What TM1 Licenses Include IBM Planning Analytics Workspace?

What TM1 Licenses Have Planning Analytics Workspace?
What TM1 Licenses Have Planning Analytics Workspace?
January 7th, 2021

Looking for a better user interface to your powerful Cognos TM1/ Planning Analytics data?  Do your users think TM1 is hard to use?  Well, you are probably on an old version of TM1 and not using Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW).  It is time to upgrade and maybe even tweak your models with a redesign.  Before you jump in and start using the powerful Planning Analytics Workspace, we should discuss what PAW is and what TM1 licenses include IBM Planning Analytics Workspace.

What is IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW)?

According to IBM, Planning Analytics Workspace interface, “delivers visually engaging and intuitive self -service web authoring to all users.  Through the Planning Analytics Workspace interface, authors have access to many visual options designed improve financial input templates and reports.  Planning Analytics Workspace benefits include:

  • Free-form canvas dashboard design
  • Data entry and analysis efficiency and convenience features
  • Capability to combine cube views, websheets, text, images, videos, and charts
  • Synchronized navigation for guiding consumers through an analytical story
  • Browser and mobile operation
  • Capability to export to PowerPoint or PDF

Planning Analytics is available for subscription on IBM Cloud or local deployment.”

But what it really is, is the powerful front end and modeling component that is the future of Planning Analytics (TM1).  Not only can it simplify model building for your power users, but it can also provide sexy looking dashboards and graphs to bring visualizations to Planning Analytics TM1. 

Don’t believe me, see for yourself…  Here’s a link to our recent user group presentation on Planning Analytics Workspace. 

Or you can contact Lodestar Solutions at Services@lodestarsolutions.com and one of our team members can walk you through why we think you should be leveraging Planning Analytics Workspace.

What TM1 Licenses Include IBM's Planning Analytics Workspace?

Once you have watched our video on PAW you need to ask if you even own the licensing for Planning Analytics Workspace.  This can get a little confusing, but we will share what to look for on your renewal or IBM Proof of Entitlements (POE).

For on-premise licenses the following Planning Analytics (TM1) Licensing includes PA Workspace, so you might just need to install it:

  • Planning Analytics Modeler (Power User)
  • Planning Analytics User
  • Planning Analytics Workspace Add on – This is the license for clients that are older TM1 clients that currently have Performance Management User licenses to give them Workspace rights.
  • Planning Analytics Advanced User
  • Cognos Planning Analytics Express User
  • Cognos Express Administrator
  • Cognos Express Complete User

If you own any of the above licenses, then you have the rights to IBM Planning Analytics Workspace and can start using it once it’s installed.  If you need help installing it, email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can discuss your specific needs and benefits of PAW.

The following licenses DO NOT include IBM's Planning Analytics Workspace:

  • Performance Management User
  • Cognos Express Performance Management User
  • Performance Management Advanced User

If you own any of these licenses you DO NOT have the legal rights to use Planning Analytics Workspace.  But your Modeler or power users do.  So, you could have your Modelers play with PAW and create some pilot workspaces.

How Can I Get Cognos Planning Analytics Workspace Licenses?

If you don’t own PAW for your users, we strongly recommend you consider the investment.  This is the IBM go forward strategy for new functionality.  PAW is not just for visualization, but you can use it to build models.  See our earlier blog on this, Model Directly in IBM Planning Analytics Workspace.

To get the licenses for PAW, IBM has created “add on” Planning Analytics Workspace licensing for the licenses that don’t currently include it.  It’s important to note that you cannot buy Planning Analytics Workspace only for a handful of users, IBM requires you to purchase PAW for all users at the same time.  So, if you have 50 users of Performance Management, you must buy 50 PAW add ons. 

How Much Does IBM Planning Analytics Workspace Cost?

The cost depends on what type of license you own.  Lodestar Solutions is happy to provide a quote and determine if there are any promotions available to save you more money.  When you contact Lodestar Solutions, we will provide a quote and help you create your justification to get the funding you need for PAW.  

To get a quote just email sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call us at 813-415-2910.

Help Installing IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW)

If you own Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW) with your Planning Analytics User or Planning Analytics Workspace licenses and need help installing it, please contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.  Our technical gurus can help.

Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 & Goals for 2021

Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 and Goals for 2021
Lodestar Solutions Reflects on 2020 and Goals for 2021
December 31st, 2020

Every New Year I take the time to reflect on what our Lodestar Solutions team accomplished, what we learned, and then set goals for the new year.  This year I thought it would be fun for some of our team members to share their experiences and would love to hear yours too!

Heather Cole -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal - On a personal side I have to say my biggest accomplishment was having one of the first Zoom Weddings.  Gary and I were returning to the US when the world shut down.  He is English and was scheduled to head home to the UK when his flights were cancelled repeatedly.  The realization that if he left, we had no idea when we would see each other again was just the nudge we needed.   Since we have family and friends all over the world it was perfect as everyone could attend. 

Work Related -  I have to say my biggest accomplishment was figuring out how to pivot to better serve our IBM Cognos clients in the new COVID world.  Lodestar Solutions worked hard to help clients do more with the resources they had and software they owned.  We revamped our user group to be virtual.  We got creative and found new ways to help clients save money on their support renewals and licenses.

Learning Experience – This might be more of a reminder then something I learned about the power of reaching out to people and just showing you care.  I started sending more cards in the mail and calling people that popped into my head just to say hi.  The add by ATT to reach out and touch someone should be recycled.  Everyone is missing the personal connection, so it is even more important to get on camera just to say hi. 

Goals for 2021 – 

Say No More - For 2021 I am going to say “no” more, and only say yes to things that are in alignment with who I strive to be.

