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.

Benefits of Diversifying Your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants

Benefits of Diversifying Your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants
Benefits of Diversifying Your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 24th 2022

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!  It’s quote we often hear in reference to investing.  There are horror stories of people who put all their money in the stock of one company like Enron or one investment advisor like Bernie Madoff only to watch their life savings go poof!  But did you know that saying also applies to hiring consultants?  Today we will discuss the Benefits of Diversifying your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants. Diversifying your IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics Consultants means you work with more than one consulting firm. 

Having a Second Set of Eyes

Have you ever had a problem you were trying to solve and just wanted to have a second set of eyes?   Or maybe you have a repetitive task, and you think, “there has to be a better way”.   Whenever I have that thought, I reach out to someone I think will know the answers.   It took me years to learn, but I now know that although I probably could figure out the problem myself, time is the most limited resource we have.  And if I just phone another IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos expert in my network, I can solve the problem in a fraction of the time. 

If you diversify and contract with multiple Cognos consulting firms, and you have access to not just the consultants assigned to you, but also their teams.  The bigger your network the faster you will get answers.

But let me share a little secret, if a consultant makes a mistake, many firms will back them and their work.  They don’t want to admit that a mistake was made.  By diversifying and using more than one Cognos or IBM Planning analytics consulting firm you have a built in BS detector.

Diverse Offerings & Experience

The next benefit of diversifying your IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consultants is that firms often time have different offerings.  One might be really good at Data Warehousing and Planning Analytics, whereas another might offer executive strategy sessions to discover what really needs to be designed.  Additionally, one might have a financial service background while another distribution.  Believe it or not, you can benefit from someone with industry expertise that is different from your own, as they can bring innovative ideas to your project.

Different Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics partners have different offerings and expertise.  You can benefit from their wealth of knowledge.  In the U.S. most of the partners know each other and many partner with each other all the time.

Knowledge of New Releases

Not all Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consulting firms invest in educating their teams on the latest versions.  Candidly if they are primarily focused on billing and revenue generation, training takes away from billing.  So, there could be functionality that is available in a new release that your consultant doesn’t know about.  By diversifying your Cognos consultants, you increase the likelihood of leveraging the latest functionality.  At Lodestar Solutions, we pride ourselves on educating our clients on what’s new every quarter. 

Knowledge saves time and money copy

Knowledge of IBM Licensing

Did you know there are Cognos and IBM Planning Analytic consulting firms that don’t know IBM licensing?  Yes, there are some amazing consultants that are fabulous on the product but don’t know how to save you money on your IBM licensing and IBM support renewals.  Lodestar Solutions has many clients that came to us after working with another partner and failing an IBM Audit.  It doesn’t have to be that way!  By diversifying and working with a partner that understands licensing you can save money and reduce the risk of failing an audit. Here’s a link to our webinar on, How to Avoid Failing an IBM Analytics Audit.   And our blog, How to Save Money on Support Renewals

 If you have IBM licensing questions or are in the middle of an IBM audit, email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Additional Client Offerings

Finally, a big benefit of working with multiple Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consultants is that some offer client only benefits.  For example, at Lodestar Solutions we host a client only virtual user group every quarter where we share the new releases, what works and what doesn’t, and have straight talk.  We share 3rd party tools we think clients will benefit from and we network with our peers.  But that’s not all, we record the sessions, so clients can access our client only portal and watch the sessions at any time.   Our clients love the user groups, but it is a closed group.  

Want to participate, in our next user group?  Have us quote your IBM support renewal.  Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for a license evaluation and renewal quote.

Tips in Working with Multiple IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consulting Firms

Now that I have shared some of the benefits of diversifying your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants.  I want to share a few more tips. 

  •  Be transparent.  Don’t hide the fact you are working with multiple firms, find firms that can work together.
  • Find a firm like Lodestar that is willing to subcontract other firms, so you have the diversification but one stop shopping.
  • Interview a few firms and ask around about their strengths.  Here’s a link to where you can find IBM Partners. 
  • Check Linkedin and see how well connected their team members are.  A strong network can provide rapid, creative solutions.

