Big News for Lodestar Solutions Clients: Enhancements to Our User Groups and Library!

Lodestar Solutions User Group
Lodestar Solutions User Group
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 11th, 2024

A Fresh Chapter for Our Exclusive Community!

Dear Valued Lodestar Solutions Customers,

We're thrilled to announce some significant developments that will elevate your experience with us. As part of our commitment to providing top-notch service and resources, we are upgrading our Private Client Only User Groups and moving our extensive Library of Prior User Group Recordings. These changes are designed to enrich your engagement with our community and enhance your access to valuable information.

What's New?

  • Upgraded User Groups: If you're a Lodestar Solutions Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics customer, you're invited to our unique, educational community. This exclusive group is where innovation and learning converge.
  • Quarterly Sessions: Every quarter, our team hosts two specialized sessions – one for IBM Planning Analytics and another for Cognos clients. These live, 2-hour sessions via Teams are packed with essential updates on Cognos and Planning Analytics, "Tech Talks with Ted," insights on "What's Working Now," and strategies for "Charting Your Success."
  • Immediate Application: Our sessions are designed to provide you with actionable information that can instantly elevate your use of IBM Analytics products.
  • Networking Opportunities: Alongside learning, we offer valuable opportunities to network virtually with peers from various industries. This is your chance to share experiences, exchange ideas, and build professional relationships.
  • Recording Library: Can't attend a session? No problem! We record our sessions and store them in a members-only library. This ensures you never miss out on valuable insights.

Important Update: Moving Our Library

Starting January 15th, 2024, we're moving our User Group Library to a new, more accessible location. This transition is part of our ongoing efforts to enhance your experience and provide seamless access to our resources.

  • Existing Members: Keep an eye on your inbox! We'll be sending you new login details to access our revamped User Group Library.
  • Not a Member Yet? If you're not a member but are interested in joining this exclusive community, reach out to us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com. Even if you're not currently a Lodestar Solutions client, we're happy to discuss your licensing, renewal, or service needs.

Why Join Our User Groups?

Being a part of our user group offers numerous benefits:

  1. Stay Informed: Keep up to date with the latest developments in Cognos and Planning Analytics.
  2. Practical Insights: Gain knowledge that can be immediately applied to enhance your use of IBM Analytics products including IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos.
  3. Peer Networking: Connect with professionals from various industries, share best practices, and build a supportive community.
  4. Exclusive Access: Enjoy members-only resources, including our comprehensive library of past sessions.
  5. Certificates: Because more companies are tracking the continuing education of team members, Lodestar Solutions will be offering certificates for all attendees who join our user groups live. This is a great way to show your boss you are a lifelong learner.

Invite Your Co-Workers!

We encourage you to invite your colleagues to join this thriving community. It's an excellent opportunity for your team to stay ahead of the curve, learn from industry experts, and connect with peers.

Your Next Steps

  • Existing Members: Look out for our email with your new login details.
  • Interested in Joining? Contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com.
  • Spread the Word: Encourage your co-workers to join and benefit from our community.

Note: User Groups are for Lodestar Solutions, clients only.  Clients are employees of any organization that either has purchased licensing, support renewals, training, or implementation services within the last year.

We are excited about these changes and confident that they will add significant value to your experience with Lodestar Solutions. Your growth and success are our top priorities, and we are here to support you every step of the way.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Warm regards,
The Lodestar Solutions Team

To learn more about all Lodestar Solutions has to offer, check out our website and latest blogs - Lodestar Solutions

IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers

IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers
IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers
Written by Heather L. Cole, December 8th, 2023

December is a great time to review, reflect, and plan for the next year.  So, Lodestar Solutions thought it would be a great time to provide a short and easy checklist for our Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers to ensure they are not at risk of failing an IBM Audit.  So, we created this simple IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers.

PVU and ILMT Basics

For those new to administering Cognos or Planning Analytics licensing let’s start with the basics. If you know the basics, just skip down to the ILMT checklist…

What is a Processor Value Unit?

A PVU (Processor Value Unit) is a unit of measure used by IBM to determine the usage on the server. Technically, a PVU license is assigned to the Analytic Server, meaning there is a cost per core processor. Simple enough right? Not so fast. The value assigned to each core depends on the hardware. Not all core processors are treated alike. It’s kind of like being taxed a little higher for a luxury automobile, the better the performance the higher the tax. A server’s Processor Value Unit count is defined by the brand, model, and number of physical processors running in the server and the number of core chips per processor. To calculate the number of Processor Value Units, it also is necessary to refer to IBM’s PVU-per-core ratings for current processor technologies, which are updated on IBM’s website here.

What is the ILMT?

IBM® License Metric Tool (ILMT) helps IBM Passport Advantage® (PA) customers determine their full and sub-capacity processor value units (PVU) licensing requirements. It helps calculate the number of PVUs available to install Passport Advantage PVU-based software, including supported virtualized servers. Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express customers can order this tool at no charge by selecting the IBM License Metric Tool, part number D561HLL.

For more information see our blog, ILMT Tool Questions and Answers

And check out IBM’s page on the ILMT.  See, we aren’t making this up.  

Who Needs the ILMT?

If you have Cognos Analytics PVU licensing, we are pretty certain you need it installed.  If you have IBM Planning Analytics licensing that includes PVUs, you must have it installed. Note there are licensing options that don’t require the ILMT but if you look at your proof of entitlements from IBM just look for PVU licensing, it should be in the name.  Need help, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Here's our IBM ILMT Checklist

1.   Processes Value Unit Licensing (PVU) with IBM: 

  • Confirm whether your organization has adopted Processes Value Unit Licensing (PVU) with IBM by checking your Proof of Entitlements from IBM.
  • Ensure that all relevant departments and personnel are aware of and compliant with PVU licensing.

