Business Analytics Coaching Blogs
Below is a massive list of coaching blogs. To search for a specific topic, use the search bar to the right.
Where Should Business Intelligence Team Land on the Organizational Chart?
7/3/18 At the IBM Cognos User Group in Miami, I gave a presentation discussing how to increase executive engagement in Business[...]
Are You Ready To Start Raising the BAR (Business Analytics Roadmap)?
5/8/2018 Business Analytics RoadmapDon’t know where to start in your analytics journey? Thinking about investing more money into analytics software[...]
IBM Cognos Analytics Clients Should Plan for the Future with Artificial Intelligence
4/3/2018 The Future is Man and MachineI recently attended IBM’s THINK conference in Vegas, a massive event where IBM announce their[...]
Have You Secured Funding Yet? It’s Budgeting Season, Secure Funding Now For IBM Cognos
Have You Secured Funding Yet? It's Budget Season. Secure Funding Now for IBM Cognos!Do you need process improvement and require[...]
What’s your biggest business challenge? Throwing software at your business challenge might not be the first step to success.
7/12/2017More times than not, we see so many companies that have large business challenges and they tend to think software[...]
Lodestar Solutions is Hiring – Marketing & Sales Administrator
5/11/2017The Marketing and Sales Administrator is responsible for executing sales and marketing initiatives including event coordination, list management, deal registration,[...]
Your IBM Cognos Expertise Could Be Holding You Back!
4/13/2017I have noticed a trend at a number of my long-time IBM Cognos clients. They come to me and say,[...]
Tips to Finding a Dream Job in Technology or Finance
2/1/2017It’s that time a year, when we ask ourselves, “Do I have my dream job?” Too often when I talk[...]
Implementation Tools to Deliver Faster Cheaper Analytics™
11/15/2016As business analytics coaches, we are constantly assisting organizations and individuals on achieving Faster Cheaper Analytics™. Today we are talking[...]
Create a Table of Contents for Videos with Camtasia
10/18/2016Have you ever watched a video for training or documentation purposes only to realize it is so long of a[...]
How to write a powerful email that gets rapid results
9/27/2016Have you ever written an email asking someone for access to certain data or requesting that they do something but[...]
How to be an Analytical Leader: Lessons from a MLB Team President
9/13/2016It’s time to get real and call some of you out. This might come across kind of harsh, but I[...]
How to Define Effective Test Scripts for Dashboards
8/3/2016Testing may be one of the most important steps in your project to deliver robust dashboards and reports. However, in[...]
Secrets To How To Be Productive With Business Intelligence
8/16/2016Do you ever wonder where your time goes? You have a list of goals and strategic BI projects but you[...]
Software as a service contracts – You need to pay attention to the fine print
7/27/2016Are you considering a move to (SaaS) Software as a Service contracts for your Business Intelligence environment? Are you being[...]
Stop Running Analytics Projects Backwards! End User Testing Is Key!
5/26/2016Hey…This is Melissa Bryan, your Business Analytics Coach. It’s my continuing quest to socialize the nerds so that the world[...]
Let's Hit The BAR! Lodestar's “Business Analytics Roadmap Program”
5/18/2016Sounds like fun, right? As Business Analytics Coaches, we are often asked questions like, “I own Cognos and I don’t[...]
Lodestar’s Strategy For Working Remotely With Clients
As a business analytics coach, it is our passion to talk about things that make your job easier. Today, we[...]
Business Analytics Coaching – Drowning in Data & Starving for Wisdom?
1/27/2016Have you purchased expensive business intelligence tools and feel like you might have wasted your money? Are you drowning in[...]
IBM ILMT – Do I Need To Install For Cognos BI, TM1 or Express Environment?
If you have an IBM support renewal coming up, it is a great time to check the requirements of having[...]
Financial Planning Process Improvement With Storyboarding
9/22/15Does anyone dispute that the budgeting and forecasting processes are necessary overhead activities? How painful was your recent process? Are[...]
MotioPI, QubeDocs, Esri Maps – Great Tools for Cognos
9/16/15As a Business Analytics Coach, I’m often asked about security and version control. As most Cognos BI admins know, security[...]
Why You Struggle To Get Executive Buy-In For Your Data and Analytics Projects
7/30/15As a Business Analytics Coach, I work with executives, managers and the people in the trenches to help them create[...]
6 Things Taylor Swift Knows about Business Intelligence Success
7/21/15It’s an undeniable fact that Taylor Swift towers over and dominates everyone when it comes to the music industry. And[...]
Reduce Compliance Cost with IBM Cognos Disclosure Management
7/1/15Ironically, transparency is making us blinded by paper (and electronic copies) of narrative data. The Wall Street Journal recently published[...]
Struggling To Find Cognos BI and TM1 Talent? Coach It!
