Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal

IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 16th, 2024

Are you navigating the complexities of renewing your IBM Analytics software directly with IBM, perhaps feeling uncertain about whether you're truly maximizing value? Or maybe you're at a crossroads with your current Cognos or Planning Analytics version, aware that it's inching closer to sunset and will soon be unsupported, leaving you in a quandary about finding the time and resources for an essential upgrade. If this resonates with you, it's time to consider a strategic pivot that could redefine your approach to your software renewal and upgrades. I'm Heather Cole from Lodestar Solutions, and we're here to introduce you to a game-changing opportunity that could alleviate your concerns and elevate your analytics capabilities.

Why Shift from Direct Renewals to Lodestar Solutions?

Choosing Lodestar Solutions for your IBM Analytics renewal isn't just about continuing your software support; it's about entering a partnership that extends far beyond a transactional relationship. Unlike direct renewals with IBM, which might offer a straightforward continuation of services, Lodestar Solutions enriches this experience with a suite of added benefits designed to enhance your team's efficiency, knowledge, and strategic insight into using IBM Analytics tools.

Did you know?

IBM offers clients that renew their Cognos, SPSS, or Planning Analytics licensing at the exact same rates that IBM Gold Partners, like Lodestar Solutions offer.  That’s right.  There are no extra savings by going directly with IBM.  However, there is extra VALUE by working with Lodestar Solutions.

Exclusive Access and Support: 

With Lodestar, every renewal comes with membership to our quarterly live virtual client-only user groups, membership in our monthly Analytic Success Klub to develop advanced soft skills, as well as quarterly webinars focusing on maximizing your analytics initiatives, and all clients get semi-annual reviews to ensure your needs are comprehensively met. Our approach is to not just renew but to empower, educate, and elevate your team's capabilities.

Introducing the Technical Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle

Recognizing the challenges many face with upgrading to the latest versions of Cognos or Planning Analytics—be it due to technical resource constraints, time limitations, or the technical intricacies of an upgrade process—Lodestar Solutions offers a tailored solution: the Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle. This exclusive package is designed specifically for new clients who are at a critical juncture, needing to upgrade their software to stay current and supported.  We have offered upgrade bundles for years, see our blog, Solving the IBM Cognos Upgrade Challenge.  But now we are bundling our bundle with IBM support renewals.

Seamless Upgrade Experience:

Our Upgrade Bundle is the antidote to upgrade hesitations, providing the expert technical support needed to transition smoothly to the latest software version. This ensures you not only stay ahead of the curve with the most advanced analytics tools but also do so with the assurance of continuous support and guidance.

Fixed Rate:

Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade Bundles provide your upgrades at a fixed rate, so there are no surprises in the cost if there are unforeseen issues with your upgrade.  Lodestar Solutions carries the risk.

Enhanced Value Proposition:

This bundle goes beyond a simple renewal or upgrade; it's a comprehensive solution that aligns with your strategic goals, offering unparalleled value. You'll benefit from our full suite of renewal advantages while ensuring your software remains cutting-edge, all within a framework designed to be cost-effective and supportive of your organizational needs.

Licensing Review:

As part of the bundle Lodestar will provide a complimentary License review to ensure you will not fail an audit, and identify if there is a more advantageous, economical licensing structure you may benefit from.  Did you know IBM clients should expect to be audited by IBM every 3-4 years?   About IBM Audits  You don’t want to fail an audit!

Make the Strategic Pivot Today

If your organization is directly renewing IBM Analytics software and facing the imminent need to upgrade, Lodestar Solutions' Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle presents an opportune solution. It's an invitation to not just maintain your software but to strategically enhance it, supported by a partner dedicated to your success.

Let's redefine the way you approach your IBM Analytics software renewal and upgrade. Contact Lodestar Solutions at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to explore this unique bundle tailored to new clients. 

Act Fast: Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal.  It's time to transition from direct renewals to a partnership that promises more than just continuation but a significant elevation of your analytics capabilities. Join us on this journey and unlock the full potential of your IBM Analytics investment with Lodestar Solutions.

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.

