How to Customize Your Cognos Analytics

Customize Your Cognos Analytics
Customize Your Cognos Analytics
October 22nd, 2020

Have you been using IBM Cognos Analytics for years?  You are a master of Framework Manager and building reports, but have you branded your Cognos Analytics to reflect your companies, colors and logos?  Today we will discuss how to customize your Cognos Analytics for your company, so you look like a Rockstar.  Don’t worry, if you tried this in an earlier version like Cognos BI and struggled, you will be surprised at the improvements.

Why Customize Your Cognos Analytics?

End users and executives like to see consistency across their reporting and analytic solutions.  They like to see the company logo and company colors to create a consistent look and feel.  Creating a unique standard for your company is called creating a Cognos skin.  Creating a customized skin is like wrapping a gift.  When you give a holiday gift, do you wrap it in pretty paper with a bow, or do you deliver it in the bag from the store where you purchased it?  Well Cognos Analytics Customizations is like putting the perfect wrapping paper on your gift. 

As a developer, setting up your own templates and theme will take some time, but it will save you development time in the future.  Developers will have a framework to start with and not have to add the same objects and formatting to each new report.  Additionally, if your company decides to change their corporate colors or logo, you won’t have to update every report. 

Cognos Analytics Customizations

Cognos Analytics allows you to customize your Cognos Analytics system by using themes to change the Cognos Analytics interface to display your organizations branding.  Themes allow you to change the color schemes, logos and portal verbiage.   Additionally, you can leverage the global color palette functionality to create standardized colors for your end users.   A global palette is defined by the administrator but can be available to all users.  Users can duplicate it and then modify their version of it.

Click here or more information on Cognos Analytics Global Color Palettes.

Cognos Analytics Themes

To get you started IBM offers sample themes you can modify.  The samples are typically part of the product installation and are located at, <installation location>\samples\.  In Cognos Analytics, you can upload customizations directly through the Cognos Analytics user interface.  The core of each theme is a spec.json file that defines it and the files (images) that the .json references.  The theme allows for modification of the brandiconsmall, appbar, brandicon, brandText and navbar.

Cognos Analytics Themes

Cognos Analytics Extensions

In addition to themes, IBM Cognos Analytics extensions are used to add or remove buttons, shapes, menus, etc… in order to extend the standard user interface.

Cognos Analytics Extensions

How to Get Started on Branding Cognos Analytics for your Company

Now you know that you can customize your Cognos Analytics to reflect the colors and logos for your company, are you wondering, where do I start?  Start by watching the informative IBM produced youtube video How to Create Themes in 11.4

In the video IBM will guide you on how to install the samples and provide a lot of the details. 

How to Install Samples

You also might want to check out the Creating Themes  section of the IBM knowledge base.

Time to Skin Cognos Analytics

Are you read to wow your executives?  It’s time to customize your Cognos Analytics for your company. You already have a lot of skin in the game, isn’t it time to create a customized skin for your Cognos?    The good news is that IBM has made it a lot easier to create your company branding.  For more information on what Cognos Analytics can provide your organization see our blog, What’s New in Cognos Analytics.

Client Presentation on How They Customized Cognos Analytics

If you are a Lodestar Solutions’ client you should have recently received an invite to our private, client only, Cognos Analytics & Planning Analytics User Group being held virtually November 10, 2020.  US Lumber, a long-time Lodestar client will be sharing how they customized Cognos Analytics for their company.  To register for the event or get access to the replay email,  

Please note, the Lodestar Solutions User Group is for current Lodestar clients that have purchased their renewal, services, software and/or training from us within the last 12 months.  This is a private group, as we share consultant secrets and are providing virtual peer networking sessions.  To learn more about how to become a Lodestar client and get invited to our exclusive events email us at  Check out our website to see how we help our clients succeed in Cognos Analytics.

If you need help to customize your Cognos Analytics, reach out to us at  

How Top Cognos Consultants Overcome Objection to Get Funding

Overcome Objections
Overcome Objections
October 8th, 2020

Are you looking to get funding for you Cognos Analytics upgrade (BI) or Cognos Planning Analytics upgrade (TM1) but challenged to get it approved?  Maybe you just want funding to get Cognos training on the new Cognos features and functionality.  Today I will share how top Cognos consultants overcome objection so you can become more influential and get the approvals and funding you desire.

Top Objections:

In order to overcome objection, first we need to identify the top objections commonly seen when we are requesting funding for a Cognos upgrade project, training or implementation project. 

Objection 1: Money - 

The number one objection for not getting a Cognos upgrade or additional investment approved is lack of budget or funding.  Yes, money is tight, budgets have been cut but there are proven ways to get funding.  Many people fail to get funding because they fail to build out a Return on Investment (ROI) model.  If the financial benefits experienced because of the upgrade are greater than the cost of the upgrade, you have a much greater chance of securing the funding. 

For more information on the cost to upgrade and ways to sell your project internally check out our YouTube video, Cost to Upgrade to IBM Cognos Analytics.

You also might like our previous blog on, 5 Steps to Get Project Funding for Cognos BI & TM1.

