Step Up Your Tech Game: Unlock Your Free Pass to IBM TechXchange!

IBM TechXchange 2024
IBM TechXchange
Written by Heather L. Cole, April 18th, 2024

Step Up Your Tech Game: Unlock Your Free Pass to IBM TechXchange.  This offer will self-destruct on April 30th.  So, act now!

If you're determined to sharpen your tech skills and make a name for yourself in the world of analytics and AI, then it's time to level up – not just your skills, but also your network. Remember what Jim Rohn said: "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." This year, make those people count!

Discover the IBM TechXchange - A Geek Fest, not a Pitch Fest!

In January, I had the pleasure of attending IBM TechXchange in Barcelona. This isn't your run-of-the-mill conference dominated by vendor pitches. Instead, it's a gathering of technologists from various backgrounds engaging deeply with the real issues and innovations in technology. We discussed, dissected, and explored a range of topics centered around IBM's cutting-edge WatsonX, Cognos, AI, and analytics solutions. The event provides an exceptional platform to mingle with developers and professionals who share similar roles across different companies. It's a chance to collaborate directly, explore new ideas, and even participate hands-on in labs!  Learn more about TechXchange in Vegas Oct 21-24, 2024 here.  

Want to Attend IBM TechXchange for Free? Here's Your Chance!

Are you worried about budget constraints? Let’s address that right away. You can attend IBM TechXchange in Las Vegas for free! Yes, you read that right. All you need to do is seize the opportunity to share your story.

Submit to Speak: If you are an IBM client and have a compelling narrative about your professional challenges, lessons learned, and victories over those challenges, then you're just the speaker IBM TechXchange is looking for. If selected, not only will you earn a free pass, but you'll also secure another for a coworker!  Yes, that’s 2 amazing passes that have a $3,198 value!

Submitting is simple:

  1. Choose your topic.
  2. Prepare a title and a short abstract (around 800 characters).
  3. Submit your proposal here, before April 30, 11:59 PM EST.

Remember, submissions close on April 30, 2024 – just a couple of weeks away. Don't miss this incredible opportunity to both attend and contribute to the conversation at one of the most intellectually stimulating tech gatherings of the year.  If you would like help formalizing your topic or even want us to co-present with you, don’t hesitate to contact us at Service@lodestarsolutions.com.

Special Opportunity for Lodestar Solutions’ Clients

If the thought of speaking at such a grand event seems daunting, there's another unique opportunity just for existing Lodestar Solutions clients. If you’re under a service agreement or engage in licensing and support with Lodestar Solutions, you can enter to win one of three passes by simply submitting a short video detailing your experience with Lodestar and how you utilize the software.  Nothing fancy.  Just grab your phone and shoot a video. Share your success stories, challenges overcome, and how Lodestar Solutions has made a difference in your business. Your testimonial could not only win you a free pass but also inspire others on their transformative journeys.

Once we receive your video, you will be entered into our drawing to win one of the three passes we have to give to clients.

Simply record your video testimony and submit it to services@lodestarsolutions.com by May 10, 2024.  Or better yet post it on Linkedin and tag @lodestarsolutions.

Are you interested in learning more? Email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com for more details about this exclusive offer.

Act Now! Join the Elite in Las Vegas

This is your chance to step up, be seen, and potentially lead in your field. The AI tsunami is coming, and the best way to ride the wave is by enhancing your skills and expanding your professional circle. IBM TechXchange is more than just a conference; it’s a career catalyst.

Don't wait – click the link below, submit your abstract, or reach out to us at Lodestar Solutions today. Join us at IBM TechXchange and start shaping the future of tech!

Submit Your Proposal Here

The Cost-Cutting Key: Strategic Communication in Action

The Cost-Cutting Key Strategic Communication in Action
The Cost-Cutting Key Strategic Communication in Action
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 26th, 2024

With two decades of experience guiding executives and their teams towards achieving their goals, by improving their budgeting, planning, and forecasting processes across various sectors. I’ve discovered there is one key ingredient that most organizations fail at, and it is the most important factor in success.

My unique vantage point, straddling both Finance and IT realms, has offered me a panoramic view of organizational dynamics and the factors that drive success. Amidst the myriad strategies and tools at our disposal, one critical, yet often overlooked, element stands out for its profound impact on cost-cutting: constant communication of strategic goals.

