Unlocking Efficiency and Innovation for Midmarket Companies with IBM Planning Analytics

Unlocking Efficiency and Innovation for Midmarket Companies with IBM Planning Analytics
Unlocking Efficiency and Innovation for Midmarket Companies with IBM Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, September 8th, 2023

In today's fast-paced business landscape, midmarket companies face unique challenges when it comes to budgeting, forecasting, and planning (FP&A). Many of these organizations heavily rely on Microsoft Excel for their financial processes, a tool known for its flexibility and ease of use. However, this love affair with Excel often turns sour as businesses grow and evolve. The result? FP&A professionals find themselves trapped in a never-ending cycle of data chasing and error checking, leaving little time for strategic thinking and analysis.

So, what's the solution for midmarket companies looking to break free from the shackles of Excel and embrace advanced technology and AI for their FP&A processes? The answer lies in IBM Planning Analytics, a powerful tool that's more accessible than you might think.

Excel's Love-Hate Relationship

Excel is the backbone of many midmarket FP&A processes due to its simplicity and familiarity. It's a tool that can handle the uniqueness of each organization's financial data and calculations. However, as businesses grow and change, Excel's limitations become painfully evident. The time and effort spent on manual data entry, formula checks, and error corrections can be overwhelming.

Midmarket companies need a solution that retains Excel's flexibility while adding scalability and advanced forecasting capabilities. Enter IBM Planning Analytics, a game-changer for finance teams looking to adapt and thrive in today's competitive marketplace.

The IBM Planning Analytics Advantage

IBM Planning Analytics offers the best of both worlds: the familiarity of Excel and the power of advanced technology. It empowers finance teams to create dynamic and robust models that can adapt to the ever-changing business environment. The key to rapid success with IBM Planning Analytics is not relying on pre-built templates but engaging with knowledgeable consultants who understand both the technology and FP&A processes.

At Lodestar Solutions, we firmly believe in the proverb "teaching a man to fish." Our approach is to coach your team in using the technology effectively, ensuring that you become self-sufficient in leveraging IBM Planning Analytics. This means no more dependence on cookie-cutter solutions or struggling to fit your unique business needs into rigid templates.

Join Us for the Webinar: The Pain of Outgrowing Excel

Still skeptical about making the switch from Excel to IBM Planning Analytics? We invite you to join us on October 19th for our webinar, "The Pain of Outgrowing Excel: Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics." In this informative session, we'll delve deeper into the challenges midmarket companies face with Excel, explore how IBM Planning Analytics can revolutionize your FP&A processes, and showcase real-world success stories of organizations that have made the transition.

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

Date: Thursday, October 19th, 2023
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern

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

Why Should You Attend?

  1. Uncover the Hidden Costs of Excel: We'll shed light on the often underestimated costs associated with Excel, including the time, resources, and missed opportunities that could be better invested elsewhere.
  2. Discover the Power of IBM Planning Analytics: Learn how IBM Planning Analytics can transform your FP&A processes, reduce errors, enhance collaboration, and provide actionable insights for strategic decision-making.
  3. Realize that IBM Planning Analytics Is for You: Contrary to popular belief, IBM Planning Analytics can be deployed for as few as 10 users, making it accessible and cost-effective for midmarket companies.
  4. Embrace Flexibility and Scalability: Understand how IBM Planning Analytics offers the flexibility you love about Excel while adding scalability and advanced forecasting capabilities.


It's time for midmarket companies to break free from the constraints of Excel and embrace the future of FP&A with IBM Planning Analytics. Don't settle for one-size-fits-all solutions; your business is unique, and your financial planning tools should reflect that. Join us on October 19th to explore how you can regain control, reduce the pain of Excel, and unlock efficiency and innovation. It's a decision that can revolutionize your finance department and propel your organization toward success in the modern business landscape.

Check out another one of Lodestar's most recent blogs: Escaping the Budgeting Blues: Rolling Forecasts with IBM Planning Analytics.

Escaping the Budgeting Blues: Rolling Forecasts with IBM Planning Analytics

Escaping the Budgeting Blues Rolling Forecasts with IBM Planning Analytics
Escaping the Budgeting Blues Rolling Forecasts with IBM Planning Analytics

Written by Heather L. Cole, September 1st 2023

Budgeting – the word alone can send shivers down the spines of even the bravest financial warriors. It's like a necessary evil, a financial straitjacket that stifles our creative dreams of abundance. In this blog, we're diving into the reasons why budgeting can be a real buzzkill and exploring a financial superhero - rolling forecasts, here to save the day with a little help from IBM Planning Analytics!

The Scarcity Mindset of Budgeting

Picture this: traditional budgets are like the Grinches of the financial world, setting a "maximum spend" for departments and a "minimum earn" requirement, making us feel like we're always one step away from bankruptcy. While we need benchmarks, budgeting can sometimes feel like having a budget babysitter watching our every financial move.

(Reference: Annual Budgeting is for the Birds)

The Excel Nightmare

And oh, the horror of using Excel for budgeting! It's like trying to build a sandcastle in a windstorm. Here's the lowdown on why Excel can be a real party-pooper:

  1. Siloed Data: Excel budgeting often results in data islands, where different departments use their own spreadsheets, creating a maze of disconnected plans.
  2. Human Error: Fat-fingered numbers can easily sabotage our formulas, leading to financial fiascos that are harder to spot than Waldo in a crowd.
  3. Endless Changes: Executives have a knack for demanding last-minute changes. Updating Excel sheets with these tweaks is like trying to juggle flaming torches – it's bound to end in chaos.
  4. Lack of Agility:   Excel budgets are as flexible as a brick wall - they can't adapt to the ever-changing business landscape.

A Better Way: Rolling Forecasts

But fret not, for there's a shining knight in financial armor - rolling forecasts. But what's this magical solution all about?

What is a Rolling Forecast?  

Rolling forecasts are the agile acrobats of financial planning. They keep things fresh by continuously planning with a set number of periods. For example, if your forecast covers 12 months, as each month ends, another month magically appears, ensuring you're always peering 12 months into the future. Rolling forecasts can be like a box of chocolates - you can have 12, 18, 24, or even 36 months! (Rolling Forecast According to Gartner)

 Why Use Rolling Forecasts vs. Traditional Budgeting? 