Objection 2: Time - 

The second most common objection is, “we just don’t have enough time.”  I fully appreciate how busy everyone is, but as with most things proper planning can significantly reduce the amount of time needed for the Cognos upgrade.  If you are on an older version that is not supported currently, you are leaving yourself very vulnerable to having issues when 3rd party tools like Microsoft are upgraded.  How much time would it take to try to fix the system if you cannot get support because you are on an old version?  If your senior management is saying we do not have time, take a close look at your calendar and try to map out when your team would have time to execute the upgrade.  Also, consider upgrading your TM1 or Cognos BI to get on the latest version and to introduce the new functionality.  This phased approach has helped Lodestar clients to overcome the time objection.

Objection 3: Lack of Support -

Lack of support from executives is the third reason Lodestar clients struggle to receive funding.  But getting support often requires you to find an executive that will greatly benefit from the new functionality and feature and then, ask them for their support.  I am always surprised when I ask teams if they asked for executive support, they answer that the executive is busy, and they do not want to bother him or her.  Another secret to getting executive support is to find out the strategic goals of the organization and approach an executive that you feel would be in a better position to accomplish their goals if they had the tools provided with an upgrade.  Many executives have bonuses tied to accomplishing strategic goals.

For more information on getting executive support, check out our blog, Why You Struggle To Get Executive Buy-In For Your Data and Analytics Projects.

Objection 4: Fear -

Fear is the fourth factor to why clients fail to move forward on their Cognos Analytics and /or Planning Analytics upgrade.  Fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of asking for executive support.  They all play a role in what holds us back.  Imagine if you could overcome your fear, and confidently ask for support, funding, etc.…  How would you feel when the executives are impressed with your take action attitude and promote you?  You can do this.  Be courageous, overcome objection and ask for the funding. 

Objection 5: Self-Doubt -

I would be remised if I did not include what I feel is the biggest hurdle Cognos teams have in securing the funding for their upgrade, self-doubt. You know that little voice in your head that says you don’t know what you are doing, or you will never get approval for funding.  But what so many people fail to identify is that the voice of self-doubt only appears when you are challenging yourself and your teams.  When you are about to have a moment of greatness.  It does not appear when you do the same thing you have always done.  Successful Cognos managers will tell you, when you find the courage to ask for funding and when you find the time to properly plan your upgrade, greatness begins.  What are the first step you can take today to prepare for your upgrade?  Go do it.

How to Handle the Objections?

The first step in the process that top Cognos Consultants use to overcome objections to get funding is to identify the reason for the objection like we did above.  The next step is to put yourself in the shoes of the person that can approve your request for funding for your IBM Cognos Analytics or IBM Cognos Planning Analytics upgrade.  Are they risk adverse?  Then you would focus on the risk of being on an unsupported version.  If they don’t believe there’s enough benefits for the cost, work on defining benefits and tie them to the strategic goals for the organization. 

I believe it is best to write down the objection and the responses, how the objection is a myth or is not true.  And don’t forget, timing is everything!  If you are just entering budget season, then now is the best time to ask for money.  Check out our earlier blog, Have You Secured Funding Yet? It’s Budgeting Season, Secure Funding Now For IBM Cognos.  

You Aren't Alone, Email Us

Now that you have identified all the possible objections for why your organization might not approve your Cognos upgrade request, and you wrote down how to overcome each of the objections.  The final step is to email us at and ask for help.  Yes, Lodestar Solutions has helped hundreds of clients plan and secure funding for their upgrades. We are happy to help you too. 

Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace

Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace
Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace
October 1st, 2020

Think back to when you were younger playing in a sandbox.  Grabbing your plastic shovels and building a castle in one spot and digging a hole in another spot.  Now fast forward to today and your TM1 or Planning Analytics system.  It would be great to have an area to play in, right?  Sandboxes in Planning Analytics allows you to do just this.  Create as many what-if versions of the plan you are working on to test an unlimited number of scenarios to see what your plan looks like.  Then, once you have the plan figured out, promote that version and you are done! 

Sandboxes in Planning Analytics

Steps to Creating Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace

Now that we know what Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace are, how do you create them?  This is easy to do in a few simple steps. 

  1. Insert a view as an exploration or create one.
  2. Click on the blue expand bottom as show above and you will see the bucket and shovel with base in a drop down next to it.
  3. Click the bucket and shovel icon, which is the sandbox button.  Click create sandbox.
  4. Name your sandbox and choose what you want it to be based from.
Name Your Sandbox
5. Click create. 

6. You will notice in the drop down the name of your created sandbox.

Sandbox Dropdown

For more information on Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace please click this link from IBM.

Enter and Commit Data in New Sandbox

Entering data in a sandbox is the same as entering data normally.  You can change any numbers you want and see what happens to the bottom line or other areas.  Here is the video and blog on entering data.  You can even turn that data entry into a visualization to gain greater insights. 

You will notice in the below screen shot that when you enter data, the changes are in blue.

Input Data Changes

Now that you have made changes and decided that you now want these changes to be a part of your base version, all you have to do is click the commit button (next to the sandbox drop down) and those changes will be committed to your base version.

Commit Data

Where Can I Use Sandboxes?

You can use sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace and in Planning Analytics for Excel (PAx).  These are the newest applications in the Planning Analytics suite of products.  You can also use sandboxes in TM1 Web, Architect and Perspectives, some of the older TM1 tools still available.  The screen shot below is from TM1 Web.

TM1 Web

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 Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace video in this series. 


