Simplifying Maintenance of Cognos Planning Access Tables w/ D-Cubes

11/8/2016

Are you a Cognos Planning client looking to simplify maintenance of your system? As a business analytics consultant specializing in Planning, I despise the maintenance of access tables. It seems like the process is still living in the 1970s. As a result, we are sharing with you today how to simplify maintenance of Cognos Planning Access Tables with D-Cubes. This technique allows for creating and updating Cognos Planning Access Tables by just changing the data values in an Cognos Planning Analyst D-Cube. I believe this is way better than manually maintaining the Access Tables in Cognos Planning!

The Challenge:

First of all, managing Access Tables for large and highly distributed Cognos planning models can be a labor-intensive and time consuming process. This is especially the case when the access rights change frequently. The Contributor Administration Console - Access Tables editor interface can be a royal pain.

The Solution:

Use an IBM Cognos Planning Analyst cube to manage access and update the Contributor Admin Access Tables. Once you create the Analyst D-Cube, you will be able to assign and maintain the data in the cube then export the cube data and import it into Contributor Admin. You can even put the process in a macro to automate it. This method is so much easier, more visual, and flexible. At least that’s my opinion. If you have simple access tables that don’t change, you might just want to use the Contributor Admin Console.

Setting Up Components in Cognos Planning Analyst

Step1 - Create a D-list with 3 items: READ, WRITE, and HIDDEN as shown below:

cognos planning

Please note that you might want to consider also using NO DATA in your d-list.

Step 2 – Create the Access Table cube in IBM Cognos Planning – Analyst by choosing the dimensions on which access levels will be determined.

cognos planning

An example of the Access Table in Contributor Admin is shown above.

In this example, we will create a cube with 2 dimensions (AcctsIncStmt and the e.List). To format this cube for consumption by Contributor Administration Console as an imported Access Table, a D-Cube format is applied. Make sure the D-Cube is open and active. From the Analyst drop-down menus choose: D-Cube > Format. For format type, choose D-List and select the D-List created in Step1. This will leverage the option of Read, Write and Hidden (No Data).

cognos planning

Above the rows correspond to AcctsIncStmt and the columns correspond to the e.List. Page holds the access [READ/WRITE/NODATA/HIDE] because we set up the format as the D-List formatted.

Step 3 Populate the cells in the cube.

The Analyst D-Cube can be populated manually, automatically via d-link, automatically via formula or some combination of the aforementioned. Note that while not every cell needs to be populated, a default access level can be specified when importing this Access Table into Contributor. Any blank values will be populated with the default access level, in this case NO DATA.

"So what's the next step in the process?"

Step 4 – Exporting the Access Table from IBM Cognos Planning - Analyst

Now that the Access Table D-cube has been created and populated, the next step is to export the table from IBM Cognos Planning Analyst in a format that the Cognos Planning Contributor Admin understands. This is accomplished by having the Access Table D-cube you created open and then selecting D-Cube from Analyst Main Menu bar and then choosing Export Selection involves only the items needed for the Access Table. Choose the following options from the Export D-Cube settings:

cognos planning

a) Select Ascii File and then click the ellipsis to set the export file location; b) In the Format box Select Tab as the separator c) Format Column Headings None d) In the Groups box Select Multiple Column e) In the Dimension Order box ensure that the detail dimension is first, the e-list dimension is second (if applicable), and the data dimension is last. The dimension order MUST correspond to the order required by the Access Table.

In order to suppress items that have not been granted READ, WRITE, HIDDEN or NO DATA access levels. Click on the Zeros tab and highlight the line that represents Rows. When the import is executed, the Base Level Access will be set to NO DATA and any untagged dimension items will be set to NO DATA in the Contributor access table.

cognos planning

Import The Exported File Into Contributor Admin

Now that you’ve created the Export file from the Analyst D-Cube defining the access levels, you will import the Access Table data into IBM Cognos Planning – Contributor. To import the tab-delimited file that was created above, open Cognos Planning – Contributor Administration Console, expand the Datastores, expand the application, expand Development, expand Access Tables and Selections, and choose Access Tables.