The deal-breaker with rolling forecasts? They're nothing like traditional budgeting:

  1. No Countdown:   Traditional budgets create an annual countdown, making us feel like we're stuck in a financial time warp. Rolling forecasts are the cool kids - they're a living document, no more annual budget dread!
  2. Accuracy:   Traditional budgets often become relics before they're even finished. Rolling forecasts allow for quick fixes, preventing financial fiascos from piling up.
  3. Agility:   Rolling forecasts can adapt to the ever-changing business landscape, like a chameleon changing colors. Your outlook is continuously updated, giving you the power to make informed decisions faster.
  4. Driver-Based:   Rolling forecasts aren't stuck in the past; they use key business drivers like market share and customer satisfaction to improve forecasting accuracy.

IBM Planning Analytics: Your Financial Superhero

But here's the real game-changer - IBM Planning Analytics. It's like giving your financial planning a superpower boost! With IBM Planning Analytics:

  • Interconnected Components:   All the components of your plan are interconnected. No more scattered spreadsheets; it's like having a financial control center at your fingertips.
  • Dynamic Adaptability:   Easily change components to meet your dynamic business needs. Just as having the right gear is essential to finish an Ironman, having the right tool is crucial for a successful rolling forecast.

Challenges of Rolling Forecasts  

Rolling forecasts aren't without their hurdles. Some organizations resist change because they're stuck in the quarterly earnings rat race. And yes, transitioning to rolling forecasts can require a bit of a financial facelift.

Is Rolling Forecasting Right for Your Organization?  

Ask yourself:

  • Is your organization stuck in a time warp when change is needed?
  • Have budget targets been missed, and the reasons are shrouded in mystery?
  • Does your budgeting process feel like an episode of "Survivor," with siloed departments and unclear ownership?
  • Are budget discussions more about financial mysteries than business operations?
  • Does the annual budget process feel like a never-ending episode of "Groundhog Day"?

If you nodded along, rolling forecasts might be your financial superhero, and IBM Planning Analytics is your trusty sidekick.

Join Our Event on October 19th.

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

Ready to learn more about the financial superhero known as rolling forecasts and how IBM Planning Analytics can help you conquer Excel's clutches? Join us for our event: "The Pain of Outgrowing Excel: Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics."

Date: Thursday, October 19th, 2023
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern

In this event, we'll uncover the secrets of breaking free from Excel's grip and embracing a world of financial freedom with rolling forecasts and IBM Planning Analytics. Don't let Excel rain on your financial parade. Register now to secure your spot and set your financial plans free:


Budgeting may have its woes, but it's not all doom and gloom. Rolling forecasts are here to save the day, offering flexibility, agility, and the power to adapt to the ever-changing financial landscape. With IBM Planning Analytics by your side, you're not just escaping the budgeting blues; you're soaring to new financial heights! So, let's bid farewell to budgeting blues and welcome the future of finance with open arms – it's time to roll with the forecasts and let IBM Planning Analytics light your financial path!

For more insight on some of what we are discussing in our upcoming Webinar, check out another recent Lodestar blog - Unleashing Profits with Strategic Analytics: Introducing the PROFIT Framework.

Unleashing Profits with Strategic Analytics: Introducing the PROFIT Framework

Unleashing Profits with Strategic Analytics: Introducing the PROFIT Framework
Unleashing Profits with Strategic Analytics: Introducing the PROFIT Framework
Written by Heather L. Cole, August 18th, 2023

In a world driven by data, the quest for higher returns on investment (ROI) from analytic solutions is a common pursuit among executives. Surprisingly, the answer to enhancing ROI isn't solely in the tools themselves. After more than 25 years entrenched in the realm of analytics, I've uncovered a fundamental truth: the journey to optimizing ROI begins from the top. For CFOs, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, and beyond, it's time for introspection. It's time to recognize that the key lies within you. Using our PROFIT Framework, I will shed light on this revelation... so you can Unleash Profits with Strategic Analytics.

The Basics: Shaping a Data-Driven Future

In the ever-evolving business landscape, the supremacy of data-driven decision-making is indisputable. The ultimate goal for any thriving organization is to amplify profits. But this entails more than just investing in tools; it requires a well-structured framework. The flaw in the strategy of too many companies lies in adhering to the "Build It and They Will Come" philosophy. Unfortunately, this approach works only in movies, not in the complex realm of analytics.

If you're eager to harness data and analytics to propel your profits to new horizons, then look no further than our "PROFIT" Framework for Analytic Success. PROFIT is a holistic approach that empowers businesses to unlock the latent potential of analytics, translating it into well-informed decisions that propel profits to uncharted heights. If you're searching for a transformation in your Planning, Budgeting & Analytics process—one that marks a pivotal shift in your profitability trajectory—circle Thursday, October 19th, 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern on your calendar. Join us for an event poised to reshape the trajectory of your business.

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

The Pain of Outgrowing Excel: A Path to Relief

In this event, we delve not only into the realm of outgrowing Excel or your existing planning and forecasting models, but we also unveil our PROFIT Framework for Analytic Success. The PROFIT Framework comprises six steps that serve as the pillars of your journey toward profitability optimization.

1. Precise Vision Definition: Illuminating the Path to Success

At the core of the PROFIT Framework lies the Precise Vision Definition. This initial step involves formulating a clear and succinct vision statement that becomes the guiding star of your journey. A potent vision encapsulates your organization's aspirations, goals, and core values, acting as the bedrock on which strategic goals are crafted. Every subsequent move is directed toward a shared purpose.

2. Rally Team Communication: Forging Unity in Purpose

However brilliant a vision might be, its potential remains untapped until shared and embraced by the team. The Rally Team Communication phase breathes life into your vision. It's the point at which you effectively disseminate your vision to your workforce. By fostering alignment and motivation, you create a unified front that collaboratively pursues your goals. Success in your analytics initiative hinges on the dedication and comprehension of your team members.