The Missing Link in Cost Efficiency

In a landscape where cost-cutting is often synonymous with resource trimming and stringent budget controls, the true essence of cost efficiency is sometimes lost.  The quest for a leaner, more agile operation is undoubtedly vital, but the means to achieve it extend beyond the conventional wisdom of doing more with less.  It’s time for the Office of Finance to stop being an office of NO and to try a different approach.  (See our blog Bridging the Gap: Elevating Finance from the “Office of No” to Strategic Visionaries)

The real game-changer, I've found, is something far more fundamental and, remarkably, almost cost-free: the continuous articulation of an organization's strategic goals.

The Power of Strategic Alignment 

The magic of constant communication lies in its ability to foster alignment. When every member of the team, from full-time employees to consultants brought on for specific projects, understands the strategic objectives, a powerful synergy emerges. This alignment is not just about ensuring everyone is rowing in the same direction; it's about moving as a cohesive unit, with each stroke perfectly timed and executed to propel the organization forward.

A recent Forbes article states, “A communication plan that empowers your employees allows them to see how they fit into the larger picture. It also allows them to understand the role that they play and why a greater investment can go hand in hand with achieving their own professional and career growth dreams.” Navigating Success: A Strategic Communication Guide For 2024 

Eradicating Costly Missteps 

The absence of clear, consistent strategic communication is often the root cause of the most common and expensive pitfalls in project management: delays, cost overruns, and subpar outcomes. These are not merely operational hiccups; they are symptoms of a deeper malaise - misalignment. When team members are not fully apprised of the organization's goals, their efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, may not align with the broader vision. This misalignment leads to wasted resources, both in terms of time and money, as projects meander or inflate beyond their original scope.

Dr. Vanessa Akhtar, at Kotter states it well in her Forbes article, Strategic Cost Cutting: Meet Immediate Demands With A Forward-Thinking Approach,  

While it’s critical for senior leaders to provide clarity on the scope of cost-cutting needed, it’s nearly impossible to hit savings goals in a sustainable way if it’s merely cascaded through the organization. Businesses need many people, across all areas and levels of the business, looking for and implementing creative solutions. To make this possible, leaders need to help employees understand what needs to be achieved…”

The Ripple Effect of Alignment 

The benefits of strategic alignment go beyond the immediate savings in project costs. They permeate every facet of the organization, enhancing agility, fostering innovation, and boosting morale. Teams that are aligned with the strategic vision are more adept at navigating challenges, more efficient in their use of resources, and more effective in delivering results. This alignment transforms the organizational culture, creating an environment where transparency, accountability, and excellence are the norm.

Conclusion: A Call to Action 

As someone who has navigated the complexities of both Finance and IT, I cannot overstate the importance of this simple, almost free step: constant communication of strategic goals. It's a fundamental principle that can dramatically reduce costs, not just in IT projects but across the organizational spectrum. By embedding this practice into the corporate ethos, leaders can unlock the full potential of their teams, turning strategic visions into tangible successes. Let this be a call to action for organizations everywhere: to harness the power of communication in achieving unparalleled cost efficiency and operational excellence.

Last Call:  Want to learn more?  Join me on Thursday, March 28th, 2024, from 1-2 PM for an engaging webinar that will help you redefine the role of finance in your organization. Register for "Bridging the Gap Between Short-Term Financial Goals and Long-Term Strategic Vision" and start your journey toward becoming a strategic financial leader. Register HERE.

Bridging the Gap Between Short-Term Financial Goals and Long-Term Strategic Vision

Bridging the Alignment Gap: Why Your High-Performers Quit

Bridging the Alignment Gap: Why Your High-Performers Quit
Bridging the Alignment Gap: Why Your High-Performers Quit
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 21st, 2024

In every high-performer’s career journey, there comes a pivotal moment that defines their future trajectory. For some, this moment is a realization—a stark awakening to the misalignment between their personal goals and the strategic direction of their organization. This was the case in my own career, prompting me to embrace entrepreneurship after witnessing chronic alignment issues across various companies. So, today we will discuss Bridging the Alignment Gap: Why Your High Performers Quit.

