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

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

what’s new in planning analytics workspace 90
what’s new in planning analytics workspace 90
Written by Mike Bernaiche, September 22nd, 2023

Planning Analytics Workspace 90 was released on September 19, 2023, and there are several items in this update to talk about.  For those of you who went to IBM Tech Exchange in Las Vegas in early September, you heard that there is some amazing stuff coming to Planning Analytics soon.  Stay tuned to our blogs for some big announcements concerning Planning Analytics.  Now on to what’s new in Planning Analytics Workspace 90.

Learn Pane in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

AI-Generated Recommendations Available in Learn Pane - The Learn Pane now provides dynamic AI-generated recommendations as well as static recommendations.  When you interact with the content inside the Learn Pane, the recommendation engine makes daily updates based on what you and other users are viewing. For example, if you and other users use books and views more often, more content about books and views is generated in the Learn Pane.

Learn Pane in Planning Analytics 90

Books and Reporting in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

Set Synchronization Properties for Multiple Widgets Simultaneously – You can now set synchronization on multiple widgets at the same time.  Previously you could only do this one widget at a time.  Simply “ctrl-click” on the widgets and then under properties go to synchronization and choose the items you want to synchronize on.

Removed Ability to Use Delete Key to Remove Single Cell Widgets – You can no longer remove the delete key to remove single cell widgets.  You must now use the delete icon in the icon bar.  Also, a new property in a single cell widget called “Show as Cell”. This must be enabled to modify a single-cell widget.

Select a Member or Set by Typing its Name in an Exploration View – You can now search for a member by typing that info.  Simply click the 3 dots next to a dimension and select enter member.  Now type in that member name and your exploration will update with selection.

Select a Member or Set by Typing its Name in an Exploration View in PAW 90
Select a Member or Set by Typing its Name in an Exploration View in PAW 90

Insert Spacer Rows or Columns – you can now add spacers to your explorations to make the end-user experience better.

Insert Spacer Rows or Columns in PAW 90
Insert Spacer Rows or Columns in PAW 90

Replace Button Now Works on Current Selections in Set - The Replace button in the set editor now also works on the selections you make in the Current set pane. You can select members on both sides of the set editor, either the Available members or the Current set, and replace members in the view.

Modeling in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

Work with Database Logs in Modeling Workbench - You can now access a database's server log, transaction log, and audit log directly from the modeling workbench in Planning Analytics Workspace.

Work with Database Logs in Modeling Workbench in PAW 90

New Baseline Forecast Option - A baseline forecast is a new Planning Analytics Workspace asset that administrators and modelers can create and share with other users in your organization. Administrators, modelers, and analysts with the appropriate permissions can run the baseline forecast at any time and use the forecast to improve the planning process. Consumers cannot run baseline forecasts.

Baseline forecasts enhance the existing forecasting capabilities in Planning Analytics Workspace. You can still create and run ad-hoc forecasts on explorations in a book.

New Baseline Forecast Option in PAW 90
New Baseline Forecast Option in PAW 90
New Baseline Forecast Option in PAW 90

Administration in Planning Analytics Workspace 90

Simplified process to Rename Databases, Snapshots, and User Groups - A new Edit option on the Databases, Lifecycle Management, and Users and Groups pages simplifies the renaming process.

View Users Last Login - An enhancement in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.87 added the ability to view the last login for a user when you downloaded a user report from the Users and Groups page. You can now view the last login for a user directly in Planning Analytics Administration without downloading a report.

View Users Last Login in PAW 90

Summary

Planning Analytics Workspace 90 brings good enhancements to your Planning Analytics deployment.  We recommend staying current on the latest releases as many enhancements and bug fixes are included.  Reminder updates are cumulative so if you update to 90, you will get everything from prior releases.

To find fixes that have been included in updates please see this link.  

IBM put together a great list of everything added since Planning Analytics Workspace 58.  You can find this list here

To schedule an upgrade discussion please contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Escaping the Budgeting Blues: Rolling Forecasts with IBM Planning Analytics

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

Written by Heather L. Cole, September 1st 2023

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

The Scarcity Mindset of Budgeting

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

(Reference: Annual Budgeting is for the Birds)

The Excel Nightmare

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

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

A Better Way: Rolling Forecasts

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

What is a Rolling Forecast?  