Creating Sandboxes in Planning Analytics is a great feature to use for what if and scenario modeling.   If you need help using sandboxes or have specific questions please reach out to us at and we would be happy to talk with and work with you.  Thank you for taking the time to read. Click here to subscribe to our Lodestar Solutions mailing list so you don’t miss the next blog and video in this series.

Input and Spread Data in Planning Analytics Workspace

Input and Spread Data in Planning Analytics Workspace
Input and Spread Data in Planning Analytics Workspace
September 24th, 2020 

Now that you have read the introduction to Planning Analytics Workspace (PAw) blog found here, it is time to talk Input and Spread Data in Planning Analytics Workspace.  If you are not using PAw today you are most likely adding in data to your models via Architect, TM1 Web or through Excel.  Yes, these options are still available today in Planning Analytics (PA), however there is a much better way to do this and get instant visual results.  This is the input and spread data in Planning Analytics Workspace option that I will detail below.  At the bottom of this blog you will receive a video link showing how this is done!

Input Data

Inputting data into Planning Analytics Workspace is like other PA components.  First and foremost, the cell or cells you want to input in must be writable.  This means there can be no rules in the cell or any other barriers to entry.  Once set to input data, you can input in each cell or input in the rollup to breakback equally across all the cells below.  See the example screen shots below.  I simply entered 1000 in the total year cell and the input info is blue.  Once I hit enter you will see the number turn black and spread equally across the months.  Once you hit enter that data has been committed to the cube and you can move on to your next input.

Input Data
Input Data

Spread Data

Now that we have talked about data input, let’s talk about spreading data.  As stated above, you can enter in the parent level and it will auto spread equally across the children.  However, this may or may not make sense in your input.  PA offers several different spread options that include:

  • Proportional - The Proportional spread method distributes a specified value among cells proportional to existing cell values.
  • Equal Spread - The Equal Spread method distributes a specified value equally across the cells in a view.
  • Repeat - The Repeat method repeats a specified value across cells in a view.
  • Clear - The Clear method clears values from cells in a view.
  • Percent Change - The Percent Change method multiplies the current cell values by a specified percentage.
  • Repeat Leaves - The Repeat Leaves method copies a specified value to the leaves (children) of a consolidation.
  • Equal Leaves - The Equal Leaves spreading method distributes a specified value equally across all leaves of a consolidated cell.
  • Straight-Line - The Straight-Line data spreading method populates cube cells by linear interpolation between two specified endpoints.
  • Growth Percent - The Growth Percent method takes an initial value as a starting point and sequentially increments all values in a selected range of cells by the specified percentage.
  • Relative Proportional - Use the Relative Proportional spread method to spread values to the leaves of a consolidation cell proportional to the leaves of a reference cell.
  • Relative Percent Adjustment - The Relative Percent Adjustment method spreads values to the leaves of a consolidation by applying a percentage adjustment to the leaves of a reference cell.

Visit here for more in-depth information on data spreading options. 

To access spreading in PA simply right click on the cell in question and choose spread from the drop down.  There are also keyboard shortcuts to spread, you can find more info here

Choose the spread you want and follow the instructions.  Below I will show screen shots of a relative proportional spread based on a different product. 

Spread Data
Spread Data
Spread Data

The result is a spread of 8,000 units based on the 3G, 32GB phone in the line above.  The system spread the 8,000 units based on the spread of the 10,258 units. 

Other Tips for Data Entry

Since we have covered input and spread data in Planning Analytics Workspace, it is time to provide some additional tips and info on data entry. 

Hold Cell – to hold a value in a cell that you do not want changed, you simply right click on choose hold.  There may be times where you do not want a particular month to change but want the rest of the months adjusted by a percent or dollar value.  Simply hold the cell and make your changes.  To release the hold, right click and choose release hold.

Show Cell Values as – Right click and select, show cell values as, to change the view of the exploration.  You have several different options as shown below in the screenshot.  This is an easy way to change the analysis and gain more insights into your budget or data.

Show Cell Values as

Trace Cell – Want to know where that number comes from?  Simply right click and choose trace cell and have your answers.

Trace Cell

Comments – From time to time you may have a need to put a comment on a cell, like in Excel.  Right click and choose comment and add in your information that you want others to see.  Others have the option to read and add their own comments based on your comment.


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 this video in the series.

This video is the second of our new, 7-part Planning Analytics series. Click here now to join our Planning Analytics mailing list and receive a link to each video as they are released as well as all our blogs on IBM Planning Analytics.


Planning Analytics Workspace is an incredible addition to TM1 and now Planning Analytics.  For years, many had to find other options like Cognos Analytics or other BI tools to report their budget and planning data from TM1.  Having one tool to input data and see the results instantly in a visualization is a great add to an already great tool.  If you need help using Planning Analytics and Planning Analytics Workspace please reach out to  Thank you for reading this blog on Input and Spread Data in Planning Analytics Workspace  Stay tuned for the next blog and video in the series called, Sandboxes in Planning Analytics Workspace.

Benefits to Using IBM Planning Analytics Workspace

Planning Analytics Workspace
September 17th, 2020

If you are a TM1 or Planning Analytics client and you are not using Planning Analytics Workspace, it’s time to evaluate if you are using the best available tools.  There are many benefits to using IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAw) as it greatly improves the end user experience, but it does so much more! 

Planning Analytics Workspace

What is IBM Planning Analytics Workspace?