In Access Tables, select the correct dimension and cubes that the access table will be applied to and select the Import access table radio button. If you are using the eList in the access table, check the Include e.List checkbox.

cognos planning

Next, click the Add button. After the new row has been added, select it and click on the Import button. Click the ellipsis to select the file that was exported from IBM Cognos Planning – Analyst. Choose the Base Access Level that will be applied to the access table that is being imported. You might want to select NO DATA, which will result in NO DATA being applied to any items not defined in the import file. Also, ensure that Options – Import is checked. First row contains columns headers should remain unchecked.

cognos planning

After these selections have been made, click OK and the import should run with no errors. This will stage the updates to the access table but before they are applied in Contributor you will need to run a GTP process.

Note: View of the Access Table is a different order than the order required by the import file.

cognos planning

Automate It

Once you set this process up, you could automate it with a macro. By leveraging an Analyst D-Cube to define the access table you will simplify the maintenance. This is recommended when you have complex access tables, they change often or they just seem inefficient.

In conclusion, these are a few short steps you can create a cube to define and maintain access tables in Analyst, export the definitions and import them into the Contribution Administrator. For more information on Cognos Planning check out the IBM knowledge center for the latest product documentation and user guides.

There's Got To Be A Better Way...

Let’s now talk about how challenging it can be to define the security in Cognos Planning. The maintenance time of just waiting for the GTP processes to run can be frustrating. But there is an alternative. You know IBM has a more powerful planning and budgeting solution, called TM1 (Performance Management). The beauty of TM1 is that assigning security even down to the cell level is much easier. You can make changes in your model and not even have to do a sync or GTP process!

Here at Lodestar Solutions, we feel the future of Cognos Planning is in question! So, we encourage you to start considering and defining your migration to a better tool. Check out our blog on the benefits of TM1 over Cognos Planning to learn more information.

Lodestar Solutions wants you to be educated, so we created a library of videos that will help you evaluate TM1. Check out our Move to TM1 Program to get access to our library of videos and templates and there is NO COST TO YOU. Finally, if you have specific questions, please contact us at Coaching@lodestarsolutions.com and one of our analytics coaches will get right back to you.

For more tips and tricks regarding Cognos Planning...

If you learned something from this blog, we encourage you to refer back to the previous tips in this series.

Check out Tip #1 on what your future plans should be for Cognos Planning by CLICKING THIS LINK.

For Tip #2 on the questions most asked by Cognos Planning clients, learn more by CLICKING THIS LINK.

Refer back to Tip # 3 on simplifying D-List maintenance by CLICKING THIS LINK.

The previous Tip #4 regarding the re-ordering your E-List can be found by CLICKING THIS LINK.

For Tip #5 on why your cubes may not be opening, CLICK THIS LINK to learn more.

Check out Tip #6 on how to zero out data in Planning Contributor, CLICK THIS LINK.

And for our final Tip #7 on making an analyst library copy in Cognos Planning, visit our previous blog by CLICKING THIS LINK.

How to Zero Out all of the Data in Cognos Planning!

10/25/2016

Do you need to reset a cube to zero in order to clear out all the data in the contributor so users can start over? Maybe you are updating processes and you require a reset of your cubes in Contributor? Below, we will share how to zero out all of the data in Cognos Planning on a per cube basis only.

It’s an all or nothing option – every cell within a cube will be set to zero. Please note that the option to zero out only a selection of the cube like a version, does not exist. However, you can run an Analyst to Contributor link to zero out a selection of the Cognos Planning Cube. For more information on zeroing out a selection check out this IBM link on how to zero out contributor dcube data on the web. Before you run this process, please ensure your users are ok with a complete reset of the cube to zero.

Steps to Zero Out Data in Cognos Planning Contributor

The first step in zeroing out all of the data in Cognos Planning Contributor is to go to Cognos Planning Contributor Administration. Next, select the appropriate application as noted below. Make sure you have the right application! Then, inside the development folder, go to the import section and select the prepare tab. Next, check the zero data box next to the appropriate cube and click the prepare button at the bottom. These steps are noted below in the screen shot.

Cognos Planning

After you click prepare, the following message will appear.

If you then click on the Job Management folder for the application, you will see the Prepare_Import job running. Once complete, you will need to run a GTP process. (Go to production) by clicking the green arrow at the top. Please note that if you forget to run the GTP process, it will not zero the data out until you do.