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

 Why Use Rolling Forecasts vs. Traditional Budgeting? 

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

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

IBM Planning Analytics: Your Financial Superhero

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

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

Challenges of Rolling Forecasts  

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

Is Rolling Forecasting Right for Your Organization?  

Ask yourself:

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

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

Join Our Event on October 19th.

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89
What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89
Written by Mike Bernaiche, August 3rd, 2023

It has been a minute since I wrote about Planning Analytics Workspace so let’s jump into what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and 89.  There are some great new features in both versions so let’s get to it!

Books and Reporting

Planning Analytics Workspace 88

Synchronize Widgets at Group Level – you can create groups to synchronize visualizations at a group level.  Previously was only available at the book or sheet level.

Start by creating a synchronization group in sheet properties.  Once created you can click on your visualizations and assign them to groups.  Now you can limit what is synchronized or not with other visualizations.

Synchronize Widgets at Group Level in Planning Analytics Workspace 88

New Experience Dimension Editor in Books – previously only available in the workbench.

Subset Calculations in Context Section of View

Subset Calculations in Context Section of View in Planning Analytics 88

New Expand to and Keep with Options in Set Editor - Expand to adds members to the set, allowing you to display members of one level higher or one level lower, based on the selected hierarchy.  Keep with, previously named Show, replaces members in the set, based on the selected hierarchy.

New Expand to and Keep with Options in Set Editor in Planning Analytics Workspace 88
New Expand to and Keep with Options in Set Editor in Planning Analytics 88

Planning Analytics Workspace 89

New Selector Visualization in Books - The Selector visualization behaves much as selector list and selector tile widgets did, but there are multiple Custom visualization properties that you can apply to tailor the visualization for your purposes.

New Selector Visualization in Books in Planning Analytics Workspace 89
New Selector Visualization in Books in Planning Analytics Workspace 89

Pick Lists Use Font Assigned in Visualization - As of Planning Analytics Workspace 89, pick lists cells and pick list members use the font defined for the exploration by the Data cell font family property.

Resize Books to Fill Tab Space - Previously, the aspect ratio of the book and its contents was maintained. Now, all the contents in a book fit perfectly within the browser window and the aspect ratio setting is ignored. You can apply the Fill Space feature in several places: when creating a new book with tabs, a new book from a Fill Space template, and in Properties.

Applications and Plans

Duplicate Applications and Plans with Attachments – now when you duplicate an application or plan it will duplicate with any attachments in the original.

Complete Button for Tasks that Do not Require a Submission - A Complete button is now available on the contribution page for tasks that do not require submission. Previously, if a task in a plan did not require submission, there was no way to indicate that the task was complete.  This is new in Planning Analytics Workspace 89.

Modeling

Create and Insert Custom Code Snippets for Processes - If you have TurboIntegrator process code that you use frequently, you can now save the code as a custom snippet. You can insert a custom snippet into the Script tab of a process.

Create and Insert Custom Code Snippets for in Planning Analytics Workspace 89

Access Process Error Logs from Database Tree – right-click process and then select error log.

Synchronize User Groups in Planning Analytics Databases with Planning Analytics Workspace - Administrators and modelers can now synchronize user groups that are in a Planning Analytics database with the groups in Planning Analytics Workspace from the modeling workbench.

Duplicate Cubes in Cube Viewer - Clicking on the Duplicate button allows you to create a duplicate of the current cube view.

Duplicate Cubes in Cube Viewer Planning Anlaytics Workspace 89

Depreciation Notice

Classic Cube Viewer – Starting in Planning Analytics Workspace 90, the classic cube viewer will no longer be available in Planning Analytics Workspace.

Summary

The updates for Planning Analytics Workspace 88 and Planning Analytics Workspace 89 include a number of updates to make your reporting and modeling experience even better. 

Do you need to upgrade?  Contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss your need and our special upgrade bundles to save you time and dollars!! 