According to IBM’s knowledge center, “IBM Planning Analytics Workspace is a web-based interface for IBM Planning Analytics. It provides an interface to TM1® data, with ways to plan, create, and analyze your content. ... Planning Analytics Workspace opens up the world of advanced analytics to all business users.”

Translation, it is a cool front end to the TM1 platform that can also be used to build new applications and dashboards by combining cube view, web sheets, scorecard and visualizations.

As our gift to you, at the end of this blog you will find a special link to a video overview of PAw.

Deeper Dive into Planning Analytics Workspace (PAw)

IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAw) is a web-based interface for IBM Cognos TM1. It brings exciting new possibilities in terms of visualization of your TM1 data. IBM succeeded in expanding the TM1 interface options with a user-friendly and attractive experience aimed at a wide user community.

It is a view-based application which allows you to analyze data, plan and create new content. This is achieved primarily by using the built-in drag and drop tools, that come shipped with the product to build dashboards and reports. The tools themselves are visually intuitive and are easy to get started with. The created content can then be shared with others within or outside of the business.

Dashboards and reports are structured around the concept of “books”. You can think of a “book” in the same way as you do when visualizing a workbook in Excel. A “book” can have multiple sheets and each sheet can contain multiple objects.

PAw Objects and Modeling Tools Available

  • Cube views
  • Single-cell widgets
  • Filter controls
  • Imbedded web sheets
  • Pictures
  • Text boxes / shapes
  • Visualizations (like charts or maps)
Modeling Tools:
PAw Modeling Tools

Reporting in PAw

As PAw strongly focuses on ad-hoc analysis and quickly generating reports/dashboards, it should suit the needs of the Business Analyst, CFO and Financial Manager quite well.

If the user need is more focused on intensive data input or capturing of large amounts of data, TM1Web/Perspectives/PAX may be a better fit. Financial controllers and planners may benefit here more by using TM1Web/Perspectives/PAX, or others that are part of the budgeting, planning, or forecasting process. Each organization’s needs are different though, so the choice should be considered.

Planning Analytics Workspace & Natural Language

Another great component of PAw is the data discovery interface with natural language processing. This helps end users find what they are looking for when they cannot remember the name of the report or cube.  They just type sales and a listing of objects they may be looking for appears.

Planning Analytics Workspace and Collaboration

When you are in the budgeting cycle it is common to want to add comments or dialog about the changes you are making.  So, IBM added an online chat feature.  No more having to email change requests about the budget, just put them in the chat of PAw.

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 first video in this series.

This video is the first of our new, 7 part Planning Analytics series. Click here now to join our Planning Analytics mailing list and receive a link to each video as they are released. 


Planning Analytics Workspace is an incredible addition to TM1 and now Planning Analytics.  For years, many had to find other options like Cognos Analytics or other BI tools to report their budget and planning data from TM1.  You may not inherently have PAw in your IBM entitlements.  It is an add-on to Planning Analytics and Lodestar is here to help navigate those choppy waters for you.  Please reach out to and schedule your free license review.  We will walk through what you own and provide a way forward to owning Planning Analytics Workspace.  By reaching out for this review we will offer you a live demo of PAw and PAx and work to set you up for future success in your budgeting and planning process!

Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate Off Cognos Analytics (BI) – Part 2

8 Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate Off of IBM Cognos Analytics - Part 2
8 Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate Off of IBM Cognos Analytics - Part 2
September 10th, 2020

As clients look to drastically cut cost, it’s natural for IT departments to look at all their business intelligence solutions to evaluate if they have redundancy.  The initial thought is to reduce costs by standardizing on one business intelligence solution.  One solution could mean lower support costs and fewer resources to support the tools. As I discussed in the first part of our “Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate Off Cognos Analytics” blog,  I completely understand the logic and if I was the CIO, I would have the same line of thinking. 

But let’s face it, in many organizations someone high up made the decision to streamline business intelligence tools and they did not task a team to do the due diligence to determine the true costs of migrating off Cognos nor did they create an ROI evaluation.  This is part two of our blog series on this topic where I share the questions you should ask when planning to migrate off Cognos Analytics onto another platform.

4. What resources do we need to migrate our reports to the new platform and what is their availability?

Whether you are migrating from Cognos or upgrading to Cognos Analytics you must be realistic about the resources assigned to the migration and their real availability.  If you think you can dedicate 50% of a FTE’s time to the business intelligence migration, create your plan as if you only had 25% of your time.  This allows for life to get in the way without disrupting the timeline.  You also want to account for vacation and holidays, as they can throw a curve ball to the project plan.

5. What data sources are currently feeding Cognos BI that we must account for in our new system?

Another mistake people make in evaluating the migration of their business intelligence tools is that they fail to take an inventory of all the data sources feeding their Cognos reports. 

An example I see often is clients moving to a new ERP solution.  They believe they can get rid of their Cognos BI because their new ERP solution includes reporting.  I warn them that ERP’s provide solutions like General Ledger (GL), Accounts Payable processing, or Inventory solutions, but almost always there are additional data sources you want to include in your reports that are outside of the ERP.   How are you going to handle the additional data sources?  Do you even know what data sources are being used?  Create a list of all the data sources and confirm you have a plan to address them in your migration.

Data Modules:  If you are on Cognos Analytics your end users may be using Data Modules which is a very powerful component to allow analysis of outside data sources.  If you plan to migrate off Cognos you must determine what sources they are using with data modules.