3. Optimize Data Discovery: Precision-Fueling Decision-Making

When your vision is embraced, the Optimize Data Discovery phase comes into play. Here, you orchestrate a Requirements Discovery Workshop—a platform for exploring the data prerequisites of your team members. This step ensures that your collected data isn't just vast, but also pertinent and in sync with your strategic objectives. As informed decision-making hinges on accurate and timely data, this phase takes a pivotal role in your journey.   (Reference our earlier blog on this topic.)

4. Formulate Advanced Analytics: Forging Gold from Data

Armed with the requisite data, the moment arrives to harness the potential of analytics. The Formulate Advanced Analytics phase is where your organization assesses prevailing tools and methodologies, uncovering ways to employ cutting-edge technologies. These technologies, including IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos, SPSS, and Watson, breathe life into raw data, transforming it into actionable insights. By decoding data into actionable intelligence, you forge a pathway for daily decisions that inherently bolster profitability.  (What is IBM Planning Analytics?) 

5. Increase User Adoption: Bridging the Success Gap

Yet, deploying advanced analytics solutions like Cognos and Planning Analytics is merely half the equation. For these solutions to catalyze profitability, they must be embraced by end-users. The Increase User Adoption phase, the fifth stage in the PROFIT Framework, centers on crafting a user-centric environment. It's a phase of comprehensive training, ongoing support, and an ecosystem designed for intuitive user engagement. By making analytics tools accessible and understandable, you cultivate an environment where users seamlessly integrate data-driven insights into their daily decision-making routines.  (Reference our earlier blog on this topic.)

6. Track and Enhance: Navigating the Path to Unceasing Profits

The final stage, Track, and Enhance, propels your PROFIT Framework to unceasing progress. Here, you perpetually monitor and evaluate your analytics initiatives. By tracking your trajectory, you glean vital insights into the efficacy of your strategies. Moreover, you're poised to identify realms for refinement, fine-tuning your approach to optimize profits. Given the dynamic nature of the business world, this stage perpetuates the evolution of your framework, ensuring it stays aligned with ever-changing demands. Indeed, agility becomes the crux, and the PROFIT Framework for Analytic Success unfurls a repeatable method to surmount business, industry, and global changes.

Ready for a Journey Toward Enhanced Profitability?

If you're primed to ascend your Planning, Budgeting & Analytic process, and unshackle untapped profitability, don't overlook our event on October 19th. The PROFIT Framework stands as the gateway to recalibrating your business through precise vision formulation, effective team communication, optimized data discovery, advanced analytics formulation, increased user adoption, and unceasing tracking and enhancement. Embrace the potent force of analytics and embark on a voyage toward fortified profitability and strategic decision-making.

On Thursday, October 19th, immerse yourself in an exploration of the PROFIT Framework. Here, you'll delve deep into its facets, glean success stories from industry trailblazers, and connect with peers who share your ardor for profit amplification. Secure your spot today, and together, let's drive profits to realms beyond imagination through the power of data-driven decisions.

RSVP for the Event Today:

Explore the PROFIT Framework for Analytic Success, dissect the pain of outgrowing Excel, and unleash profits with strategic analytics.

 Join us on Thursday, October 19th, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM Eastern for "The Pain of Outgrowing Excel: Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics."

Reserve your spot here!

6 Myths About Working with a Boutique IBM Partner, Like Lodestar Solutions

6 Myths About Working with a Boutique IBM Partner, Like Lodestar Solutions
6 Myths About Working with a Boutique IBM Partner, Like Lodestar Solutions
Written by Mike Bernaiche, August 10th, 2023

In a world where big names often dominate the business landscape, boutique IBM reselling firms offer a refreshing and highly effective alternative.  A boutique firm like Lodestar Solutions may be smaller in size, but its uniqueness lies in its personalized approach and specialized expertise.  We believe our boutique size and laser focus on IBM analytic solutions is a key to why Lodestar Solutions has been so successful in implementing IBM analytics solutions and elevating clients’ soft skills for over 19 years.

Lodestar Solutions - Offering a Better Way with Analytics

As a boutique IBM gold partner, Lodestar Solutions is often asked, why should we work with you for our IBM analytics needs? Wouldn’t we be better off working with a large firm or IBM directly?  Today we will share the 6 myths that you may believe when checking out a boutique firm and the reasons why you should embrace a boutique partner like Lodestar Solutions for your IBM Analytics software, support, training, and consulting needs.

Myth 1:  It Costs More to Buy from a Boutique IBM Reseller Instead of a Big Firm

Choosing a boutique IBM reseller like Lodestar Solutions does not incur higher costs compared to larger firms.  Our boutique approach offers competitive pricing, and we prioritize empowering your team with self-sufficiency.  We embrace the 'teach a man to fish' principle by educating your team, and additionally, we provide exclusive benefits such as quarterly client-only virtual user groups and membership in our Analytic Success Klub (ASK).  This commitment translates to substantial cost savings for our clients.

Learn more about our Analytic Success Klub which is free to Lodestar Solutions’ clients.

Myth 2: Working with Our Existing IBM Partner is Better for Us

Exploring new partnerships, such as collaborating with Lodestar Solutions, can bring significant advantages to clients.  Our objective is not to replace your current partner, but rather to enhance their services with our distinct offerings.  For instance, some partners might overlook discussions about new licensing options during support renewals, or they might not ensure seamless system upgrades to prevent audit issues.  At Lodestar Solutions, we prioritize your success.  Our commitment to excellence means we can seamlessly complement the services provided by your existing partner, ensuring a comprehensive and proactive approach to your needs.

Myth 3: I am Better off Working Directly with IBM

Choosing to partner with a boutique firm like Lodestar Solutions offers distinct advantages over a direct engagement with IBM.  Our collaboration with IBM remains strong, ensuring that you don't sever your connection with the company.  In fact, our close relationship empowers us to deliver exceptional support, harnessing the combined strengths of both direct IBM resources and our specialized assistance.  Surprisingly, IBM's business model encourages midmarket companies to work with Partners, not directly with IBM.

