant of Summer Just wanted to take a break from the typical blogs with a brief list of[...]
Diversity Supplier Programs – Why You Need In!
Business in the 21st century; it’s very much dog eat dog. However, one way organizations are able to meet the[...]
The MacGyver Approach to BI and Analytics when you have limited resources
I had a conversation with a perspective client the other day when he asked me, “What are the Best Practices[...]
Storytelling to Create Engaging Software Demonstrations
Are you responsible for rolling out new software solutions throughout your organization? Maybe you are in charge of software training. [...]
Leverage Videos for BI Training of End User?
Leverage Videos for BI Training of End User? Are you looking to deploy IBM Cognos to a lot of geographically[...]
Business Analytics Coaching – Does Your Executive Team Need It?
Business Analytics Coaching can be game changing for your organization. Not only can it result in an increase in productivity[...]
Building an Analytic Culture in Your Organization
After surveying a number of clients who had implemented BI software, I realized that very few had gained the momentum[...]
Marketing Analytics Must Measure Your Competitive Advantage and be Shared with Everyone
Marketing Analytics provides valuable information on lead and customer data. Marketing Analytics is one of many areas that contributes to[...]
Out of Control Email? 3 Steps to Reduce the Stress
Out of Control Email? 3 Steps to Reduce the Stress It is common knowledge that stress can kill us. But[...]
Analytics In Sports – Empowering The Nerds
Professional sports teams are changing the game and giving the nerds a chance to shine in the sports arena. After[...]
Time Management for Business Intelligence? The Power of No
Have you ever noticed how many people are stressed out and overcommitted? I witness the results at Starbucks when the[...]
Why Strategic Thinking for BI Doesn’t Work
What exactly is strategic thinking for BI? According Robert Kabacoff, Vice President of Research at Management Research Group, "Strategic leaders[...]
Working Virtual on Cognos Project
If you’re an avid reader of our blogs (which I’m sure you are!) you might have noticed a theme across[...]
Lodestar Solutions will Unleash the Power Within
Lodestar Solutions will Unleash the Power Within Recently, some members of the Lodestar Solutions team went to Anthony Robbins’ Unleash[...]
Finding and Keeping BI Talent
Gartner estimates that 4.4 million new jobs will be created around data in the next two years. Why is that[...]
Agile Project Management, Holacracy, and Zappos: Wave of Change
Let’s step back and draw a picture here. We’ll start off with an open field in a valley on the[...]
Find the Best Big Data & Analytics Talent – Look WITHIN!
According to an IDC report, the Big Data technology and services market is anticipated to grow at a compound annual[...]
Patent Laws when using Consultants
You are the Director of IT for a mid-sized company. You hire a consultant and, while doing work for you,[...]
Copyright Laws when using Consultants
Copyright Laws when using Consultants You are the Director of IT for a mid-sized company; you hire a consultant to[...]
Value of Big Data for Business Intelligence
Most of us are familiar with the 3 V’s of Big Data. They are: VOLUME - how much overall data[...]
5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips – What Are They Not Saying?
5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips - What Are They Not Saying? The task of requirements gathering for any new project can[...]
Using Analytics Effectively – 5 Tips
With Analytics becoming more mainstream, we still see many companies shying away from it; perhaps because they have been burned[...]
Lodestar Solutions 2013 Wrap Up
Lodestar Solutions 2013 Wrap Up Since Lodestar Solutions is a company promoting how Analytics can provide insight to every business, we have[...]
5 Tips For Building a Project Team
The secret to high ROI is in the PEOPLE! So today, I am going to focus on 5 tips for[...]
Cognos BI Agile Projects Compared to Waterfall
Guess where the Waterfall project implementation folks are going? If you guessed “over the Falls like a barrel,” you would[...]
Heather Cole is One of 2014 Enterprising Women Of The Year Award Winners
Prestigious Awards Program Recognizes Top Women Entrepreneurs Around The World and Lodestar Solutions' President, Heather Cole, is one of the[...]