Want to know more about Cognos Analytics data modules, here are our blogs:

Still Using Transformer Power Cubes? Try Data Modules. 

What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.1.6

6. Why are we considering to migrate off Cognos to the new business intelligence platform?

Sometimes a decision has been made but after the cursory evaluation of the situation we lose sight of why we make that decision.  Lodestar Solutions recommends creating a list of why you are considering migrating from Cognos to a new solution.  This list will help you define the benefits which will be needed to estimate the ROI in the next step.

7. What will it really cost to migrate off Cognos Analytics to the new Business Intelligence solution and what is the expected return on investment?

Now that you have an inventory of the reports that need to be migrated, you understand their complexity and you identified the data sources,  you want to estimate the time it will take to migrate them.  Be realistic about the amount of time it will take.  Next calculate the estimated migration costs.  The costs to migrate should include:

  • Cost of new software and support
  • Cost of training internal power users
  • Cost of technical installation
  • Cost of internal resources (estimated hours * avg salary and benefit cost for resources/hour)
  • Cost of consultants
  • Cost of internal end user training

Next, estimate the anticipated return on the investment. To do this you want to put a financial value to the benefits the organization anticipates from the new solution over your existing solutions.

ROI = [(Financial Value - Project Cost) / Project Cost] x 100

If you are not familiar with ROI Calculations check out this article from Harvard Business School Online.

8. Should we migrate off Cognos?

The final question you must ask is, “Should we migrate off Cognos?”  Does the ROI of the migration really justify the work and cost involved?  Does the new solution provide all the extra functionality and meet all the users’ needs?  One mistake organizations make is deploying a new solution that has less features than what your users had previously.  Do not do it!  You must ensure that the new solution at least has parity with Cognos Analytics.  My recommendation is to write proper testing scripts and have the end users complete them to ensure success.

U-TURNS Permitted

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have made a plan and then when I completed my due diligence and analyzed the work and cost involved I realized my plan was a bad plan.  Unfortunately, many companies have a culture that when a decision is made, they can’t U-Turn.  If you think your organization might have a no U-turn policy, I recommend suggesting a detailed analysis of the alternatives as early as possible.  I believe U- Turns should always be permitted.

U-Turn Permitted

You Are Almost Done!

Congratulations!  If you completed the steps from part one of this blog and the steps above,  you have now completed your due diligence.  Your hard work should give you the confidence to lead your organization to become an analytics leader in your industry and ensure the right decision is made.

Not Sure How to Get Started?

You don’t have to go this alone!  Lodestar Solutions can help you answer the questions you should ask when planning to migrate off Cognos Analytics and complete the steps above to ensure you are making the right decision for your organization.  So, contact us today and schedule a chat. Email

Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate Off Cognos Analytics (BI) – Part 1

Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate off Cognos Analytics (BI) - Part 1
Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate off Cognos Analytics (BI) - Part 1
September 3rd, 2020

As clients look to drastically cut cost, it’s natural for IT departments to look at all their business intelligence solutions to evaluate if they have redundancy.  The initial thought is to reduce costs by standardizing on one business intelligence solution.  One solution could mean lower support costs… fewer resources to support the tools.  I completely understand the logic and if I was the CIO, I would have the same line of thinking.  However, most clients do not do their due diligence to determine the true costs of migrating off tools like Cognos nor do they create an ROI evaluation.  So, I thought over the next two weeks I would share the questions you should ask when planning to migrate off Cognos Analytics onto another platform.

1. If we do not renew our IBM Cognos Support can I still use Cognos BI while we migrate?

The first question everyone asks as they consider migrating off Cognos BI is, can I still use Cognos BI if I do not renew the support?  The answer is, it depends. 

Perpetual License: If you have the traditional on-premise licensing for Cognos Analytics (BI) then you have a perpetual right to use Cognos and you can still use it even if you do not renew.  Lodestar Solutions does not recommend discontinuing support until you are fully migrated to the new solutions.  If you have questions on your renewal we are here to help.  Email

Here are some additional resources:

IBM Support and Subscription Site

Lodestar Blog:  Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support  

The real question you should be asking is, what are the risk factors of not renewing support as I migrate off Cognos BI?

SAAS or Subscription:  If you have Cognos Analytics on SaaS or a subscription-based model, then when you let your subscription lapse by not renewing you will no longer have access to the software.  So, plan your migration wisely.

Note: It is important to note in 15 years of working with Cognos products, I have yet to hear of a client who decided to migrate off Cognos BI that has completed the migration within their original planned timeline.  In fact, many clients plan to migrate and years later they are still working on it.

2. What reports must be migrated to the new tool and will the new tool deliver comparable results?

Planning a migration of Cognos to a new business intelligence platform is like planning a major upgrade to the latest version of Cognos Analytics.  You must do an inventory of what is in your content store and determine how many reports need to be migrated, how complex the reports are, how often they are utilized, etc… If you have been using Cognos for a long time your content store may be suffering from bloat. 

Lodestar Solutions’ recommends that you evaluate the size or your content store.  

Try this, in your Cognos Product Environment run a query to find the number per object type. The objects can be found here:


Here’s the query:

select c.NAME as "class name", count(*) as "number of objects"
order by c.NAME;

Lodestar also recommends investing in Motio Inventory Software.  Motio is a 3rd party software company that has some of the best tools for administration of Cognos BI.  Motio’s new inventory component is perfect for determining how many Cognos reports you have and their complexity.