Lack of Alignment

Alignment, or rather the lack thereof, is akin to a vehicle that has hit a huge pothole and its alignment is off.  After that, the car tends to veer off course.  Over time this misalignment does more and more damage to your car.  It’s not obvious at first by the wear of the tires. If not repaired, it gets worse and can even cause the tire to blow.  If you have ever had a tire blowout, you know it makes the journey arduous and much harder to get to the destination.  Misalignment is a fundamental issue many organizations grapple with, often unknowingly, leading to the attrition of their most valuable assets: high-performing employees.

LEARN MORE: Bridging the Gap Between Short-Term Financial Goals and Long-Term Strategic Vision

Thursday, March 28th, 2024, 1:00-2:00 pm Eastern

Register HERE 

Why I Became an Entrepreneur

Every job I ever quit was due to misalignment. One of the main reasons I started my own company 20 years ago was I could not find a company I felt would let me continue to grow.  My personal story serves as a testament to this challenge.

Back in the 1990s, I took a job with a growing ERP software company.  I was excited about learning their technology and I was determined to excel, I set an ambitious goal: to become the fastest certified consultant and pivot into a pre-sale role. I communicated this to my boss during the interview and she said “Okay”.  I then asked if I could be reviewed after 6 months and was told the company structures offered an annual review.  I insisted that I would require a 6-month review and she said, “Okay”.  Despite my dedication, exemplified by long nights and weekends immersed in mastering the software, the company's response to my zeal was lackluster.  After 6 months I demanded my review.  Her feedback was simply you’re doing a fabulous job, keep doing what you are doing.  I left the review deflated, angry, and questioning my decision to join the firm.  The feedback, albeit positive, felt hollow, devoid of any forward-looking vision or pathway for growth. The company left no room for flexibility, and failed to recognize or harness my aspirations.  Two days later I handed in my resignation. This misalignment was the catalyst for my departure. 

Do You Want Your High-Performers Competing with You?

This scenario repeated itself a couple more times for me I was not a fast learner.  I eventually handed in my final resignation letter and started my own company, Lodestar Solutions.  And yes, Lodestar Solutions competed directly with my prior firm.

High-Performers Need to See Their Role

This narrative is far from unique. Many high performers, much like athletes from their formative years, thrive on clear, tangible goals. They seek not just to understand the broader strategic objectives of their organization but to see how their contributions interweave with this larger tapestry. Without this clarity, the sense of purpose diminishes, and engagement wanes.

Bridging the Alignment Gap

The solution lies in bridging this alignment gap through transparent communication and a structured framework for setting and tracking goals. A potent tool in this endeavor is the methodology of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). OKRs empower organizations to distill their strategic goals into actionable, measurable objectives at every level of the hierarchy. This clarifies the direction for each team and individual and fosters a sense of ownership and accountability toward shared success.

Implementing OKRs

Implementing OKRs begins with articulating the long-term strategic goals of the organization. These are then broken down into specific, time-bound objectives for each team, ensuring alignment with the overarching vision. Key Results, the measurable outcomes associated with each objective, serve as milestones, guiding progress and facilitating course corrections as needed.

The true power of OKRs lies in their ability to bridge the gap between high-level strategy and day-to-day operations. By making strategic goals tangible and actionable, OKRs demystify the path to success for high performers, aligning their aspirations with the organization's trajectory.

Explore More

As we delve into the intricacies of OKRs and their impact on strategic alignment in our upcoming webinar, it's imperative for leaders to introspect. Are your organization's goals clearly communicated and aligned with the aspirations of your team members? Are you leveraging tools like OKRs to ensure everyone is not just rowing in the same direction but also understands why?

Strategic alignment is not just about setting goals but about weaving a shared narrative that resonates with every member of the team, galvanizing them towards a common purpose. As leaders, our challenge is to ensure that this narrative is not only compelling but also clear and inclusive, leaving no high performer behind.

Join us on this journey to transform strategic visions into lived realities, fostering an environment where every high performer finds their place, purpose, and path to success. To start this journey all you need to do is clear your calendar and register for my 1-hour webinar where I will share the secrets to:

LEARN MORE: Bridging the Gap Between Short-Term Financial Goals and Long-Term Strategic Vision

Thursday, March 28th, 2024, 1:00-2:00 pm Eastern

Register HERE 

Beyond the ‘Office of No’: Orchestrating Harmony Between Immediate Gains and Lasting Strategy

Beyond the 'Office of No': Orchestrating Harmony Between Immediate Gains and Lasting Strategy
Beyond the 'Office of No': Orchestrating Harmony Between Immediate Gains and Lasting Strategy
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 8th, 2024

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, achieving harmony between short-term financial goals and long-term strategic plans is a critical yet complex endeavor for financial executives. The traditional view of the finance department as the "office of no" is rapidly evolving.  Financial leaders are now seen as vital strategic partners, essential for guiding companies toward sustainable growth by skillfully navigating between immediate financial constraints and visionary long-term objectives.