Conclusion:

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 services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 1st, 2023

The number one question I get asked from our IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics customers is, “How can we increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics?”  One client made me laugh when they asked, “How do you control spreadsheet anarchy within an organization?  The ongoing trend by some is to grab large amounts of data from multiple published data sources and spin up highly customized versions of existing reports or parts of other reports.”   Spreadsheet Anarchy, what a great way to describe it.  It’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Today I’ll share a few secrets to increasing end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Listen to End Users Challenges

The first step to solving spreadsheet anarchy is to understand why end users are not using the tools you are providing.  When you stop telling them to use Cognos or Planning Analytics and start listening to their challenges and why they feel the tools are not meeting their needs, you will discover the cause.  In our experience the cause is one or more of the following:

  •  the end users were not properly trained on Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • clients are on an outdated release and the functionality they seek is in a new release.
  • the data they seek has not been incorporated into Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • functionality has been restricted by administrators.

Share the WHY!

After you listen to their challenges and why they are using spreadsheets, it’s important to share the WHY.  Why is it important that they use the tools you provide?  Is it that you want to ensure everyone is working from the validated and secured data?  If so, share what happens when decisions are made on bad data.  Is it to eliminate the errors that spreadsheets are prone to having?  We recommend you create a list of why you need your users to standardize and make sure your team knows how to communicate the message.

Engage Users in The Creation (WORKSHOPS)

It’s been long proven that people support and embrace what they create.  A fast way to increase end user adoption is to engage end users in the design and development of the solution.  I know you may be thinking whoa that would be nuts, they don’t know how to create reports or models.  But hear me out, you don’t need them to create the Cognos reports or Planning Analytics models, you need to let them discuss the business goals they are tasked with achieving and the challenges they are facing.  The best way to do this is by hosting workshops.  Workshops can be held live, in person, or virtually via zoom.  If you are not familiar with workshops check out or blog on Discovering Requirements.

Continuous Training of New Functionality

The next step to increase end user adoption of analytics is to provide continuous training.  Do you see that?  CONTINUOUS!  IBM keeps adding new functionality to the software and end users typically only really learn what they need to use at the time.  So, it’s important to provide continuous training and workshop opportunities for your end users.  Consider building a training program internally.  If you need help with training, here’s a link to how Lodestar Solutions can help. 

IBM Infusing AI & Improve Self Reliance

IBM has done a great job of working to help increase end user adoption of Cognos and Planning Analytics as well.  They have done this in a number of ways.

Better In Application Help

Do you remember the day of the Red Books?  They were guides to help you use Cognos.  Or maybe you purchased the big, IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide, and had it on your desk.  Lugging that around was a good workout. 

IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide

Today IBM has incorporated the details you need into their in application help and search.  This empowers end users to try new things and feel more confident using the solutions.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

IBM has incorporated NLP capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which enables users to ask questions in natural language (normal words) and get answers in a human-like response.  This allows for more intuitive and user-friendly interactions with the software.

Predictive Analytics

One of the coolest things we are seeing from IBM is the integration of  predictive analytics capabilities into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This allows users to forecast trends and identify patterns in data.  This is especially useful for Planning Analytics users that want to leverage the data to forecast out the future.  The result is end users can make more informed decisions and optimize their business strategies.

Cognitive Computing

Did you notice IBM changed the name of their products again?  Cognos is now IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson, and TM1 became Planning Analytics, and is now IBM Planning Analytics with Watson.  Well, it was not just the marketing team being creative.  IBM has incorporated cognitive computing and Watson technologies into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This includes the use of machine learning algorithms and other advanced analytics techniques to automate data analysis and decision-making processes.

Intelligent Automation

IBM has introduced greater automation capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which allows for the automation of routine data tasks such as data preparation, cleansing, and transformation.  Automation is the key to increasing productivity, so look at where you are spending time doing repetitive tasks and see if you can automate it.  This will give you time to focus on more complex data analysis and strategic decision-making.  (Cognos Automation)

Cognos SDK

For Cognos users the IBM Software Development Kit (SDK) is used to automate many tasks.  But what a lot of users don’t know is IBM includes the Cognos SDK in the Admin license.  This has not always been the case.  You used to need to buy a separate license.  Here’s our very old blog, where we informed everyone of this change. 

The Answer

We can all agree it’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.  The first step is to create a Plan that includes engaging with your end users.  I am a huge fan of workshops because they can align the teams and build camaraderie even if done virtually.  Keep an eye out, Lodestar will be sharing more on hosting workshops soon.