As a Business Analytics coach at Lodestar Solutions, clients often ask me, “Where can I find talented Cognos BI and[...]
Things Successful IBM Cognos Business Analytics Clients Will Never Say
Why are some projects more successful than others? Why do some Cognos Business Analytics clients feel accomplished while others feel they[...]
How to Lead Innovative Organizations with Data and Analytics
How prepared are you to lead your organization to capitalize on the analytics age? Heather Cole, a thought leader and[...]
How to handle crazy BI reporting requirements – Ask the 5 “W's”
Have you ever received a custom reporting request or data request that makes no sense? Maybe you ask questions and the response[...]
BI Requirements Gathering – Insight From A Scavenger Hunt
We at Lodestar have geared up for 2015 and one of our big topic has been BI Requirements Gathering. During the[...]
16 Technology Phrases That Would Have Sounded Crazy 25-30 Yrs Ago
16 Technology Phrases That Would Have Sounded Crazy 25-30 Yrs Ago Have you ever actually listened to some of the[...]
Recruiting BI Talent – Business Analytics Internships!
Are you struggling to find time for new IBM Cognos development? Wanting to implement the new IBM Cognos Business Intelligence[...]
IBM Support OnBoarding & Getting Started with IBM Help
We know from experience that finding information can be difficult while trying to navigate on IBM’s website. However, IBM Support is trying to make[...]
Lodestar Partners with Heatherized to Improve Your Analytical Skills
Lodestar Solutions, a premier IBM reseller and educator of analytics, has formed a strategic partnership with www.Heatherized.com. Heatherized is a[...]
What are the Skills for Successful Business Analytics Implementation?
I believe most organizations aren’t even tapping 30% of the potential benefits they could realize from their Business Analytics/Intelligence Solutions. [...]
There's An App for That! Lodestar's Recommended Productivity Apps
In today's world, there seems to be an app for everything, so we at Lodestar thought it would be a good idea[...]
Our BI Survey – What's Important to BI Professionals?
We recently put out a Bi survey and what we learned was pretty eye opening…. Our survey of our internal[...]
The MacGyver Approach to BI and Analytics when you have limited resources
I had a conversation with a perspective client the other day when he asked me, “What are the Best Practices[...]
Storytelling to Create Engaging Software Demonstrations
Are you responsible for rolling out new software solutions throughout your organization? Maybe you are in charge of software training. [...]
Software Demonstration Tips – Look Like a Rockstar!
How to Rock your next software demonstration!!!If you’re an IT professional or are responsible for demonstrating software to end users,[...]
Business Analytics Coaching – Does Your Executive Team Need It?
Business Analytics Coaching can be game changing for your organization. Not only can it result in an increase in productivity[...]
Marketing Analytics Must Measure Your Competitive Advantage and be Shared with Everyone
Marketing Analytics provides valuable information on lead and customer data. Marketing Analytics is one of many areas that contributes to[...]
Out of Control Email? 3 Steps to Reduce the Stress
Out of Control Email? 3 Steps to Reduce the Stress It is common knowledge that stress can kill us. But[...]
Time Management for Business Intelligence? The Power of No
Have you ever noticed how many people are stressed out and overcommitted? I witness the results at Starbucks when the[...]
Agile Project Management, Holacracy, and Zappos: Wave of Change
Let’s step back and draw a picture here. We’ll start off with an open field in a valley on the[...]
Find the Best Big Data & Analytics Talent – Look WITHIN!
According to an IDC report, the Big Data technology and services market is anticipated to grow at a compound annual[...]
5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips – What Are They Not Saying?
5 Gathering Requirements Gathering Tips - What Are They Not Saying? The task of requirements gathering for any new project can[...]
Heather Cole is One of 2014 Enterprising Women Of The Year Award Winners
Prestigious Awards Program Recognizes Top Women Entrepreneurs Around The World and Lodestar Solutions' President, Heather Cole, is one of the[...]
Eliminate Job Frustration Without Changing Companies
Are you drowning in job frustration? Surrounded by a bunch of inefficiency? Feel like you’re stuck in the dark ages[...]
5 Attributes of Successful Business Analytics Change Agents
Clients often ask me to interview candidates they are considering for a position on their Business Analytics team. As I[...]
Does your company have a business-driven analytics strategy?
I teach a number of workshops and training classes designed to empower people on Business Intelligence and Business Analytics. In[...]
Analytical Maturity – Where Does Your Company Rank?
When you hear someone talking about the Analytical Maturity of an organization – what does that mean? IBM has put[...]
Pizza & Beer: Bridging the BI Gap between IT & Business
You have successfully installed, built and implemented a BI solution on time and on budget. This is an incredible victory[...]