For more information on what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace, check out the below links.

2.0.88 - What's new, June 21, 2023

2.0.89 - What's new, July 24, 2023

And in case you missed it, here is what's new in Planning Analytics Workspace 87


Are you looking to level up your analytic knowledge?  Contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and ask about our Analytics Success Klub (ASK). Learn more here.  

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 85

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 85
What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 85
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 4th, 2023

In March 2023, IBM released Planning Analytics Workspace 85.  Updates to Planning Analytics Workspace are cumulative.  If you are currently on version 76, you only need to upgrade to 85 and you will have all the new content from version 77 to 84 included.  I provided a list of blogs below that lay out all the new enhancements in recent previous versions. 

Ok, let’s get to everything new in Planning Analytics Workspace 85.

Books and Reporting

Set Editor Usability Improvements – These improvements will make working with the set editor easier and more user friendly.  These changes do not introduce new functionality. Rather, some options on the set editor have been moved or made more intuitive.

  • Available Members Option - now appears immediately adjacent to the Available Members label, rather than beneath the label.
  • Current Set - menu now appears above the current set, rather than on the header.
  • Available Members Search Bar - always visible and you no longer need to click a Search icon to reveal the search bar.
Set Editor in Planning Analytics Workspace 85

Plans and Applications

Improved Approval Process for Plan Submissions - Plan owners and approvers can now approve or reject a submission from multiple contributors in one go.

When approving or rejecting a submission, you can select the contributor(s) whose submission you want to approve or reject.  You can also click Select All to apply your action to all the contributors for that submission.

Approve Submission in Planning Analytics Workspace 85

Save Task Flows in Plans as PDF - You can now save your plan's task flow as a PDF file. In the task flow view on the Plan tasks tab, click the Export icon to save the task flow as a PDF.

Save Task Flows in Plans as PDF in Planning Analytics Workspace 85

Modeling

Modeling in Planning Analytics Workspace 85 sees the most enhancements in this update.

Reopen Recently Opened Objects from Any Database - You can now reopen recently opened objects from any database.  The recent list contains the last twenty objects that were opened, with the most recent at the top.  To remove an object from the recent list, click on the x next to the object name.

Workbench Preferences – There is now a preferences icon always visible in the Workbench.  By default, all sections are collapsed, but retain their previous state when the user opens or closes the Preferences panel.  Opening and closing Preferences also refreshes the selected values.

You can set the following preferences:

Database tree

  • Display members.


Dimension Editor

  • Compact header.
  • Show value bar.
  • Show dimension editing warning.
  • Page size.

Cube viewer

  • Show hierarchy name. 
  • Show context information.
  • Show icons.
  • Show section header.

Process editor

  • Font
  • Font size.
  • Enable line wrapping.
  • Lock generated statements.

Rules editor

  • Font
  • Font size.
  • Enable line wrapping.

Process Editor Preferences – You can now set a toggle to lock or unlock generated statements in the process editor.  When the Lock generated statements option is enabled, users cannot edit the process script between the #****Begin generated statements and #****End generated statements lines.

Lock Dimensions in Planning Analytics Workspace - A user must have either Admin or Lock privilege for a dimension to lock the dimension.

When a user locks a dimension, only those users who have Admin rights for that dimension can modify the dimension. Even the user who locks the dimension cannot modify it, unless they have Admin rights for that dimension.

When a dimension is locked, options are disabled for these actions:

  •  Add members to any of the hierarchies in the dimension.
  • Remove members from any of the hierarchies in the dimension.
  • Create a hierarchy in the dimension.
  • Delete a hierarchy in the dimension.

Users can create, delete, or update subsets under any locked dimension.

To lock a dimension, right-click the dimension on the Databases tree in either a book or a modeling workbench, then click Lock dimension.  A lock icon appears on the dimension name indicating that the dimension is locked.

Lock Dimensions in Planning Analytics Workspace 85

Create Formulas when Importing via .CSV - When you use the Import data or Import members options to import from a .csv file into a workbench, you can define formulas to manipulate the source data.