This blog, Beyond the 'Office of No': Orchestrating Harmony Between Immediate Gains and Lasting Strategy delves into the instrumental role financial executives play in this balancing act, emphasizing the importance of advanced, flexible tools for budgeting, forecasting, and monitoring to manage the unpredictability of today's business environment.

Embracing Advanced Financial Tools

The cornerstone for harmonizing short-term needs with long-term goals lies in the deployment of sophisticated financial tools. These systems must offer robust budgeting capabilities, precise forecasting, and real-time monitoring to adapt to the frequent "curveballs" the business world presents. Financial executives are at the forefront of implementing and utilizing these technologies, ensuring that financial planning is both resilient and dynamic. These tools enable a granular analysis of financial data, allowing executives to make informed decisions that align with both immediate and future-oriented objectives.

We Recommend IBM Planning Analytics

At Lodestar Solutions, we are big advocates of IBM Planning Analytics as the tool of choice for finance offices aiming to harmonize short-term financial objectives with long-term strategic goals. This advanced solution addresses the common challenges financial executives face, such as the need for real-time data analysis, flexible budgeting, and accurate forecasting amidst an ever-changing business landscape. By offering a powerful, integrated planning solution, IBM Planning Analytics enables finance teams to swiftly adapt to market changes, manage financial performance proactively, and align financial plans with strategic objectives. Its user-friendly interface and robust analytical capabilities allow for deep insights into financial data, facilitating informed decision-making. Moreover, the tool's scalability ensures it can accommodate the evolving needs of growing businesses. In essence, IBM Planning Analytics empowers the office of finance to transition from being seen as a traditional cost center to a dynamic, strategic partner within the organization, driving both immediate and long-term success.  For a demo of IBM Planning Analytics check out our Youtube

Workforce Quality and Financial Health

A skilled and engaged workforce is crucial for overcoming short-term hurdles while steadily advancing toward long-term ambitions. Financial executives must champion the investment in human capital, recognizing that a well-equipped team is fundamental for strategic agility and execution. Similarly, the overall financial health of an organization underpins its capacity to address short-term challenges without compromising its long-term vision. By maintaining a sound financial base, financial leaders provide the organization with the flexibility to invest in growth opportunities even in uncertain times.

“Afraid if you train your people they will leave.  What if you don’t and they stay?”

Stakeholder Alignment and Strategic Foresight

Aligning stakeholders' perspectives with the company's strategic direction is a delicate task that financial executives must navigate. They play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the pursuit of short-term profits and the commitment to long-term growth, often requiring a shift in mindset from immediate gains to sustainable development. By articulating the long-term vision and its potential benefits, financial leaders can align stakeholder expectations with the company's strategic objectives.

The communication of the plan and the “Why” of the plan is often the most overlooked and unperformed task that is essential for success.  Look for future blogs from us on this topic coming soon.  

Reference: If you haven’t read the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek it should be on your list.  Here’s a blog summary, The Power of Starting with Why.

Navigating Common Challenges

Frequent pitfalls such as overemphasizing immediate tasks and the allure of quick wins can derail companies from their strategic path. Financial executives must advocate for a strategic focus, ensuring that leadership dedicates adequate time to long-term planning and delegates day-to-day tasks effectively. They must also look at the long-term effects their decisions have.  Cutting margins of resellers of your products, or reducing bonuses may look good for your bottom line now, but what if your resellers focus their attention on competitive products or your people leave?   Clear communication and definition of long-term goals are essential for strategic coherence and alignment, enabling every team member to understand their role in the broader vision.

Harmonizing Strategies with Flexible Tools

To foster a balance between immediate financial imperatives and long-term strategic goals, financial executives can leverage the following strategies, empowered by flexible financial tools:

  1. Adaptive Budgeting and Forecasting:   Utilize advanced budgeting and forecasting tools to maintain agility in financial planning, allowing for adjustments in response to unforeseen business changes.
  2. Real-Time Monitoring:   Implement monitoring systems that provide real-time insights into financial performance, enabling prompt responses to deviations from planned paths.
  3. Strategic Alignment of Goals:   Ensure that the objectives of stakeholders are harmonized with the company's long-term strategy, fostering a collective effort towards shared goals.
  4. Investing in Talent for the Future:   Advocate for hiring practices that not only fill current gaps but also build the company's long-term strategic capabilities.