5 Steps To Get Project Funding
You just survived another budgeting cycle and you are consumed by year-end processes. Long hours, late nights and you realize[...]
Eliminate Job Frustration Without Changing Companies
Are you drowning in job frustration? Surrounded by a bunch of inefficiency? Feel like you’re stuck in the dark ages[...]
5 Tips to Succeed at Cognos Analytics
With Analytics becoming more mainstream, we still see many companies shying away from it; perhaps because they have been burned[...]
Data Models better be good for goodness sake!
In case you missed it, IBM let its Data Models sense of humor show in a second blog interview with[...]
5 Attributes of Successful Business Analytics Change Agents
Clients often ask me to interview candidates they are considering for a position on their Business Analytics team. As I[...]
Does your company have a business-driven analytics strategy?
I teach a number of workshops and training classes designed to empower people on Business Intelligence and Business Analytics. In[...]
BI Requirements Gathering with Notebooks
Do you have an existing project that you want to tweak a little bit? Distribute a notebook to start BI[...]
Socialize The Nerds – Lodestars Program
Many of you know that Lodestar Solutions’ tag line is “Business Analytics is People Process and Tools - in that[...]
Analytical Maturity – Where Does Your Company Rank?
When you hear someone talking about the Analytical Maturity of an organization – what does that mean? IBM has put[...]
Pizza & Beer: Bridging the BI Gap between IT & Business
You have successfully installed, built and implemented a BI solution on time and on budget. This is an incredible victory[...]
Increase Your RIO While Decreasing Training Costs
As I’ve said in my numerous blogs, Lodestar is a big proponent of training. However, all too often, companies see[...]
Fear Public Speaking More Than Spiders?
Fear Public Speaking More Than Spiders? Do you have a fear of public speaking that is more intense than your[...]
Have you created a LinkedIn profile but haven’t figured out to leverage it to help you in your business? Here[...]
One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable
I recently met with a financial executive of a large distribution company and he expressed to me his frustration. The company had invested in a Data Warehouse and deployed a leading BI solution and yet, they still had issues with “one version of the truth” (OVOT). They spent significant hours trying to validate which numbers were correct. With a slight smile I said, “One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable.” He looked at me in shock, because many highly paid consultants had told him he just needed to invest in a data warehouse and master data management (MDM) and then put a BI tool on top.
4 Reasons Analytics Software Deployments Fail
With all of the talk about Big Data and Advanced Analytics, many companies are under the false impression that if they purchase a software package or invest in hardware, that will be all they need to be successful. In fact, many companies are finding that they are not seeing the return on investment they had expected. The problem is that deploying an analytic tool is easy. Understanding how the data might be used is less clear. There are a couple things to consider so you can maximize your investment in Advanced Analytics:
Prepare for Consultant Visit and Maximize Their Time
You are all excited about learning and implementing your new software package. You’ve done the “meet and greet” with your sales and service teams and are looking forward to this new relationship. You’ve now scheduled for your consultant to be on-site to assist your eager team. Just like when you prepare to have guests stay over your house, you should prepare for guests to be in your office. Waiting for the last minute or thinking someone else on your team already took care of it never really pans out. Sure, we can monkey around and muddle through the challenges, but the wasted time is longer than the preparation time involved.
Star Schema and Snowflake Schema? To Be Or Not To Be
To star or to snowflake, that is the question…Whether star schema or snowflake schema models perform better is an age old debate between database developers. Both star and snowflake are relational models made up of fact and dimension tables. The difference is a snowflake dimension is made up of several highly normalized tables that remove redundant attributes; whereas, a star schema dimension is a signal denormalized contextual table. Both have a place in data warehousing depending on the objective . However, in most cases when the end objective is killer analytical query performance, the datamart/database should be modeled using star schema techniques.
Business Analytics Software Selection Process
So, you have been tasked with finding a Budgeting, Planning, Forecasting or Reporting solution. This is an exciting opportunity for you to shine but there are a few steps in the process that you must accomplish. Below we spell out the steps and success criteria to running an effective Business Analytic selection process.