Create Formulas when Importing via .CSV in PAW 85

New Location Data Source Option via TI - You can now specify a local or network location for a TurboIntegrator process data source.

New Location Data Source Option via TI in PAw 85

Summary

Lots of great stuff in this update, especially in the Modeling area.  Definitely worth checking out in my opinion.  For a detailed list of everything new from IBM check out this link

For Lodestar blogs on all new items in recent updates to Planning Analytics Workspace 85 check out the below link.  If you are on an older version of Planning Analytics you should really consider upgrading.  We offer great programs to help you upgrade at a reasonable cost.  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.84

What's New in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.84
What's New in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.84
Written by Mike Bernaiche, February 16th 2023

It is time again to discuss what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.84.  In February 2023, IBM released updates to workspace and while this isn’t a large update there are a few items of note that make an already great product even better.  As a reminder, IBM releases updates to workspace every month. 

Books and Reporting

  • Synchronization for Visualizations Improvements – in previous versions, the user interface showed dimensions instead of labels.  You now see the hierarchy synchronization option in the Synchronize feature under Visualization properties. Dimension names also display above the hierarchy names now for easy identification.
Synchronization for Visualizations Improvements
  • New Forecast Capabilities for Line Chart – Line visualization now includes 3 slots for forecast.  High bound, Low bound and Forecast.  As with current forecasting capabilities, High bound and Low bound are used to draw the envelope and Forecast indicates the forecasted values.  Additionally, you must specify a Forecast start to indicate when the forecast data starts.
New Forecast Capabilities for Line Chart
  • View Section Icons – To enable or disable section icons in the cube viewer, click View options, and then toggle section icons by clicking the check box next to Section icons.
View Section Icons

Applications and Plans

Revert Approvals in Plans – plan owners can now revert approvals in plans.  To revert a task approval:

  1. Open the plan in edit mode.
  2. Under Plan tasks, click the Submissions link on a task to open the Submissions log.
  3. Click Pending approval or completed to find the approved submission.  Submissions that require multiple approvals and were only partially approved are under Pending approval.  Submissions that were fully approved are under Completed.
  4. Click the menu next to the task for which you want to cancel an approval and select Revert approval.
  5. Select the approver group(s) from whom you want to remove approval(s) and click Revert.

Where there are multiple approvers for a task, when you revert an approval, approval is also removed from any next-in-line approvers.  In the following example, if you remove Group A's approval, Group B's is also removed.  Both Group A and Group B will need to approve the submission again.

Modeling

  • Copy Object Names from Database Tree - You can now copy name objects from the Databases tree. You can copy the object name into your clipboard by hovering your cursor over the item that you want to copy and then pressing CTRL+C (Windows) or CMD+C (Mac).  When copying the object name for a member, the value copied is the MUN (Member Unique Name).
  • Turbo Integrator Debugger - The process editor in Planning Analytics Workspace includes a debugger user interface that allows you to set line breakpoints, continue to the next breakpoint, and step over to the next line. Conditional breakpoints are also supported. You can enable the debug mode only on one process at a time.  A welcome addition!
  • Rename levels in Dimension Editor –
Rename levels in Dimension Editor
Rename levels in Dimension Editor

Depreciation Notice

In Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.84, the classic dimension editor is no longer available from the modeling workbench.  The classic dimension editor remains available on books.

All dimension creation and maintenance in the modeling workbench must now be performed in the new experience dimension editor.  The new experience dimension editor was introduced on the modeling workbench in Planning Analytics Workspace 2.0.82.

Summary

Thank you for taking the time to read about what’s new in Planning Analytics 2.0.84.  To catch up on previous version you can check out these blogs here.

If you are running Planning Analytics Workspace in a Microsoft Environment, you MUST read this blog!

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 83

New in Planning Analytics Workspace 83
New in Planning Analytics Workspace 83
Written by Mike Bernaiche, January 26th 2023

It is a new year and IBM has released the first update to Planning Analytics, Planning Analytics Workspace 83.  This is not a huge update, but there are a few things included that I wanted to make you aware of.  Reminder that updates to Planning Analytics Workspace are cumulative. This means that if you are on version 71, for example, you can upgrade to version 83 without having to install 72 73, 74, etc.  On to the changes!