Volunteer More - I am committing to leading at least 3, Ready for Jobs programs where my husband and I teach youth that age out of foster care how to map out their future and interview for a job.  We are always looking for job coaches if you want to join us.

Random Act of Kindness - At least once a week I will do a random act of kindness.  It can be something as simple as paying for someone’s coffee at Starbucks or leaving flowers on a neighbor’s doorstep, because the world can benefit from even a little more kindness don’t you think?

Automate more – As for a business goal, I want to automate more processes, so Lodestar Solutions runs even more smoothly.  The first thing I will overhaul is our partner program and contract process.  Think about your life.  Is there a repetitive task you must do that could benefit from automation? 

Mike Bernaiche -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal - As I thought about this one, my thoughts went to, “what a year!”  As March hit and COVID started spreading to the US and shutdowns started, life changed in many ways for many people.  Me included.  However, I look back and think it was a blessing in disguise to spend more time with my family, to slow down and be thankful for what I have in my life.  Yes, I missed out on playing softball, coaching basketball, and going on vacation.  All things that are very important to me.  Yes, I struggled some days but honestly, I am just so thankful to work, have an amazing wife and family and slow down and re-prioritize my life.  This pandemic will end and so many in the world will have lost so much.  I think it is important to step out of your own mind and see the big picture.

Work Related - In the COVID world I had to learn to be as agile as possible.  Learn to shift and add more value to our wonderful Lodestar Solutions clients.  I shot videos to provide more info, we created a virtual user group that has been extremely well received and I tried to provide more and more value. 

Learning Experience - I think my learning experience is a combination of personal and work related.  Things in my personal life that I thought were “everything” are just things I did.  They were not everything.  I do look forward to playing and coaching again but now I believe those things will be a part of my life, not my life.  From a work standpoint, adding more and more value is what matters. 

Goals for 2021 -

Learn from Lessons Learned – It is one thing to learn the lesson, it is another to continue to grow based on those lessons and not step backwards.  I am committed to striving to add value and prioritize my work and personal life in 2021.

Senior Year – My middle child is a senior this year.  Her year has been rough starting in March due to COVID.  She is in virtual school, missing out on sports seasons and senior type things like homecoming, football games and just hanging out with friends.  My wife and I have committed to making this best of this year for her.  It is tough and I feel awful for her, but we must stay positive and make it the best we can.

Random Act of Kindness – I am going to steal from Heather on this one, but I feel it is so important.  In this very divided world, I think it is more important to show kindness, compassion, and love.  I will commit as Heather did to a once-a-week random acts of kindness.  I will ask Heather to keep a journal of hers and I will do the same for mine.  Check back towards the end of next year to see all of our random acts of kindness!

Christina Vandeveer -

Biggest Accomplishment 2020 –

Personal – This last year has gone by so quickly and yet so slow at the same time.  Due to COVID I had to adapt many things for my family.  Childcare was shut down, and my husband (works for UPS) went to mandatory six day work weeks.  For several months it was just myself and our two boys, ages 1 and 2 at the time.  I had to learn how to create a sense of normalcy for them when everything had changed.  That didn’t stop once summer came, it really has continued through this whole year.  It has been a struggle, however I am proud of how I have grown as a wife and work from home mother during this last year.

Work Related – Working for Lodestar Solutions has been one of the biggest blessings of 2020 for me.  It has allowed me to still contribute to my family, while being able to stay home with my kids and raise them.  While I have missed having childcare, I haven’t missed a moment with my kids and that is a huge win!  I am happy with how I have been able to juggle learning new ways to help out clients and new ways to juggle work and home.

Learning Experience - I have learned a lot about myself this year.  I am a very social, active person and those were all the things that had to stop in 2020 with COVID.  So, I learned to adapt.  One of the biggest things I discovered is if I am happy and whole, I am a better mom, wife and employee.  So, I stuck to my daily exercising as much as possible.  I found accountability in my gym/coaches and neighbors.  We made goals and stuck to them.  I learned that if I really focused, despite all the negative in the world I was happier.

Goals for 2021 -

Family of 4 to Family of 5! – Our family is expecting a little one at the end of May 2021.  We are excited and slightly terrified but so filled with joy for this blessing!  Looking forward to growing and adapting even more as a mom of three. #teamgirl

Love in Action – One of my love languages and strengths is acts of service.  I feel the most alive and closest to God when I am serving others.  Just because the year flips from 2020 to 2021 doesn’t mean the struggles of today won’t be here tomorrow.  My goal is to face those challenges with hope, and to make sure I find ways throughout the year to do what I know fills my cup.  Plans I have are to continue to serve on my church’s mission board and run the youth basketball league for kids in 1st-12th grade.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  We here at Lodestar Solutions hope it will encourage you to leave 2020 with hope for 2021 and be ready to have your best year yet.  Remember, if you need anything in regards to software licensing we are here to help, email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  To stay up to date on all our blogs click here.  You can also subscribe to our mailing list by clicking here

Where to Get IBM Cognos Technical Support (part 2)

Where to Get IBM Cognos Technical Support
Where to Get IBM Cognos Technical Support
December 17th, 2020

In our last blog, Where IBM Cognos Clients Can Go to Get IBM Questions Answeredwe discussed where to get answers to your IBM Cognos licensing, functionality, and support renewal questions.  This is the second part of the series where we will address where IBM Cognos Clients Can Go to Get Technical Support.

What If You Have a Cognos or TM1 Support Issue?

If your Cognos Analytics, TM1, SPSS or Controller question is related to an IBM technical support issue than you need to contact IBM technical support.  Typically, your IBM Cognos sales rep and IBM support renewal rep won’t be able to help.  To log a case with IBM you will need to be current on IBM support and on a supported version of the Cognos Analytics software.  Additionally, you will need to be set up as a person authorized to log cases with IBM Cognos technical support.  Below Lodestar Solutions will address each of these situations.