Clients cherish working with Lodestar because of the stability we offer; our staff turnover and account transitions are notably lower than those experienced with IBM.  Some clients have been with us for an impressive 19 years.  Unlike the vast expanse of IBM, where each client interacts with multiple representatives for different aspects – be it software sales, renewals, or services – Lodestar Solutions provides comprehensive expertise solely in IBM Analytic Solutions.  Our team is well-versed in support renewals, upgrades, training options, software consulting, and more.

While our core focus is on IBM Analytics, we extend beyond by offering programs to develop the essential soft skills vital for success in analytic solutions.  Our exclusive initiatives include the Analytics Success Klub, Requirements Discovery Workshops, Internal Demoing skills, and the highly sought-after Software Upgrade Bundles.  Partnering with Lodestar Solutions ensures not only specialized support but also a comprehensive approach to enhancing your analytic journey.

Analytics Success Bootcamp

Myth 4: I Will Not Have Good Enough Service Coverage from the Boutique

Collaborating with a boutique firm like Lodestar Solutions opens the door to a wealth of resources, ensuring you benefit from the most comprehensive coverage possible.  Despite our compact size, our access to top-tier resources is vast.  Lodestar has forged strategic partnerships with fellow boutique IBM Analytic implementers across the globe.  Unlike merely assigning available personnel to your project, we prioritize a deep understanding of your business, objectives, and timelines. This approach enables us to match you with the absolute best resource available, often consultants with profound industry insights to expedite your success.

Our commitment extends to addressing every facet of your IBM Analytics needs, guaranteeing meticulous and dedicated support.  We recognize that each client's situation is distinct, and our services are meticulously tailored to accommodate your unique requirements. Designed to evolve alongside your growth, our services cater to entities of all sizes, be it a small business or a large enterprise.  Our adaptive methodology ensures consistent, personalized attention and unwavering support quality.

The advantage of our boutique scale becomes evident in our responsiveness.  Our expert team is at your immediate disposal, translating to prompter response times and swift solutions to any challenges that arise.  Typically, our response time falls within 24-48 hours, often even quicker. Partnering with Lodestar Solutions equips you with a powerhouse of expertise and a rapid, tailored approach that prioritizes your success.

Myth 5: A Boutique IBM Reseller’s Resources Aren’t As Good

Boutique firms like Lodestar Solutions often stand out with superior resources compared to larger entities.  Our certified professionals possess profound expertise in IBM Analytics, having undergone the same rigorous certification courses and exams as IBM itself.  The key difference lies in the extensive experience many of our resources bring – often spanning over 20 years with IBM Analytics solutions.

Lodestar's mission, to 'Elevate Analytics and the People that Deliver them,' is at the core of our approach.  Beyond educating your team on IBM Analytics solutions, we go a step further by enhancing your team's soft skills.  Our commitment goes beyond simply placing an available individual on your project; we form a partnership to comprehensively understand your needs.  Then, we strategically assign the ideal resource based on their knowledge, experience, and personality, ensuring a harmonious fit that maximizes project success."

Myth 6: Changing Partners is Scary & Painful

Making the move to partner with Lodestar Solutions doesn't have to be a source of worry or stress.  We understand that change can be unsettling, but our dedicated team is here to guide you through the transition process seamlessly.  Whether you're considering enhancing your current partnership or seeking a new one, we prioritize a smooth changeover that minimizes disruptions to your operations.

In light of recent shifts in the IBM partner landscape, many firms are adjusting their focus.  However, at Lodestar Solutions, our unwavering dedication remains with IBM Analytics and the people who drive its success.  Our unique focus and commitment provide us with direct access to IBM executives and top-tier talent.

Reach out to us today to start a conversation about your challenges.  Let's explore how we can collaborate to deliver swifter and more cost-effective analytics solutions, all while ensuring a stress-free transition process.

Additional Benefits:

In addition to our core services, our extras, such as quarterly user group meetings, ASK training, and license review, offer unique opportunities for skill-building, networking, and ensuring compliance.  These benefits directly contribute to your long-term success.  We firmly believe that in the analytic world, it is people, processes, and tools – in that order!  Our unique programs level up people, and improve processes, resulting in better end-user adoption of tools and happier, better-equipped employees that bring success to your organization. 


In conclusion, the journey with a boutique partner, exemplified by Lodestar Solutions, unfolds as an expedition into a world of unparalleled advantages.  Our distinct methods, customized solutions, and attentive care cultivate an environment ripe for achievement.  If you're in pursuit of a partnership that harmonizes expertise, innovation, and an authentic dedication to your triumph, I urge you to contemplate the transformative journey with Lodestar Solutions.  Together, we stand poised to chart a course toward excellence, scaling remarkable summits in the realm of analytics.  Don't hesitate to connect with us at services@lodestarsolutions.com or sales@lodestarsolutions.com, and let's embark on this enriching adventure together.

Below are a few of our recently written blogs and demos for you to check out. 

Unleashing Analytic Leaders - A Recap of Lodestar Solutions' Business Analytic Success Bootcamp

Unlocking the Full Potential of IBM Subscription and Support for Cognos and Planning Analytics: X, Y, and Z Parts Explained

Cognos Analytics 12 Demo

Unleashing Analytic Leaders: A Recap of Lodestar Solutions’ Business Analytic Success Bootcamp in Dallas

Analytic Success Bootcamp at the IBM Convention Center in Dallas

Exploring the Power of Analytics, Overcoming Obstacles, and Building Analytic Roadmaps

Analytic Success Bootcamp at the IBM Convention Center in Dallas

Written by Heather L. Cole, July 21st, 2023

The Analytic Success Bootcamp – By Lodestar Solutions

The recently held Analytic Success Bootcamp at the IBM Innovation Center in Dallas was an exhilarating two-day journey into the world of finance and analytics. Hosted by Lodestar Solutions, this event aimed to equip analytic professionals in IT and Finance with the knowledge and skills required to become Analytic Leaders in their field.  Attendees delved into the secrets of effective analytics, requirements discovery, and enhancing end-user adoption, gaining valuable insights into the power of analytics and the necessary steps to build a successful analytic roadmap.