If you are on an old release of Planning Analytics or Cognos, it’s probably time to upgrade.  Lodestar solutions can help you plan your upgrade and provide technical services and training for your team.  For more information email services@lodestarsolutions.com.

IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!

IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!
IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Price Increase Coming!
Written by Heather L. Cole and Mike Bernaiche, October 21st 2022

Inflation is everywhere!  Have you seen the price of eggs lately?  Well, I am sure you will not be surprised that inflation is impacting the technology industry too.  Software costs, support renewal costs and consulting are all rising.  IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics price increase is coming in January 2023.  Unlike the price of eggs that increases every trip to the store IBM has held their prices all year. But that’s about to change!

(Want to learn more about what’s causing this inflation, check out this NY Times article.)

IBM Price Increase

IBM has announced that effective January 1, 2023, that most of their products worldwide will increase 8% with a few countries increasing at a different rate.  See IBM’s recent announcement for your specific country. 

For many of us 8% seems outrageous, but is it?  The Consumer Price Index is around 8.2%.  Pricing all around us from gas, to food, to well everything is increasing.  Even the government is recognizing inflation by increasing social security payments in 2023 by 8.7%.  So, thank you IBM.  An 8% increase by IBM is not that bad. 

Take Action Now!

Budget and Save Money

My goal is to make sure every IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics client knows the 8% price increase is coming.  This should allow you to plan accordingly and make sure your budget for 2023 reflects this increase because your annual software support renewal will reflect the 8% increase.  For some IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics clients that have not reviewed their licensing with an IBM licensing expert recently, there may be ways to reduce your support costs.  At Lodestar Solutions we have helped hundreds of clients save on support by ensuring they are in the correct licensing mix.  Think of it this way, licensing is like a cell phone plan, IBM comes out with new bundles and licensing models periodically.  But, if you don’t ask if you are on the right licensing plan, you might end up paying more than you need to.  (See our blog How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics)

If you would like a licensing review with one of our IBM Licensing experts, email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Buy Software Now to Save

The second reason I want to sing this from the roof tops is that there is an opportunity!!  If you believe you will need additional licenses of IBM Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics, SPSS or any other IBM products in 2023 you might want to act now!  Many clients Lodestar Solutions’ works with are in acquisition and merger mode.  If this is you, you may need more licenses with your acquisition.  Or maybe you are rolling out new dashboards or planning models and need to add users.

It’s important to know that December is IBM’s end of year, which is always the best time to buy software and the pricing is still at 2022 rates.

NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY SOFTWARE!

Buy Future Year's Support to Save

But let me tell you a little trick!  Often when a client makes a significant purchase, they miss an opportunity to lock in their future year’s support.  How can you lock in support?  If you prepay for 2 years with your purchase, you will reduce the annual uplift and save money. 

Now, I know you are thinking “we don’t want to spend our cash.”  So, consider leveraging IBM Global Financing to purchase your licenses and 2 more years of support.  At Lodestar Solutions, we can help you do the analysis to see what rates you qualify for with IBM Global financing and see if the numbers work to save you money.  (Learn more about IBM Global Financing)

Consulting Rates Increasing Too

I would be remised if I did not also announce that Lodestar Solutions, and most consulting firms are increasing their rates too. 

Over the past year we have done our best to keep prices for our services at the same rates we have had for the last 5+ years. As we mentioned above, costs are rising and as such we will be increasing the price for services approximately 8.5% in 2023. This cost increase will be reflected on Statements of Work created starting Jan 1, 2023.  We hate to do this but to retain our top talent we need to compensate them fairly.

Lodestar Solutions offers many services including:

  • Technical Support – This includes upgrades, installation of new IBM Analytics software, database work, security and much more.
  • 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.
  • Training – Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics training for both the novice and experienced. Including both modeler and end user training.

This is our first consulting price increase in many years, and we strive to show value far above the cost.

Lodestar Value Add -

This is our first consulting price increase in many years, and we strive to show value far above the cost.  One of the benefits that add a ton of value to our clients is our Lodestar Solutions’ Client Only, Quarterly Virtual User Groups. These are live interactive events that allow our clients to network and learn from our other clients.  We record all content and offer our clients access to our library of prior users group sessions.  This allows Lodestar clients to reference our content at any time. If you are a current Lodestar client and have not accessed your library, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will help you get access.