2.   Non-Production Environment for Testing and Upgrades:  

  • Verify the existence of a designated Non-Production Environment for testing and upgrades.
  • If you are using a non-production environment you should ensure you have the proper licensing for Non-Production too.  This requirement depends on the unique software you use and who uses it, so check with Lodestar to confirm if this is required. (See our blog for more information.) To ask specific questions, email us at  services@lodestarsolutions.com.

3.   Run the ILMT Report Quarterly: 

  • Confirm that the ILMT report is run regularly at a minimum every quarter.
  • Schedule and assign responsibility for running the report to ensure consistent monitoring.

4.   Check ILMT Report Results Against the Licensing You Own: 

  • Review ILMT report results to verify compliance with processor value unit licensing owned.
  • Take corrective actions if the report indicates potential over-usage to avoid licensing issues.
    - You can reduce the core processors allocated.
    - Purchase additional PVUs of licensing. Email us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com to receive a quote.

5.   Archive 2 Years of Reports on a Different Server: 

  • Establish a process for archiving ILMT reports, ensuring that at least two years' worth of reports are stored.
  • Store archived reports on a separate server or secure location for easy access during audits or historical reference and to ensure when you upgrade you don’t blow away the reports with the old environment.

In Summary

The main reason we see clients fail audits is they either don’t have the ILMT installed and properly running with their PVU licensing, or they don’t have 2 years of reports.

Remember to adapt this ILMT Checklist to the specific needs and nuances of your organization's IT environment. Regular reviews and updates to the checklist may be necessary to accommodate changes in technology, licensing agreements, or organizational processes. We hope you leverage our IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers.

Need help, have questions? Lodestar Solutions has your back!  Contact us if you need:

  • To review your IBM Licensing
  • To install the ILMT Software
  • To automate the running of the ILMT and more…

Just email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com. We are here to help.

Flexpoints and Cognos What You Need to Know!

Flexpoints and Cognos What You Need to Know
Flexpoints and Cognos What You Need to Know
Written by Heather L. Cole, August 25th, 2022

Are you an IBM Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics or SPSS client and purchased your IBM licensing as flexpoints?  If so, you must know there are changes to the flexpoint program!

What is an IBM Flexpoint?

Years ago, IBM introduced a new consumption model, called Flexpoints.  With Flexpoints, products within the platform are valued at a number of Flexpoints.  You could purchase packs of 1,000 Flexpoints to use across the products in the IBM Analytics portfolio according to your needs.  Because clients’ needs change over time, Flexpoints enable a flexible consumption model for Cognos, Planning Analytics and SPSS.  This allowed clients to deploy Flexpoints on specific products like Cognos initially, and then later change their user mix to leverage their points on other products like Planning Analytics/TM1.   (IBM Reference) 

The Challenge with Flexpoints

The challenge with flexpoints was that it was up to the client to ensure they were in compliance and that they weren’t accidently changing their user mix to use more flexpoints than they had licensing rights to.  Since flexpoints were sold in bundles of 1,000, but each different license type had a different value, this could leave clients either not utilizing all their flexpoints or going over their IBM licensing. 

Here’s an example of some of the Cognos Flexpoint values for your reference.

IBM COGNOS ANALYTICS ADMINISTRATOR - 18,810 Flexpoints
IBM COGNOS ANALYTICS EXPLORER - 3102 Flexpoints
IBM COGNOS ANALYTICS USER – 1661 Flexpoints

So, if you had 2 Admins, and 100 users, you would need 203,720 flexpoints. 

Our Thoughts

Candidly at Lodestar Solutions we were never a fan of IBM Flexpoints as we believed it opened the client up to potentially failing an audit.  The clients were rarely familiar with the number of points each license cost.

Recently, Lodestar discovered IBM is trying to move people off Flexpoints for Cognos. 

Update on Flexpoints

Last month an IBM Cognos client reached out to Lodestar Solutions to discuss having us help them with the upgrade of their Cognos system to the latest version.  As we do with all upgrades, we investigated their current IBM licensing so that we did not inadvertently upgrade them and put them out of compliance with IBM.  Also, to see if there was a more optimal IBM licensing option that could save them money.

When we pulled the Cognos client entitlements, we were surprised to see they owned flexpoints.  This caused us to investigate the current IBM licensing rules and point values for each Cognos license type the client was using.

Candidly, if was difficult to find someone in IBM that knew about flexpoints for Cognos.  But when we got to the Cognos Flexpoint expert, we were informed the client did not have access to download the current version of Cognos. 

What?  This meant the client was paying for support and would not be able to get on the latest version.  I almost fell off my chair. 

We were informed that the client would need to modify their IBM licensing to the regular on-premise licensing at time of renewal and then they would have access to the latest version.   Our challenge was that the client had just renewed their support with another what we call, “paper pushing” partner.   These are partners that just process renewals, they don’t discuss changing in IBM licensing, or new functionality with their clients.   

FYI, Lodestar has never been and never will be a paper pushing partner!  Every year at minimum we discuss changes in the software, and licensing with each client.  If you would like us to do this for you, email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

The Flexpoint Resolution

Clearly, we had an issue!  The client did not want to wait a full year to upgrade their Cognos system, and there was no way to undue the other partner’s mistake.  So, IBM to the rescue!  The IBM Flexpoint expert was fabulous to work with.  They proposed that IBM provide the client a Cognos Admin term license for one year at the cost of $.01.  This would allow them to download the latest version and get upgraded.

At Support Renewal Time

Next year when the client is up for renewal, Lodestar Solutions, will help move them off the outdated flexpoint licensing to the licensing mix that is optimal for their needs. 