You would not move your family without taking an inventory of your household belongings and determining what to leave behind.   So, do not forget to take a detailed inventory of Cognos reports.   For more information check out Motio
and make sure you tell them you work with Lodestar Solutions.  You can find additional information in our blog Don’t Upgrade to Cognos Analytics without Motio! 

3. Are we comparing the latest version of Cognos Analytics to the new solutions as we do our evaluation?

I am always amazed when I hear clients tell me they might be migrating off Cognos to Power BI, Tableau, or Qlik because it has better visualization or it’s easier to use.  I ask them what version of Cognos they are using, and they say 10.2.  Then I ask if they have seen all the amazing functionality in Cognos Analytics’ latest version?  And they say,  “I saw a demo a few years ago.”

People do not tell me you are migrating off Cognos for better functionality if you haven’t even seen the latest functionality of what you already own! You need to take the new Cognos Analytics for a test drive.  Lodestar Solutions can help you.  Just email us at

You owe it to your company to complete your due diligence and compare the latest functionality of Cognos to the solution you are evaluating.  IBM has added amazing new functionality to Cognos Analytics and cool stuff just keeps coming.  I challenge you to find a solution that can better meet your enterprise needs. Now that you know you need to do a detailed comparison,  I decided to help you out a little and provide our evaluation.

Cognos Comparison

If you or your company are struggling with Cognos today, I would bet you either have not been properly trained on the functionality or you have a data problem. By the way, migrating off Cognos will not solve your data issues.

Lodestar Solutions can help you get the training you need or just discover all the fabulous features included in the latest version of Cognos Analytics. Let’s plan a chat, email us at

Not Sure How to Get Started?

You don’t have to go this alone!  Lodestar Solutions can help you answer the questions you should ask when planning to migrate off Cognos Analytics and complete the steps above to ensure you are making the right decision for your organization.   Stay tuned for the second part of this blog,  Questions You Should Ask When Planning to Migrate Off Cognos Analytics (BI) - Part 2 coming on Thursday, September 10th! Contact us today and schedule a chat. Email

How to Get the Best Value on Your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals

Support Value
Support Value
August 27th, 2020

We all know the best price is not always the best value when shopping and it is true of IBM Support Renewals as well.   If you are looking to renew your IBM Cognos, Planning Analytics (TM1) or SPSS support you want to make sure you get the best value.  You might be thinking, my support is the same if I buy it from IBM or a partner.  But that is not always true! Today we will share secrets on, “How to get the Best Value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.”

IBM Support Renewals Process

Let’s start by reviewing the IBM support renewals process.  When you purchased your initial licensing for Cognos, Tm1 or SPSS you received one year of support with the purchase.  After that you are provided a quote for support from IBM annually. This support allows you access to patches, upgrades and the ability to contact IBM directly for support.  Here’s a link to IBM information about renewing support.

Keep Current on IBM Support

Lodestar Solutions recommends all clients keep current on their support.  It’s not worth the risk of being unsupported.  (See our blog, Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support)  And of course we resell IBM support as do many partners.

Partners Sell Support Cheaper Then IBM

In the past, IBM partners like Lodestar Solutions were often able to sell support renewals to clients cheaper then IBM could sell it.  The way we provided aggressive quotes to clients was by giving up some of our margin, which we called the Lodestar client discount.  But what makes Lodestar unique is that in addition to very competitive quotes, Lodestar provides clients with an annual license check-up where we discuss what you own, what changes IBM has made in the licensing and the software and offer recommendations based on your unique situation.

What the Heck Do I Own - Cognos, TMI, SPSS

Our clients have found Lodestar’s IBM Support Renewal checkups and “What the Heck Do I Own” sessions for Cognos BI, Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1), and SPSS very beneficial.  Every client that renews with Lodestar receives a free customized, “What the Heck do I Own” session where we review your licenses and educate you on functionality you did not even know you had.  We talk about your challenges and how other clients have overcome similar challenges.  This is a very beneficial session. It’s not uncommon for clients to tell us the one-hour session taught them more than a week at an IBM event.   Our reviews have saved our clients huge amounts of money.  (Check out our blog: How an IBM Cognos User Reduced Support Costs by $30,000!)

IBM Changes to Renewals August 2020

Well, in August 2020 IBM changed the partner renewal program and significantly reduced the margins that partners could make. As part of the changes IBM decided they wanted to protect partners that sold the renewal last year, by giving what they call the incumbent partner more margin than other partners.  

Personally, I disagree with IBM’s changes because I believe in competition.  Not all partners offer the same value for the renewal.  I believe the recent move may hurt clients as it does not create an incentive for true value adding partners to reach out to help clients that may be confused with their licensing.  If you renewed with a partner last year that just gave a fabulous quote and did not add value, and this year you want help with licensing and clarification as to what you own, you may find that as you reach out to other IBM partners, they may not want to even provide a quote because they can’t make enough money to justify the work.

Case Study for Value Added Renewals

For a long time, Lodestar Solutions had a client that regularly reviewed their licenses with Lodestar.  Then 5 years ago the executives at the client decided to move all their support renewals to what we refer to as a license consolidator.  Consolidators are large companies that can renew almost every software brand and give discounts due to volume.  The client’s goal was to save money. 