New in Books and Reporting

Set Default Background Color in Tabs – You now can set background color for all tabs in a workspace.  Any new tabs will have the default background color.  You can, however, select a different color for individual tabs.

Set Default Background Color in Tabs in PAw83

Customize Styling for Repeat Column and Row Titles – Formatting properties for repeat columns and rows are located in their own section in properties.

Customize Styling for Repeat Column and Row Titles in PAw83

New Properties in Bubble and Scatter Visualizations – several new properties were introduced in Planning Analytics Workspace 83.

  • Enable Zoom Bar - The zoom bar allows for horizontal and vertical scrolling in bubble and scatter visualizations.  You can now enable the zoom bar in bubble and scatter visualizations to scroll and focus on a smaller area of the visualization.
Enable Zoom Bar in Planning Analytics Workspace 83
  • Bubble Size Limits - You can specify bubble size limits in bubble and scatter visualizations in the Chart section under Properties.  In bubble visualizations, you can specify the minimum and maximum values for the bubble size. Bubbles for values that are below the minimum size appear as the minimum size, while bubbles for values that are above the maximum size appear as the maximum size.
Bubble Size Limits in Planning Analytics Workspace 83
  • Show Item Values and Axis Grid Lines - Two new properties, show item value grid lines and show item value grid lines, have replaced the show grid lines property in bubble and scatter visualizations.  These new properties now let you show or hide item value and axis value grid lines independently of each other.
Show Item Values and Axis Grid Lines in PAw83

New Properties in Line and Column Charts –

  • Enable Zoom Bar – This works the same way as above in the bubble and scatter charts.
  • Formatting Options for Column Value and Point Value Labels - You can format column value labels and point value labels in line and column visualizations.  Value labels can now display as values or percentages of a category or color.
Formatting Options for Column Value and Point Value Labels in PAw83
  • Alignment Position for Zero - In line and column visualizations, you can control whether the line and column sections have zero in the same position with the new Align axes zero property.
Alignment Position for Zero in PAw83
  • Change Line Width - You can now change the line width in line and column visualizations by specifying the thickness of the line.  By default, the line width is set to 2 px.
Change Line Width in PAw83

Depreciation Notice – Planning Analytics Workspace 83

Starting in Planning Analytics Workspace 84, the classic dimension editor will not be available in the modeling workbench.  All dimension creation and maintenance in the modeling workbench must be performed in the new experience dimension editor.  The new experience dimension editor was introduced on the modeling workbench in Planning Analytics Workspace version 82.

Summary

There you have it, everything new in Planning Analytics Workspace 83.  If you missed my other blogs on new features in previous versions, I’m providing links below for you to read.  Over the past year, IBM has added a ton of features and enhancements to Planning Analytics Workspace.  If you have any questions or want to discuss upgrading, please reach out at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

For a complete listing direct from IBM, please visit What's new in Planning Analytics Workspace.

Links to Blogs -

New in Planning Analytics Workspace 82

New in Planning Analytics Workspace 82
New in Planning Analytics Workspace 82
Written by Mike Bernaiche, December 16th, 2022

IBM released Planning Analytics Workspace 82 on November 17, 2022.  While this isn’t a large update compared to some of the previous updates, there are still several enhancements and changes to be discussed.  Below, I will discuss the changes and provide some helpful links to fixes and other enhancements to Planning Analytics for Excel and Planning Analytics in general.