Next Step

Let’s talk about your project and challenges.  Lodestar Solutions can help you diversify your consultants, save money on IBM licensing and support, learn the latest version and network with your peers.  We would love the opportunity to be one of your go to partners and show you the benefits of diversifying your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Consultants.  Contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com for a complimentary review.

Why IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner

IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner
IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner
August 6th, 2020

Are you a mid-market company using IBM analytics tools like Cognos, SPSS and TM1?  If so, you might be frustrated that IBM has a revolving door of account executives managing your account.  We understand your pain and so does IBM.  That is why IBM recommends working with an IBM Business Partner. This is particularly true for smaller, mid-market organizations.

IBM Structure

IBM’s structure is complex.  They have many people assigned to each account all with unique roles designed to help you and sell more software.  A typical mid-market account will have an account executive that manages the entire IBM relationship, two analytics reps to cover different products in the portfolio and a renewal rep whose job is to get you to renew.  That is a lot of IBMers.  But sometimes clients needing help feel like they are just spinning within the IBM land, not knowing who to call. That is why IBM recommends working with a business partner.

In addition to the above roles IBM also breaks down clients based on an account classification.  They have strategic accounts which are typically very large companies.  IBM led accounts which are large companies that IBM is focused on servicing.  Finally, the smaller or mid-market companies fall in what is typically called BP-Led for business partner led. 

What is BP-Led?

IBM realized that they cannot focus on every market.  Logically IBM wants to focus on the large enterprises, so they strategically planned for mid-market clients is to leverage skilled, certified partners.   Certified IBM business partners, like Lodestar Solutions, provide huge value to clients.  For over 16 years Lodestar Solutions has helped our clients with licensing, renewals, training, and providing consulting services.

Note that not all firms stating they provide IBM Cognos, TM1 or SPSS services are certified authorized business partners.  Certified partners that are authorized to sell IBM software and provide services must obtain certification and are held to a high standard.  To find certified, authorized partners check out IBM’s site.

Benefits of Working with a Partner

For Midmarket IBM clients, partners are fabulous because often you can get your answers from one person instead of bouncing around IBM structures like a pinball.  Experienced partners know how to cut through the red-tape and are with you for the long haul.  Since partners not only sell licensing and renewals but also implement they are like one-stop shopping.

How to Leverage a Partner

Licensing

As an IBM analytics client have you ever wondered what the heck you really own?  Wondering if there is a better licensing model to save you money or provide more functionality? 

IBM’s licensing models have changed a lot over the years and partners can ensure you are maximizing your investment.  Lodestar offers a session called, “What the Heck Do I Own - IBM Analytics” where we walk you through what you own, how clients use the various components and advise you on money saving techniques.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule a session.

Lodestar Solutions has identified that some IBM Cognos and TM1 clients are on outdated licensing models

While others could benefit from new subscription options of the software like SPSS Statistics Subscriptions.  

Renewals

IBM certified reselling partners can also help you with your renewals.  Lodestar Solutions offers clients a complimentary annual license review and new functionality discussion.  In this discussion we address challenges, educate clients on licensing changes and warn of potential landmines.  Our clients love these sessions and leave motivated and empowered. 

Additionally, if you are receiving multiple support bills throughout the year, Christina our renewal specialist can help consolidate your bills, so that you get a single bill for all your IBM Analytics support.  This will make your planning and budgeting for Cognos a lot easier.

Yes, you can just renew with IBM, but did you know that the renewal specialist does not know if your licensing would pass an audit. Their only job is to renew your licensing.  But with Lodestar you get a deep dive review, and you will never pay more than you can buy it from IBM.

Blogs for your benefit

The first step is to make sure you understand what the heck you own with your IBM Cognos licensing. The second step is to make sure you have access to talented people when you need help.  

Let's schedule a time to chat.

Now you know Why IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner.  Lodestar Solutions wants to be your go to partner.  We are offering a complimentary 1 hour session to discuss your challenges and to provide a “What the Heck Do I Own” session where we will discuss your specific licensing.  If you have specific product questions you can email them in advanced of the meeting.  In our virtual meeting, we will also make recommendations if there is a better licensing alternative to save you money.   The trick to saving money is to review the licensing before your next renewal, so we need to act quickly.

Email renewals@lodestarsolutions.com today to schedule a complimentary discussion.