1. Current IBM Support

You probably know if you are current on support with IBM.  If you paid for IBM support in the last year, you should have it.  If you use Cognos but are not sure if you are current on support, contact us at Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and we will research it for you.

Embedded Solution Providers

Sometimes clients get confused thinking they have IBM Cognos technical support when, in reality they purchased their Cognos tools not from IBM or an IBM reselling business partner but from what IBM refers to as an Embedded Solutions Provider.  An Embedded Solutions Provider has software and intellectual property that they developed, and they contracted with IBM to offer Cognos Analytics or Cognos Planning Analytics with their solution.  Note if you have this type of software you cannot contact IBM for help.  You must call the software company that is providing the Embedded Solution. 

It’s important to note that often your IBM Cognos licensing under an Embedded Solution is restricted to only their data and may have limited functionality.  So, if you have seen one of Lodestar’s webinars or blogs with new functionality but cannot find it in your system, that could be why.   If you have questions on if your version is part of an Embedded Solution or if you want to explore getting a full use, unrestricted versions of Cognos or Planning Analytics TM1, email sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

2. Supported Versions of Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics TM1

The next question to validate is whether you are on a supported version of Cognos Analytics, Planning Analytics, SPPS or Controller.  I have received several calls over the last couple months where clients ran into an issue and when they contacted IBM Cognos technical support they were told, sorry even though you pay support, we can’t help you until you upgrade to a supported version of IBM Cognos.  The supported versions of IBM Analytics change often.  Below are the oldest versions supported at the time of this blog and links so you can look up if your version of Cognos is supported.  

IBM Lifecycle and Supported Versions of IBM Cognos Analytics – Lodestar recommends you check the IBM Software Lifecycle page of the IBM website to get the latest updates of what versions of IBM Cognos are supported and which versions are unsupported. 

What IBM Analytic software is supported at the time of this blog?
  • Supported Versions of IBM Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) version 2.0.x is supported.  TM1 versions 10 or earlier are no longer supported.  See this article for details. 
  • Supported Versions of IBM Cognos Analytics (BI) version 11.0.x is still supported but will be sunset or end of support on September 30, 2021.

Cognos Analytics Version 11.1 is recommended!

  • Supported Versions of SPSS - SPSS has many parts, so we recommend you check the IBM site for exactly what you are using.  
  • SPSS Statistics - Many of our Lodestar Solutions clients use SPSS Statistics.  With SPSS Stat, if you are on version 23 or earlier you are unsupported.  Version 23 was sunset Sept 30, 2020.

SPSS Stat version 27 is recommended.

  • Supported Versions of IBM Cognos Controller - Version 10.3.x of IBM Cognos Controller is still supported but will be sunset or end of support on September 30, 2021.

IBM Cognos Controller Version 10.4 is recommended! 

What if I am on an unsupported version of IBM Cognos and need help ASAP?

If you find yourself in that bad place where you are having an issue, and on an unsupported version of IBM Cognos, contact Lodestar Solutions.  Our technical team has deep knowledge on old versions and might be able to help get you through your crisis and plan your upgrade.  Remember you don’t have to go it alone.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help.  Email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910.

3. Getting Authorized to Submit IBM Support Issues

Finally, if you inherited ownership of your Cognos Analytics software, you may want to change the persons authorized to contact IBM technical support.  For details on how to change your Primary contact with IBM check out our blog appropriately named How to Change the Primary Contact Name for IBM Cognos.

If you have inherited Cognos from someone that was promoted or still in the company, you will need them to send an email to IBM requesting the change.  This is a lot faster than changing it after someone has already left the company.  You will need to supply the IBM Customer Number of your organization, which can be found on your support renewal invoice or quote.  If your organization has more than one IBM Site ID, include the Site ID. This will also be on your support renewal invoice or quote from IBM.  You will need to supply the below to paonline@us.ibm.com:

  • First name and last name of the previous Contact.
  • First name and last name of the individual to be designated as the new Contact.
  • Phone number of the individual to be designated as the new Contact.
  • Email address of the individual to be designated as the new Contact.

If the primary contact is no longer with the company or you can’t find your IBM site information email renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and our team can help you.  Again, check out our blog  How to Change the Primary Contact Name for IBM Cognos.

Get Cognos Help!

You are not alone!  As I mentioned earlier Lodestar Solutions is here to help!  Above we shared, Where IBM Cognos Clients Can Go to Get Technical Support but if you want to make your life easier engage with Lodestar Solutions.  We can help you navigate the IBM red tape!  We specialize on helping you succeed with your IBM Cognos Analytics Solutions.  So, contact us today at 813-415-2910, and join our family.

Where IBM Cognos Clients Can Go to Get Questions Answered (Part 1)

Where IBM Clients Can Go to Get Questions Answered Part 1
Where IBM Clients Can Go to Get Questions Answered Part 1
December 10th, 2020

Are you a Cognos or TM1 administrator that inherited IBM Cognos?  Maybe you took a new job, and the company uses IBM Analytic solutions, but you don’t even know what IBM Cognos licenses you own, what IBM Cognos functionality is included in your licenses or how to get answers from IBM?  You are not alone.  In this post we will share where IBM Cognos clients can go to get questions answered. 

The first step is to understand the IBM structures, then where to go to get your questions on Cognos licenses, functionality, support renewal and technical issues answered.  This is part 1 of a 2 part, Where IBM Cognos Clients Can Go to Get Answers series.  In part one we will cover IBM Cognos licensing, IBM Cognos functionality and IBM support renewals.  In part 2 of this series, we address how to get technical issues addressed.  (Link to part 2 coming soon!)