Books and Reporting

New in books and reporting in Planning Analytics Workspace 82 is:

  • Automatically remove duplicate members from current set in the set editor - You can now automatically remove duplicate members from the Current set in the set editor by clicking Remove duplicated members.  This is a quick way to remove any duplicates when you are creating a dynamic or static set, especially if the set includes a large number of members.
Automatically remove duplicate members from current set in the set editor
  • Improved error handling when a visualization has a missing mapped member - Prior to IBM Planning Analytics Workspace 82, when a visualization did not find a mapped member, an error displayed, and the application showed a blank visualization.  This error could occur if a mapped member was removed from the data because of a change in the set, zero suppression, or calculation removal, or even if the user had insufficient TM1 permissions.  In Planning Analytics Workspace 82, when a visualization cannot find a mapped member, the first member in the current set is now automatically reassigned to the field slot and the visualization displays.
  • Text fill color property added to single cell widget - To access this feature, select the single cell visualization and go to the Properties tab.  Under the General tab, click Appearance to see the Fill color options.
Text fill color property added to single cell widget

Applications and Plans

Over the last few updates, applications and plans have received a ton of new features.  You can see that list here  and here.

 In this update:

  • Add attachments to applications and plans - You can now add attachments to applications and plans.  Attachments can be added to the application or plan overview, as well as to individual tasks or sections and to announcements.  Supported file types for attachments are .pdf, .docx, .xlsx, .csv, and .pptx.  To add attachments that are accessible from the application or plan overview, use the Upload files option on the application or plan Details page.
Add attachments to applications and plans

Modeling

If you haven’t upgraded recently then you are now using the power of the new modeling workbench in Planning Analytics.  To read more about the modeling workbench please click here

  • New dimension editor available on workbench – There is a lot to unpack on the dimension editor and you can find all the details here.

Depreciation Notice

The classic dimension editor will be removed from the modeling workbench in version 84.  Version 84 will be released sometime in early 2023.

Fixes

IBM has a great site to track all fixes included in each component of Planning Analytics.  That link can be found here.  Simply click on the component you are looking for and you can click on each link to see what was fixed in what version. 

Summary

While this update wasn’t huge, there are still some useful enhancements provides in Planning Analytics Workspace 82.  If you are considering an upgrade or want a demo of the latest features, please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule that call.  We are offering upgrade bundles that can save you money and give you peace of mind when researching an upgrade.  The next update to Planning Analytics Workspace should drop in the next couple of weeks and I will be here to provide all the details.

Move to IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud

Move to IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud
Move to IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud
Written by Heather L. Cole, October 27th 2022

Is your IT department too busy to upgrade your IBM Planning Analytics, but you want the amazing new functionality IBM has added to Planning Analytics?  Well maybe it’s time to look at IBM Planning Analytics on the Cloud, which is SaaS (Software as a Service).  With the great resignation, companies on hiring freezes and all the mergers and acquisitions, it’s not uncommon to see IT teams stretched too thin.  By moving to IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud, you can free up IT resources and yet still get your upgrades.  

At Lodestar Solutions we are seeing more clients inquiring about moving IBM Planning Analytics from On-Prem to SaaS, IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud.  So today we will share with you your options and timing for migrating to Planning Analytics on Cloud…  But know with proper planning, it is possible and not hard to Move IBM Planning Analytics from On-prem to SaaS on Cloud.

What is Planning Analytics SaaS

Planning Analytics on Cloud is IBM’s SaaS version of Planning Analytics.  Which means IBM hosts Planning Analytics in their cloud environment and IBM handles most of the technical aspects like upgrades, backups, etc…  Clients don’t have to worry about doing the installations, upgrades, or backups.  IBM does all that for you, freeing up valuable IT resources.

For more details on Planning Analytics Cloud see IBM’s site on Getting Started with Planning Analytics on Cloud

Additionally, you might want to see our earlier blog What You Need to Know When Moving IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on Cloud. 

How to Move from Planning Analytics On-Prem to SaaS

Licensing Options- 

When you are looking to move to Planning Analytics on Cloud there are a couple different approaches to consider. Typically, the approach is based on the type of licensing and/or size of your current deployment of IBM Planning Analytics.

Enterprise Licensing:

If you are a mid to larger size client on Enterprise Planning Analytics licensing, the option you should explore is the IBM promotion called Cloud Adoption Play (CAP).  This is a promotion that IBM is offering at the time of this blog but is subject to availability.  The Cloud Adoption Play allows you to have dual entitlements of Planning Analytics on Prem and on Cloud for 1 year.  This will cost you a little more then your normal on-prem support renewal but gives you plenty of time to migrate and test the cloud before committing to it. 

