Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings

Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings
Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings
Written by Lodestar Solutions Team Members, November 2023

Heather Cole

As the season of gratitude approaches, I find myself reflecting on the abundance of blessings that have enriched my life throughout the year. Foremost among them is my incredible support team, a mosaic of love, encouragement, and inspiration. My heartfelt gratitude extends to my husband, cherished family members, steadfast friends, and invaluable colleagues at Lodestar Solutions and Heatherized.

Pine Marten

This year has been marked by the joy of shared moments with loved ones, as friends and family gathered in various locations to revel in the beauty of nature. From encounters with Morrie the moose to the peculiar pine marten that resembled a charming blend of raccoon, fox, and squirrel, we found solace, inspiration, and the space to challenge each other creatively.

What I treasure most about my support network is their unwavering spirit of growth. Friends, family, and team members alike embody a relentless pursuit of improvement, challenging not only me but the status quo itself. Their belief in finding a better way serves as a constant reminder to seek innovation and push boundaries.

Beyond the human connections that grace my life, I find immense gratitude for the role of artificial intelligence (AI). This transformative technology has liberated precious time that would otherwise be consumed by tasks like crafting blogs, marketing content, and persuasive emails. The efficiency brought by AI empowers us to focus on serving clients, elevating the skills of analytic professionals, and delivering heightened value to our respective enterprises.


In the tapestry of gratitude, there is a special thread reserved for my steadfast companion, Ozzie, my 13-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever. His enduring presence, marked by slow but cherished walks, serves as a poignant reminder to appreciate each day with the old man Oz. 

As we gather around tables laden with the warmth of Thanksgiving feasts, let us carry this spirit of gratitude into the coming year. May the blessings of companionship, innovation, and the simple joys of life illuminate our paths. Wishing you all a fabulous Thanksgiving and a year ahead filled with endless possibilities in 2024.

Mike Bernaiche

It is that time of the year when we talk about what we are thankful for.  But as I sit to write this, maybe we should be talking about what we are thankful for all year long, not just the week of Thanksgiving.  In this crazy world filled with war, hate, and uncertainty, maybe expressing our thanks more often will give us that warm feeling that you get during this week.  I’m going to commit to giving thanks each day.  Will you join with me in this endeavor?

Since we are writing this blog, I will provide all the things I’m thankful for.  I’m thankful for the God I serve and his grace and forgiveness.  The thanks I have for my wife has no limits.  Our kids have all grown and with that comes change in the house.  We are navigating these changes together and have grown stronger than ever.  Speaking of my kids, I’m so very proud and thankful for them.  They continue to grow into incredible young adults with amazing hearts. 

I’m thankful for all our family.  As our parents get older you realize that you should savor each moment with them.  I’m thankful for our friends many of which we play softball with.  It is so much fun and such a great time playing with them throughout the year.

I’m blessed by our clients and business partners.  Without all of you, I wouldn’t find the joy in what I do.  I really appreciate my coworkers and Heather Cole.  Working in an environment like this provides such peace in my work life.

I hope you will join me in this season of reflection to give thanks today but in every day of the year.  Thank you for a great year and I pray you have an amazing holiday season.

Christina Vandeveer

“Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy.” – Jefferson Bethke

Finding joy in our world sometimes can be a discipline. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of work, meeting deadlines, and hitting sales quotas. Or maybe it’s family, kids’ sports schedules, extra-curricular commitments. All of these are good things, but it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in our to-do lists that we forget to find the joy in what we are doing. I’m not sure who first penned this quote, but I’ve heard it said many times that if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy!

This November I’ve been trying to share something I’m thankful for each day as a way to remind myself of all I truly have to appreciate in my life. God is such a faithful God, and his abundance of goodness in my life is so evident to me.

I am so thankful for my church family. As seasons of life change, friends can come and go. But my church family has always been there. I’m thankful God has provided me with such supportive people in my life.

Christina Vandeveer

I’m thankful for my three boys, Lucas (6), Cooper (5), and Hunter (2). They definitely keep me on my toes! They are so busy, and each with their own different personalities. They will go from driving me absolutely crazy one minute, to making my mom heart well up with tears as they sing worship songs the next. My life was so dull with out them! I am so thankful to be their mom.

I’m thankful for my husband of 9 ½ years, Richard. He works so hard for us and at the same time supports me and makes sure that I have the time I need for me. When I told him I wanted to start a side gig, he was in full support! Even if that means it takes up more time. He sees me for who I am, supports my need to always want to be busy, and yet helps me slow down when I need to. God sure gave me the right partner!

2023 has been a busy year and a year of growth. I am hoping to carry this practice of thankfulness into 2024. I have big goals, and I know if I only focus on what is left to be done, not all that has been accomplished, and my blessings, then those goals will feel unreachable.