Understanding IBM Structures

Before we dive into where to get specific IBM Cognos, Planning Analytics/TM1, SPSS or Controller questions answered, it helps to understand how IBM is structured.  Every IBM client has many IBM representatives assigned to them, and to add to the confusion IBM rotates their teams like the wind. Here are the basics on the IBM structure, but this too can change.

1. IBM Analytics Software Sales Representatives -

The title for the IBM sales rep has changed many times over the years but basically there are people whose job is to sell you additional IBM Cognos licenses and upgrades.  They will say they are there to support you and see you successful, but they are compensated on selling additional IBM Cognos licenses.  They have varying degrees of knowledge, but few really know the software.  However, they are a good source to go to understand what you own, and what upgrades are available.  But remember their goal is to sell you the latest and greatest IBM Cognos licenses.

The IBM Analytics software reps are divided down further by market segment which IBM classifies as IBM Led (the really big companies), Co-Led (typically larger companies) and Business Partner Led (mid-market clients that they want the partner channel to serve).  Over the years IBM has expanded companies they classify as Mid-Market because they are committed to serving these clients and have realized that Business Partners like Lodestar Solutions are better equipped to handle mid-market clients.  This initiative started in 2010, to learn more check out this CIO article.

IBM separated their clients into industry segments as well.  Within the above segments they have IBM Cognos industry specific reps.  Over time IBM changes course on this and sometimes segments clients by geographic territory but for now they have industry focused reps.  But do not get too excited, I still can’t figure out what belongs in each segment.  Recently I was speaking with a professional services firm that IBM classified as the communication industry. 

Where to go if you have IBM Cognos Licensing or IBM Cognos Functionality Questions?

Where should you go if you have a question on your current licenses, or functionality of IBM Cognos or TM1?  Well, you can try to find your sales rep, or you can reach out to Lodestar Solutions.  As a certified IBM Business partner, Lodestar Solutions will not only help you find your IBM assigned Cognos rep, but we will even provide you with a complimentary, “What the Heck Do I Own” session where we discuss your specific IBM Cognos licenses and IBM Cognos functionality.  If you want to find out who your IBM Cognos Analytics rep is and schedule a licensing discussion just email us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com and we will find your rep for you.

2. IBM Renewal Representatives –

In addition to an IBM sales representative, every IBM Cognos Planning Analytics/TM1, Cognos Analytics/BI, SPSS and Controller client is also assigned an IBM renewal representative.  It’s the renewal representative’s job to make sure you renew your support on-time.  The support rep is not normally knowledgeable in IBM Cognos licensing or IBM Cognos functionality.  The renewal team handles a huge volume of accounts at once and again it is not uncommon for IBM to move their territories around.  So, it can be challenging to find out who your assigned renewal rep is. 

The first place to look is on your last IBM Cognos support renewal bill from IBM, but don’t be surprised if that person is no longer assigned to your account. 

Where to go if you Have IBM Cognos Support Renewal Questions?

If you have questions on your IBM Cognos support renewal bill like, “why did my IBM renewal cost increase 10% over last year?” or “what functionality do my Cognos licenses have?” Lodestar Solutions is happy to help.  We can connect you with the correct renewal rep, answer your IBM Analytic licensing and functionality questions, and help get you the best price on IBM support.  What makes us unique is we understand renewals, licensing and functionality.  Additionally, we implement the solutions so it’s like one stop shopping.  Just email us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com

You also might want to check out our blogs on renewals such as
Save money on IBM Support Renewals.

 At Lodestar Solutions, we are here to serve.  We hope you now know, Where IBM Cognos Clients Can Go to Get Questions Answered.  But we can make it even easier.  Just contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

Cognos Analytics Data Sets Explained

Cognos Analytics Data Flow
Written December 3rd, 2020 by Mike Bernaiche 
Recently, I was asked several questions about Cognos Analytics Data Sets.  Candidly, I haven’t used them much as I was concentrating more on Data Modules.  I decided to spend some time on Cognos Analytics Data Sets and what I found was eye opening and exciting.  My knowledge gain is now your knowledge gain.  I have put everything I have learned into the summary below.  I have also created a quick flow chart to help explain the flow of data in Cognos Analytics.
Cognos Analytics Data Flow

What are Cognos Analytics Data Sets?

In short, Cognos Analytics Data Sets are a set of data grouped together of items that you use frequently.  If you look at the above chart, think of the biggest group of data being in the data warehouse.  Next you need to chunk that down to tables and fields that mean the most to you.  Maybe you are in sales and you do not have a use for inventory, or bill or material information.  You can either create a Framework Manager package or a Data Module to grab only that info that means the most to you.  Now, think about all the data that still resides in the sales tables that you have created your package or Data Module.  Do you really need everything?  Most likely no.  By creating a data set you can shrink down the still large chunk of data to just the fields that you need for a particular report or dashboard.  What does all this mean?  Speed, efficiency, ease of use, etc.

How Do I Create Cognos Analytics Data Sets?

The process to create Cognos Analytics Data Sets is fairly easy and straight forward.

1. Navigate to a package or Data Module 
2. Click the context menu (the 3 dots when you hover over the package or data module)
3. Select “Create Data Set”

You should see something similar to the below: 

How to Create Cognos Analytics Data Sets

4. NOTE - if using a relational package or Data Module make sure the “Summarize detailed values, suppressing duplicates, for relational data sources" is checked. 
5. Drag to the data pane the items you want in your data set.  My advice – start from the result.  What do you want in your dashboard or report?  Once you know that, you will understand what items you need to bring into the data set.
6. Change view to page preview for results with data.

Page Preview

7. You can add filters or sorting by using the tool bar directly on top of the data.
8. Validate the report by clicking the 3 dots to the upper right of the screen.
9. Save. 

Here is a link to IBM outlining these steps above. 