At the end of one year, you will have to decide whether you will continue to use Planning Analytics on Cloud or return to on-prem.  When you make the final decision, your renewal will be based on if you choose SaaS/Cloud or on-prem.  But the great news is if you choose to return to on-prem there is no penalty. 

Express Licensing:

If your deployment of Planning Analytics is under 50 users, or you are on the Express licensing model, the Cloud Adoption Play might not make financial sense as it does have minimum requirements.  But don’t worry, Lodestar Solutions and IBM can work with you to determine the best migration path to a SaaS subscription.

In order to understand your unique situation and what the best approach is for you to move to Planning Analytics on Cloud, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will be happy to help you explore your options and timelines.

Creating the Timeline

The first step to moving from IBM Planning Analytics On-Prem to Saas/cloud is to plan your timing.  Determine when your team will be available to move the models and do the testing you will require.  Remember finance teams have certain times of year that are really busy, like year end and you don’t want to overwhelm them.

Enterprise Client –

If the Cloud Adoption Play is the route you are going, then you may want to purchase SaaS at the time of your renewal.  This will be the best value.   But don’t wait until your renewal to start discussing your SaaS plan with Lodestar Solutions or IBM, you will want to start the discussions 3 months before your renewal.

Express Client -

If you are an Express Client and the Cloud Adoption Play does not make financial sense, then it’s important to note that you will want to ensure you have support with IBM for your on-prem Planning Analytics while you move to the cloud.  To save money, you want to review your renewal data as this could impact your timing.

For example, if you know your support renewal expires in March, and you want 3 months to test and migrate to the cloud, we recommend you start your Cloud subscription in January.  This will essentially create 3 months of dual licensing and support.

In order to plan your migration to Planning Analytics on Cloud, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will be happy to help you explore your options and timelines.

Moving your TM1 Planning Analytics Models

Once you have your Planning Analytics on Cloud environment you will need to move a copy of your models to your new cloud environment.  You will want to make sure you set up your users with the proper security and update the connections to your source data sources.

For some of you that don’t currently own Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW), you will want to educate yourself and your team on all the cool new functionality.  Here’s a link to one of our videos on PAW.  

If you would like training on PAW, please reach out to Lodestar services at Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can discuss your training needs.

Testing

Never skimp on testing.  Make sure your team has plenty of time to fully test your Planning Analytics on Cloud solutions. 

Don’t go it alone!

Lodestar Solutions is here to help you understand your options, evaluate the costs of on-prem verse on cloud and help you successfully Move IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud.  Set up a chat today by emailing us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Things to Consider for Corporate Budgeting in Uncertain Times

Things to Consider for Corporate Budgeting in Uncertain Times
Things to Consider for Corporate Budgeting in Uncertain Times
October 6th, 2022

It’s that time of year again when most companies are frantically creating their budgets.  But this is not a normal budget year.  This is a year of extreme uncertainty!  Inflation, supply chain issues, workforce issues, crazy politics and unrest in many countries are all creating a budgeting environment we have not seen in decades.  For many in the budgeting and planning world this means late nights, and stress as they try to contort their models to provide the modeling they need in this uncertain world.  So, we thought we would share a few things to consider when budgeting in uncertain times.  First, we will start with expenses and then look at revenue.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There!

The models or Excel spreadsheets you used last year are probably not designed to handle the questions executives have today!  Companies that use the same templates year after year without updating them for the changes in their industry and world are going to struggle more to gain certainty than those that see around the corners and anticipate changes like interest rates, and inflation.  If your models don’t allow you to do “what if” modeling, well you really need to look at a redesign and maybe even invest in more robust tools. 

If you don’t have flexible models and software that allows for rapid changes, then it’s like you are mowing your acre lawn with a weed whacker.  It can be done, but how long will it take? 

If you want to discuss your current models or want to see the power of an industry leading planning and budgeting system, IBM Planning Analytics/TM1, email us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

Change Your Frequency

According to McKinsey in their article, Just-in-time budgeting for a Volatile Economy
A volatile economy makes traditional budgets obsolete before they’re even completed.” 