Safeguarding Your IBM Investments: The Vital Role of IBM ILMT in Virtualized Environments

Safeguarding Your IBM Investments: The Vital Role of IBM ILMT in Virtualized Environments
Safeguarding Your IBM Investments: The Vital Role of IBM ILMT in Virtualized Environments
Written by Heather L. Cole, November 16th, 2023

In the fast-paced landscape of modern businesses, many organizations have embraced virtualization to optimize their server infrastructure and reduce costs. However, with this advancement comes the responsibility of managing software licenses effectively. For those leveraging IBM's Processor Value Unit (PVU) pricing model, the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) becomes an indispensable asset.

Understanding the Imperative of ILMT:

IBM ILMT is a critical component for clients utilizing PVU pricing, especially in virtualized environments—something that has become the norm for most companies. The tool ensures compliance by monitoring and reporting on software usage, a key factor in determining the appropriate licensing fees.

Quarterly Check-ins:

One of the often-overlooked aspects of ILMT is the need for quarterly check-ins. It's not enough to simply have ILMT installed; companies must actively run the reports every quarter. This routine check ensures accurate monitoring of server usage and helps in creating a comprehensive audit trail.

Don’t Fail an IBM Audit. 

Automate or Manual: The Choice is Yours:

To streamline the process, companies can either automate their ILMT or assign team members to run the reports manually. Automation not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of oversight. Regardless of the method chosen, the key is consistency.

The Pitfalls of Neglect:

Recently, a client's oversight underscored the consequences of neglecting ILMT procedures. During an environment upgrade, they inadvertently erased the old server without transferring the ILMT reports. This seemingly small error could lead to catastrophic results during an IBM audit.

Two Years of Records: A Non-Negotiable Requirement

IBM mandates that organizations maintain two years' worth of ILMT reports—eight quarters. This extended period ensures a comprehensive historical record and protects against unexpected audits. Failing to meet this requirement can result in severe financial repercussions.

The High Stakes of Audit Failures:

The gravity of failing an IBM audit due to incomplete ILMT records cannot be overstated. Even if the ILMT is installed, if it doesn't record usage every quarter for two years, the consequences are dire. Organizations risk being charged for the full server capacity, not just the allocated resources for their specific environment.

Strategic Storage: Beyond the Server

To mitigate risks, companies should designate responsible team members for ILMT, decide where reports will be stored, and implement strategic storage practices. Storing reports solely on the server is insufficient. Having a backup offsite is crucial for safeguarding against unexpected data loss.


In the dynamic realm of IT, overlooking the significance of IBM ILMT can lead to severe financial repercussions and jeopardize an organization's compliance standing. Regular, quarterly ILMT reports, meticulous storage practices, and a comprehensive, two-year audit trail are non-negotiable aspects of responsible software license management. In a landscape where technology evolves rapidly, maintaining diligence with tools like ILMT is paramount for securing your IBM investments and ensuring long-term operational efficiency. 

Need Help:

Lodestar Solutions provides ILMT implementation and upgrade service.  If you would like assistance, please contact us at

Revolutionize Your Financial Stability with Better Planning Models

Revolutionize Your Financial Stability with Better Planning Models
Revolutionize Your Financial Stability with Better Planning Models
Written by Heather L. Cole, November 9th, 2023

As a financial executive, you are constantly facing the challenge of ensuring the financial stability and success of your company. To make informed decisions, accurate and reliable data is vital. However, the traditional planning models used by many organizations today often fall short of providing the necessary clarity and accuracy. In this blog post, I will highlight why these planning models need to be overhauled and provide recommendations for a more efficient and reliable approach.

The Pitfalls of Traditional Planning Models:

1. Limited Accuracy:

One of the key issues with traditional planning models is their reliance on outdated and simplistic assumptions. They fail to capture the complexities of the modern business environment and usually cannot adapt to changing market dynamics or unforeseen events. As a result, financial executives often must face the consequences of decisions made based on inaccurate and unreliable forecasts.

2. Poor Integration:

Many companies rely on a variety of software tools to manage different aspects of their operations, including financial planning, sales forecasting, and budgeting. The lack of integration between these tools hinders the ability to have a comprehensive view of the company's financial stability. This fragmented approach leads to inefficiencies, duplication of efforts, and wasted time and money.

The Case for Overhauling Planning Models:

1. Real-Time Data:

In today's fast-paced business world, the ability to access real-time financial data is crucial for making informed decisions. By overhauling planning models, financial executives can incorporate advanced technology solutions that enable the integration of data from various sources in real-time. This allows for a more accurate and dynamic assessment of the company's financial health, improving decision-making and risk management.

2. Predictive Analytics:

Traditional planning models often lack the ability to analyze historical trends and predict future outcomes accurately. With advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence, companies can now leverage predictive modeling techniques to evaluate different scenarios, identify potential risks, and uncover growth opportunities. By integrating predictive analytics into planning models, financial executives gain valuable insights into the company's financial stability, enabling them to make proactive and strategic decisions.

Recommendations for a Better Approach:

1. Identify Limitations:

To initiate an overhaul of planning models, it is crucial first to identify the limitations of the current systems. Conduct a thorough analysis of the existing planning processes and systems, pinpointing areas where inefficiencies and inaccuracies occur.