Important Information about Cognos Analytics Data Sets

  1. When you start to use your data set you may see a message about refreshing the data.  All you need to do is click the reload or refresh button located at the 3 dots in either the dashboard, report or by hovering over the data set wherever it is saved.
  2. Remember data sets is like an extraction from your data source.  You will need to either manual refresh or schedule the refresh, so you have the latest data.
  3. Schedule data sets refresh
  • Click the 3 dots and enter the properties of your data set.
  • Click schedule tab
  • Set your schedule for data refresh.  If your data warehouse rebuilds nightly then scheduling this refresh for 1 time per day (early morning) is sufficient.  If you need more real time data, you can schedule down the minute.  (Note – more refreshes will consume resources on your server.  Make sure you set your schedule accordingly).
  • Make sure your schedule is enabled.  You can disable at any time.
Data Sets Schedule

Summary

Now that you have created a data set you can use it in dashboards or reports like any other source.  See my sample below.

Sample Data Set

Data sets are a great way to shrink the amount of data you need to a specific set and make the entire process very fast and efficient.  Are Cognos Analytics Data Sets for every situation?  No.  But for a lot of items, I would highly suggest creating a data set and watching how fast and efficient everything is.  You can secure data sets like other data, you can create navigation paths to have drill up and down.  There is even the option to turn your data set into a data module and use relative time.  I think the key take away is to model the data that makes the most sense to you.  Gone are the days of overwhelming data tables and fields. 

For more information on all things Cognos Analytics check out our blogs here

To see our YouTube video on Data Sets click here

For any question please reach out to me at service@lodestarsolutions.com

Thankful Thoughts from the Lodestar Team

Thankful Thoughts
Thankful Thoughts
November 25th, 2020

As the Lodestar team is preparing for our end of year we wanted to share some Thankful Thoughts with all of you.  2020 has been a different year for everyone.  You could describe it as tough, frustrating and exhausting.  But despite the challenges that have been thrown at us this year, we all have much to be thankful for in 2020.

Thankful Thoughts from Heather Cole

Heather Cole

2020 was a year of change. As whole I agree with the rest of the world it was not a good year with COVID, but I like to turn lemons into lemonade and as a result I think 2020 has been one of my best years ever! Yes, crazy right? But not all the effects of the COVID world were negative. And I like to always focus on the positive.

Therefore, I am grateful for:

  • COVID making me realize what is important in life! Friends, family and health!
  • The fact that despite several family members getting COVID everyone is healthy and thriving.
  • COVID giving me the nudge and maybe the courage to get married and doing it on zoom.
  • Having the most amazing husband, who was willing to put his career and gypsy soul on hold to marry an American and apply for a green card.
  • COVID motivating our organization to provide even more value to our clients, especially in struggling industries. See our previous blog on adding value.
  • The amazing Lodestar Solutions team members, partners and clients.  They show up with positive attitudes every day and make the magic happen.
  • Zoom for keeping us all connected. Heck even my almost 80-year-old mother is a zoom expert now, she wasn’t going to miss the wedding.
  • Finally, I am grateful for the best clients in the world! You guys inspire me, challenge me, and make me a better person!

So, how about you? What are you grateful for?

Thankful Thoughts from Mike Bernaiche

Mike Bernaiche and Family

2020 has been an unprecedented year for the world. Icons of different industries have passed. This includes but not limited to - NBA star and his daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Black Panther Actor, Chadwick Boseman, TV stars Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin, original James Bond, Sean Connery, legendary guitarist, Eddie Van Halen and congressman and civil right icon, John Lewis. 

Along with these losses the United States has lost 250,000+ citizens to the COVID pandemic and the world has lost over a million more and growing daily. People continue to worry about their jobs, the economy and their health and loved ones as the pandemic surges. With all this tragedy, it is important to take a moment and think about what you are thankful for. Here is my list of thankful thoughts. 

I’m first and foremost thankful for my faith that I can lean on through tough times. I’m thankful for my wife and children. My wife and oldest daughter were both sick throughout the year with COVID and they have both recovered well. With preexisting conditions, I was worried for many weeks. Thankful that Lodestar Solutions is a company that is agile and shifted accordingly to changing economic conditions due to the pandemic. (See our recent blog, 5 Tips to Hosting a Virtual User Group).

We have all had to change what and how we are doing things and Lodestar is having one of the best years in its history. I’m thankful for a boss that cares not only about clients but employees and provides us with opportunities to grow and improve. I’m thankful for good friends, a roof over my head and food on my table. Was this year different because we stayed in and didn’t do a whole lot outside of the home, yes. Was it stressful at times, yes. Do I realize that I’m fortunate that my family and I have weathered this storm pretty well, YES.

My wish and prayer for all during this holiday season is to sit back and be thankful for what you have, be considerate and helpful to those who may be going through more difficult times and that we come together as a people to beat this pandemic.  Let’s get back to the gatherings, the fun, the sporting events, and concerts, back to work and back to as much normal as possible.

Thank you for your support of Lodestar over the years. All of us at Lodestar are incredibly thankful for you.

Thankful Thoughts from Christina Vandeveer

Christina Vandeveer and Family

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year for my family and me.  This was my first year not working outside of the home and being a, “work from home mom.”  I embraced this new role as I was able to spend more time with our two boys, ages 3 and 2 and work.  I had childcare two days a week so I could still “adult” and then have intentional time with the kids.  And then… COVID. 

For many this forced families to work out of their homes.  Husbands and wives split time caring for their kids and working.  I watched as my neighbors all took lunch breaks together from work or virtual school and enjoyed time together as families.  That wasn’t the case for our family.  You see, my husband Richard delivers for UPS and when everyone was forced to stay in, he was forced to stay out.  The Christmas “peak” season ended and a short while later it’s like it began again.  Online ordering skyrocketed and he was pushed to mandatory six-day weeks again.  His mom moved in with us for the first two months of quarantine to help give her some companionship, and me! 