One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable
I recently met with a financial executive of a large distribution company and he expressed to me his frustration. The company had invested in a Data Warehouse and deployed a leading BI solution and yet, they still had issues with “one version of the truth” (OVOT). They spent significant hours trying to validate which numbers were correct. With a slight smile I said, “One Version of the Truth is Not Attainable.” He looked at me in shock, because many highly paid consultants had told him he just needed to invest in a data warehouse and master data management (MDM) and then put a BI tool on top.
4 Reasons Analytics Software Deployments Fail
With all of the talk about Big Data and Advanced Analytics, many companies are under the false impression that if they purchase a software package or invest in hardware, that will be all they need to be successful. In fact, many companies are finding that they are not seeing the return on investment they had expected. The problem is that deploying an analytic tool is easy. Understanding how the data might be used is less clear. There are a couple things to consider so you can maximize your investment in Advanced Analytics:
Prepare for Consultant Visit and Maximize Their Time
You are all excited about learning and implementing your new software package. You’ve done the “meet and greet” with your sales and service teams and are looking forward to this new relationship. You’ve now scheduled for your consultant to be on-site to assist your eager team. Just like when you prepare to have guests stay over your house, you should prepare for guests to be in your office. Waiting for the last minute or thinking someone else on your team already took care of it never really pans out. Sure, we can monkey around and muddle through the challenges, but the wasted time is longer than the preparation time involved.
Star Schema and Snowflake Schema? To Be Or Not To Be
To star or to snowflake, that is the question…Whether star schema or snowflake schema models perform better is an age old debate between database developers. Both star and snowflake are relational models made up of fact and dimension tables. The difference is a snowflake dimension is made up of several highly normalized tables that remove redundant attributes; whereas, a star schema dimension is a signal denormalized contextual table. Both have a place in data warehousing depending on the objective . However, in most cases when the end objective is killer analytical query performance, the datamart/database should be modeled using star schema techniques.
Business Analytics Software Selection Process
So, you have been tasked with finding a Budgeting, Planning, Forecasting or Reporting solution. This is an exciting opportunity for you to shine but there are a few steps in the process that you must accomplish. Below we spell out the steps and success criteria to running an effective Business Analytic selection process.
Replacing Microsoft FRx
Microsoft has announced that they will no longer be supporting its FRx 6.7 product in 2012. They are replacing FRx with Management Reporter. Microsoft’s official FRx replacement is Management Reporter, and although it’s a promising technology and is definitely next generation. It only reports on GL data at the moment as well as lacking some key FRx features, and most importantly, it’s not available for Microsoft competitors. FRx was much more “feature” rich and functional than Management Reporter, making it preferred for the accounting staff and distribution of financial reports.
Dashboard Feasibility – Evaluating Risk and Opportunity
Are you struggling to figure out what should go on a dashboard? If so, you are not alone. Lodestar Solutions has created a methodology to help define what should be on the dashboard. The first step is to define the areas of Opportunity. Opportunities are areas of the business that would benefit from better access to information for example Sales, Human Resources, and/or Finance. Once you define the area you want to focus now you need to explore the risk factors.
Defining Successful Test Scripts for IBM Cognos Implementation
A key step in a successful IBM Cognos implementation is testing. Many clients struggle with what to include in their test scripts. Here’s a little Lodestar Solution tip. As you go thru the design phase, make sure all power users have 3x5 sticky notes. As you define your design, write down each process that you believe should be thoroughly tested on a sticky note. Include on it a description, expected outcome, data requirements, and foreseeable issues.
Database Documentation Made Easy With APEX SQL
Having to create documentation is like having to go to the dentist. You know you have to go and you dread it every six months. Documentation is similar because everyone dreads it and whenever it is mentioned you can find hundreds of reasons to do other things until your teeth start to hurt. Well, I have a great dentist for you and your Sql database. The product is called APEX SQL. First, before I give you a review and how to use it, there are few points that I have to make. The product only works if you have a normalized database with proper indices, primary keys/foreign keys, and good object naming conventions.
Is Normal BI Change Management Too Restrictive For Finance?
When IT departments start to apply these stringent standards to the IBM Cognos Planning/TM1 environment - the challenges begin. I see a lot of clients that utilize IBM Cognos BI and IBM Cognos Planning TM1, but they don’t leverage the great integration for these two components. When I discuss this with the teams they state they would love for their BI reports to include real time Tm1 data. However, after the initial excitement wears off and we map out the process to realize this vision; the reality of the stringent change management rules often kill the project.
“Politics of a Project” – Project Manager Tips
Ever have a project that could be of great benefit to the company, but you can’t seem to get it off the ground because of a group of unhappy people? I like to call these folks “unhappies”. Every company has them and they seem to be able to instigate negative behavior just by walking into a room. They are never happy unless something is their idea or they somehow get the credit, even though they are masters at dodging work. All of us wish these people would magically decide to quit; but that never happens and the likelihood of them being fired is slim to none. The unfortunate reality is that project managers have to win over unhappies or wield enough power to silence them.