In conclusion, financial executives need to evolve Beyond the 'Office of No': Orchestrating Harmony Between Immediate Gains and Lasting Strategy.  Executives as strategic partners are crucial in navigating the complexities of balancing short-term financial goals with long-term strategic plans. By harnessing advanced, flexible financial tools for budgeting, forecasting, and monitoring, financial leaders can provide the insight and agility needed to adapt to the ever-changing business environment. This strategic partnership is key to driving sustainable growth and long-term success, ensuring that companies remain resilient and proactive in the face of uncertainty.

Want to learn and discuss the first step in bridging the gap between short-term financial goals and long-term strategic goals, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Be sure to check out and subscribe to our blog page to catch all of our upcoming blogs on communicating the "Why!" Lodestar Solutions Blog Page

Lessons Learned from a Close Call with a Sophisticated Phishing Attack

Lessons Learned from a Close Call with a Sophisticated Phishing Attack
Lessons Learned from a Close Call with a Sophisticated Phishing Attack
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 22nd, 2024

Last week brought to light a harrowing experience as Lodestar had a close call with a phishing attack. This close call served as a stark reminder of the sophisticated threats lurking in the digital realm. A routine follow-up with a client on a past due notice took an unexpected turn when communication abruptly ceased, unveiling a sinister plot by a phishing scammer who had infiltrated our email exchange. (Yes, we use Microsoft and leverage multifactor authentication.) The attacker, posing as our team, deceitfully requested a change in the ACH payment details, aiming to reroute a significant sum to a fraudulent account. This revelation came about when an accounts payable person from the client's side raised a red flag about a delayed payment due to supposedly updated bank information.  The accounts payable person had called to validate the fraud and they answered posing as a Lodestar team member.

This incident was a wake-up call, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance and robust protocols in our interactions. The scammer had crafted emails with such precision, complete with a forged form and a seemingly legitimate bank letter from JP Morgan Chase, that they nearly succeeded in their ploy. Our saving grace was the immediate action taken to clarify the unchanged status of our bank details, a step that prevented a potentially disastrous financial loss.

Hard-Earned Insights

The ordeal shed light on several key lessons:

  1. Verification Protocols: It's imperative to establish stringent verification processes for any changes in account details. In an era where AI can convincingly mimic voices and even create realistic video responses, traditional validation methods may no longer suffice.
  2. Scrutinize Communication Channels: Always verify the authenticity of phone numbers and email addresses provided for financial transactions. An unfamiliar contact detail should raise immediate suspicion.
  3. Payment Validation: Instead of relying on easily accessible information like the last four digits of an account number, request validation of the exact amount of the last payment. This adds an additional layer of security to the verification process.
  4. Training for Vigilance: Educate all team members, especially those in accounts payable, to recognize potential red flags, such as sudden changes in communication style or unexpected requests.
  5. Advance Notice for Changes: Implement a policy requiring a 30-day notice for any changes to payment details, allowing ample time for thorough verification.
  6. Authentication of Bank Letters: If a bank letter is provided, ensure it includes verifiable contact details of the bank representative. A quick call or email to these banking contacts can unveil a fraudulent attempt. Another option is to look the person up on Linkedin, do they exist?
  7. Leverage Technology: Utilize ACH debit controls to restrict unauthorized withdrawals and consider adopting a positive pay system to verify checks before they are processed.

This incident not only highlighted the importance of being proactive in securing financial transactions but also reinforced the value of transparency and communication with clients. By immediately alerting our clients to the potential threat and reaffirming that our banking details had not changed, we strengthened our relationships and collective security.

Moving Forward

In light of this experience, we revisited and fortified our banking procedures, a testament to the continuous need for vigilance in the digital age. This story serves as a cautionary tale and a call to action for businesses to reassess their cybersecurity measures, particularly concerning financial transactions. The sophistication of phishing scams is ever-evolving, and staying one step ahead requires both adopting advanced security measures and fostering a culture of awareness and skepticism toward any unsolicited changes in financial procedures.