The craziness of Richard’s work never really slowed down, and now we are back into the holiday, “peak” season once again.  It would be easy to sit here and complain about being stuck at home with two toddlers and another baby on the way, #teamgirl!  Or stress about time away from my husband.  But that is not what I am going to choose to do, I am going to choose to be thankful!  Here are some of my thankful thoughts:

  • The love and grace of my Heavenly Father.
  • My family, that they live close by and we work as a team to weather the storm of life together.  They are my best friends!
  • My gym, TRVFIT Fitness in Pinckney, Michigan.  They have come up with creative ways to keep us engaged and still reaching our health and fitness goals even when we can’t meet.  I lost 20 lbs. during quarantine and competed in my first ever exercise competition.
  • My husband and his work ethic and love for our family.  We are a team, and I couldn’t choose a better one!
  • UPS, for going out when others need to stay in.  For providing a wonderful job for my husband.
  • COVID forcing many of us to slow down.  I was able to truly connect with my neighbors this year and form new friendships because I wasn’t distracted with the busyness of life.
  • My job at Lodestar Solutions and the opportunity it provides me to still learn and expand my knowledge outside of my at home, “toddler world.”
  • Co-workers and a boss who value giving back to others!  See our previous blog, Lodestar Gives Back.
  • Our clients.  Often you are the only adult interaction I may have in a day and I appreciate our conversations.

Long story short, 2020 was tough.  But I have so much to be thankful for.  My encouragement to you is, don’t rush off into 2021 without taking a moment to focus on all the good that did come out of this past year.  If you look, you will find it!

Let’s finish 2020 strong together.  Lodestar is here for all your IBM Licensing needs. Contact us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.  

What are IBM Cognos Cloud Pak for Data Containers?

Data Containers
Data Containers
November 20th, 2020

IBM is on a mission to change how you buy IBM Cognos software.  They are trying hard to “modernize” Cognos clients’ licensing with their new, IBM Cloud Pak for Data offering. For more information click here.

We will blog more on the IBM Cloud Pak for Data later, but for Cognos clients, this means they are offering Cognos extensions for their Cloud Pak for Data License.  It is important to understand the goal is speed and portability.  To do this IBM Cognos Cloud Pak for Data utilizes Containers.  This leaves many clients especially those in finance wondering, “What are IBM Cognos Cloud Pak for Data Containers?”

What is an IBM Data Container?

Imagine you are about to take an international trip and you need to bring everything with you as there are no stores where you are going.  You would plan your clothes for the anticipated weather and limit the number of bulky items, like shoes.  You would also pack a universal adapter kit and converter so all your electronics work.  You want to pack light but be able to go from 5-star hotel, to hotel, to a hostel in a village to a yurt in the desert.  You want the flexibility to be anywhere.

IBM Containers are like your suitcase and converter kit for your software.  They are executable units of software which package up the application code along with its libraries and dependencies, so it can be run anywhere, like a desktop, server or cloud.

The IBM Containers take advantage of a form of operating system (OS) virtualization in which features of the OS are leveraged to both isolate processes and control the amount of CPU, memory and disk that those processes have access to.

IBM Containers are Different then a VM

IBM Cloud Pak for Data Containers are different than a virtual machine.  Instead of virtualizing the hardware, containers virtualize the operating system (typically Linux).   IBM Containers don’t need to include a guest OS, they can leverage the features of the host OS.   Each individual IBM Container contains only the application and its libraries and dependencies.  Guess you can say, IBM Containers help you pack light and travel efficiently.  IBM Containers are small, fast and portable.

For more information on IBM Containers check out this link

IBM Cognos Cloud Pak for Data Components

For Cognos clients looking to move to IBM’s Cloud Pak for Data for Analytics leveraging the Cognos extension (called a cartridge), they will get 3 components:

1. Red Hat OpenShift – (restricted use)
2. Cloud Pak for Data Control Pane – Foundational Services
3. IBM Cognos Analytics Software Licenses

Cognos Cartridge

Cognos Software is Containerized 

It’s important to know that the Cognos Software included in the Cloud Pak for Data is available both containerized and in the more traditional format.  So, you can deploy Cognos the traditional way which IBM calls, bare metal environment on Windows, Linux… and/or containerized on-top of OpenShift and Foundational Services.  What is cool is if you are on the Cognos Analytics Authorized User Model of licensing you can deploy both at the same time.

Cloud Pak for Data Base Services Not Included in Cartridge

Note Cloud Pak for Data Base Services are not included with a Cartridge.  Cloud Pak for Data Base Services require additional VPC licensing (we will blog on that later).  But if you are an existing Cognos client and choose to modernize your Cognos licenses, you will get a ration of free entitlements as part of your trade-up. 

Summary of IBM Cognos Cloud Pak for Data Containers

So now you know the answer to, “What are IBM Cognos Cloud Pak for Data Containers?”  They are like a suitcase for your Cognos software.  But I am sure your questions don’t end there.  I’ll be the first to admit this stuff can get confusing, but know you are not alone!  Lodestar Solutions is here to help!  Have a Cognos licensing question?  Want to understand IBM’s Cognos Modernization program?  Just email us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com and we are happy to help.  

Lodestar posts new blogs every week on relevant IBM Cognos topics. Be sure to website to check them out! We also have a YouTube Channel where we share valuable tools and how to's. 