Lessons to be Learned:

  1.  If you are on Flexpoints with IBM Cognos Analytics, IBM Planning Analytics or SPSS licensing, you are at risk of not getting the latest software.  So, contact Lodestar Solutions and we will help you sort out your licensing.  Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.
  2. If you use a Paper Pushing Partner for Renewals, you might run into issues!  Boutique partners, that specialize in licensing knowledge, like Lodestar Solution can save you money and reduce your risk of failing an audit.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help.  Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

Developing KPIs Executives Use

Developing KPIs Executives Use
Developing KPIs Executives Use
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 16th 2022

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be more challenging than people think.   You create a Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics dashboard with the KPIs the company has been measuring and no one uses it.  People convince you to change the dashboard and someone else complains that it’s not meeting their needs.  As an analytic professional you start to feel like you are caught in the middle of a tug a war.  Today we will share Lodestar’s recommendations on developing KPIs executives use so you don’t get caught in the middle.

KPIs and the Strategic Goals

In last week’s blog, Create Support for KPIs Across the Organization we discussed that when defining KPIs you need to first start with the strategic goals of the organization, then ensure that you are engaging the right stakeholders from the very beginning and finally communicate the WHY.  If you did not read it go read it now, so you understand why strategic goals are so important in defining KPIs.

Steps for Developing KPIs for Cognos or Planning Analytics

  •  Start with Understanding the Strategy Goals and Initiatives of the organization
  • Define the stakeholders, the people that the organization needs to have strong relationships with to succeed. 
  • Facilitate a KPI discovery session (Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success)
  • Define what you can monitor to make the relationship with the stakeholders stronger
  1. Ask the stakeholders themselves
  2. Engage your end users so they feel part of the process
  •  Identify your data needs & evaluate if you already have it
  1. IBM Planning Analytics can be a useful tool for calculating and collecting data you might need.
  •  Validate the measurement definition, calculation, and frequency
  • Share the WHY for the KPIs with the organization
  • Define how to communicate your KPIs 
  1.  Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics could be useful tools
  •  Review your KPIs quarterly to ensure they help improve performance

Common KPI Mistakes

Now that you have the basic steps, I want to share the common mistakes that can jeopardize your company’s future.

Not Evaluating Your KPIs Regularly

In the last 3 years the world has changed, your business has changed, and yet so many companies are still using the same dashboards and measures they defined years ago.  KPI’s are not intended to be static they should change as your business changes, as your employees change, as your suppliers and customers change.  At Lodestar Solutions, we coach our clients on hosting quarterly or at least semi-annual strategy sessions to identify how your Cognos Dashboards, KPIs and Planning Analytic models should change.  To learn more about hosting meetings check out our blog, Facilitating Analytic Discovery for Success.  

“What got you here won’t get you there!” 

Measure Everything

Another mistake is to create too many KPIs.  Hint the name says it all, they are Key performance indicators.  Not All performance indicators.  Start with what you believe best monitors the relationship with your stakeholders (as described in previous blog).  We are looking for the needle movers.  Things our teams can take actions on to improve the performance.  When you measure too many things, people don’t pay attention to any of them.  Remember if you are hosting regular strategy sessions you can change them.  Less is more.

Tying Bonuses to KPIs

Be very careful if you tie bonuses and incentives to performance on KPIs.  According to technology thought leader Bernard Marr, “The true purpose of a KPI is to help people inside the business know where they are in relation to where they want to be.  They act like a compass on a sea voyage.  But, once those KPIs are linked to incentives, they stop being a navigation tool and become a target an individual has to hit to secure their bonus.” 

I have seen this firsthand.  Prior to the real estate bust, I was working with a large Chicago home building designing an IBM Planning Analytics model.  Just prior to the crash we noticed that the number of spec homes was increasing significantly, which was odd as spec homes are the models used to help sell houses.  When we asked the CFO about it, he said, oh yeah that’s because we have had people back out of closings.  He then added we pay our project manager based on completions, so they keep building.  Fast forward the billion-dollar home building is no longer in existence.  I believe the warning signs were there, but the company didn’t act fast enough to change how people were paid.  Foundation Crumbles on Kimball Hill homes.

Get an Analytic Success Coach

Success leaves clues and there is a methodology of developing the KPIs executives use.  The above gets you started but if you want rapid success you may want to consider getting a coach to guide your thought the process.  Yes, there are analytic success coaches!  At Lodestar Solutions we work with clients to empower you and your teams to successfully facilitate analytic strategy sessions.  If you would like to learn more about how a coach can help you achieve success in weeks not years, email us at services@lodestarolutiosn.com.

All Companies Should Care About ESG Reporting!

All Companies Should Care About ESG Reporting
All Companies Should Care About ESG Reporting
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 2nd 2022

Every company even privately held companies should pay attention to ESG reporting!  ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance and is a set of standards used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments.  But wait it’s so much more than that!!!  The SEC will most likely require companies to provide ESG Reporting in the future.  But all companies should care about ESG reporting and today we will discuss why.  And if you are an IBM Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics client, we have good news for you…

What is ESG?

First let’s clarify what ESG reporting is.  As we mentioned it’s a set of standards that will help not only investors, but employees, customers, credit reporting agencies and more evaluate how your organization is performing in three areas.

  • Environmental - criteria consider how a company safeguards the environment, including corporate policies addressing climate change.  So, are you a polluter, or generating too much CO2?  
  • Social - criteria examine how a company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates.  For example, do they have diversity and inclusion programs?
  • Governance - deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

Why You Should Care

All companies and team members should care about ESG for several reasons.

SEC Rules:

Initially ESG will impact publicly traded companies. The SEC in March 2022 proposed rule changes that would require registrants to include certain climate-related disclosures in their registration statements and periodic reports. These included information about climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations, or financial condition, and certain climate-related financial statement metrics in a note to their audited financial statements.  So if you are with a publicly traded company or invest in one, this will provide transparency on organizational behavior.