Day One: Unraveling the Secrets to Analytic Leadership

The Bootcamp commenced with an engaging exploration of the path to becoming Analytic Leaders.  Participants learned how to effectively communicate their ideas and influence CEOs.  They learned about how people are wired, and the primary needs of Executives are Certainty and Significance, and that when we understand that we can become more influential.  Attendees also explored why end-user adoption is so slow and the VALUE formula that is key to increasing adoption and reducing time to analytic ROI.  The interactive workshops allowed attendees to apply these concepts to real-world scenarios, enabling them to see immediate benefits, while networking in person with peers.

Day one was full of laughs, learning, and even a visit from the IBM robotic dog named Spot.

Day Two: Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Analytic Roadmaps

On the second day, the focus shifted towards overcoming obstacles that hinder the successful implementation of analytic projects.  The biggest challenge being inadequate Requirements Discovery. Heather Cole skillfully hit this reality home after letting the group spend some time playing with Legos.  Who doesn’t love Legos?  The Legos exercise accentuated the fact that even professionals who are regularly tasked with discovering requirements forget to ASK. 

Overcoming Obstacles - Duck Activity

Participants discovered that communication and workshops are the most efficient way to clear roadblocks and identify strategies to achieve their analytic roadmaps.  The Bootcamp proved invaluable as it provided practical solutions to the challenges they face regularly.

A Sudden Twist: When the City Turned Off the Water

Despite the enthusiasm and success of the event, fate had a different plan for the second day.  An unforeseen circumstance occurred when the city authorities turned off the water supply to the IBM Innovation Center, forcing the venue to shut down.  However, the team at Lodestar Solutions and the attendees adapted quickly, and the Bootcamp transformed into a speed version, ensuring participants did not miss out on any essential insights.  Huge thanks to all the local participants that tried to find us a backup room.

Zooming into Success: The Follow-Up Virtual Session

To ensure that the valuable knowledge-sharing continued, a follow-up session was arranged via Zoom. Participants enthusiastically participated in the virtual event, connecting once more to discuss crucial takeaways and learnings on becoming Analytic Leaders from the Bootcamp.

Key Takeaways

  • Better Understanding the People, You Need to Influence

One of the major highlights of the Bootcamp was the focus on understanding the key stakeholders involved in the analytic process.  Analytic leaders must recognize the motivations and perspectives of these individuals to effectively gain buy-in and support for their projects.

  • Unlocking the Power of Requirements Discovery

Despite being professionals who regularly conduct requirements discovery, the workshop revealed that continuous practice is essential.  Attendees engaged in hands-on activities and learned the power of the sticky note (only use super sticky) to hone their requirements discovery skills further.  They learned to leverage the sense of Urgency to get more done in less time.  And understand why at Lodestar we remind people that Analytic Success requires asking the right questions to elicit valuable insights from stakeholders.

  • Effective Meetings and "What's Your Number?”

Heather Cole, a Certified High-Performance Coach, provided valuable tips on running productive meetings.  Attendees learned the art of concise communication and how to encourage participation from all team members.  Additionally, the "What's Your Number?" technique offered a fresh perspective on gauging individual performance and promoting accountability.


Lodestar Solutions' Analytic Success Bootcamp held at the IBM Innovation Center in Dallas proved to be a resounding success, despite the unexpected challenge on the second day.  Finance, IT, and Analytic Professionals came together to discover the secrets of Analytic Leadership, requirements discovery, and end-user adoption.  The interactive nature of the event, even amidst unforeseen circumstances, ensured participants were left with a deeper understanding of analytics and the tools needed to overcome obstacles in their analytic roadmap.  As the first live event in years, it was a memorable experience for all attendees, setting a promising precedent for future engagements.

Huge shout out to all the attendees, you guys were amazing.  You played full out.  Shared your ideas and we are grateful. Now go change the world with Analytics.

Join the Movement!

Although we don’t have another event in the books yet, keep an eye out for a future announcement.

In the meantime, if you would like to level up your Analytic Leadership skills join our Analytic Success Klub (ASK).  

Heather L. Cole Embarks on a Podcasting Journey: Seeking Engaging Conversations and Thought-Provoking Insights

Heather L. Cole Podcast
Heather L. Cole Podcast
Written by Heather L. Cole, July 13th, 2023


In the ever-evolving landscape of data analytics, one name stands out as a beacon of knowledge and expertise: Heather L. Cole.  With her unrivaled experience, diverse skill set, and profound passion for driving positive change, Heather is now venturing into the realm of podcasting.  But before she dives right in, she is actively seeking opportunities to be a guest on other podcasts.  In this blog post, we will delve into Heather's remarkable background, her areas of expertise, and her upcoming podcasting endeavors.

Heather L. Cole's Biography and Expertise

Heather L. Cole is a highly sought-after expert and thought leader in the field of data analytics.  With over 30 years of experience in data analytics and finance as well as 19 years as the owner and developer of a successful software reseller and implementation firm, Heather's expertise is unparalleled.  As a lawyer, scrum master, certified high-performance coach, and captivating speaker, Heather brings a diverse skill set to her work.  Her purpose is clear: to elevate the use of data analytics and the people who deliver them, driving positive change in the world.  As the founder of Lodestar Solutions and Heatherized, Inc., she leverages her multidisciplinary knowledge to empower businesses and individuals to succeed in the data revolution.

High Performance Coach

Previous Appearances:

Here are a couple of samples of Heather presenting if you missed them before.