Five Tips to Hosting a Virtual IBM Cognos & TM1 User Group

5 Tips to Host a Virtual User Group
5 Tips to Host a Virtual User Group
November 12th, 2020

The world has changed, and it is never going back!  A year ago we were able to attend the IBM Analytics event in Miami, listen to live Cognos Analytics and Cognos Planning Analytics/TM1 user success stories and network with other IBM Cognos users over a beer.  Not anymore, at least not for a while.  But Lodestar Solutions has decided to pivot.  We learned five tips to hosting a virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User Group, and we have no intention to return to in person user groups!

Why Virtual Cognos User Groups are Better Than in Person

On November 11, 2020 we hosted a new format for our Lodestar Solutions, Virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User Group and it was fabulous!  Our clients and team members loved it so much, we are not going back to in person group for three reasons: time, geography and flexibility.

Saving Time with a Cognos User Group

We value our Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics TM1 Administrators’ time.  In the past we would host events in a main city like Chicago and attendees would have to travel an hour to get to the site and an hour home.  We would do our best to make the session of interest but sometimes, there were sessions that only applied to a subset of the population. 

With the virtual event we were able to tell the attendees the topics, why they should care or how it impacts them.  If the topic did not apply to them, they were able to do other things and return for the next session. 

Cognos User Group Geography

Our clients are all over the US and some internationally.  In the past we could not serve all our clients, so we focused our user groups on locations with a large cluster of clients.  We can now serve our IBM Cognos users even in the most geographically remote locations.

Cognos User Group Flexibility 

Most IBM Cognos BI or TM1 Administrators are very busy and often manage multiple systems, not just IBM.  It is not uncommon for them to get the emergency email or text and they must drop everything.  Lodestar Solutions understands our client’s needs, and so we prerecorded our session and let everyone know if they had to drop off, they could come back and watch the part they missed.  Cognos Administrators loved this feature and we discovered that they would leave, address the issue and return.  I believe that if we had not let them know they could watch what they missed; they probably would not have returned for the Q&A sessions.  

Virtual User Group

Five Tips to Hosting a Successful Virtual IBM Cognos & TM1 User Group

We appreciate that there have been local Cognos BI and TM1 user groups all over the world.  Lodestar Solutions also understands that many IBM Analytics User Groups have been forced to suspend their meetings and look for another way.  So, we thought we would share what we did and how to host a successful Virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User group.

1. Cognos Content in Small Bites

The first thing is to plan your content in small bite size chunks, no more than 30-45 minutes per session. Once you have a list of your topics and speakers you will want to organize your agenda in a logical order.  For our Lodestar User Group, we hosted all the Planning Analytics/ TM1 sessions first, followed by TM1 Technical.  Then we moved into BI Technical, followed by other Cognos Analytics sessions.  This allowed people to join when the content applied to them.

2. Prerecord the Sessions

We prerecorded the sessions and hosted them on our training site, which is Kajabi.  You could put them on YouTube as well.  The reason we prerecorded is we wanted to ensure there were no technical issues with a presenter’s internet.  We were also able to edit the videos before posting.  We use Camtasia for editing.  You can get a free trial at here.

3. Zoom for Introductions and Q&A

We used Zoom for our user group.  All attendees joined by Zoom, then we guided them to our training portal where our sessions where prerecorded.  By zooming we were able to go on camera to create connections during our introductions and were able to answer questions as they came up about connecting to the sessions.  After each session they returned to Zoom for a live question and answer session with the presenter. 

4. Networking Session with Breakout Rooms

To further connections with our community we scheduled networking sessions after each topic area like Planning Analytics.  Through Zoom we divided all the attendees into breakout rooms and gave them a series of short questions to discuss with the group.  This allowed Cognos power users to connect with other power users they may never have met.  We also assigned a moderator to each room to ensure everyone had a chance to speak.  Our Cognos clients loved the breakout rooms and said they wish they had more of them.  Not sure how to use breakout rooms? Check out this blog

5. User Success Story Sessions

To add more value, we wanted to have a couple clients share their success stories.  But we know our clients do not have a lot of time to prepare a slide deck and presentation, so we made it easy.  We sent our Client Presenters a list of interview questions.  We then scheduled a time to record a zoom session where we asked the questions.  It was in an interview format.  The attendees loved hearing the stories and seeing the interaction.  The feedback was it was a lot better than a boring power point.  We were able to edit the interviews to get them down to the time allotted and upload them as a session on our portal. 

For More Information

So, are you looking to join a Cognos Analytics BI or Cognos Planning Analytics User Group?

For more information on the Lodestar Solutions Client User group, email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  Another good resource for finding user groups is on the IBM Community site.  Another option to check out for Cognos groups is meetup.com.

If you are looking to organize an IBM User Group, we recommend you follow our Five Tips to Hosting a Virtual IBM Cognos and TM1 User Group so you can ensure success for your event. 

To learn more of our tips and tricks be sure to check out all our blogs on our website, or sign up for our Lodestar Solutions Knowledge Center

Guide to Creating a Virtual Hierarchy

Adding Virtual Hierarch to Exploration or Analysis
November 5th, 2020

In todays planning and forecasting world, the ability to change quickly and provide valuable data to your leadership team is even more important.  The world has changed in many ways over the last year due to COVID, working from home, major increases or decreases in revenue and in many other ways.  As a person responsible for planning and forecasting, I am sure you are feeling the pressure.  If you are not using virtual hierarchy in Planning Analytics you are missing out on a way to quickly adjust your models and account for all the changes in your business.  Simply put, a virtual hierarchy allows you to quickly adjust your model for information that was not originally brought into the model without having to completely rebuild your model.  GAME CHANGING!  Then, the cherry on top is the ability to now take that added data and bring it into your analysis, Planning Analytics Workspace (PAw) and Planning Analytics for Excel (PAfE).

Here is a great link to all things Planning Analytics Modeling. 