The Cognos BI and TM1 power users were very upset as they loved all the value added services they received throughout the year from Lodestar Solutions.  But the decision came from the top.  Lodestar still worked with the client for services but did not provide licensing recommendations or the annual renewal review. 

Then late in 2018 IBM made changes to the licensing of Enterprise Planning Users and the changes put some clients that move to TM1 at risk of failing an audit.  (See Video for details)  So, Lodestar Solutions reached out to all clients we thought were at risk due to the changes, even those that moved to consolidators.  Well, it turns out, the consolidator did not educate the client on IBM license changes or do annual reviews and the client failed an audit a year earlier costing them almost $1 Million.  When we reached out educating them, they may again fail an audit they realized that the consolidator wasn’t saving them money it actually cost them a bundle!  Yes, the client returned to work with Lodestar for their renewals.  But the moral of the story is, the best price is not the best value.

IBM Changes Not in Clients Best Interest

As I stated earlier, I do not believe IBM’s recent changes to their partner renewals program benefits the clients, but it did cause me to look in the mirror and ask myself how Lodestar can add even more value!  You see, I hate telling the clients their “Lodestar client discount” is being significantly reduced.  But, due to IBM changes we cannot offer the same level of discounts, so instead we are upping our value.  Effective September 2020 all clients that renew their support with Lodestar Solutions will receive the following:

Lodestar Support Client Bonuses

  • Annual licensing review to ensure you are in the optimal licensing mix
  • A “What the Heck do I Own” session where we discuss the new functionality of your unique licensing mix
  • A forward-looking discussion to create a roadmap and recommendation of 3rd party tools that might help you realize your vision faster
  • Access to Lodestar’s private client only collection of videos to educate you on new functionality
  • Periodic no charge check-ins to address your challenges
  • Presentation coaching to help you gain the support and resources you need to success
  • Lodestar Virtual Semi-Annual User Group Meetings
  • Invites to Lodestar exclusive events and offers


Lodestar Solutions is here to help you get the best value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.  Value is not just price.  When you evaluate who you work with, don’t you want someone that understands licensing, can navigate the IBM red tape and helps you succeed?

If you want to get the most value from your IBM Support renewal, contact us today at and set up a time to chat.

Planning Analytics Excel Options

August 20th, 2020

Many of you use Excel when working with Planning Analytics.  You may be creating budgets, exporting files, creating reports, or uploading info via Excel.  It can be a little overwhelming figuring out all of the different Planning Analytics Excel options.  Below I am going to outline all the different options to help you in your Planning Analytics journey. 

We recently had a client looking to create offline reports for people to enter their budgets and then reconnect to the TM1 server and update the info. We worked with them to create quick reports to send to people and once they send back, we will reconnect to TM1 and update the info.

Planning Analytics Excel – PAX

Planning Analytics for Excel, known as PAX, is the new Excel add in for Planning Analytics.  Unlike Perspectives, the old and slower prior version of Excel for TM1, PAX offers a seamless Excel add in experience that works great over both local and wide area networks.  PAX also offers several different report types and options.  Below you will find details of each report option.

  • Exploration Report - quickly change how you view performance measures and to show detailed information from your database in rows and columns.  Explorations offer slice and dice capabilities to easily change the look and feel of your reports and create quick analysis. You can learn more here.
Exploration Report

  • Quick Report - combine data from multiple data sources in a Quick Report and then enhance the data by using Microsoft Excel formulas, formats, and cell references. When you create or open a Quick Report, the names of the dimensions used in the Quick Report are automatically displayed at the top of the report. Click here for more information. 
Quick Report
  • Dynamic Report – create complex reports that combine the functionality of IBM® TM1® with Microsoft Excel features.  Dynamic Reports are implemented through a series of worksheet functions that define the components of a form such as context members, row members and display properties. When you convert an Exploration View to a Dynamic Report, the functions are created for you. Dynamic Reports support features available in Explorations and Quick Reports, such as selectable context members, stacked row and column dimensions, expandable/collapsible consolidations (rows only), zero suppression (rows only) and inserting rows and columns (with some restrictions).

You can read more here about Dynamic Reports

Dynamic Reports
  • Custom Report - create reports by using TM1® worksheet functions to populate the cells of the report.  You can create a Custom Report by using the following methods - converting an Exploration View to a Custom Report, converting a view in the source tree to a Custom Report or manually entering formulas to build a report.  Learn more here.
Custom Report

Exporting to Excel

There are a couple of ways to export to Excel.  You can use the PAX option as detailed above.  You can also use TM1 Web and Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW) to export.  Both options allow an export on to multiple tabs based on a dimension you choose.  There are some limits and I will detail all of this below.

  1. PAW – The procedure to export from PAW is detailed here.

Couple of items to note.  There are size limitations to the export. 

  • Max rows – 1,048,576
  • Max columns – 16,384
  • Max # of cells – 8 million
  • Max # of views (tabs) – 100

The screen shot below would result in 15 tabs in 1 excel workbook.  You do have the option to separate these into multiple workbooks.

PAW Procedure

2. TM1 Web – The option to export to Excel in TM1 is similar to PAW except you are only allowed 50 views in total.

TM1 Web

Import to Create Dimensions

Did you know you can create dimensions from csv or text files?  Simply click, create new dimension, in PAW and click, browse for file and upload directly in to Planning Analytics. 