How to Implement BI – Part 3
Educate 1. Know What the Software Can Do. IBM Cognos has a number of modules, so be realistic about what the software is designed to do. Clients often try to fit a square peg into a round hole by using modules beyond their capabilities. 2. Understand IBM Cognos Licensing. Take the time to understand what licenses you own and what they do. You might find functionality that you aren’t even using.
How to Implement BI – Part 2
Lead the People 1. Clearly State Expectations. Be sure each member of the team knows their specific responsibilities and deadlines. This will save time and prevent duplication of effort or tasks being overlooked. 2. Promote Candor Within the Team. You can’t afford to have surprises, and direct communication eliminates them. No one has all the answers; encourage people to ask questions. This will help team members share information.
How to Implement BI – Part 1
We are often asked by contacts what makes up a successful software implementation. Lodestar Solutions has come up with a list of 4 aspects that we believe are vital to the success of any project and can be used as a guide in nearly any field. Part 1: Lead the Project 1. Get an Executive Sponsor. Get sponsorship from your organization’s senior executives; determine their expectations. Meeting the expectations of the executives will help provide continued funding. 2. Create a Project Charter. A project charter is a mini business plan for your project that defines success, and is approved by the team members. It includes objectives, risk factors, timelines, and resources.
How to create an innovative culture – Part 1
I recently attended the CFO Rising conference in Orlando, FL put on by CFO.com. At the conference it became clear that as the economy continues to challenge all of us, the companies and people that are thriving have something in common. THEY ARE INNOVATING! So what exactly are they innovating? Everything! From streamlining internal process that are time consuming and inefficient, saving man hours, to looking at new revenue opportunities for their products. I know not exactly ground breaking, but it made me think, “How do we get people in our organizations to INNOVATE?”
Help Navigating IBM Cognos Support
For those of us who come from the Cognos world and were just getting the hang of how to find answers to the most cryptic error messages known to man, I have news for you. Forget every trick you learned of navigating the Cognos Support system and welcome to the IBM Super Highway of Information a.k.a. IBM.com. This is a much needed blog for two reasons: 1. To forewarn any IBM client; DO NOT WAIT on getting your IBM.com ID setup until you have a production down issue. This process takes about 5 business days to complete. 2. Provide you the quick and dirty steps to get setup painlessly and quickly (relatively speaking).
Microsoft vs Cognos BI implementation – Decisions, Decisions
So you're about to start a BI project and have to choose between a specific tool. There are a few major players in the BI world, each of which has pro's and con's and depending on the customer, one may be better than the other. Business needs and flexible functionality should always be a top priority.
Developing a Production Environment Disaster Plan
I have you thinking about another environment for testing, development, and patches which is separate from your production environment, now we can talk about the process of deploying to production from development. In Cognos, you can move content from one environment/server to another environment by using import and export within the Cognos Administration. You can schedule import or export entries from a deployment archive to a separate server….see the topic Schedule Management in Cognos Connection Help for more details.
Criteria For Evaluating Consultants – Risk of Independent Consultants
I have a client that we began working with about a year ago. They previously used another firm that had lost a lot of people, some of whom become “independents”. One such person had written an interface for them and they wanted it modified. So they called the “independent “ in without our knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, we play well with others - but communication is the key! The “independent” for some reason decided to upgrade their Cognos Finance, knowing they had Cognos Planning integrated with CF, but not thinking about the ramifications on upgrading one piece at a time. Choo Choo Choo, do you hear the train coming down the track? Yes train wreck ahead! So I get the distress call! "HELP!!!" As you suspected the “independent” killed access to the entire planning system and they were getting ready for a forecast. So I asked, “Can I speak with him to see what happened in hopes that we can fix it faster?” “No, he’s unavailable”. “Is he in the bar drinking?” I asked. “No he left,” they replied “What do you mean he left???” “Ummm, he’s on a plane going home.” Stunned, I asked, “Are you kidding me? Let me get this straight, he decided to upgrade a piece knowing there was integration with other moving parts, blew up the system and LEFT?” “Yes, he said, “I don’t know how to fix it, call Lodestar" and left.” Needless to say our technical team stepped in and working with the clients IT department, were able to get them up and running before their forecast was due.MORAL OF THE STORY! Independents typically work alone and can’t fix it if they screw up. You do not control them, so they can leave if they want. MY QUESTION – Do you think the “independent” billed them for his time and travel?
Finding a BI Consultant Who's Your Soul Mate
Looking for a consulting partner? Finding and selecting the right partner can be the difference between a great and mutually beneficial marriage and a marriage fraught with bad communication, unmet expectations, and cheating. I liken selecting a consulting partner to marriage because I believe it carries the same weight and should not be entered into lightly.