Our next user group is scheduled for Nov 15, 2022 (Cognos Analytics) and Nov 17, 2022 (Planning Analytics) at 11am – 2pm est. If you are an active Lodestar client and want to attend but have not received an invitation, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will ensure you are on the right list.

In Summary

Unfortunately, a lot of things must happen to slow inflation.  IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Price Increase is Coming.  We can’t stop that. But we all can plan and take action NOW to SAVE MONEY!  If you would like to discuss your unique situation, email us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

Tips for Acquiring a Cognos Client

Tips for Acquiring a Cognos Client
Tips for Acquiring a Cognos Client
Written by Heather L. Cole, August 4th 2022

There seems to be a trend recently, at Lodestar Solutions we are seeing more and more of our IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics clients in acquisition mode.  Some are buying their competitors, while others are expanding into new geographic territories.  We like to think they are growing through acquisition because their IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics solutions are helping them become strategic.  If you are one of the growing IBM Analytic clients, here are some tips you need to consider if you are acquiring a Cognos client.

Determine What Tools the Acquired Firm Has

When you are in acquisition mode, there’s a lot of work that must happen.  The due diligence phase, the actual acquisition and then when the deal closes, the work of consolidating the organization and possibly the systems.  

At some point in the process, you want to discuss what reporting and planning solutions are used by both firms.  At Lodestar Solutions we recommend you treat this as a mini project where both teams can share the solutions they use and functionality they require.  But here’s a tip, don’t wing it.  You want to impress your new team members, so you want to practice demoing your Cognos or Planning Analytics.  If you are a Lodestar Solutions client, reach out to Services@Lodestarsolutions.com and we will help coach you on demoing.  If you are not, you should check out my video on demoing software.  This is your time to shine.

As part of this process, we recommend the team collectively creates a list of functional requirements they need to accomplish their work, and then score the various solutions.  You may discover your needs are so diverse it’s best to just keep the solutions each firm has.  Or you may determine it will be best to move your new team members onto Cognos and/or IBM Planning Analytics.  In that event, you will most likely need additional licenses. 

But don’t just call IBM or a partner and buy more users.  Acquiring a Cognos client is a time to evaluate the licensing you have and ensure that you have the correct, most economical licensing based on your new needs and user counts.  At Lodestar Solutions, we offer a complimentary What the Heck Do I Own session where we walk you through your licensing options and determine the best fit for you.  To register for this session, email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  

If They Own IBM Analytics Licensing

It’s not uncommon for our Cognos or Planning Analtyics clients to acquire a Cognos client.  They may use Cognos, IBM Planning Analytic and/or SPSS.  In that situation there are some very important questions to ponder!   Failure to review these questions could cause you to fail an IBM audit, (see our blog on IBM Audits) pay more than you need for IBM Analytic Software and Support, or lose licenses all together.

Question 1: Are you acquiring the entire organization and therefore all licenses need to be moved?  Or only part of the company in which case you must work with legal or MA team to determine if the purchase of the company includes their IBM licensing? 

You might find that you need to buy additional IBM Analytic Licensing if they were not included in the purchase.

Question 2: Where and under what legal organization should your IBM Licensing be held?

This is important especially if you own on-premise licensing because that is an asset.  Like any asset you want to make sure it is legally owned by the proper company.  But you will also want to determine what location the licensing should be held.  The address of the licensing could have significant impact on whether you are charged sales tax on an additional license purchase and on IBM support fees. 

Once you determine what legal entity you want to own the licensing under, and where, it’s time to communicate the change to IBM and sign some paperwork to legally transfer the asset.  You can contact your IBM Rep or Lodestar Solutions can help you migrate licenses to a single site, or separate.  For help moving sites, and consolidating them, contact renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

WARNING!  Failure to move licenses to the correct legal entity could result in failing an audit!!!

Question 3: What are the estimated user counts needed after the acquisition?