ZERO OUT THE DATA QUEUE

There may be a situation arise when you load data via a Cognos Planning Analytics to Contributor link. Then, after you ran the link, you realized you didn't want to process the data all the way to Contributor. Don't worry. You can zero out the data queue. This will basically delete the staged date before you send it to Production. A couple important notes about this process. This should NOT be used in conjunction with the aforementioned Zero Data in a Contributor Model procedure. Reason being that it would result in deleting the import queue created by the previous prepare_import job and the data would not zero.

Steps to Zero Out the Data Queue

The first step is to go to Cognos Planning and then the Contributor Administration area. Then select the appropriate application as noted below. Next, go to the development folder and select import data area. Select the prepared data blocks tab and choose delete import queue. This will delete the staged or prepared data blocks. Also note that a Go To Production process is not required for this action. If you need to, you can fix the data in Cognos Planning Analyst and rerun the Analyst to Contributor link with the good data.

Cognos Planning

Hopefully this helps you understand how to zero out all of the data in Cognos Planning! My recommendation when you do this type of maintenance in Cognos Planning is to always FOCUS! Shut down your email and turn off your phone! I learned that lesson the hard way.

Some food for thought...

If you really want to simplify the maintenance of your budgeting and forecasting models, you should absolutely consider looking at TM1. At Lodestar Solutions, we feel the future of Cognos Planning is in question! Hence, we encourage you to start considering and defining your migration to a better tool. Check out our blog to learn the benefits of TM1 over Cognos Planning.

Lodestar Solutions is wanting you to be educated, so we are creating a library of videos that will help you evaluate TM1. Check out our Move to TM1 Program to get access to our library and don’t forget that there is NO COST TO YOU for this program.

If you have specific questions, please contact us at Coaching@lodestarsolutions.com and one of our analytics coaches will contact you.

If you learned something from this blog, we encourage you to refer back to the previous tips in this series....

Check out Tip #1 on what your future plans should be for Cognos Planning by CLICKING THIS LINK.

For Tip #2 on the questions most asked by Cognos Planning clients, learn more by CLICKING THIS LINK.

Refer back to Tip # 3 on simplifying D-List maintenance by CLICKING THIS LINK.

The previous Tip #4 regarding the re-ordering of your E-List can be found by CLICKING THIS LINK.

For Tip #5 on why your cubes may not be opening, CLICK THIS LINK to learn more.

The Secret to Reordering Your Cognos Planning E-list

10/11/2016

Have you ever tried reordering your Cognos Planning E-list and wondered, ”What the Heck is going on?” For years, I have told clients the E-list in Cognos Planning is the spine of your Cognos Planning Contributor model. Furthermore, you can avoid having surgery by reordering it. But sometimes you just have to reorder the E-List so that the data rolls up properly for the reviewers. So, here are your secrets to reordering your Cognos Planning E-list.

Let's begin...

In our example, we notice that location 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC is in the original E-list but it rolls up to 0001- FS1- System Improvement and therefore to Direct Projects. We need 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC to roll up to 0000- Corporate instead of to Direct Projects.

cognos planning e-list
cognos planning e-list

You will notice that 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC already has some data entered and we don’t want to lose the data the end users entered. Notice data entered and saved Employee Hours Cube Budget Version.

cognos planning e-list

When we look at the Cognos Planning D-List in Analyst, we see our 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC is in the middle of the list.

cognos planning e-list

However, we see 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC is included in the calculation for 0001- FS1 System Improvement. We will need to fix that because we want it to roll up to the 0000- COR -Corporate node instead.

cognos planning e-list

Note that the Calculation Order is important. See how 0695 is at the top of the 0001 calculation above. The order of the calculation determines the Contributor E-List order as you can see below.

cognos planning e-list

"Ok....what's next?"

We determined earlier that we needed to move 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC so that it rolls up to 0000- COR – Corporate. So let’s go look again at the calculations in the D-List in Cognos Planning Analyst. We will need to remove 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC from the 0001 Calculation by deleting it from the calculation and click Apply then Save.

cognos planning e-list

Now we need to add 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC to 0000 calculation. Once it’s added manually, move it to assure the item will be in the order you want it in the calculation because that’s the order that will be displayed in the Cognos Planning Contributor. Remember to save your work. See below.