Trickle Down to Private Companies

If your company is private but provides goods or services to a public company, you will see that they are starting to require vendors to provide information about their emissions and other ESG measures.  The reason is that the Greenhouse Gas Protocols define what they call Scope 3 emissions as “all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream”.  Therefore, businesses are now working to engage with suppliers and create low-carbon and easily recyclable products and services to reduce value chains emissions.  The net effect is that almost everyone that provides goods and services to publicly traded companies will need to report or risk losing large contracts.

Credit Ratings

Many experts including the S&P Ratings believe ESG factors will affect your credit rating.  So, if you want to borrow money in the future, your ESG scores may help you get a better rate, or they could hurt you.

Employees Care and want to work with companies in alignment with values.
Customers Care and want to work with companies in alignment with values.
Investors are researching and investing in companies with better ESG ratings.
Executives Care - Your Executives are discussing this with other executives, so if you are responsible for reporting or analytics, you should care.

The Guidelines for ESG Reporting

The guidelines for ESG reporting are still evolving and there are a number of organizations that are working to help create standards such as the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard which classifies a company’s GHG emissions into three ‘scopes.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) Standards, which are industry-specific, sustainability disclosure standards focused on financial materiality.

And the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information. (TCFD)

But companies looking to begin tracking their ESG measures should know it’s ever changing so your tools must be flexible.

Call to Action

If you are a business intelligence professional or maybe you are in the finance team, I urge you to do your research.  Understand what ESG is.  Ask what your organization is doing about ESG!  You might find the legal department is running with it initially, because it’s an SEC risk item.  But let’s think about it.  Business Intelligence and finance teams are in a unique position to help.  They know the data; they understand reporting and can help develop scorecards and dashboards to keep ESG on everyone’s radar. 

If you are an IBM Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics client, did you know IBM has samples of ESG reporting using their tools.  Email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can provide a demonstration on how you can leverage the tools you own today to do ESG reporting with IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

5 Reasons People Object to Upgrading Cognos

5 Reasons People Object to Upgrading Cognos
5 Reasons People Object to Upgrading Cognos
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 9th 2022

Are you trying to get funding for a Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics upgrade?  Maybe you want to get some TM1 or Cognos Training and need to ask for funding.  Did you know there are 5 reasons people object to upgrading?  That’s right only five main reasons.  So today I thought I would walk you through the primary objections and relate it to upgrading and expanding your usage of Cognos and Planning Analytics. 

First let me say I did not create this list.  Bari Baumgardner, a very successful businesswomen was presenting at a conference I attended this weekend hosted by Dean Graziosi and Tony Robbins.  The conference is really designed for the coaching industry.  However, the nuggets of information are very applicable to the world of Business Analytics.  So, if you are an employee running a Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics upgrade, or a consultant you will want to understand and learn to overcome the 5 reasons people object to upgrading.  They are time, money, social support, fear, and doubt.

1. Time -

The most common objection to upgrading your Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics or other solution is time.  As a firm specializing in upgrading clients to the latest business analytics technology we often hear, “We don’t have time.”  But is that really true? 

The thing about time is you never think you have enough, and you can never get it back.  It’s the scarcest resource.  I love Bill Gates’ quote:

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.  Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

But let’s talk about your time, and the time of your team.  How valuable is it?  If you could invest a couple months of focused work that would eliminate a number of redundant monthly tasks, would you do it?  Imagine automating reporting processes and empowering end users to leverage the data and analytics you provide!  What if you could help create a culture shift so everyone in the organization explored the data and made game changing decisions to help the company accomplish their goals.

How long have you been trying to deliver self-service to your users?  If it’s been a long time, we need to talk.  (See our blog, Find More Time for Analytics Projects)

There are steps you can take that can turn the objection on time into the very reason you can’t wait any longer to upgrade and modernize your Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics environments.  Our clients that have upgraded and modernized their Planning Analytics and Cognos deployments all have said the same thing, “Why did we wait so long?”  To schedule a chat email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

2. Money -

The second objection to upgrading we hear is we don’t have any budget.  I fully understand the need to have funding, but what if I told you that many CFO’s have a magic stash of money.  And that when they see a project that will have a significant return on the investment and help them accomplish their strategic goals, they open the money bag and fund the project.  Seriously, I have seen it many times! 

But the secret is that they must see the value.  If you are telling them you need to upgrade to get on a supported version, that probably is not compelling enough.  We need to present a reason that is more important to them. 

Executives are very focused on making or saving money and achieving their strategic goals. 

Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics are amazing tools that when deployed correctly can have a huge impact on the success of the company and the achievement of strategic goals.  The problem is that there are not enough analytic professionals that appreciate the massive impact they can have by delivering the latest IBM solutions to their executives.  When the right information is put in the right hands for better decision-making it will make the company more money. 

So, again.  The objection of not having money is exactly the reason why you must act NOW to upgrade and empower your teams with data.  You know your competition is….

See our blog Secrets to Getting Funding for Your Cognos Projects.

3. Internal Support -

The third objection I hear as an analytics coach to executives and their teams is that they don’t have enough internal support.  Maybe IT doesn’t support your IBM Planning Analytics upgrade, or you have an executive that is saying we should move everything to Microsoft.  Well, you are not alone.  There are other clients that have this struggle.  However, with the correct internal influence and that art of persuasion you can build the support you need.

Lodestar Solutions is happy to have a chat with you to strategize how to gain the support you need.  Email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  It all begins with helping others see the vision you have as to the role of data and analytics in achieving strategic goals.

4. Fear -

The fourth objection to upgrading is fear.  Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection fear of change… Fear is almost always secretly lurking in the background. 