Replacing Microsoft FRx
Microsoft has announced that they will no longer be supporting its FRx 6.7 product in 2012. They are replacing FRx with Management Reporter. Microsoft’s official FRx replacement is Management Reporter, and although it’s a promising technology and is definitely next generation. It only reports on GL data at the moment as well as lacking some key FRx features, and most importantly, it’s not available for Microsoft competitors. FRx was much more “feature” rich and functional than Management Reporter, making it preferred for the accounting staff and distribution of financial reports.
Dashboard Feasibility – Evaluating Risk and Opportunity
Are you struggling to figure out what should go on a dashboard? If so, you are not alone. Lodestar Solutions has created a methodology to help define what should be on the dashboard. The first step is to define the areas of Opportunity. Opportunities are areas of the business that would benefit from better access to information for example Sales, Human Resources, and/or Finance. Once you define the area you want to focus now you need to explore the risk factors.
Defining Successful Test Scripts for IBM Cognos Implementation
A key step in a successful IBM Cognos implementation is testing. Many clients struggle with what to include in their test scripts. Here’s a little Lodestar Solution tip. As you go thru the design phase, make sure all power users have 3x5 sticky notes. As you define your design, write down each process that you believe should be thoroughly tested on a sticky note. Include on it a description, expected outcome, data requirements, and foreseeable issues.
Database Documentation Made Easy With APEX SQL
Having to create documentation is like having to go to the dentist. You know you have to go and you dread it every six months. Documentation is similar because everyone dreads it and whenever it is mentioned you can find hundreds of reasons to do other things until your teeth start to hurt. Well, I have a great dentist for you and your Sql database. The product is called APEX SQL. First, before I give you a review and how to use it, there are few points that I have to make. The product only works if you have a normalized database with proper indices, primary keys/foreign keys, and good object naming conventions.
Is Normal BI Change Management Too Restrictive For Finance?
When IT departments start to apply these stringent standards to the IBM Cognos Planning/TM1 environment - the challenges begin. I see a lot of clients that utilize IBM Cognos BI and IBM Cognos Planning TM1, but they don’t leverage the great integration for these two components. When I discuss this with the teams they state they would love for their BI reports to include real time Tm1 data. However, after the initial excitement wears off and we map out the process to realize this vision; the reality of the stringent change management rules often kill the project.
“Politics of a Project” – Project Manager Tips
Ever have a project that could be of great benefit to the company, but you can’t seem to get it off the ground because of a group of unhappy people? I like to call these folks “unhappies”. Every company has them and they seem to be able to instigate negative behavior just by walking into a room. They are never happy unless something is their idea or they somehow get the credit, even though they are masters at dodging work. All of us wish these people would magically decide to quit; but that never happens and the likelihood of them being fired is slim to none. The unfortunate reality is that project managers have to win over unhappies or wield enough power to silence them.
How to Implement BI – Part 4
Communicate 1. Touch Points. Hold regular status meetings. Make sure all tasks are on schedule, issues are discussed, and solutions are proposed. 2. Email Minutes of the Meeting. Designate someone to type up the meeting notes and send them to all team members.
How to Implement BI – Part 3
Educate 1. Know What the Software Can Do. IBM Cognos has a number of modules, so be realistic about what the software is designed to do. Clients often try to fit a square peg into a round hole by using modules beyond their capabilities. 2. Understand IBM Cognos Licensing. Take the time to understand what licenses you own and what they do. You might find functionality that you aren’t even using.
How to Implement BI – Part 2
Lead the People 1. Clearly State Expectations. Be sure each member of the team knows their specific responsibilities and deadlines. This will save time and prevent duplication of effort or tasks being overlooked. 2. Promote Candor Within the Team. You can’t afford to have surprises, and direct communication eliminates them. No one has all the answers; encourage people to ask questions. This will help team members share information.