cognos planning e-list

The next step is to Export D-List from Analyst as an E-List. Select Text to Column creating a .txt file in Excel. Now return to Cognos Planning Contributor Administration and expand the E-list folder for the application to see the structure. Click Import as a .txt file. Make sure there are no errors or warnings received during import. The Cognos Planning E-list is now updated and its appearance is based on the calculation order, not D-list item order in analyst. Notice that 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC now rolls up to 0000 COR- Corporate. However, we are not done yet.

cognos planning e-list

You will need to complete the Go To Production Process (GTP) in the Cognos Planning Admin. Make sure you see only changes and no deletions, no destructive changes!

cognos planning e-list

As you can now see, 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC rolls up to 0000 COR – Corporate.

cognos planning e-list

Finally, you will see that as we open 0695.00.00 Rockingham NC, the data still exists. Due to our previous steps, you'll see we didn’t lose the work already completed by the end users.

cognos planning e-list

So, that’s the secret to reordering your Cognos Planning E-list and not losing data. Hopefully this information will help save you time and frustation with Cognos Planning.

"I still get frustrated and want to better use my time!"

Let’s now talk more about your time and frustrations with Cognos Planning! Did you know that IBM has a much more powerful tool? One that handles much larger models! It doesn’t require time consuming Sync and Go To Production processes. Furthermore, it does not require the E-list. IBM Cognos Performance Management TM1 is an extremely powerful tool that allows greater flexibility. Here at Lodestar Solutions, we feel the future of Cognos Planning is in question! IBM’s lifecycle page tells you how long IBM will support IBM Cognos Planning.

We encourage you to start considering and defining your migration to a better tool. To learn the benefits of TM1 over Cognos Planning check out our “Migrating From IBM Cognos Planning To TM1” blog.

Lodestar Solutions wants you to be educated as possible, so we created a library of videos that will help you evaluate TM1. We encourage you to check out our Move to TM1 Program. And if you have any specific questions, please contact us at Coaching@lodestarsolutions.com and one of our analytics coaches will contact you.

If you learned something from this blog, we encourage you to refer back to the previous tips in this series....

Check out Tip #1 on what your future plans should be for Cognos Planning by CLICKING THIS LINK.

Refer back to Tip #2 on how to simplify D-List maintenance by CLICKING THIS LINK.

Simplifying D-List maintenance with a D-Cube in Cognos Planning

Are you looking to simplify D-List maintenance?

Simplifying D-List maintenance with a D-Cube in Cognos Planning can save you time and frustrations. Do you spend a lot of time maintaining your models and not have very much time for analyzing? Using a D-Cube in Cognos Planning to create or maintain D-Lists could be the solution you are looking for to save time and ease frustration.

Steps For Using D-Cubes To Create or Maintain Your Cognos Planning D-List

Below is a summary of steps to using D-Cubes to create and/or maintain D-Lists.

Create an All items D-List – This is a D-List that contains all source items. Later, we will show you how to filter this list to a subset which will reflect your new list. This could be accounts, locations, departments, etc. For this blog, we will be using GL accounts as you can see below. You may want to create this with a link to an OBDC connection or your source file.

cognos planning

Next, create a Yes / No D-List – This is a simple D-List of yes and no. When you create it, make sure you put the Yes first so the IID number is 1. We will use the IID in a calculation later.

cognos planning

Create a Calculation D-List – This list contains the calculations that will be used to determine which D-list will contain specific items from the All Items D-List you created in the first step. So basically, as we set the Y/N flag in the cube, that will determine when the account will be included. For example, if an account from the All Items DList has a yes next to Bal Sheet Flag, it will appear on the Balance Sheet D-List.

Ensure that 1 item of your calculation D-List is formatted as a D-List format selecting the All Items D-List. In our example, the Accounts item on the Calculation D-List is set to D-List format.

congos planning
congos planning

Create Flag Item(s) and D-List format with the Yes No Flag D-List - The flag items in the Calculation D-List will determine whether an item from the All Items D-List belongs to a particular D-List subset of items. In our example, we create Flags for the Balance Sheet Income Statement and Other Inc/Exp. The Flags will be assigned a Format of D-List Format.  You will select the Yes/No Flag you created earlier as the D-List for the format. Please note you will want to set all the “Flag” Items, like Income Statement Flag and Other Inc/Exp Flag, to D-List format selecting your Yes/No D-list.

cognos planning

The Next Step Is Calculating Items...