2. Seek Expertise:

Engage with financial software providers and consultants who specialize in modern planning and budgeting solutions. Look for companies with a track record of delivering successful implementations and a client base that includes organizations similar to yours. Their expertise can guide you in selecting the right software that aligns with your specific needs.

3. Follow Established Procedures:

When implementing new planning models, following established best practices and procedures is important. This includes conducting thorough tests, training staff, and providing ongoing support. Taking the time to ensure proper implementation will lead to better adoption and utilization of the software, ultimately providing the clarity and visibility you seek.


By overhauling planning models and adopting modern financial software solutions, financial executives can gain the clarity and accuracy needed to ensure the financial stability of their companies. Leveraging real-time data and predictive analytics, executives can make informed decisions that drive results and set their organizations on a path to success. It's time to revolutionize your approach to financial planning and embrace the future of finance.

So, your gut is telling you that you need to overhaul your planning models, but you don’t know where to start? 

Join us in December for our Transformational Planning Webinar Series

Transformational Planning Webinar Series

Session 1: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges - Uniting Finance and Strategy in a Seamless Planning Process -Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2023

Are you a Financial Executive aspiring to be a highly respected and sought-after CFO? Discover the power of embracing state-of-the-art planning processes in our transformative webinar, "Transformational Planning: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges." Discover agile strategies to navigate market uncertainties, master cutting-edge analytics for data-driven decisions, and become a change catalyst. Empower your teams with a future-focused mindset, balancing your role's demands and personal well-being. Join us to embark on a journey toward confident leadership. Thrive amidst challenges, empower your teams, and revolutionize your finance approach with advanced planning techniques. Say goodbye to outdated systems and financial uncertainties. Register now and step into a future where you lead with strategy, foster growth, and earn the trust of CEOs and Boards. Your transformation starts here! Don't miss this opportunity to shape your CFO legacy with cutting-edge planning practices.

Session 2: Strategic Planning Unleashed: Driving Growth Together by Aligning Your Organization for Success - Tuesday, Dec 12th, 2023

Dive into the future of organizational success with our sequel webinar, Strategic Planning Unleashed: Driving Growth Together by Aligning Your Organization for Success" Experience the transformative power of state-of-the-art planning processes that extend beyond finance, shaping every facet of your organization.

Discover the strategic impact of aligning your entire organization with objectives, driving remarkable growth and profitability. Uncover practical techniques for collaborative planning, breaking down silos, and fostering shared accountability. Gain insights into maximizing resources and optimizing efficiency through advanced planning methods.

Join us to embark on a transformative journey.

Breaking Down Barriers: Unleash Corporate Agility with Extended Planning and Analytics

Breaking Down Barriers: Unleash Corporate Agility with Extended Planning & Analytics
Breaking Down Barriers: Unleash Corporate Agility with Extended Planning & Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, November 2nd, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, the traditional Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) process has long been the backbone of strategic decision-making. Finance teams meticulously crunch numbers, create forecasts; and assess financial impacts to steer the ship in the right direction. However, there’s a catch. FP&A, with its sole focus on financial perspectives, often leaves out a crucial element – the interconnectedness of various departments that collectively shape an organization’s success.  So, it’s time to Break Down Barriers and Unleash Corporate Agility with Extended Planning and Analytics.

Too Many Silos

Picture this: your sales team sets ambitious targets, marketing gears up for a series of compelling campaigns, HR plans for talent acquisition and compensation, and production meticulously schedules resources, materials, and capacities. Each department meticulously crafts its operational plan, but in isolation, these plans lack a holistic view. The rise in sales demands increased production, which, in turn, requires more manpower and machinery. It's a domino effect, and without a cohesive understanding of these intricate connections, businesses can find themselves stumbling in the dark.

Extended Planning and Analytics

Enter Extended Planning and Analytics (xP&A), a revolutionary approach that transcends the boundaries of traditional FP&A. xP&A isn’t just a buzzword; it's the catalyst for breaking down silos and fostering transparent collaboration across departments. Think of it as the ultimate backstage pass that unveils the grand orchestra of business operations.

Orchestra of Collaboration

In the world of xP&A, every department's plan, be it sales, marketing, HR, procurement, or supply chain, is interconnected and interdependent. Instead of isolated islands of strategies, there’s a seamless flow of information and insights, painting a comprehensive picture of the business landscape. This interconnectedness is the key to unlocking the true potential of organizational agility.  xP&A is a key factor in Transformational Planning.

Transformational Planning

So, what does this mean for your business? It means shattering the limitations of conventional spreadsheets and embracing a future where collaboration isn’t just encouraged – it's ingrained in the organizational DNA. Imagine the sales team aligning their targets with production schedules, marketing campaigns dovetailing seamlessly with procurement plans, and HR strategies adapting in real-time to accommodate shifts in other departments. It's a harmonious synergy where each department's impact is not just recognized but optimized for the greater good of the entire organization.