Import to Create Dimensions


Excel is not going away and if we can learn to use it in conjunction with Planning Analytics, the power of both can take your planning and analysis to the next level.  If you need to discuss your particular case please reach out to us at  For more information on TM1, Excel and Planning Analytics check out our long library of blogs.

What’s New in Cognos Analytics 11.1.7?

August 13th, 2020

The latest release of Cognos Analytics is here!  Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 is now available for download via your IBM Passport Advantage site.  I have spent a little time on my demo machine playing with 11.1.7 and I must say there are some great additions and a ton of fixes.  A big item of note is that Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 is a long-term release, meaning it is the final release of the 11.1.x version.  It also means that this version will be supported for years to come.  I bet a lot of you are now thinking, “Is 11.2.x or is Cognos Analytics 12 next”?   Guess we will find out soon!  But, enough speculation let’s get to the good stuff!


Besides the new mobile app (which we will get to later), dashboards received a bunch of new and exciting enhancements and additions. 

  • Crosstab Visualization – major improvements to the conditional formatting option with the ability for dashboard authors to define rules or thresholds to color cells based on key business metrics. These rules can be created using static numeric values or based on a percentage against an existing field, be it a calculation or coming directly from a source.
Crosstab Visualization
  • Dashboard Authoring Experience - adding drop zones to visualizations themselves, which should help authors understand the types of visualizations they’d like to build, all using drag and drop gestures.  You can also start to type in the field name you like in the drop zone and Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 will provide selections to choose from.
  • Combination Chart (Line and Bar) - add series to both lines and columns with separate palette choices for each, also support for measure groups so that authors could compare actuals to target measures on separate lines for example. It also adds a property to stack the column series.
Combination Chart
  • Export Visualization Data to CSV - From the data tray, authors can choose to export either summary or detail data.
  • Schematics as Custom Visualizations -Dashboard authors can also now leverage schematics as custom visualizations. Schematics are tagged shapes/polygons in an SVG file, which can be a diagram representing a spatial relationship.
  • Enhanced Filters - Authors can also create model filters as they would calculations, which can be applied to individual visualizations or the full dashboard if inserted into the filter shelf and resides in the metadata tree so that it can be reused wherever needed.
  • Save as Template - Dashboard authors can now save their dashboard layout, visualizations, colors, logos, etc as a template. This means that when authoring new content, authors have a starting point to begin their experience which saves a lot of time.
  • Other new properties –
  • Smart visualization titles are on by default
  • Logarithmic axis scaling
  • Custom axis ranges
  • Pie chart labels with values
  • Bullet chart range coloring
  • Show generated SQL/MDX per visualization


Reporting also received several enhancements as noted below.

  • Baselines in Visualizations - Area (river/smooth/step), Boxplot, Bubble, Scatter, Bullet, Column (stacked/clustered/floating/target), Bar (stacked/clustered/floating/target), Combination chart (stacked/clustered), Line (step/smooth), Point, Marimekko, Radar and Waterfall.
Baselines in Visualizations
  • Combination Chart – Same as above in dashboards
  • Waterfall Chart with Subcategories - Waterfall can be used to display cumulative effect of a series of positive or negative values. Report authors can now use sub-categories in addition to display how values are aggregated at different levels.
  • Multiple Measures in More Visualizations - Area, Boxplot, Hierarchical packed bubble, Packed bubble, Point, Scatter, Combination chart, Line, Pie, Radar, Tree map, Waterfall, Word Cloud.
  • Run Single Page Report - ability to run a single report page in different formats.

Data Modules

Over the course of time, Cognos Analytics has updated Data Modules to be more and more in line with Framework Manager.  Below is a list of additions in Cognos Analytics 11.1.7 for Data Modules.   Finally, IBM has published a document to show the difference in the two products.  You can check it out here

  • 4-5-4 Retail Calendar – Retail customers have been asking for this calendar for sometime.  Now available for 2020-2022.
  • Additional Relative Time Filters
  • Current Week
  • Prior Week
  • Week to Date
  • Prior Week to Date
  • Same Week Last Year

User Experience

Starting with Cognos Analytics 11.1.7, the official design system is new and it is called Carbon.  Carbon is IBM’s open source design system which enables us to not only build consistent experiences across our product portfolio, make things easier and simpler to use, but also accelerate our time to market. To learn more about Carbon check this IBM blog out. 



New in release 11.1.7, you can use Cognos Analytics for Mobile. Cognos Analytics for Mobile allows you to view dashboards, stories, and explorations on your iOS device. You can quickly see how your business or organization is performing at a bird's eye view, or dive into the details. Monitor important KPIs across the enterprise, share your findings with your colleagues and set alerts to stay on top of changes.

NOTE - Cognos Analytics for Mobile is only available for Cognos Analytics on Cloud On-Demand and Cognos Analytics on Cloud Hosted in release version 11.1.7.


With the latest release of Cognos Analytics 11.1.7, IBM has added tons of new capabilities, cleaned up the user experience and continues to make an already great product even better.  Again, since this is a long-term release, I highly recommend upgrading as soon as possible.  Please contact us at to schedule your demo or upgrade today!

To find a list of updates in previous versions:

Cognos Analytics 11.1.6

Cognos Analytics 11.1.5

Cognos Analytics 11.1.4