Let our story be a reminder of the cunning tactics employed by cybercriminals and the crucial importance of maintaining stringent security protocols. In doing so, we not only protect our assets but also preserve the trust and integrity of our business relationships.

To all our Financial Executive friends, please take a minute to review your procedures for changing bank information.  I am happy to discuss what I almost learned the hard way!

Lodestar is a boutique firm that prides itself on honesty and transparency. Whenever we learn something new, we share it! Be sure to check out other Lodestar Solutions blogs HERE to learn more about better business practices. 

Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal

IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 16th, 2024

Are you navigating the complexities of renewing your IBM Analytics software directly with IBM, perhaps feeling uncertain about whether you're truly maximizing value? Or maybe you're at a crossroads with your current Cognos or Planning Analytics version, aware that it's inching closer to sunset and will soon be unsupported, leaving you in a quandary about finding the time and resources for an essential upgrade. If this resonates with you, it's time to consider a strategic pivot that could redefine your approach to your software renewal and upgrades. I'm Heather Cole from Lodestar Solutions, and we're here to introduce you to a game-changing opportunity that could alleviate your concerns and elevate your analytics capabilities.

Why Shift from Direct Renewals to Lodestar Solutions?

Choosing Lodestar Solutions for your IBM Analytics renewal isn't just about continuing your software support; it's about entering a partnership that extends far beyond a transactional relationship. Unlike direct renewals with IBM, which might offer a straightforward continuation of services, Lodestar Solutions enriches this experience with a suite of added benefits designed to enhance your team's efficiency, knowledge, and strategic insight into using IBM Analytics tools.

Did you know?

IBM offers clients that renew their Cognos, SPSS, or Planning Analytics licensing at the exact same rates that IBM Gold Partners, like Lodestar Solutions offer.  That’s right.  There are no extra savings by going directly with IBM.  However, there is extra VALUE by working with Lodestar Solutions.

Exclusive Access and Support: 

With Lodestar, every renewal comes with membership to our quarterly live virtual client-only user groups, membership in our monthly Analytic Success Klub to develop advanced soft skills, as well as quarterly webinars focusing on maximizing your analytics initiatives, and all clients get semi-annual reviews to ensure your needs are comprehensively met. Our approach is to not just renew but to empower, educate, and elevate your team's capabilities.

Introducing the Technical Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle

Recognizing the challenges many face with upgrading to the latest versions of Cognos or Planning Analytics—be it due to technical resource constraints, time limitations, or the technical intricacies of an upgrade process—Lodestar Solutions offers a tailored solution: the Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle. This exclusive package is designed specifically for new clients who are at a critical juncture, needing to upgrade their software to stay current and supported.  We have offered upgrade bundles for years, see our blog, Solving the IBM Cognos Upgrade Challenge.  But now we are bundling our bundle with IBM support renewals.

Seamless Upgrade Experience:

Our Upgrade Bundle is the antidote to upgrade hesitations, providing the expert technical support needed to transition smoothly to the latest software version. This ensures you not only stay ahead of the curve with the most advanced analytics tools but also do so with the assurance of continuous support and guidance.

Fixed Rate:

Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade Bundles provide your upgrades at a fixed rate, so there are no surprises in the cost if there are unforeseen issues with your upgrade.  Lodestar Solutions carries the risk.

Enhanced Value Proposition:

This bundle goes beyond a simple renewal or upgrade; it's a comprehensive solution that aligns with your strategic goals, offering unparalleled value. You'll benefit from our full suite of renewal advantages while ensuring your software remains cutting-edge, all within a framework designed to be cost-effective and supportive of your organizational needs.

Licensing Review:

As part of the bundle Lodestar will provide a complimentary License review to ensure you will not fail an audit, and identify if there is a more advantageous, economical licensing structure you may benefit from.  Did you know IBM clients should expect to be audited by IBM every 3-4 years?   About IBM Audits  You don’t want to fail an audit!

Make the Strategic Pivot Today

If your organization is directly renewing IBM Analytics software and facing the imminent need to upgrade, Lodestar Solutions' Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle presents an opportune solution. It's an invitation to not just maintain your software but to strategically enhance it, supported by a partner dedicated to your success.

Let's redefine the way you approach your IBM Analytics software renewal and upgrade. Contact Lodestar Solutions at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to explore this unique bundle tailored to new clients. 