As financial professionals, our goal is to provide predictability and certainty in the numbers.  According to a Forbes article, Uncertainty Underscores CFO’s Role to Drive Digital Transformation, xP&A provides the certainty we all seek.


If you are on Excel, you might should check out our earlier blog, The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies: Leveling Up from Excel.

Getting Started

But how do we start on this journey beyond finance? 

On November 8th, we invite you to join our webinar, "Breaking Down Barriers: Unleash Corporate Agility with Extended Planning and Analytics." In this transformative event, we’ll delve into the transformative power of xP&A using IBM Planning Analytics. Our experts will guide you through the process of dismantling organizational silos, enabling seamless collaboration, and achieving unprecedented corporate agility.

Don't miss this chance to revolutionize your planning processes. Register now and let us guide you in unlocking the keys to building a truly agile and successful organization. Together, we'll navigate the complex terrains of global changes, industry shifts, and supply chain intricacies with confidence. It’s not just a webinar; it's your ticket to a future of seamless integration and unwavering agility.

Join Us

Join us on November 8th at 1 PM Eastern and be part of the evolution. Embrace xP&A, break free from the shackles of isolation, and step into a world where collaboration knows no bounds. Register now and embark on a journey toward a future of boundless possibilities.  

Breaking Down Barriers: Unleash Corporate Agility with Extended Planning & Analytics

IBM Software License Prices and Lodestar Project Rates for 2024

IBM Software License Prices and Lodestar Project Rates for 2024
IBM Software License Prices and Lodestar Project Rates for 2024
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 27th, 2023

These are the blogs I’m not a fan of writing but feel it necessary to provide you with the latest information from IBM and Lodestar regarding IBM Software Licenses and project rates.

As you are aware, the US has experienced significant rate increases in almost everything from insurance, labor, and operating expenses. As such, we want to inform you about some crucial updates related to IBM software licenses and our project rates for the upcoming year, 2024, so you can budget appropriately.

IBM Software License Prices:

Effective January 1, 2024, IBM will be implementing a 6% price increase for their software licenses. To assist you in managing your budget effectively, we recommend considering any upcoming licensing needs before December 23, 2023. By making your purchase before the year-end, not only will you ensure seamless continuity of your software licenses, but you will also enjoy significant cost savings.  See IBM Announcement

Additionally, for those anticipating an expansion of their licensing requirements in 2024, this proactive step will safeguard you against the price increase, helping you make the most of your IT budget.

We understand the importance of budget planning for your organization. We encourage you to take advantage of our end-of-year discounts. If you anticipate needing additional licenses in 2024, purchasing them before December 23, will not only grant you access to the lower 2023 pricing but also offer special discounts as part of our year-end promotion.

Project Rates Adjustment:

Starting January 1, 2024, we will be making a modest adjustment to some of our project rates, resulting in an approximate 5% increase. Please be assured that this adjustment will not impact the terms of your current statements of work. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing you with the exceptional quality of services that you have come to expect from us.  This increase will not be across the board on services, only certain services will see this increase.  Our rates remain very competitive in the industry, and we believe the value we provide far outweighs the cost.

We provide the following services:

  • Technical Support – This includes upgrades, installation of new IBM Analytics software, database work, security, and much more.  Ask us about our upgrade bundles to save you money.
  • Planning Analytics and Cognos Analytics Consulting Including - architecture, modeling, model redesign, end-user reporting, and dashboard creation.
  • Power BI Consulting – data, creating reports, and visualizations.
  • Tableau Consulting - data, creating reports, and visualizations.
  • Training – Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics training for both the novice and experienced. Including both modeler and end-user training.

Speaking of training – coming soon is a public virtual Cognos Analytics training class.  You can find all the important info here.


If you have specific licensing requirements or need assistance understanding how these changes might affect your organization, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We are here to assist you in finding the most cost-effective solutions tailored to your unique needs.

Please feel free to contact me directly at with any questions or concerns you may have. We value your partnership and are dedicated to supporting you through this transition.

Thank you for choosing Lodestar Solutions as your technology partner. We are excited about the opportunities that 2024 holds and look forward to continuing to support your organization's growth and success.

Cognos Analytics Training is Here!

Cognos Analytics Training is Here
Cognos Analytics Training is Here
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 20th, 2023

Are you ready to revolutionize your Cognos Analytics expertise? We are thrilled to invite you and your team members to our exclusive 3-day Cognos Analytics training event.  This Cognos Analytics training is designed to empower you with the skills and knowledge essential for mastering Cognos Analytics.

Here are the details:

Dates: Coming in January! 
Classes: Cognos Analytics Reporting Fundamentals and Cognos Analytics Dashboarding Essentials
Location: Your venue / online
Instructor: Professional consultant and trainer with 20-plus years of experience.
Investment: $2,781 for the full 3-day training, environment, and training materials included.