Try this little exercise to help overcome hidden fears.  Write down the worst-case scenario.  Maybe you ask for funding and get rejected.  Maybe you get everyone to support the project but don’t deliver it on time….  Write down every possible bad outcome.

Now write down what you would do if that bad thing happened and what you would have learned from the experience.  Finally write down how you will feel 2 years from now when you are in the exact same place you are now. 

You see people don’t regret acting if even if they don’t succeed.  Successful people don’t have failures; they have learning experiences.  

Theodore Roosevelt

5. Doubt -

The final objection is doubt.  You might think that doubt and fear are the same thing, but I believe they are different.  Doubt is that little voice that says, you aren’t good enough.  Who do you think you are believing you can have a massive impact on the company’s profits?  You don’t even really know how to use the software.  Have you ever heard that voice? 

I have.  She gets really loud in my head at times.  But you know what I discovered?  I never hear the voice when I am binge watching Netflix.  Nope.  She’s silent.  But when I am considering taking a bold move, making a big impact or trying something outside my comfort zone, poof there she is. 

Did you know it has a name?  Imposter Syndrome.  See this Forbes article Imposter Syndrome In Your Business And How To Overcome It

What I have learned is that when that voice pops up, it’s GAME ON!  Something amazing maybe even life changing is about to happen if I just lean in and surround myself with people that will be my cheerleaders. 

But for some of you, you don’t have cheerleaders.  If that’s your case, let’s talk.  The Lodestar Solutions community is full of amazing minds that can help cheer you to success.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Summary

Now you know the 5 reasons people object to upgrading their Cognos and/or Planning Analytics are time, money, social support, fear, and doubt.  Don’t let these objections stop you from being amazing at your job!  Overcome these objections and lead your organization to analytic success.  The first step can start today.  Just email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can chat about your unique situation.  You were born to make an impact.  Start now.

The Real Cost of Multiple Business Intelligence Solutions

The Real Cost of Multiple Business Intelligence Solutions
The Real Cost of Multiple Business Intelligence Solutions
Written by Heather L. Cole on December 9th, 2021

What’s the best business intelligence solution?  This is a question I get asked repeatedly by clients that are struggling to manage multiple different business intelligence solutions in their organization.  Due to acquisitions, mergers, and departmental purchases, it’s not uncommon for clients have IBM Cognos, Tableau, and of course Microsoft Power BI along with other solutions.  Various studies show companies average between 3.8 to 5 different BI solutions.  But what is the real cost of multiple business intelligence solutions?

Today I’ll explore the pros, cons and a solution that could be game changing for companies struggling with which business intelligence solutions to use.

Why So Many Business Intelligence Solutions?

First let’s review how the heck we ended up with so many business intelligence solutions.  There were three key factors which include the pace of Data Warehouse initiatives, the massive growth in demands by business uses and of course politics.

Data Warehouse Initiatives

The vision on one version of the truth is nothing new.  Early data warehouse initiatives were supposed to solve the many sources of data and provide the foundation for business intelligence.  But standardizing data definitions and developing the data warehouse proved to be a slower process than we desired.  Some business units like finance were often told their data would be added to the warehouse in a couple years!  This was just unacceptable to the business units that required visibility to data to make decisions.  So, they took matters into their own hands and many purchase their own business intelligence and reporting solutions to meet their needs.

Data Needs Grew Faster than Teams Could Deliver

For organizations that tried to control the purchase of additional reporting tools, business intelligence teams were quickly overwhelmed and understaffed to meet the needs of everyone.  This too inspired some departments to look for solutions that provided solutions specific to their role or department that bundled in business intelligence solutions.  We saw this a lot with financial systems that included reporting tools.  

Politics

The final factor that contributed to the proliferation of business intelligence solutions in organizations is politics.  Many departments seek autonomy from the IT department.  They wanted control of their own destiny.  Software resellers like Tableau and Microsoft Power BI successfully marketed to various departments and their desire to control their own data.

For more information check out this blog, Top 8 Business Intelligence Challenges and How to Handle Them. 

Unfortunately, all these factors put many organizations in a situation where there are many silos of data and several reporting solutions.  Companies reviewing where they are in their analytics and business intelligence roadmap are discovering they are off course.  But what should the future road look like for business intelligence and analytics? 

The Reaction to Multiple Business Intelligence Solutions

If you have multiple business intelligence solutions and you want to create a plan, there is no one size fits most answer.  Having multiple reporting and analytic solutions may be the perfect answer depending on your goals and resources.   Let’s take a moment to explore some of the questions you want to answer in your evaluations.

Primary Goal of Business Intelligence Tools

What is the real reason you need reporting and analytic solutions?  Is it to rapidly provide insightful accurate data in a useful form to business users?  For some clients Lodestar Solutions works with having multiple reporting solutions helps them deploy the data to departments while meeting their unique needs, for others standardizing on a tool like IBM Cognos Analytics streamlines the deployment and maintenance for their IT department.  What are your unique goals?

The Cost Factors

Cost is always a factor.  When evaluating your current reporting tools, you will want to create a list of all the various reporting solutions used.  Then determine if the licensing for the reporting component is bundled with other software or you pay additional for the reporting.  Now estimate the annual cost for each additional reporting solution.  Costs should include the staff to support it and annual maintenance or subscription costs.  The goal is to gain visibility to the costs for all the different solutions.

If you need clarity on your IBM Cognos renewal or subscription costs, Lodestar is happy to help.  Email us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.  And check out our blog, Want to Save Money? 

Opportunity Cost of Disparate Systems

Depending on your industry you may find industry solutions or departmental solutions are greatly beneficial and add faster visibility.  I like to compare your reporting solutions to your garden.  You might need multiple tools to efficiently maintain your environment.  So, multiple solutions could be the perfect solution.  Only you can do a proper evaluation if you should standardize on one platform.  Talk to your end users and perform a discovery session of how they leverage data today and their ideas for the future.

