Minimal IT for TM1 Implementation

We are constantly being asked by finance and other areas of the business if they do a TM1 implementation without IT involvement and the answer is NO! However, with proper planning you can have Minimal IT for TM1.

The key is to use IT strategically. They are very valuable to your project as they often have insight to your data structures, sources and potential data integrity challenges. When IT is actively involved in the project and partnering with the business, success is rapidly accomplished.

The challenge is that every IT department is stretch very thin. With proper planning and communication, the business can own and implement TM1 while leveraging IT strategically.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Get the right IT person assigned to the project. They should have familiarity with your source data systems.
2. Communicate to them that you respect their time and ask that they be available during the agreed upon times, and the
ramification to the project if they no-show.
3. Create the schedule for their time and stick to it.
4. Create a process to communicate when you need additional, unforeseen assistance from them to ensure a timely response.
5. Remember, if you have data integrity issues in your source system you may need more of their assistance.

Here is a sample schedule we have used for IT resources:

IT Resource Requirement:
1. Design week                         4 hours (week 2)
Discussion and access to data source
2. Server Acquisition             4 hours (pre project)
3. Cognos Pre-Install           3 hours (pre project)
4. Cognos Install                   3 hours* (week 1 or 2)
*Assumes Lodestar Solutions runs installation
5. Data Validation               16 hours (week 8-9)
6. Cushion                              10 hours (TBD)
Total                                        40 hours
7. Ongoing Support – Maintain server hardware, backups, patches and fixes. Minimal time.

Any additional time they are willing to participate is always welcome.

Is Normal BI Change Management Too Restrictive For Finance?

Many clients currently have an IT department with policies and procedures that require all business analytic change requests go thru a stringent “change management process”.  This includes putting the changes into Test/Dev and then production.  It is common and advisable to run Business Intelligence like IBM Cognos under these controlled processes.  Is Normal BI Change Management Too Restrictive For Finance?

The Scenario:

When an IT department starts to apply these stringent standards to the IBM Cognos Planning/TM1 environment – the challenges begin.  I see a lot of clients that utilize IBM Cognos BI and IBM Cognos Planning TM1, but  they don’t leverage the great integration for these two components.  When I discuss this with the teams they state they would love for their BI reports to include real time Tm1 data.  However, after the initial excitement wears off and we map out the process to realize this vision; the reality of the stringent change management rules often kill the project.

There are many benefits of connecting the Planning TM1 to BI:
• Robust reporting, scorecards, and dashboards with drill down capabilities off Planning TM1 data
• Integrated/Shared security between Planning TM1 and Reporting
• If a client has Cognos BI PVU licenses, they can further leverage their BI investment for the finance team.

The Issue:

The finance team needs the flexibility to rapidly change their models and add dimensions, items and cubes to forecast and model the business.  This requires the finance team to edit the planning structures and do “what if” analysis on the fly and would like to utilize the robust reporting available in IBM Cognos BI.

Standard IT processes and procedures for integrating the Planning TM1 into the BI environment would require every model change, required by Finance, to go thru the rigorous change management process.  This would cause significant delays and the need for additional IT resources, which would not be acceptable to the Finance team.

The Analysis:

The data and structures the finance team works with in the Planning TM1 system are typically forecast and “what if” models.  It is not used often for the regulated reporting, but for hypothetical data.  The idea of planning is to create flexible views of business scenarios and possible outcomes for the executive team.  This requires rapid turnaround of the structural changes, and should not require the stringent change management process that Actual data requires.

Call to Action:

Organizations need to review their current process and change management rules to see if it is restricting the business analytic process needed by the business.  Clients who have overcome this hurdle have modified the rules to allow Finance to own their financial planning models in the IBM Cognos Production environment including adding and changing the models without going thru the stringent change management process.  A modified process will allow for more flexibility in integrating an IBM Cognos system that improves overall security and leverages existing IBM Cognos licenses.