Why Attend

Our Cognos Analytics training program is meticulously crafted for professionals like you, whether you are navigating the advanced features of Cognos 12 or working with earlier versions like Cognos 11.2.x or 11.1.7. Here’s why you shouldn’t miss this opportunity:

  1. Limited Seating - First Come, First Served: We have limited seats available, and they are filling up quickly! Secure your spot today to guarantee your place at this exclusive event. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn from industry experts in an intimate setting.
  2. Expert Guidance - Learn from a seasoned 20-year professional consultant, not just a trainer. Gain insights from real-world scenarios and industry best practices, ensuring you’re equipped with practical skills.
  3. Comprehensive Curriculum - Dive deep into Cognos Analytics Reporting fundamentals during the first two days. Explore topics such as Report Creation, Filters, Parameters, Calculations, and Formatting. On the third day, master Cognos Analytics Dashboard 12 Essentials, covering Pins, Explorations, and Data Storytelling. This will help you plan your upgrade if you are not on 12 yet.
  4. Hands-On Experience - Immerse yourself in a real-world Cognos Analytics environment. Our interactive sessions provide hands-on experience, allowing you to apply your knowledge immediately.
  5. All-Inclusive Training - No need to worry about materials. We provide everything you need to succeed, including comprehensive training materials to support your learning journey.

What Will You Learn?

Cognos Analytics Training – Reporting Fundamentals, 2 days.

Tables, Crosstabs and Charts

List Reports, Crosstabs, Advanced Crosstabs, Legacy Charts, Visualizations, Create a Report with Multiple Displays


Filters – Defined, Model Filters, Custom Filters, Detail Filters, Summary Filters, Filter Options

Parameters and Prompts

Parameters – Defined, Global Parameters, My Parameters, Prompts – Defined, Why Use Prompts, Create Prompt Pages, The Prompt Button, Multiple Prompts, Cascading Prompts


Calculations – Defined, Subtotals, Insert Calculation Button, Query Calculations, Layout Calculations, Using Functions

Formatting and Conditional Formatting

Templates, Fonts and Styles, Styles, Alignment and Justification, Text Items, Headers and Footers, Blocks, Tables, Conditional Formatting Defined, Conditional Styles, Advanced Conditional Formatting, Define the Condition

Complex Reports

Dashboard Reports, Drill-Through Definitions, Create Drill-Through Definitions, Create Reports from a Dimensional Source, Member Tree View vs. Metadata Tree View, Add Levels, Members, and Sets

Saving and Scheduling

Schedule reports for distribution.

Cognos Analytics Training - Dashboard Essentials - 1 day

Now that you have learned the fundamentals of Reporting, join us for the last day to start mastering Dashboards in Cognos Analytics. Rookie or veteran, this class will teach you the essentials of building a dashboard in Cognos Analytics 12.


Cognos interface, Dashboard interface, Edit mode vs Preview mode

Basic Dashboard

Starting a new dashboard, Layouts, Data sources, Visualizations, and different methods of creating a visual, Saving a dashboard

Complex Dashboarding

Customize and filter dashboard objects, Filtering capabilities, Verify and modify filters, Modify dashboard object properties, Add an active visualization, Add insights, Customize dashboard for presentation, Share the dashboard


Pins and Explorations

Secure Your Spot Now!

Ready to elevate your Cognos Analytics game? Don’t miss this chance to boost your career opportunities and enhance your organization’s capabilities. Secure your spot today by emailing now.

For any inquiries to determine if this is a good fit for you, contact Lodestar at Act swiftly as seats are limited, and this transformative learning experience awaits you.

Additional Blogs on Cognos 12

What’s New in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1

What's New in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1
What's New in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 13th, 2023

IBM released Cognos Analytics 12 in June 2023, adding an enhanced experience for all users with the incredible assistant, lighting quick dashboards, and so much more.  Now IBM has released Cognos Analytics 12.0.1 with some additional enhancements. Below I will provide all the details of what is new in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1

General Enhancements in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1

Favorites – In the Content view, you can now mark items as a favorite by clicking the heart icon.  Your Favorite items will show up in your favorite tab.

Search Result Enhancements – a new result reason option has been added to search results to show reasons why the search returned various items.

AI-Generated Recommendations in Learn Panel - the recommendation engine makes daily updates based on what you and other users are searching for.  Each search you make in the learn panel makes it better and better.

AI-Generated Recommendations in Learn Panel

AutoComplete and Popular Search Suggestions in Learn Panel - The Learn pane now predicts your search query as you type keywords in the Search field and displays a list of search suggestions from all content types.


Assistant and Learn Panel Integration - The Assistant now gives you the option to jump to the Learn pane if it cannot find an answer to a general usage question. You can use the Learn pane to find help in the product documentation, blogs, and videos.

Share Narrative Insights from Assistant – You can now share insights with or without a visualization via email, Slack, or Teams.

New Option for adding Visualizations to Dashboard – You can now add a visualization from the assistant to a new dashboard or a current dashboard by clicking the add to button or dragging the visualization to an open dashboard.