As part of the process of acquiring a Cognos client, we strongly recommend a licensing review.  This means you want to review your current user types and counts held by both companies.  You may be consolidating some departments so you may not need as many licenses.  Or you may find you have more demand for Cognos, Planning Analytics or SPSS and you need additional users.   If you aren’t sure of what you own, call us for our What the Heck Do I Own session where we walk you through your current licenses and educate you on all the cool new IBM functionality you own today.  To register for this session email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com

Licensing Review

We also recommend you evaluate if after the acquisition and consolidation of your sites, you are even in the correct licensing mix.  At Lodestar Solutions we have worked with many clients optimizing their licensing to save money and allow for growth.  Some clients have benefited from migrating off the typical authorized user model to a more server, or processor value unit model (PVU).  (What the Heck is a PVU)

For more information on licensing options see my Linkedin article.

Lodestar Solutions, IBM Analytics Software Licensing Evaluation Services is available to help you understand your options.  For more information email us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call us at 813-415-2910.

Question 4: Who should be the IBM Primary Contact?

It is also important to review and update who the contact is on file with IBM.  Failing to have the correct people registered with IBM could cause delays in filing cases with IBM, and not receiving your support renewal quote and risking lapse of support coverage.  Neither are a situation you want to experience.   For more details on how to change your contacts with IBM see our blog, How to Change the Primary Contact Name of IBM Cognos.  Note, this process is the same for IBM Planning Analytics and SPSS.

Contact Us

Hopefully this provided you the information you need to successfully merge your IBM Analytics solution and licensing when you are acquiring a Cognos client.  But you don’t have to go it alone.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help answer all your questions.  Just call us at 813-415-2910 or email services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success

Facilitating Analytics Discovery for Success
Facilitating Analytics Discovery for Success
Written by Heather L. Cole, April 28th 2022

Are you looking for more time to deliver analytics?  Maybe your team is short staffed, and you are doing the work of 2-3 people.  I get it!  I have been in that race, and it can be stressful.  So, I must ask you, have you ever taken a step back and asked yourself, “How can I be more effective in my role delivering analytics to my organization?”  We spend so much time moving through the motions, responding to urgent requests from executives and yet what if we just stopped and took a few steps back and say can I be more effective?  When I did this as an IBM Cognos consultant, I realized I needed to learn how to be better at facilitating analytics discovery for success. 

Time to Become More Effective

Think about it.  If you had a crystal ball and could identify exactly what your executives wanted, if you could not only read their mind but help them determine what they want, you would be so effective.  No more building reports and dashboards people don’t use.  No more scrambling as they changed their minds daily.  You would have executives calling you to meet with you as they strategically plan the growth of the organization.

What is Facilitation?

Facilitation is the act facilitating or act of making easier according to Merriam -Webster dictionary.  So, facilitating analytics discovery is the act of making analytics discovery easier.  Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that better?  Note I use the word discovery and not requirements gathering intentionally.  You see at Lodestar Solutions we believe users often don’t know what they want.  So, there’s nothing to gather until you help the users discover what’s possible and what they would benefit from.

easy button

I am guessing you have taken a few training programs on how to use Cognos, Tableau, Qlik, Power BI or other solutions.  So, you know how to build reports.  Maybe you even are working on an advanced degree in Business Analytics from a school like University of South Florida here in Tampa.  But how much time have you spent learning how to do proper discovery?  How much time have you spent learning to facilitate an effective meeting? 

It's okay if you haven’t!  Most people in our industry, haven’t.  It’s rare I see a consultant or analytic professional skilled at facilitating discovery sessions.  The good news, however, is that you can learn it! 

For me I had been working in the industry for years, before I realized I was great at inspiring and motivating clients, but I would meet with clients and ask what are you doing today?  My goal was to simplify and automate the manual processes they had already defined. 

Facilitation of Analytic Discovery Experts

But one day, I took that step back and challenged myself!  I asked what do the experts in facilitation of analytic discovery do?  You know what I learned?  I didn’t know anyone good at it.  I could not think of a single role model in this area.  Who do you know that is fabulous at leading a thought-provoking discussion for executives around analytics?  Are you drawing a blank too?

After facing the hard fact that facilitation and discovery are not commonly taught, and that most of us wing it, I decided it was time to take action.  I started down my professional development journey of learning about and teaching classes in facilitation, influence, presentation techniques, and psychology of teams.  I certified in Scrum and I began to implement what I learned. 

The results were amazing! 

Benefits of Learning Facilitation.