Time To Migrate Existing Reporting

When determining if you should migrate reports from one system to another you must consider first if the new system has all the functionality of the old system.  Users hate losing functionality.  Then do a proper evaluation of the complexity and quantity of reports that would have to be redeveloped in a new tool.  If you are an IBM Cognos client and evaluating IBM Cognos verse Power BI, I strongly recommend you consider using Motio solutions to evaluate the complexity and quantity of reports.  For more information on this see our blog and call us for a discussion of how Motio Inventory module can give you clarity.  See our earlier blog on Motio for Cognos Analytics Administrators.  

Best of Both Worlds – One Portal, Many Business Intelligence Tools

Many clients have come to us at Lodestar Solutions asking for guidance on if they should move off IBM Cognos for Power BI, others seek help to manage all the different solutions.  We appreciate this can be a complex and political discussion in organizations.

What if I was to tell you there could be an easy solution to allow users access to all the information they need from one portal?  That the marketing department that loves their solutions can keep it, and finance can keep their solution.  What if wasting time rebuilding existing content that works was not necessary?  Would you and your team like to spend time on game changing solutions instead of reinventing the wheel?  If so, you MUST attend our webinar on What Every Executive Needs to Know about Dealing with Multiple BI Systems. 

Questions, call us at 813-415-2910.  Register for this complimentary, thought provoking event!

Webinar

What Every Executive Needs to Know about Dealing with Multiple BI Systems

What Every Executive Needs to Know about Dealing with Multiple BI Systems

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

1-2 PM Eastern 

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

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants. – Part 2
How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants. – Part 2
Written by Heather Cole, June 23rd, 2021

Are you ready to create your analytics roadmap?  Maybe you had a misstep in the past and are a little gun shy.  Well, have no fear, Lodestar is here.  Last week we shared with you how to create your analytics roadmap without hiring expensive consultants. Check out last weeks blog here.  This week we will take you through the next 3 steps to what Lodestar Solutions recommends for clients that want to start their analytic journey, but don’t have a budget to hire consultants.  These are the same steps we take our Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics clients through that need help creating their analytics roadmaps. 

4. Engage Data Experts

Engage with Data Experts

The one thing every analytics journey needs is good, clean data.  So, the next step is to find out who are the data experts in your organization and explain to them your idea.  Even if you know where the data is do not tell them you need access to a particular data source, rather ask them how they think you could get the data you need.  They are the keepers of the data.  You want to honor their role and that sometimes you do not know the best place to get the data.  Most organizations have data lakes, mart, source systems… all containing valuable information.  But only the data experts know where you should get the cleanest data.   

Want to know more about clean data?  Check out this Forbes blog The Death Of Dirty Data: The Importance Of Keeping Your Database Clean. 

5. Create a Pilot Plan for Your First Analytic Destination

Now that you have an idea of what challenge you are tackling with data and analytics, and you identified the stakeholders and data experts, it is time to create a plan to pilot your analytics idea.  The great thing is even if you do not own a robust Business Intelligence like Cognos or Planning software like IBM Planning Analytics today, you can do this in Excel.  I believe you need to work with what you have available to prove your theory.  If you have heard me speak, I often talk about the MacGyver approach to analytics.  Here’s a link to an earlier blog I wrote on the MacGyver approach, The MacGyver Approach to BI and Analytics when you have limited resources.

For IBM Cognos Planning Analytics Clients:  If you happen to own Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1) you are set!  I love Cognos Planning Analytics for building your analytics pilot.  Cognos Planning analytics can bring in data from multiple data sources and allow you to model and report off the information.  The latest version of Planning Analytics (Workspace) even has dashboarding capabilities in IBM.  For more information on the latest version of Planning Analytics Workspace check out our blog, What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace Version 61 and 62. 

Planning Analytics Workspace

Regardless of the tool you are using, remember, this is a pilot.  As soon as you create your analytic dashboard, report or scorecard, someone will say, “can you have it do….”  But that is okay.  This is an agile process.  Your goal should be to create a deliverable that you can share with the stakeholders and get their feedback. 

6. Deploy For your First Analytic Destination on Your Roadmap

Now that you have a plan, it is time to deploy your plan and start your journey on your analytic roadmap.  It does not matter what tool you are using, whether it is in Excel, IBM Cognos Planning Analytics, or another tool, you must just start!  It will not be perfect, it will need modification, but you started!  And getting started is the first step in any journey. 

As a smart person once said (not me originally),

“You don’t have to be great to start.  But you have to start to be great!”

It is important to know that U-turns and rerouting during your journey is absolutely okay!  That is how we refine and improve.

7. Repeat Steps 1-6

Once you have accomplished steps 1-6, guess what?  It is time to celebrate and repeat the process with another analytic idea.  Like any good journey your analytic adventure will not just have one destination.  It will have many and like life will continue to evolve as your organization and the world changes. 

Need Help with Your Analytics Roadmap?

If you need assistance or want to have someone help you facilitate discussions around your Analytic Roadmap, reach out to me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com

In Conclusion

I am so excited for you to start your adventure.  If you have tried to start and had a misstep, don’t worry.  Lodestar Solutions has your back!  We are happy to discuss your specific journey and challenges. 

We are hosting a complimentary webinar for you to ask questions.

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants

Thursday June 24th, at 12:30 PM Eastern

To Register click here

In the How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants webinar I will share stories from decades of implementing analytic solutions including Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  I will also provide additional secrets to success to create your Analytics Roadmap.  

Four More Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About an IBM Audit (Part 2)

Four More Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
Four More Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
March 26th, 2021

If you use IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics you are subject to an IBM audit. You might not have realized when you purchased your Cognos you agreed to the terms of the IBM International Program Licensing Agreement.