Create Calculation Items - The calculation is a conditional formula that is the secret sauce to simplifying D-List maintenance with a D-Cube in Cognos Planning. The calculation will look at the flag D-List item.  If it’s set to Yes, then it will use the respective account from the All Items D-List. If it is set to No or blank, it ignores the account from the All Items D-List.

​In our example, we put the calculation on the Balance Sheet item. Then, we used the calculation IF (Bal Sht Flag)=1 THEN Accounts ELSE 0. Please note that the 1 represents a Yes from our Yes No Flag D-List because that's the IID number for Yes. If you have added and deleted items or put No before yes in your Yes No Flag D-List, you may need to use a different number. If something seems off, look up the correct IID number from the Yes No Flag List. On the other hand, it might just be easier to create a new Yes No Flag making sure you put Yes first.

cognos planning
cognos planning

Now Set D-List Format Calculations with the [Step 1]All Items D-List - For the DList items in the calculcation D-List, you need to assign a D-List Format to all the calculation items. In our example, we will assign a D-List Format to our Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Other Inc/Exp. The format will leverage the All Items D-List we created in step one. Please note the Flag line items should all have a D- List format using the Yes No format. Make sure you don’t assign them the wrong D-List Format.

cognos planning

Note: Additional items [or calculation items] can be added as needed if a hierarchical d-list is needed.

Create D-Cube – Create a new Cognos Planning D-Cube using the All items D-List you created in step 1 and the Calculation D-List you created.

cognos planning

"Ok...now what?"

Populate the D-Cube - You will now populate your cube so the accounts are listed from All Items D-List.

  • If the original source of the All Item D-List is a File Map, add a duplicate column and select the second/duplicate column as data. Then use a d-link to import the data.
  • If the original source of the All Item D-List is an ODBC connection, use a D-Link and create [via SQL] a new column from the original All Item column.
  • If it was manual, you will need to manually populate it.
cognos planning

Next, populate the Flag columns with a Yes [in the column(s) to which the row belongs. The name of the item in the row should populate the corresponding column. For example, if you put a Yes in the Bal Sht Flag column, the account should appear in the Balance Sheet Column. Remember to Save your work.

cognos planning

Create D-Lists that are a Subset of the All Items D-Dist – Now you will create D-Lists that represent the subset of the All Items D-List based on the values in the cube you just created.

Create/Update the Subset D-List(s) using the Import from D-Cube Data. Then select the appropriate “calculated item(s)” to import. (Don’t grab the flags). In our example, we select the Balance Sheet item so we can create the D-List for just the Balance Sheet items.

cognos planning

Ensure the All Items D-List is the row dimension and the Calc D-List is the Column.

cognos planning

Finally, ensure the Suppress Zero Rows box is checked - The first column shown is the row column from the D-Cube. In most instances, it should be skipped when selecting attributes. (The where setting depends on what type of order is needed for the d-list: alphabetical, hierarchical, etc.)

cognos planning

Congrats! You have set up the D-Lists needed. Also created is the D-Cube to define which accounts should be assigned to your new subset D-List. Furthermore, you can modify your subset D-List by just updating the information in the cube. Use this method to simplify D-List maintenance with a D-Cube in Cognos Planning. It can save you time and frustrations.

"What's the next step for us concerning Cognos Planning?"

It’s now time to talk more about your time and frustrations with Cognos Planning! Did you know that IBM has a much more powerful tool? One that handles much larger models! A tool that doesn’t require time consuming Sync and Go To Production processes. IBM Cognos Performance Management TM1 is an extremely powerful tool. It allows for an even easier way to maintain your account structures. Here at Lodestar Solutions, we feel the future of Cognos Planning is in question! IBM’s lifecycle page tells you how long IBM will support IBM Cognos Planning.

We encourage you to start considering and defining your migration to a better tool. To learn the benefits of TM1 over Cognos Planning check out our blog.

Lodestar Solutions wants you to be educated, so we are creating a library of videos that will help you evaluate TM1. Check out our Move to TM1 Program and remember that there is NO COST!

If you have specific questions, please contact us at Coaching@lodestarsolutions.com and one of our Analytic Coaches will get back to you.

If you learned something from this blog, we encourage you to refer back to the previous tips in this series....

Check out Tip #1 on what your future plans should be for Cognos Planning by CLICKING THIS LINK.

For Tip #2 on the questions most asked by Cognos Planning clients, learn more by CLICKING THIS LINK.

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