  •  Clients and their teams gained clarity.
  • Executives gain confidence in the teams and engaged more.
  • End Users become part of the solutions and end user adoption increased.
  • Projects were more rewarding and gained visibility at the top levels of the organization.
  • The duration to delivery for projects shrunk.
  • And clients saved a lot of money.

But the biggest win for our clients was that they were empowered to host their own internal discovery sessions, because the world is changing, your business is changing and analytic discovery is not a one and done process.

Be Transformational

When Business Analytic Professionals learn to facilitate analytic discovery for success they will help lead the organization and help transformation.  Regardless of if you are on a BI team, or in Finance this is your time to lead.  For finance professionals you should see our earlier blog, Finance Must lead Business Transformation Before Someone Else Does

You are Not Alone!

My journey to be come an Analytics Leader with the skills in Facilitating Analytic Discovery sessions was a very long and expensive journey.  I traveled the world attending personal development conferences, joining masterminds, reading books.  But it doesn’t have to take you that long!  

Lodestar Solutions, Inc. is creating a new program that is designed specifically for analytic professionals!  This will be a virtual workshop, where you learn proven methods to facilitate analytic discovery.  Keep an eye out for our announcement coming soon.  If you find this interesting email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and share your challenges.

911 – Log4j Security Risk Affects IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos…

Log4j Security Risk Affects IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos
Log4j Security Risk Affects IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos
Written by Heather L. Cole, December 16th, 2021

There is an identified Log4j security vulnerability that we believe exposes IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos Analytics, ILMT, SPSS Stat and Motio Users.  This is not caused by IBM but by a widely used logging library.  This issue has become a full-blown security meltdown, affecting digital systems across the internet.  Hackers are already attempting to exploit it, but even as fixes emerge, researchers warn that the flaw could have serious repercussions worldwide.

The problem lies in Log4j, a ubiquitous, open-source Apache logging framework that developers use to keep a record of activity within an application.  Security responders are scrambling to patch the bug, which can be easily exploited to take control of vulnerable systems remotely.

This vulnerability in Java (Log4j) is affecting hundreds of thousands of users of many products in use today including some IBM products. To be clear this is an issue affecting many software platforms that utilize Java, not just IBM.  Among your IBM catalog of products that you are concerned about is IBM Cognos Analytics, Planning Analytics, ILMT, SPSS Stat and Motio.

IBM Security X force Red has been working nonstop to identify and provide guidance and fixes for affected products. Below is a list of links to fixes for each product.

Fixes and Patches for Log4j Vulnerability 

Fixes and patches can be found at IBM Fix Central. Enter your product name, version and operating system and then select the fix needed for each product.

Cognos Analytics – Fixes available for 11.2.1, 11.1.7 and 11.0.13

Info - Security Bulletin: IBM Cognos Analytics: Apache log4j Vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) - fixes are linked in this blog post.

Fix Central - IBM Support: Fix Central - Select fixes

Planning Analytics – Update Planning Analytics Workspace to the latest version released on Dec 14. PAW 2.0.71

Info - Security Bulletin: IBM Planning Analytics 2.0: Apache log4j Vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) - IBM PSIRT Blog

Fix Central - IBM Support: Fix Central - Select fixes

Controller –

Info - Security Bulletin: IBM Cognos Controller 10.4.2 IF15: Apache log4j Vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) - IBM PSIRT Blog

Fix Central – none yet.

SPSS Statistics - Security Bulletin: Log4Shell Vulnerability affects IBM SPSS Statistics (CVE-2021-44228

ILMT – update ILMT to 9.2.8

Info – CVE-2021-44228 and CVE-2021-4104 Log4j library vulnerabilities in License Metric Tool (ibm.com)

Fix Central - IBM Support: Fix Central - Identify fixes

Motio CI – upgrade to 3.2.10 FL8

Fix - Log in | Motio Customer Portal

SAAS Planning Analytics Customers - IBM has added the patches to their cloud SaaS Planning Analytics so you are all set!

More to Come...

There may be additional releases in the coming days and weeks for these products and others. Lodestar will continue to provide updates as this situation continues to develop and fixes become available.

If you are an active Lodestar Solutions client and were unable to attend our webinars on this issue you will find the recording in our Lodestar Solutions’ Client Only Portal.  If you don’t have access to this library, email Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will set you up.  