We agree, many corporations still do the big annual budgeting process that is outdated the day it is approved.  The annual budget process worked in a stable world.  But news flash, we are not in a stable world.  Changing your frequency to quarterly instead of annual or better yet a rolling forecast will allow your budget to be more current.  As the Harvard Business Review article, Three Ways to Bring Flexibility to Your Budget states, “These “just-in-time budgeting” solutions got popular during the 2008–2011 economic crisis but for many were perceived as a temporary fix. Today, with high volatility a permanent feature, it’s time to accept that they’re here to stay.”

At Lodestar Solutions we have been encouraging clients to move to a Rolling Forecast for years.  Here’s a link to my 2016 video Rolling Forecast verse Budgeting – Let it Roll.  This may be more relevant today than it was when I initially presented this at CFO conferences years ago.

Zero Based Budgeting -

We appreciate that taking last year’s actuals and providing them to business units as a starting point for the budget is easier.  However, given the uncertainty and changes in almost every industry, Lodestar Solutions recommends a zero-based budget.  By having budget unit owners start from zero, you will cause them to really think about how their department budget has changed or how it needs to change.  A zero-based budget mentality will allow team members to reflect and understand how the business drives value and where it is lacking.  I am not opposed to providing last year’s actuals, but you really want to encourage people to reflect on changes and anticipate the future.  Unfortunately, I believe inflation and employment challenges will be here for a while.

If you subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, check out Zero-Based Budgeting Gains Clout as a Way for Companies to Find Savings.

Outsourcing Verse In-House

Consulting:

Many companies are dealing with staff shortages in their finance and analytics teams.  This can result in team members bearing the burden of doing the work of two or more people.  This can cause them to start considering their options.  This is one of several factors that cause companies to take a closer look at what functions are handled internally vs externally.  If you are like many clients and you have experienced attrition during the great resignation, you know how difficult it is to find talent.  When you find talent, they are very expensive.  These increased labor costs may motivate your organization to think maybe instead of hiring we should outsource.  This is a valid question, but it’s important to note that the consulting firms are having the same talent pool challenges.  Therefore, we want to remind everyone that in your budget, you need to include an increase in consulting fees.  We are seeing inflationary increases in almost every service industry so make sure you are increasing your professional service fees, including IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics consulting.  Everyone is raising their rates! 

Software as a Service:

Another option to consider when you are faced with staff shortages, especially in IT is to consider moving more software applications to a hosted or Software as a Service (SaaS) model.  When you have SaaS your IT department typically does not have to allocate internal resources for patches, upgrades, backups… 

SaaS is a good option if your IT resources are limited.  Additionally, many SaaS structures like IBM Cognos’ structure allow you to add more users for a short period of time. 

Take IBM Planning Analytics on Cloud (SaaS).  Let’s say throughout the year you need 100 users in the system but during budget cycles you need 100 additional users for only 3 months.  You will pay a small upcharge for users not originally contracted for the year, but you could end up paying only for three months for the budget season users.  The result is you have more control over your expenses and therefore cashflow.  For more info on what you need to know when moving to the IBM cloud, see our blog, What You Need to Know When Moving IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics on Cloud

If you are an IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics client and would like to explore an outsourced model where your power user is a consultant contact use at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Having the Right Tools

As a software reseller of IBM Planning Analytic software, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that having the right tools for your budgeting and planning process is essential.  I am amazed how many mid-market and large organizations still rely on Excel for their planning and budget process.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Excel, but also appreciate it’s limitations.  One of the things to consider when budgeting in uncertain times is the tool you are using.  If you want flexibility and to be agile in your planning, you need software that helps streamline the modeling and planning processes.  

LEARN MORE:

Tackling the Top 3 Performance Management and Budgeting Struggles - Talent, Time and Tech

If you would like to learn what industry leading tools like IBM Cognos Planning Analytics can do for you, join us on Thursday Nov 10, 2022, at 1 PM Eastern for our webinar Tackling the Top 3 Performance Management and Budgeting Struggles - Talent, Time and Tech.

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