You were agreeing to allow IBM to Audit your Cognos and Planning Analytics software usage.  Last week we shared Six Things Every Cognos and Planning Analytics Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits.  This week here are four more things every Cognos and Planning Analytics client needs to know about an IBM audit.

1. IBM requires many Cognos and Planning Analytics clients to order and install a tool to monitor core processing usage (ILMT Tool).

If you have Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics in a virtualized environment and your licensing includes Processor Value Unit licensing (PVU) you will be required to install the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).

Over the years IBM changed their agreement and introduced the requirement to install their IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).  This happened when more clients moved to virtualized environments.  And if you think about it, it makes sense.  In a virtualized environment it is easy to allocate more cores to your environment to increase performance.  Since the PVU licensing is by core, IBM needed a way to monitor the core usage to ensure people who had PVU licensing were not exceeding their licensing.

See our earlier blog ILMT Tool Questions and Answers for more details on the ILMT.

What’s the Penalty?

If you have virtualized your Cognos environment and are only using a fraction of the cores for your Cognos or Planning Analytics solutions, then you fall under IBM’s sub capacity rules.  The IBM contract language states that if you do not install the ILMT then IBM reserves the right to charge you the full capacity of your environment.  That can be HUGE!

Lodestar Solutions has seen well intending IT professionals increase the cores used for Cognos and Planning Analytics only to cause the organization to fail an IBM audit.

Candidly IBM did not do a good job of informing Cognos and Planning Analytic clients of this new requirement, but it the client’s responsibility to ensure they do not accidentally become out of compliance.  Ignorance of the rules is not a defense.

How Do I Know If I Have the ILMT Installed?

First look at your Proof of Entitlements and see if you have the ILMT listed as a part you own.  If it’s not on your entitlements, you would not be able to download it.  If it is listed, then check with your IT team to see if it was actually installed and if they are downloading the reports at least every 90 days.

Lack of having the ILMT tool installed is a primary cause of audit failure.

2. Upgrading Your Cognos or Planning Analytics environment could affect your Cognos licensing needs.

When you upgrade your Cognos or Planning Analytics environment it is recommended to put the new environment on new hardware.  This could result in the PVU rating of your machines to increase from a 70 rated machine to a 100 PVU rated machine.  (To see the latest machine ratings from IBM check out Processor Value Units)

If this happens you will need more PVU licensing to have the same number of cores assigned to our Cognos system. 

Additionally, clients moving from older TM1 or BI versions to the latest may find that they need additional cores assigned to the new Cognos environment.  Remember if you are on the PVU licensing and you allocate more core processing power, you will need to buy additional IBM Cognos licensing.

Lodestar Solutions fully appreciates how confusing the PVU licensing can be.  Here is an earlier blog on What the Heck is an IBM Cognos PVU?  Just know you don’t have to figure this out alone. Lodestar is here to help.

Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we would be happy to share our PVU calculation tool so that you can ensure you are not overusing and subject to failing an IBM audit.

3. Many clients are in an outdated licensing model which may result in paying more than you should for IBM support.

Over the years IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics licensing has changed many times.  Some clients purchased their licensing many years ago but have not updated their licensing.  As a result, they could be paying more than they should for their Cognos or Planning Analytics system. 

Cognos Express Licensing

Lodestar Solutions has helped many clients that have smaller deployments under 100 users move into the Cognos Express and Planning Analytics Express licensing model which is designed for mid-market clients and smaller deployments. The Express licensing is the same software just a different licensing.

Moving Cognos Analytics clients from Authorized Users to Processor Value Unit Licensing

For other Cognos Analytics clients who had a lot of casual Cognos users and owned authorized user licensing, Lodestar moved them to a PVU licensing.  The PVU licensing model for these clients saved the Cognos client significant support dollars and allowed them to add more users at no additional cost.  Typically, this is an option to be explored when a Cognos Analytics client has over 500 Cognos authorized users. 

Moving Planning Analytics clients from server plus user licensing to PA Advanced

The majority of IBM Planning Analytic clients are on a server plus user licensing model.  This model does require PVU licensing for production and non-production along with individual user licenses.  A few years back, IBM introduced a new license called the Planning Analytics Advanced licensing that has two flavors; PVU based, or Users based.  This is a fabulous and more simplified licensing that Lodestar recommends all Planning Analytic clients evaluate.  The best time to migrate your licenses is at renewal time.

If you want to discover what your licensing option are, Lodestar Solutions is here to help.  Email us at Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to set up a free Cognos licensing consultation.

4. Cognos clients cannot maintain support on a portion of the authorized users installed and in service.  It is all or nothing.

Cognos and Planning Analytics clients that want to decrease their user counts can do so, but there may be a hidden penalty.  If you are currently paying below IBM list price for your Cognos or Planning Analytics support, and you want to decrease your user counts, you may see a greater uplift on the ones you keep.  This is because you are no longer qualifying for the same IBM volume discount.

The second thing to know is that if you decrease the number of users you are paying to support, you MUST delete the unsupported users from your system.  You are not allowed to pay for support on a portion of your licenses and keep using all your original licenses. 

For example:  If you owned 2 Cognos Administrators and 100 Cognos Analytic users but at renewal time you wanted only to renew 1 Cognos Admin and 50 users, you must remove the 1 admin and 50 users you discontinued support on.

It’s important to know that if you have on-premise, perpetual licensing, it is an asset.  And you have a legal right to use your Cognos licenses indefinitely without support.  Although Lodestar does not advise that.  However, IBM does not allow you to try to cheat the system and pay support only on a fraction of your licenses and use all the licenses originally purchased.

Lodestar’s recommendation is to always keep your Cognos and Planning Analytics users under IBM’s support and maintenance program.  This ensures that if 3rd party software sends an update that breaks connections to your Cognos, you will be able to get the fix pack.