Topics Heather L. Cole Is Qualified to Speak On

Heather's vast expertise spans numerous topics within the realm of data analytics, budgeting and forecasting, leadership, and personal development.  Here are just a few areas in which she excels:

Business Intelligence Bull's-eye by Heather L. Cole
  1. Socializing the Nerds: Bridging the Gap between Tech Experts and Non-Technical Professionals
  2. Analytic Leadership, Developing a Data-Driven Culture: Challenges and Strategies
  3. How to Increase End User Adoption of Analytics Solutions, Unlocking Innovation and Collaboration
  4. From Strategy to Execution, Aligning Analytics with Organizational Goals to Drive Business Value
  5. Tech Talk with a Twist: Women's Perspectives on Innovation and Disruption with Analytics
  6. Ethical Considerations in AI Adoption: Implications for Finance and IT
  7. AI-Powered Growth Strategies: How CEOs & CFOs Can Drive Transformation and Gain a Competitive Edge
  8. The Power of High-Performance Executive Coaching: Unlocking Your Full Potential
  9. Financial Planning and Budgeting: Best Practices for Driving Growth and Profitability
  10. Influence, Persuasion, and Negotiation: Essential Skills for Business Leaders
  11. Empowering Women in Leadership: Overcoming Challenges and Driving Success
  12. The Future of Data Analytics: Trends, AI, and Innovations Shaping the Industry
  13. Balancing Work and Life: Tips for Busy Executives to Achieve Personal Well-being and Success
  14. What Every Executive Should Know about Buying and Negotiating Software Purchases
  15. Overcoming the Loneliness and Stress of Being the CEO

Heather's captivating insights and dynamic speaking style make her an ideal guest and collaborator for podcast hosts aiming to explore the limitless potential of data analytics and its impact on the world.

Call to Action:

If you host a podcast or know of one that would benefit from Heather L. Cole's expertise, we invite you to contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.  Heather is eager to engage in insightful conversations and share her transformative insights with a wider audience.  By featuring Heather as a guest on your podcast, you'll provide your listeners with a unique and valuable perspective on the world of data analytics, leadership, and personal development.


Heather L. Cole's journey into podcasting marks an exciting chapter in her illustrious career.  With her exceptional expertise, impressive track record, and genuine commitment to making a difference, Heather is an inspiring figure that executives and podcasters are eager to engage with.  Her insights, speaking style, and coaching approach have impacted countless lives worldwide.  As Heather embarks on this podcasting adventure, her desire to share knowledge, inspire change, and explore the future of data analytics is set to captivate audiences in new and exciting ways.  Stay tuned for the upcoming episodes and prepare to be enlightened by Heather L. Cole's podcasting endeavors. 

For more information click here!  

Enhance Soft Skills for Analytic Success: Defy AI Replacement!

Don't Let AI Replace You Upgrade Your Soft Skills for Analytic Success!
Don't Let AI Replace You Upgrade Your Soft Skills for Analytic Success!
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 13th, 2023


Are you tired of wasting money on fancy business intelligence (BI) and planning software that fails to deliver the promised results?  Well, we've got news for you—it's not the software's fault.  The real culprit behind the lack of analytic success is often a good old-fashioned communication breakdown.  But fear not, dear reader, for we have the solution to your predicament. Instead of mindlessly throwing more money at technology, it's time to invest in something that artificial intelligence (AI) can't replicate—your soft skills!

Time to explore how sharpening your requirements discovery, influence, persuasion, negotiation, and workshop facilitation skills can save your career from being replaced by AI.  And to kickstart your transformation, we invite you to our Analytic Success Bootcamp—a two-day extravaganza where you'll master the art of soft skills and influence factors. Seating is limited, so register today before the robots take over!

The Communication Breakdown Catastrophe:

Imagine spending truckloads of cash on state-of-the-art BI and planning software, only to witness your dreams of data-driven decision-making shatter as you witness end users dumping random data to Excel. Why does this happen?  It's not because the software doesn’t work—it's because you and your colleagues are failing to communicate effectively.  You are failing to create the vision and overcome end users' fears.  The truth is, those pretty pie charts and colorful dashboards look sexy initially but if they are not answering the right questions, they will not be used.   But the problem is your crystal ball and mind-reading skills don’t really work, so you MUST learn the art of overcoming communication breakdown and facilitation.

Reference: Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success: Boosting End User Adoption 

Soft Skills to the Rescue:

But fret not, for salvation lies in upgrading your soft skills!  Requirements discovery is the Sherlock Holmes of the analytics world—uncovering the hidden insights that even Watson would miss.  Influence, persuasion, and negotiation skills will transform you into a silver-tongued analytics superhero, armed with the power to sway even the most skeptical stakeholders.  And let's not forget about workshop facilitation—your ticket to orchestrating brainstorming sessions that will make your colleagues' minds explode (in the best possible way).

Reference: Persuading Your Executives to Adopt Analytic Solutions: Applying Pre-Suasion Principles

Executives, Speak Up:

Ah, executives, the grand puppet masters of the analytics realm.  Your strategic goals hold the key to unlocking the true potential of your analytic teams.  But if you fail to communicate your vision clearly, brace yourself for a deluge of meaningless reports and lackluster insights.  It's time to step up your game and learn how to convey your strategic goals with the finesse of a Shakespearean actor.  Paint a vivid picture of the outcomes you desire, and watch your analytics teams transform into decision-making powerhouses.

Introducing the Analytic Success Bootcamp:

Analytic Success Bootcamp

Now, it's time for the grand reveal!  Get ready to save your career from being devoured by AI at our Analytic Success Bootcamp—an epic two-day immersion into the world of soft skills and influence factors.  Our trainers are masters of their craft, equipped with the knowledge and wit to guide you through interactive sessions that will leave you craving for more.  Heather Cole has over 25 years of experience in the analytics world, but she is also a Certified High-Performance Coach, Executive Coach, and lawyer, but don’t hold that against her.  Heather’s unique background and energized presentation style makes this a one-of-a-kind event.  This is the only Analytic Success Bootcamp she has committed to leading so you don’t want to miss it.  Picture yourself in a state-of-the-art IBM Innovation Center in  Dallas on June 27-28, surrounded by like-minded individuals, all eager to catapult themselves to Analytic Stardom and leading AI for good not evil.

But heed our warning—seating is limited, and the machines are advancing.  If you want to safeguard your career and unleash your analytics prowess, register for the Analytic Success Bootcamp today!  Don't let AI be the Grim Reaper of your professional life—rise above the robots and become a soft skills virtuoso.