Do You Need Help?

If you have a SOW in place with us, then email Mike to schedule help. If you don’t have an emergency SOW with us or are out of hours, again email Mike and he will send you a new SOW for signature.  Remember, entering an SOW cost you nothing.  We only bill for hours you use.  services@lodestarsolutions.com

Lodestar Solutions has your back, call us with questions 813-415-2910.

IBM Lifetime Champion Award to Heather Cole

IBM Lifetime Champion Award to Heather Cole
IBM Lifetime Champion Award to Heather Cole
Written by Heather Cole, July 29th 2021

About Heather L Cole

If you are not familiar with Heather Cole, she transforms CEO’s and their organizations to experience hype-growth.  Her 30+ years of experience owning and growing a software reseller and implementation firm along with her life-long dedication to personal development has made her a leading high performance and technology success coach.  What’s more, Heather is not just an advisor and CEO coach, she is also a business owner, thought leader, author and speaker.  Her teachings and skills have touched the lives of thousands of people around the world via her insights in business strategy, analytics and the future of businesses during the data revolution.

As the founder of Lodestar Solutions, an IBM partner, and Heatherized, Inc. she still manages to find time to serve others as an Executive Advisor combining her diverse knowledge in Finance, IT, Law, Psychology, Sales and Marketing.  Heather is also a Certified High-Performance Coach, Licensed Attorney, Scrum Master and has over 25 years of experience in IT, Business Intelligence and Analytics.

She is a two-time best-selling author, a five-time winner of the IBM Champion Award and sits on the national board of Financial Executives International (FEI).  In her free time, Heather and her husband Gary Lafferty volunteer at Ready for Life, a charity that helps youth that age out of foster care in St. Petersburg, FL.

IBM Champion Lifetime Achievement Award

The IBM Champion Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes IBM Champions who stand above their peers for service to the community.  Over multiple years, these IBM Champions consistently excel and positively impact the community.  They lead by example, are passionate about sharing knowledge, and provide constructive feedback to IBM.

The IBM Lifetime Champion Award has only been given to 32 people throughout the world covering all aspects of IBM offerings.  The Lifetime Champion Award is a unique award within the IBM Champion Program.  IBM Champions are thought as leaders that are active in their communities to help promote technologies.  They are not IBM employees but rather clients or partners that are actively blogging, speaking, organizing events, writing books, and so much more.  Other 2021 IBM Lifetime Champions include Jean-Georges Perrin, Dave Beulke, Simon Thompson, Darren Surch and Greg Hodgkinson.

When asked about her recent Lifetime IBM Champion award, Heather said, “I am humbled to be a part of an amazing group of thought leaders and technologists.  I would be lying if I did not admit that my imposter syndrome rages when I meet with other IBM Champions, because these people play at another level.  I guess this award is the universe’s way of reminding me to Level Up and play bigger and bolder!”

What is an IBM Champion?

Want to learn what makes a great IBM Champion?  Hear from Heather Cole and other IBM Champions on this IBM video.

2021 IBM Lifetime Champions

If you consider yourself a thought leader in the IBM world, consider becoming an IBM Champion.  You can register here.

If you are interested in having Heather Cole speak at an upcoming event, conference, or webinar, connect with Heather on LinkedIn.

Congratulations to Heather and all the IBM Lifetime Champions.

What is the Number One Reason Why Analytic Software Projects Fail?

What is the Number One Reason Software Analytics Projects Fail?
What is the Number One Reason Software Analytics Projects Fail?
Written by Heather L. Cole, July 15th, 2021

Organizations will spend significant hours and resources evaluating analytic solutions like IBM Cognos Analytics.  They will then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on analytic software and consulting services.  Heck some clients even decide their Analytics project was a failure, so they investigate other tools and spend more money on the migration only to be in the same spot but with a lot less money in their accounts.  Analytic Software Project failures are not unique. But there is one question we never hear organizations ask in the software evaluation process and it is the one question everyone should be asking. “What is the number one reason why Analytic Software Projects fail?”

I have been working in the analytic software space for over 25 years, and I believe I have only been asked this question once.  Yes, once in 25 years. 