New Option for adding Visualizations to Dashboard

Usability Improvements and Natural Language Enhancements - The Assistant now understands choose source, set source, change source, and select source when you want to change the Assistant's data source.  When you ask the Assistant a question that doesn't require a visualization, the Assistant now responds with just the relevant values.  The assistant now understands: What is, When is, Where is, Who is.


Automatic Sorting in Month, Weekday, and Season Columns - In newly loaded database schemas and uploaded files, the members in the month, weekday, or season columns are automatically sorted in chronological order, no matter in which order they are listed originally.

Showing Additional Data Values in Tooltips – display additional values in the tooltip data field.

Expanding Visualization Content in PDF Content - You can configure crosstab, table, or list visualizations on the dashboard to export detailed information into new pages in the PDF output. A hyperlink at the visualization on the main canvas in the PDF file directs you to the new page where the detailed visualization information appears.

Showing and Styling Stack Labels in Stacked Visualizations – New show stacked label property to show the sum of each item in a stacked visualization.

Showing and Styling Stack Labels in Stacked Visualizations

Additional Fields in Line and Column Visualization – 2 new fields are available in this visualization.  Column y start and Column Target.

Additional Fields in Line and Column Visualization

Styling Titles of Repeated Row and Columns in Visualizations – When you repeat a column or row you can now add formatting to those titles.

Styling Titles of Repeated Row and Columns in Visualizations

Icon Visibility in the Visualization Header – you can hide or show icons in the visualization header now in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1

Better Documentation of all Visualizations – please see the link for this documentation. 


Excel Sheet Naming Improvements – In Cognos Analytics 12.0.1 this has been greatly improved.  Please see link for all the details.  

Event Agent

Event Studio – Event Studio was reinstated as a standard component in Cognos Analytics 12.0.1 and is now named Event Agent.


Activities Page Enhancements – The activities page contains many improvements and is best described here.  

New Settings for Uploaded File and Data Set Size - Administrators can now use the Manage component to configure size limits for uploaded files and for data sets.

New Settings for Uploaded File and Data Set Size

New Watsonx Data Connector - A new connection editor,, is available for creating data source connections.


There you have it; Cognos Analytics 12.0.1 brings some nice enhancements across the board in Cognos Analytics.

If you haven’t checked out my blog on Cognos Analytics 12, please check that out here

Next, head over to this blog to understand why you should upgrade today.  

Last, you can check out a quick demo of Cognos 12, most specifically the amazing Assistant here

You can always reach me at to discuss your specific needs.  We offer some amazing upgrade bundles to get you on the latest and greatest version.

Unveiling the Hidden Gem: IBM TechXchange – A Must-Attend Event for Cognos and Planning Analytics Clients

Unveiling the Hidden Gem IBM TechXchange - A Must-Attend Event for Cognos and Planning Analytics Clients
Unveiling the Hidden Gem IBM TechXchange - A Must-Attend Event for Cognos and Planning Analytics Clients
Written by Heather L. Cole, October 5th, 2023

In the vast landscape of technology conferences, IBM TechXchange 2023 stands out as a transformative event that rekindles the true spirit of knowledge sharing and camaraderie.  As an attendee who has witnessed the evolution of IBM events over the years, I can confidently say that this conference has breathed new life into the tech community. Let me take you on a journey through my experience at the recent IBM TechXchange in Vegas and why I believe that every IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics client should allocate funding for this exceptional event in 2024.

IBM TechXChange

Well Done IBM!

Firstly, IBM TechXchange 2024 was a breath of fresh air compared to previous IBM events that often felt like elaborate sales and marketing pitches.  The skepticism I initially harbored was quickly replaced by excitement and enthusiasm.  I admit I also had a little regret for not bringing my team.  Thanks to the brilliant leadership of Amy Tennison, IBM returned to its roots, offering a true geek session for technology enthusiasts like me.


One of the standout features of TechXchange was the selection of session hosts.  These were not your typical corporate spokespersons, but real users and consultants deeply immersed in the technology.  For instance, "Cognos Paul" Mendelson, with his thought-provoking insights on AI, challenged us to think critically while also considering the broader implications of artificial intelligence.  This emphasis on genuine expertise fostered an atmosphere of authentic learning and engagement.


IBM TechXchange exceeded the usual conference experience by allowing attendees to earn valuable certifications.  This practical aspect not only enhanced our skill sets but also offered tangible benefits for our professional growth.  It's rare to find a conference that educates and empowers attendees to enhance their credentials.


However, what truly set TechXchange apart was the networking opportunities it presented.  Unlike previous events with a heavy IBM presence, TechXchange featured fewer IBMers, allowing attendees to connect with peers, experts, and thought leaders from various industries. It was refreshing to see IBM championing the exceptional IBM Champions, individuals actively advocating for IBM technologies and positively impacting the world.  While it's natural to feel the pangs of imposter syndrome in their presence, the inspiration drawn from their endeavors is boundless.

IBM Champions

Why You Must Attend TechXchange 2024

So, why am I writing this?  I firmly believe that every IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics client should earmark funding for IBM TechXchange 2024.  Here's why:

  1. Genuine Learning: TechXchange offers an unparalleled learning experience led by industry experts, real users, and consultants who bring practical insights to the table.