In a world where AI threatens to steal our jobs and render us obsolete, soft skills become the ultimate armor for analytics professionals.  Stop wasting your hard-earned money on BI and planning software that falls flat due to communication breakdowns.  Instead, invest in yourself and upgrade your requirements discovery, influence, persuasion, negotiation, and workshop facilitation skills.  The Analytic Success Bootcamp is your golden ticket to mastering these essential soft skills and becoming an indispensable asset in your organization's quest for data-driven success.  Seating is limited, so register today and embark on a journey that will save your career from the clutches of AI.  Remember, the future belongs to those who can communicate, collaborate, and conquer with the power of human intellect!

Cracking the Analytics Code: Unleashing the Magic of Analytic Leaders

Cracking the Analytics Code Unleashing the Magic of Analytic Leaders
In today's data-driven world, analytic leaders hold the key to organizational success by leveraging analytics for a competitive edge.
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 1st, 2023

In today's data-driven world, organizations that can effectively leverage analytics have a competitive edge.  Central to this success is the role of analytic leaders.  But why does the code for Analytic success seem so hard to crack? Are we lacking Analytic Leadership?

Analytic Leaders empower the use of analytic solutions, achieve business objectives, drive operational efficiency, enhance the customer experience, mitigate risks, and foster innovation.  But above all, they must become the face of change and overcome confirmation bias.  Analytic Leader is not a title, it’s a state of mind.  Join us for our upcoming Analytic Leadership Workshop on Thursday, June 8th, 2023 to learn how to excel in this critical role.

Analytic Leadership Workshop - Thursday, June 8th 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

Empowering the Use of Analytic Solutions

Analytic leaders play a pivotal role in empowering organizations to harness the power of analytics. They facilitate the adoption and utilization of analytic solutions across departments and teams. By advocating for data-driven decision-making, providing training and support, and ensuring data accessibility, they enable individuals at all levels to leverage analytics effectively.  But they also walk the walk, openly using the analytic solutions developed.  This empowerment creates a data-driven culture where analytics becomes an integral part of daily operations, leading to improved decision-making processes and better business outcomes.

Achieving Business Objectives

Analytic leaders are instrumental in aligning analytics initiatives with overall business objectives. They understand the strategic goals of the organization, communicate the goals, and through collaboration identify opportunities where analytics can make a significant impact.  By leveraging data and insights, they guide the organization toward achieving key performance indicators, identifying growth opportunities, optimizing processes, and enhancing profitability.  Through their guidance and expertise, analytic leaders help organizations stay focused, agile, and responsive to changing market dynamics.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

In a highly competitive landscape, organizations need to differentiate themselves to gain a competitive edge.  Analytic leaders enable this differentiation by leveraging data and analytics to uncover valuable insights.  Through Analytic Workshops teams identify emerging trends, understand customer behaviors, and predict market shifts, to provide the organization with a strategic advantage.  This advantage enables informed decision-making, targeted marketing campaigns, product personalization, and superior customer experiences, leading to increased market share and customer loyalty.

Improving Operational Efficiency

Analytic leaders empower their teams to excel in identifying inefficiencies within an organization and leveraging data to drive operational improvements.  Through data analysis, teams uncover bottlenecks, optimize workflows, and reduce costs.  By implementing data-driven solutions and performance monitoring systems, teams enable real-time insights into operations, facilitating proactive decision-making and resource allocation.  This focus on operational efficiency leads to streamlined processes, improved productivity, and resource optimization, ultimately resulting in cost savings and improved profitability, which is the code every company wants to crack.

Enhancing Customer Experience

Understanding and meeting customer expectations is crucial for business success.  Analytic leaders excel in empowering teams to analyze customer data to gain insights into preferences, behaviors, and needs. By leveraging this knowledge, the company can drive customer-centric strategies, personalized experiences, and targeted marketing campaigns.  Through data-driven segmentation, recommendation systems, and proactive customer support, they enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. This customer-centric approach creates a competitive advantage, fosters brand advocacy, and drives long-term profitability.

Mitigating Risks

Analytic leaders are instrumental in establishing a mindset in their teams to identify and mitigate risks by analyzing historical data and developing predictive models.  Encouraging team members to identify potential risk factors, monitor market trends, and stay informed about regulatory changes. By providing insights into potential risks and vulnerabilities, organizations are enabled to develop effective risk management strategies. This proactive approach helps organizations navigate uncertainties, anticipate challenges, and minimize potential losses, ensuring long-term stability and resilience.

Driving Innovation and New Opportunities

Analytic leaders possess the ability to inspire teams to uncover hidden patterns and insights within large datasets, leading to innovation and new business opportunities.  By encouraging exploration, experimentation, and a culture of continuous improvement, they inspire creativity and drive innovation within the organization.  By leveraging analytics, organizations identify emerging trends, untapped markets, and novel solutions.  This focus on innovation helps organizations stay ahead of the curve, adapt to changing environments, and seize new growth opportunities.

Overcoming Confirmation Bias and Leading Change

To be effective, analytic leaders must overcome confirmation bias, a common cognitive bias that hampers objective decision-making.  They need to challenge their own assumptions, question existing beliefs, and remain open to alternative perspectives.  Moreover, they must become the face of change and lead their organizations away from the status quo towards a culture that embraces analytics and data-driven decision-making.  This requires modeling the desired behavior, promoting continuous learning, and fostering a collaborative environment where insights and evidence trump personal biases.

Call to Action: Register for Our June 8th Analytic Leadership Workshop

To learn more about the vital role of analytic leadership and learn strategies to crack the code and become an effective analytic leader, we invite you to register for our Analytic Leadership Workshop on June 8th, 2023.  This workshop will provide you with the knowledge, tools, and strategies to lead your organization toward data-driven success regardless of your current title.  Don't miss this opportunity to unlock your potential as an analytic leader.  Register now: 

Analytic Leadership Workshop - Thursday, June 8th 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

For more on Analytic Leadership and boosting end-user adoption, check out another one of Lodestar's blogs - Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success: Boosting End User Adoption.

Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success: Boosting End User Adoption

Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success Boosting End User Adoption
Unleash Your Analytic Leadership for Success Boosting End User Adoption
Written by Heather L. Cole, May 25th, 2023

In the ever-evolving world of finance and analytics, being a true leader means equipping yourself with the skills and knowledge to drive analytic success.  One powerful way to achieve this is by attending our Analytic Success Boot Camp with your team.  It’s a two-day, in person analytic boot camp that will get your team energized and focused on game changing initiatives.  In this blog, we will explore why analytic executives should invest their time in such an opportunity, focusing on the key aspects of analytic leadership, analytic success, and end user adoption.  Let's dive in and discover how this adventure can transform your analytic initiatives and tie them to your company's strategic goals.

Discover the Power of Analytic Leadership:

As an analytic executive, stepping into the role of an analytic leader is crucial.  Attending the boot camp will empower you to become an Analytic Avenger, leading the charge in leveraging data-driven insights. By optimizing your analytic leadership skills, you'll position yourself as a strategic driver within your organization. (See our Analytic Leadership Video)

Drive Analytic Success through Requirements Discovery:

Requirements discovery is the key to unlocking analytic success.  At the boot camp, you'll learn how to channel your inner Indiana Jones to excavate the hidden gems of requirements within your organization. This process ensures that your analytic initiatives align with the strategic goals of your company, propelling you toward success.  (See our blog, Stop Requirement Gathering and Start Discovering Requirements!)

Increase End User Adoption:

What good are analytics if they're not embraced by the end users?  The boot camp offers invaluable guidance on boosting end user adoption. By sprinkling your analytics with the right magic dust, you'll captivate and engage even the most skeptical employees, creating a data-driven culture that drives results. (See our blog, Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy)

Tying Analytic Initiatives to Strategic Goals:

Analytic initiatives should never exist in a vacuum.  At the boot camp, you'll become a strategic goal mastery expert.  You'll learn how to tie your analytic initiatives seamlessly to the strategic goals of your company, positioning yourself as the ultimate strategy sleuth.  This alignment ensures that your analytics have a direct impact on the overall success of your organization.

Networking Opportunities:

Attending the boot camp opens doors to valuable networking opportunities.  You'll have the chance to connect with fellow analytic enthusiasts, share experiences, and build professional relationships.  These connections can become allies and mentors on your journey to becoming an Analytic Guru.


Investing your time in a two-day Analytic Success Boot Camp with your team is a game-changer.  It propels you into the realm of analytic leadership, ensuring your success through requirements discovery, driving end user adoption, and tying your initiatives to the strategic goals of your company.  Remember, embracing the power of fun and networking along the way adds an extra flair to your journey.  So, put on your analytics cape, step into the role of an Analytic Avenger, and unlock the true potential of your analytic initiatives.  Get ready to lead your team toward a data-driven future and achieve unparalleled success.

Take the First Step

Seating is limited for the two-day Analytic Success Boot Camp held at the IBM innovation center in Dallas on June 27-28th.   So, take the first step today and get registered!

Seating is limited!!!

Note this event is not open to GOE or IBM resellers.

ASK: The Secret Society for Data Geeks Who Want to Change the World (or at least their Boardrooms)

Analytics Success Klub
Analytics Success Klub
Written by Heather L. Cole, May 5th, 2023

Are you an analytics professional looking to take your career to the next level?  Are you tired of being a behind-the-scenes nerd, crunching numbers all day without much recognition?  Well, we've got just the thing for you!  Welcome to the Analytics Success Klub (ASK) by Heatherized, Inc.

Your Best Investment is YOU

We believe that the best investment you can make is in yourself.  But analytic professionals are often too busy to attend expensive training.  So, Lodestar Solutions in partnership with Heatherized, Inc. is bringing a unique membership program for ambitious analytic professionals that want to go to the next level.   Regardless, if you use IBM, Power BI, Tableau or Qlik, social skills are the secret to promotions, raises and interesting projects.

Soft Skills

We know that analytics professionals often have impressive technical skills, but soft skills are just as important for success.  That's why Heatherized created a monthly membership program designed to help you level up your communication, influence, facilitation, presentation, negotiation, storytelling, and other essential soft skills.

Not a True Story but Could Be

Don't just take our word for it.  Let us tell you a funny story about a socialized nerd leading their company through the data revolution.  We know this one guy, let's call him Dave.  Dave was the ultimate analytics nerd, spending his days holed up in a corner, pouring over data sets and running complex algorithms.  But one day, Dave had an epiphany.  He realized that his technical skills were not enough to get the recognition and success he deserved.

So, Dave started attending networking events, joined a mentorship program, and invested in himself.  He even attended a Tony Robins event.  He worked on his communication and presentation skills, and before he knew it, he was leading a team and presenting to executives.  Dave became known as the go-to guy for all things data-related, and he was even invited to speak at conferences.  All because he took the time to invest in himself and develop his soft skills.

Now, we're not saying that you need to be the next Dave, but we believe that investing in yourself is the key to unlocking your full potential as an analytic professional.  By joining ASK, you'll have access to a community of growth-minded individuals who are all working towards the same goal - career success.

What is ASK?

As a member of our community, you'll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals and learn from industry experts.  Our virtual meetings every month will feature guest presenters, breakout sessions, hot seats, and more.  You'll have the chance to share your experiences and learn from others in the field.  We're here to support you as you grow and thrive in your analytics career.  Heather Cole, an industry thought leader and executive high performance coach will provide ASK members insights and things she learned the hard way as an introvert turned socialized nerd.

Lodestar Clients

And here's the best part - active Lodestar Solutions clients will receive two complimentary ASK memberships for their team members!  Just email services@lodestarsolutions.com with the name of your team members and we will get them registered.  Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to invest in your team and take your analytics capabilities to the next level.

If you are not an active Lodestar Solutions client, no worries, ASK is software agnostic.  The early bird membership fee is only $49/month.  Investing in yourself has never been easier or more affordable.  For the cost of a nice lunch with a friend, you can join our community and start building your skills and connections.  Don't wait any longer to take your career to the next level.  Join us at the Analytics Success Klub - ASK and let's grow together!

You can cancel at any time.  But if you do you will lose access to the ASK library and an amazing network of high performers.

Our first live session is on May 19th from 1-2:30pm Eastern.  We can't wait to see you there!  So come on, join us at the Analytics Success Klub - ASK and let's grow together!