Answer why analytic projects fail…

Imagine if I could let you in on a secret of why analytic software projects fail and to solve this problem would not cost you a dime.  That’s right regardless of why you are using Microsoft Power BI, IBM Cognos Analytics, Tableau or Qlik, there is one common reason analytics projects fail and to solve the problem is easy! The reason is…. 

EXPECTATIONS!

Expectations

When was the last time you were disappointed?  Was it this morning when they did not give you the cream you asked for in your coffee?  Was it when your friend cancelled your golf outing?  Whatever it was the only reason you were disappointed was that your expectations were not met or exceeded.  Think about it.  If your back was hurting and you really didn’t want to play golf, you would not be disappointed.

If you want to learn more about your personal expectations, here’s two good resources from one of my mentors, Brendon Burchard.

How to Better Manage Your Expectations – Brendon

Power of Expectations - Brendon

Analytics and Expectations

The number one reason analytics software projects fail is that expectations of the executives or end users were not met or exceeded.  If your executives, or end users are not happy with your deployment because they expected something easier to use, faster, more dynamic or to contain information they deemed essential and it did not deliver, then they will not view your analytics projects as a success.

Solving the Biggest Problem in all Analytics Projects

Now that you know the biggest challenge in any analytics software project is not meeting or exceeding expectations, let’s discuss how to solve the problem.   I mentioned earlier that the solution doesn’t even have to cost you a dime! 

Host An Analytics Workshop

Step 1.  Set proper expectations in the first place.

Lodestar Solutions coaches our IBM Cognos Analytics clients to run internal workshops to identify what the executives really want.  If you do not have an analytics roadmap defined yet, don’t worry it doesn’t have to be a big undertaking.  To learn more, check out our recent blog series:

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants – Part 1

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants – Part 2

Ultimately you want the executives to define one or two dashboards or reports that can be game changing.  But let them define it, don’t assume!

Expectations

Step 2:  When things don’t go as planned, you want to Reframe Expectations.

Let’s admit it, analytic software projects always have at least one unforeseen situation. Maybe the data needs cleansing, maybe you don’t have the data you thought you had.  There’s always a hurdle.  But when things don’t go as planned with your software analytics project you want to reframe expectations. 

In the CIO.com article, 8 Project Management Tips for Setting and Managing Expectations, they identify the importance of being honest when things go wrong and to present workaround options or solutions.

By openly and honestly presenting the situation and proposing options, you will be reframing expectations.  They might not be happy with the new outcome but at least they know it’s coming and that you are working on making it right.

Are Your Executives Happy with Your Analytics Initiatives? 

Now that you understand the importance of setting proper expectations and reframing expectations when necessary, I want to challenge you.  Now this will take courage, but I know you are up for it.  Go ask your executives how happy they are with the organization’s analytics initiative.  I like to ask them to score it 0-10 (amazing).  Be prepared for the answer, it might be lower than you think.  Don’t get defensive, just use this as an information gathering opportunity.  And ask, “What is one thing you wish we were delivering that you don’t currently get today?”  Then listen! 

As an Executive Analytics Coach working with IBM Cognos Analytics clients, I am often faced with executives that are not happy with their analytics deployments.  Some are going as far as looking at other solutions to replace Cognos Analytics.  But when I start to ask questions, we discover the client is on a very old version or they never deployed the new functionality.  Many have never run a workshop with the executives.  It’s not surprising the executives are not giving Cognos the highest scores, when the analytics team never really asked what the executives want.  So, stop blaming the software!  Maybe we need to look in the mirror and think if we asked the right questions and set the right expectations!

If you are an IBM Cognos analytics client and asking is this the best solution for me, you might be interested in the fact that IBM Cognos Analytics was named an exemplary vendor in Ventana’s 2021 Analytics and Data Value Index.

Time to learn more about Analytics Projects and Expectations

Now it’s time to learn more about the number on reason analytic software projects fail and how you can avoid it without spending a dollar more.  In fact, our methods will help you save money on your analytics project.  On Thursday July 22, 2021, I’ll share the secrets to running a successful Analytics Software Project. 

Power of Setting Expectations for Successful Analytics Projects

Join me on Thursday July 22, 2021

When: Jul 22, 2021, 12:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting - click here to register

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you have specific questions, please email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

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 Services@lodestarsolutions.com 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. 

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