  2. Certification Opportunities: The chance to earn certifications can significantly enhance your professional profile, making you a more valuable asset to your organization.

  3. Networking Goldmine: TechXchange facilitates meaningful connections with like-minded individuals, enabling you to exchange ideas and foster collaborations that could shape your career and business. Meeting with the Product Managers was a huge benefit for attendees.

  4. Inspiration and Advocacy: Meeting IBM Champions can ignite your passion for technology and motivate you to contribute positively to your field.


In conclusion, IBM TechXchange 2023 has redefined a tech conference.  It's not just an event; it's a catalyst for growth, learning, and connection.  If you're a Cognos or Planning Analytics client, do yourself a favor and allocate funding for this transformative experience.  Don't miss out on the opportunity to be part of a community that values knowledge, expertise, and innovation.  See you at TechXchange 2024, where minds are truly blown!

IBM TechXchange Conference EMEA 2024: Community & Learning for Tech Experts

  • 22-25 January 2024
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • CCIB - Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona

IBM TechXchange Conference North America 2024 – TBD (typically September)

Stay up to date on the details here - IBM TechXChange

To learn about more valuable events worth attending, make sure you check out our Lodestar Solutions Event Page where we share all the details on game-changing events! 

Empowering Finance Teams with Advanced Technology: Streamlining the Budgeting Process

Empowering Finance Teams with Advanced Technology
Empowering Finance Teams with Advanced Technology
Written by Heather L. Cole, September 28th, 2023

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) play a pivotal role in steering their organizations towards financial success. One of their key responsibilities is the budgeting process. CFOs are increasingly recognizing the need to streamline this process and foster collaboration among various departments to create a budget that aligns with the company's strategic objectives. However, achieving this goal can be challenging without the right tools. In this blog post, we'll delve into the problems associated with outdated budgeting tools and explore the benefits of empowering Financial Planning and Analysis (FPA) teams with advanced technology. We'll also estimate the return on investment (ROI) of adopting modern budgeting solutions.

The Problem with Outdated Tools

1. Inefficiency and Error-Prone Processes:

Traditional budgeting tools, often reliant on spreadsheets, are highly manual and time-consuming. FPA teams spend an inordinate amount of time gathering, inputting, and reconciling data, leaving little room for strategic analysis. Furthermore, manual processes are susceptible to errors, which can lead to inaccurate budget projections and financial decisions.

2. Lack of Collaboration:

Collaboration among various departments is essential for creating a budget that reflects the organization's true needs and priorities. Outdated tools hinder effective collaboration, as they lack real-time sharing capabilities and often involve cumbersome email exchanges of spreadsheet files. This siloed approach can result in misalignment and inefficiencies.

3. Limited Data Visibility:

Traditional tools typically lack robust data analytics and visualization features. This limits the ability to gain insights from historical data and make informed decisions. Without a clear view of the financial landscape, CFOs and FPA teams may struggle to identify trends, risks, or opportunities.

4. Lengthy Budgeting Cycles:

Outdated tools contribute to lengthy budgeting cycles that can hinder an organization's agility. These extended timelines can make it challenging to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions or seize emerging opportunities.

The Benefits of Advanced Technology

1. Efficiency and Automation:

Advanced budgeting tools, such as cloud-based financial planning and analysis platforms, leverage automation to streamline data collection, consolidation, and reconciliation processes. This frees up FPA teams to focus on strategic analysis rather than data entry.

2. Enhanced Collaboration:

Modern budgeting solutions offer real-time collaboration features, enabling multiple departments to work together seamlessly on budget creation and revisions. This fosters alignment and encourages cross-functional communication.

3. Data Insights:

Advanced technology provides sophisticated data analytics and visualization capabilities, allowing CFOs and FPA teams to gain deep insights from historical and real-time data. These insights can inform more accurate budget projections and support data-driven decision-making.

4. Agile Budgeting:

With efficient tools and automation, organizations can adopt agile budgeting practices. This means they can quickly adapt their budgets to respond to market changes, new opportunities, or unexpected challenges.

Estimating the ROI of Advanced Budgeting Tools

Investing in advanced budgeting tools comes with a price tag, but the potential return on investment is substantial. Here's an estimation of the ROI CFOs can expect:

1. Cost Savings:

Modern budgeting tools reduce manual data entry and reconciliation, leading to significant time and labor cost savings. Fewer errors also mean fewer resources spent on correcting mistakes.

2. Improved Decision-Making:

Access to enhanced data analytics and insights enables more informed financial decisions. This can result in better resource allocation, cost optimization, and revenue growth, all contributing to increased profitability.

3. Faster Budgeting Cycles:

Streamlined processes lead to shorter budgeting cycles, which can help organizations react faster to market changes and opportunities. This agility can lead to revenue growth and cost savings.

4. Enhanced Collaboration:

Improved collaboration can lead to better cross-functional understanding and alignment, potentially reducing costly departmental conflicts and inefficiencies.