Create New Attribute

The first step to creating a virtual hierarchy is choose the dimension that needs the additional information.  In this case I will be using the product hierarchy.  Using PAw, click in the dimension and choose edit hierarchy.  Next click on the icon to the upper right side that looks like a tag (member attribute mode).  Results should look something like the below screenshot.

Create New Attribute

Click the + button to add another attribute.  In my example, I will name the attribute, “warehouse”.  In my situation, management has asked for reporting and analysis on where each of our products is being stocked to get better visibility to make decisions on time to ship, inventory and any potential decisions that can be made to make our process more efficient.  Unfortunately, we have no visibility in PA on this info currently.  Now that I have added in the warehouse attribute I will add in the “warehouse” locations to each product.  This can be done via flat file or by simply typing them in.  Note – you will add in this info to the leaf level (lowest level).  See result of added info below.

Added Attribute Info

Turn Attribute into Virtual Hierarchy

Now that we have created a new attribute called “warehouse”, we need to convert this to a virtual hierarchy to be used in explorations and analysis.  Right click on the attribute you created and select, create hierarchy.  Click ok when asked if you want to create.  If you expand the dimension in the data pane that you used, you will now see the attribute as a hierarchy.  See below.

Hierarchy

Adding Virtual Hierarchy to Exploration or Analysis

Locate a book or visual using the dimension with the virtual hierarchy added or simply drag in a cube to a new book in PAw.  Once you have the view set properly, right click on the dimension you added the virtual hierarchy to and select, add related hierarchy.  Find the hierarchy you want to add and select, insert.  Success!  You have now added a virtual hierarchy to your exploration or visualization without the need to recreate your cube or reload data.  See below for results.

Adding Virtual Hierarch to Exploration or Analysis

Wow your boss or management with the ability to give them data in the way they want quickly!

Planning Analytics Video Series

Recently Lodestar created a Planning Analytics video series that goes through Planning Analytics Workspace and Planning Analytics for Excel.  It includes overviews modeling tips, input and spread options, sandboxes, virtual hierarchies, an admin overview and a how to on how to promote from development to production.  Stay tuned to our blog for new info and links each week.

Here is the link to the virtual hierarchies in Planning Analytics Workspace video in this series.

Summary

Save time and money by using this very powerful feature in Planning Analytics.  The ability to model additional data on the fly without having to spend a ton of time to remodel and reload is a game changer in my mind!  If you need additional support working through virtual hierarchies, please contact us at services@lodestarsoltuions.com.

What Kind of Audit Trail is Available for Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1)?

Audit Trail in TM1
Audit Trail in TM1
October 29th, 2020

A budgeting and planning solution should always provide a good audit trail.  So, what kind of audit trail is available for Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1)?  IBM Planning Analytics maintains a detailed log of all changes in the system.  The log tracks changes by the users and processes as well as data changes and structural changes.  This is music to your compliance team’s ears, especially if you have to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  (If you want to learn more about SOX and IBM Planning Analytics check out our earlier blog, Is the IBM ILMT tool SOX Compliant when used with Cognos?) 

TM1 Logging Types

The Cognos Planning Analytics administrator can turn off or on two types of logging.

  • Transaction Log - captures all changes to data caused by end users, rules or processes
  • Audit Log - captures changes to metadata, security, logon information and other system activity detail

TM1 Transaction Log

If you want to see a simple list of all changes in values, you will look at the TM1 transaction log.  It also records the cube name, time and date, username and values before and after the change.  Cube logging can be enabled and disabled for specific cubes.  The changes are recorded in the tm1s.log file. 

One thing to note is that transaction logging can be enabled and disabled during TurboIntegrator processes by using the CubeSetLogChanges() TurboIntegrator function.  Lodestar Solutions recommends you consider disabling transaction logging during a TurboIntegrator process that loads a large volume of data to a cube because the file can get quite large.  If a TurboIntegrator process can be rerun to reload the same data into a cube, transaction logging can most likely be disabled during the TurboIntegrator process.  For more information, see CubeSetLogChanges.

For more details on the TM1 Transaction Log see the IBM Knowledge Center

TM1 Audit Log

The TM1 audit log monitors changes to metadata, such as modifications to dimensions, views and subsets. It also tracks login and TurboIntegrator process execution.  By default, audit logging is disabled and must be manually enabled for each server you want to monitor.  When it is on it monitors everything, you can’t only have it monitor certain activity.  Audit logging is enabled and disabled with the AuditLogOn parameter in tm1s.cfg file.

You can query and view the audit log using the Audit Log window, available in TM1 Server Explorer. When you turn the audit log on you might want to monitor it because it can get quite large.  Some of our TM1 clients opt to turn it on only in the final stages of the budget renew process, especially if you are starting with a zero-based budget.  For more details on the TM1 Audit Log see the IBM Knowledge Center.

How to Archive TM1 Audit Logs with IBM Cognos Planning Analytics

We mentioned the TM1 log files can get quite large, especially if you did not limit the auditing to particular cubes and processes.  We all have experienced when you run out of space, weird things can happen.  So, you may want to archive your TM1 audit logs.  To do this we recommend you use the Turbo Integrator (TI) process ‘SYS_IBM_Archive_TransactionLog.pro’.  This process is designed to move old transaction log files from a specified TM1 Log File Directory to a separate ‘archiving’ directory.

Turn on Audit Trail in Cognos Planning Analytics - TM1

Yes, Lodestar Solutions recommends clients to leverage the TM1 audit trail capabilities.  However, we do recommend you do so with proper planning.  Just turning it on and letting it collect data could result in a bloated log file that causes issues. 

Contact Lodestar Solutions

If you have any questions about what kind of audit trail is available for Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) and how you should leverage the various components for auditing, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com

Visit our website; www.lodestarsolutions.com.

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