How to Implement BI – Part 1
We are often asked by contacts what makes up a successful software implementation. Lodestar Solutions has come up with a list of 4 aspects that we believe are vital to the success of any project and can be used as a guide in nearly any field. Part 1: Lead the Project 1. Get an Executive Sponsor. Get sponsorship from your organization’s senior executives; determine their expectations. Meeting the expectations of the executives will help provide continued funding. 2. Create a Project Charter. A project charter is a mini business plan for your project that defines success, and is approved by the team members. It includes objectives, risk factors, timelines, and resources.
How to create an innovative culture – Part 2
So, hopefully you read my previous blog on Innovation and creating an innovative culture.. It is essential to success in[...]
How to create an innovative culture – Part 1
I recently attended the CFO Rising conference in Orlando, FL put on by CFO.com. At the conference it became clear that as the economy continues to challenge all of us, the companies and people that are thriving have something in common. THEY ARE INNOVATING! So what exactly are they innovating? Everything! From streamlining internal process that are time consuming and inefficient, saving man hours, to looking at new revenue opportunities for their products. I know not exactly ground breaking, but it made me think, “How do we get people in our organizations to INNOVATE?”
Help Navigating IBM Cognos Support
For those of us who come from the Cognos world and were just getting the hang of how to find answers to the most cryptic error messages known to man, I have news for you. Forget every trick you learned of navigating the Cognos Support system and welcome to the IBM Super Highway of Information a.k.a. IBM.com. This is a much needed blog for two reasons: 1. To forewarn any IBM client; DO NOT WAIT on getting your IBM.com ID setup until you have a production down issue. This process takes about 5 business days to complete. 2. Provide you the quick and dirty steps to get setup painlessly and quickly (relatively speaking).
Microsoft vs Cognos BI implementation – Decisions, Decisions
So you're about to start a BI project and have to choose between a specific tool. There are a few major players in the BI world, each of which has pro's and con's and depending on the customer, one may be better than the other. Business needs and flexible functionality should always be a top priority.
Developing a Production Environment Disaster Plan
I have you thinking about another environment for testing, development, and patches which is separate from your production environment, now we can talk about the process of deploying to production from development. In Cognos, you can move content from one environment/server to another environment by using import and export within the Cognos Administration. You can schedule import or export entries from a deployment archive to a separate server….see the topic Schedule Management in Cognos Connection Help for more details.
Criteria For Evaluating Consultants – Risk of Independent Consultants
I have a client that we began working with about a year ago. They previously used another firm that had lost a lot of people, some of whom become “independents”. One such person had written an interface for them and they wanted it modified. So they called the “independent “ in without our knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, we play well with others - but communication is the key! The “independent” for some reason decided to upgrade their Cognos Finance, knowing they had Cognos Planning integrated with CF, but not thinking about the ramifications on upgrading one piece at a time. Choo Choo Choo, do you hear the train coming down the track? Yes train wreck ahead! So I get the distress call! "HELP!!!" As you suspected the “independent” killed access to the entire planning system and they were getting ready for a forecast. So I asked, “Can I speak with him to see what happened in hopes that we can fix it faster?” “No, he’s unavailable”. “Is he in the bar drinking?” I asked. “No he left,” they replied “What do you mean he left???” “Ummm, he’s on a plane going home.” Stunned, I asked, “Are you kidding me? Let me get this straight, he decided to upgrade a piece knowing there was integration with other moving parts, blew up the system and LEFT?” “Yes, he said, “I don’t know how to fix it, call Lodestar" and left.” Needless to say our technical team stepped in and working with the clients IT department, were able to get them up and running before their forecast was due.MORAL OF THE STORY! Independents typically work alone and can’t fix it if they screw up. You do not control them, so they can leave if they want. MY QUESTION – Do you think the “independent” billed them for his time and travel?
Finding a BI Consultant Who’s Your Soul Mate
Looking for a consulting partner? Finding and selecting the right partner can be the difference between a great and mutually beneficial marriage and a marriage fraught with bad communication, unmet expectations, and cheating. I liken selecting a consulting partner to marriage because I believe it carries the same weight and should not be entered into lightly.