CFOs play a critical role in driving financial performance and strategic decision-making within their organizations. Streamlining the budgeting process and promoting collaboration across departments are essential steps towards achieving these goals. Outdated tools can hinder progress, but investing in advanced budgeting technology can yield significant benefits.

By embracing modern budgeting solutions, CFOs can improve efficiency, reduce errors, enhance collaboration, gain valuable data insights, and create agile budgets that adapt to changing market dynamics. The estimated return on investment from these tools, including cost savings, improved decision-making, faster budgeting cycles, and enhanced collaboration, makes the case for their adoption compelling. In today's competitive business environment, empowering FPA teams with advanced technology is not just an option; it's a strategic imperative for financial success.

If you think it’s time to explore updating your Budgeting and Planning Tools, join us for our webinar on October 19, 2023.  The Pain of Outgrowing Excel: Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics. To learn more and register visit

The Pain of Outgrowing Excel Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics

Did you find the blog insightful? Check out another recent Lodestar Blog: Unlocking Efficiency and Innovation for Midmarket Companies with IBM Planning Analytics.  

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

what’s new in planning analytics workspace 90
what’s new in planning analytics workspace 90
Written by Mike Bernaiche, September 22nd, 2023

Planning Analytics Workspace 90 was released on September 19, 2023, and there are several items in this update to talk about.  For those of you who went to IBM Tech Exchange in Las Vegas in early September, you heard that there is some amazing stuff coming to Planning Analytics soon.  Stay tuned to our blogs for some big announcements concerning Planning Analytics.  Now on to what’s new in Planning Analytics Workspace 90.

Learn Pane in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

AI-Generated Recommendations Available in Learn Pane - The Learn Pane now provides dynamic AI-generated recommendations as well as static recommendations.  When you interact with the content inside the Learn Pane, the recommendation engine makes daily updates based on what you and other users are viewing. For example, if you and other users use books and views more often, more content about books and views is generated in the Learn Pane.

Learn Pane in Planning Analytics 90

Books and Reporting in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

Set Synchronization Properties for Multiple Widgets Simultaneously – You can now set synchronization on multiple widgets at the same time.  Previously you could only do this one widget at a time.  Simply “ctrl-click” on the widgets and then under properties go to synchronization and choose the items you want to synchronize on.

Removed Ability to Use Delete Key to Remove Single Cell Widgets – You can no longer remove the delete key to remove single cell widgets.  You must now use the delete icon in the icon bar.  Also, a new property in a single cell widget called “Show as Cell”. This must be enabled to modify a single-cell widget.

Select a Member or Set by Typing its Name in an Exploration View – You can now search for a member by typing that info.  Simply click the 3 dots next to a dimension and select enter member.  Now type in that member name and your exploration will update with selection.

Select a Member or Set by Typing its Name in an Exploration View in PAW 90
Select a Member or Set by Typing its Name in an Exploration View in PAW 90

Insert Spacer Rows or Columns – you can now add spacers to your explorations to make the end-user experience better.

Insert Spacer Rows or Columns in PAW 90
Insert Spacer Rows or Columns in PAW 90

Replace Button Now Works on Current Selections in Set - The Replace button in the set editor now also works on the selections you make in the Current set pane. You can select members on both sides of the set editor, either the Available members or the Current set, and replace members in the view.

Modeling in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

Work with Database Logs in Modeling Workbench - You can now access a database's server log, transaction log, and audit log directly from the modeling workbench in Planning Analytics Workspace.

Work with Database Logs in Modeling Workbench in PAW 90

New Baseline Forecast Option - A baseline forecast is a new Planning Analytics Workspace asset that administrators and modelers can create and share with other users in your organization. Administrators, modelers, and analysts with the appropriate permissions can run the baseline forecast at any time and use the forecast to improve the planning process. Consumers cannot run baseline forecasts.

Baseline forecasts enhance the existing forecasting capabilities in Planning Analytics Workspace. You can still create and run ad-hoc forecasts on explorations in a book.

New Baseline Forecast Option in PAW 90
New Baseline Forecast Option in PAW 90
New Baseline Forecast Option in PAW 90

Administration in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

Simplified process to Rename Databases, Snapshots, and User Groups - A new Edit option on the Databases, Lifecycle Management, and Users and Groups pages simplifies the renaming process.

View Users Last Login - An enhancement in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.87 added the ability to view the last login for a user when you downloaded a user report from the Users and Groups page. You can now view the last login for a user directly in Planning Analytics Administration without downloading a report.

View Users Last Login in PAW 90


Planning Analytics Workspace 90 brings good enhancements to your Planning Analytics deployment.  We recommend staying current on the latest releases as many enhancements and bug fixes are included.  Reminder updates are cumulative so if you update to 90, you will get everything from prior releases.

To find fixes that have been included in updates please see this link.  

IBM put together a great list of everything added since Planning Analytics Workspace 58.  You can find this list here

To schedule an upgrade discussion please contact us at