How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics

Cognos Saving Money
Cognos Saving Money
June 25th, 2020

Are you being pressured to cut costs wherever possible?  For many Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers, routine costs are now being scrutinized like never before.  Companies are wisely preserving cash in these uncertain times.  Today I will share how to save money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics. These are proven methods I have used to help clients save thousands of dollars.

Save Money on IBM Cognos Analytics Licensing

Are You on the Optimal Licensing Model?

The first thing you want to check is whether are you even in the correct licensing model and if you use the licenses you own.  For many Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers, they bought years ago and have not really assessed if there is a better IBM licensing model. Lodestar recently moved a number of Planning Analytics (TM1) clients to a more beneficial licensing model like the Planning Analytics Advanced, saving the clients money and giving them more functionality.  For more information on Planning analytics and TM1 licensing check out our blog, Cognos TM1 Licensing 13 Most Common Questions.

For SPSS Stat customers there are a number of licensing options to explore. We have seen many clients have a mix of SPSS Stat licensing and when we do some cleanup to have either all Authorized Users or all Concurrent  Users we eliminate installation headaches and save them money.  See our recent blog on IBM SPSS Stat Licensing Options.

Now if you purchased Cognos or TM1 over ten years ago, and have a small number of users you may be on Enterprise licensing, when Express licensing could save you a lot of money on both new users and support.  Express is a licensing model designed for small deployments. If you have less than 50 TM1 Users and less then 100 total Users, this could be an economic option.  See our blog Difference between Cognos Express and Enterprise Licensing? 

Buy in Bulk

When you buy licensing, discounts are always based on volume.  So, consider buying what you will need for the next year or two.  Yes, I understand your company doesn’t want to spend any more cash than they need too.  That is why we recommend leveraging IBM Global financing for purchase of new licenses.  Many clients have qualified for 0% interest.  

 For more information check out our blog on IBM Global Financing or IBM Financing.

Creative Example

A Cognos Analytics BI client recently came to me needing more licenses.  We evaluated their licensing model and determined they would be better off in the Express licensing model.  When we ran the numbers with discounts the transaction was a no brainer if it were any other time.  But it’s COVID! So, they were getting push back.  Lodestar recommended that with the purchase they prepay for 2 more years of support.  On the surface it looks like they would outlay more cash.  But then IBM Global Financing reviewed the client’s credit and offered 0% interest on the complete purchase for 36 months.  This was a huge win for the client as it helped address senior managements cash outlay concerns and the client benefited from huge volume savings.  Hint, the best time to get creative on purchases is at the time of renewal. If you want to get creative on how you can get funding approved for your upgrade and additional licenses, contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

Save Money on IBM Cognos Analytics Support

Every year IBM sends you a notice of renewal.  You compare it to last year and gripe about the uplift.  But you need support, right?  For some of you, your executives might even question if they should pay for support.  If that’s you, check out our blog Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support. 

But maybe there is a way to save money on IBM Cognos support. First you must answer, am I in the right product mix? Here’s a blog on How an IBM Cognos User Reduced Support Costs by $30,000! 

Buying Multiple Cognos Support Years to Save Money

Next you want to consider buying multiple years of IBM Cognos support at one time to save on the uplift percentage. Here’s how support typically works in IBM land.  When you buy software at a discount your year 2 renewal is based on your discounted purchase price.  IBM takes the purchase price, allocates 20% to support, and then uplifts it 10% annually until it hits list price at which time the uplift is 3% per year.  The idea is that you are benefiting from a volume discount.  But if you buy multiple years, you can negotiate a lower uplift. 

Again, if you used IBM Global financing and qualified for a low rate like 0%, you could leverage financing for the 24 or 36 months so you don’t have a cash outlay for the future years until later.

How to Save Money on Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics

We shared some creative ideas on how Lodestar Solutions has helped clients save a lot on money on Cognos Analytics and even get purchases approved during COVID.  But you are unique.  So, don’t try to go this alone! I recommend you work with a partner because salespeople within IBM focus on support, or licenses sales, but partners understand all the moving parts. Lodestar Solutions has your back and loves to create money saving solutions.  Just contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com and we will help you evaluate your options.  Or call 813-415-2910.

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