Summary

We realized our list of ten things every Cognos client needs to know about IBM audits may have just created more questions.  Oh, if you missed the first 6 things you need to know about an IBM Audit, click here to see our earlier blog.  

Lodestar Solutions is here to help you answer all your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytic licensing and IBM support questions.  But you should also check out our recent webinar on How to Avoid Failing an IBM Analytics Audit.  This is now available on our Lodestar Solutions YouTube channel.  You might want to subscribe to our Lodestar Solutions YouTube Channel   while you are there.

Call Lodestar

For your complimentary What the Heck Do I Own Cognos Consultation and to ask questions you may have, reach out to Sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910. We are here to show you a better way.

Six Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About an IBM Audit (Part 1)

Six Things Every Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
Six Things Every Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
March 19th, 2021

If you use IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics you are subject to an IBM audit.  You might not have realized when you purchased your Cognos you agreed to the terms of the IBM International Program Licensing Agreement.  You were agreeing to allow IBM to Audit your software usage.  Here are six things every Cognos and Planning Analytics client needs to know about IBM audits.

1. Any Cognos client can get audited, even small deployments.

Just because you have a smaller deployment does not mean IBM will not audit you.  Lodestar Solutions has had Cognos clients with less than 20 users subject to an IBM audit.  IBM hires an outside firm to handle their audits and to the best of our knowledge they appear to be random.

2. IBM does not warn you when you are using too many Cognos licenses.

Neither IBM Cognos nor Planning Analytics have license keys.  Therefore, there is no warning when you set up too many users or when you add core processing power to your Cognos virtualized environment and accidentally exceed the Cognos licensing you own.  It is the responsibility of you as the client to ensure you do not exceed what you own.  Note that SPSS licensing does have keys, so it helps to maintain your users within your Cognos licensing. (See our blog for more information on IBM SPSS Stat Licensing Options SPSS).

3. IBM uses outside firms for Cognos audits, and they do not care that you have been a client for decades.

Many clients have the false belief that since they have been a client for decades that if they were audited IBM would be lenient on them.  This is not true!  IBM uses outside firms to handle their Cognos and Planning Analytics audits and their job is to discover when a client is using more Cognos licensing than they own. 

Think of it this way.  If you went to the farmers market and purchased 3 watermelon, but when you were loading your car you put 6 watermelon in your trunk, would you have stolen 3 watermelon?  Software is the same way.  Whether you intended to exceed your licensing or whether you did it unknowingly, you still are stealing in IBM’s mind.

It’s important to know that typically when clients fail an IBM audit, IBM charges them full list price for software they are using for which they don’t own Cognos or Planning Analytic licenses.  Sometimes, IBM also charges the client back support on the Cognos software licensing that was not owned but used at the time of the audit.  So, no they are not lenient on Cognos clients that have used the software for years.

4. You must purchase licenses for your Cognos and Planning Analytic consultants.

Many clients do not realize that the IBM Cognos licensing requires a license for every user that accesses, or logs into their system.  This includes consultants, even IBM consultants.  If you hire a freelancer or a firm like Lodestar Solutions to help you with your implementation you typically will need an Administrator or Modeler license for your consultant.  For more information on this see Lodestar’s earlier blog, What to know before IBM Audits Your IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Licenses.

5. Most non-production environments need to have licenses, they are not free.

A common misperception by Cognos clients is that you only need licensing for your production environment and that the non-production or test environment for Cognos or Planning analytics does not count.  This is NOT true! 

Many clients have licensing that require additional licenses for their non-production environments.  If you own IBM Express or IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos Analytics licensing with PVU licensing, you will most likely need a non-production environment.  The exception to this is the Planning Analytics Advanced PVU licensing.

If you are unsure, reach out to Lodestar at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and we will answer your specific Cognos Licensing questions. 

6. If you do not pay support, they can still audit you.

If your organization has decided to move in another direction and you did not renew your Cognos support, but you are still using the Cognos or Planning Analytics software while you migrate, do not think that prevents you from being audited.  IBM can still audit you!  They will look at is the quantity and type of licenses that you purchased support on the last time you renewed your support.  They will then audit your licensing and look to see that you are not using more licenses than you last renewed. 

Example:  You once owed 2 Cognos BI Administrators and 100 Cognos Analytic Users.  Your company was bought out and you are moving to Power BI.  So last year you renewed only 2 Cognos administrators and 20 Cognos Analytic Users with the plan to end support on them when you fully migrate all your reports.  IBM sends you an IBM audit letter and during the audit they determine that you still had 50 Cognos Analytic Users and 2 Cognos Administrators in your Cognos system.  You will fail the audit and IBM will send you a bill for the 30 users you did not renew support on.

Keep Your Cognos Licenses Supported

Lodestar’s recommendation is to always keep your users supported with IBM support.  This ensures that if 3rd party software sends an update that breaks connections to your Cognos, you will be able to get the fix pack.  There are several other reasons we recommend renewing your Cognos licenses.  See our blog Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support for more information.

IBM Audit Summary

We realize our list of six things every Cognos and Planning Analytics client needs to know about IBM audits may have just created more questions.  In fact, look for our next blog where we share even more information you should know before an IBM audit on your Cognos licensing. 

You are not alone!  Lodestar Solutions is here to help you answer all your licensing and IBM support questions.  We recently hosted a webinar on How to Avoid Failing an IBM Analytics Audit.  Which is now available on our youtube channel and provides a lot more details and client case studies.

Don't Wait!

Don’t wait until you get an IBM audit letter.  Learn what you need to know before you get audited.  Act now.  Contact Lodestar for your complimentary What the Heck Do I Own Cognos Consultation.  During our meeting you can ask the questions you are too afraid to ask IBM. 

Contact us today at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910.  We are here to show you a better way!

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