Act Fast: Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal.  It's time to transition from direct renewals to a partnership that promises more than just continuation but a significant elevation of your analytics capabilities. Join us on this journey and unlock the full potential of your IBM Analytics investment with Lodestar Solutions.

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

Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings

Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings
Gratitude Beyond the Feast: Reflecting on Thanksgiving Blessings
Written by Lodestar Solutions Team Members, November 2023

Heather Cole

As the season of gratitude approaches, I find myself reflecting on the abundance of blessings that have enriched my life throughout the year. Foremost among them is my incredible support team, a mosaic of love, encouragement, and inspiration. My heartfelt gratitude extends to my husband, cherished family members, steadfast friends, and invaluable colleagues at Lodestar Solutions and Heatherized.

Pine Marten

This year has been marked by the joy of shared moments with loved ones, as friends and family gathered in various locations to revel in the beauty of nature. From encounters with Morrie the moose to the peculiar pine marten that resembled a charming blend of raccoon, fox, and squirrel, we found solace, inspiration, and the space to challenge each other creatively.

What I treasure most about my support network is their unwavering spirit of growth. Friends, family, and team members alike embody a relentless pursuit of improvement, challenging not only me but the status quo itself. Their belief in finding a better way serves as a constant reminder to seek innovation and push boundaries.

Beyond the human connections that grace my life, I find immense gratitude for the role of artificial intelligence (AI). This transformative technology has liberated precious time that would otherwise be consumed by tasks like crafting blogs, marketing content, and persuasive emails. The efficiency brought by AI empowers us to focus on serving clients, elevating the skills of analytic professionals, and delivering heightened value to our respective enterprises.

Oz

In the tapestry of gratitude, there is a special thread reserved for my steadfast companion, Ozzie, my 13-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever. His enduring presence, marked by slow but cherished walks, serves as a poignant reminder to appreciate each day with the old man Oz. 

As we gather around tables laden with the warmth of Thanksgiving feasts, let us carry this spirit of gratitude into the coming year. May the blessings of companionship, innovation, and the simple joys of life illuminate our paths. Wishing you all a fabulous Thanksgiving and a year ahead filled with endless possibilities in 2024.

Mike Bernaiche

It is that time of the year when we talk about what we are thankful for.  But as I sit to write this, maybe we should be talking about what we are thankful for all year long, not just the week of Thanksgiving.  In this crazy world filled with war, hate, and uncertainty, maybe expressing our thanks more often will give us that warm feeling that you get during this week.  I’m going to commit to giving thanks each day.  Will you join with me in this endeavor?

Since we are writing this blog, I will provide all the things I’m thankful for.  I’m thankful for the God I serve and his grace and forgiveness.  The thanks I have for my wife has no limits.  Our kids have all grown and with that comes change in the house.  We are navigating these changes together and have grown stronger than ever.  Speaking of my kids, I’m so very proud and thankful for them.  They continue to grow into incredible young adults with amazing hearts. 

I’m thankful for all our family.  As our parents get older you realize that you should savor each moment with them.  I’m thankful for our friends many of which we play softball with.  It is so much fun and such a great time playing with them throughout the year.

I’m blessed by our clients and business partners.  Without all of you, I wouldn’t find the joy in what I do.  I really appreciate my coworkers and Heather Cole.  Working in an environment like this provides such peace in my work life.

I hope you will join me in this season of reflection to give thanks today but in every day of the year.  Thank you for a great year and I pray you have an amazing holiday season.

Christina Vandeveer

“Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy.” – Jefferson Bethke

Finding joy in our world sometimes can be a discipline. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of work, meeting deadlines, and hitting sales quotas. Or maybe it’s family, kids’ sports schedules, extra-curricular commitments. All of these are good things, but it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in our to-do lists that we forget to find the joy in what we are doing. I’m not sure who first penned this quote, but I’ve heard it said many times that if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy!

This November I’ve been trying to share something I’m thankful for each day as a way to remind myself of all I truly have to appreciate in my life. God is such a faithful God, and his abundance of goodness in my life is so evident to me.

I am so thankful for my church family. As seasons of life change, friends can come and go. But my church family has always been there. I’m thankful God has provided me with such supportive people in my life.

Christina Vandeveer

I’m thankful for my three boys, Lucas (6), Cooper (5), and Hunter (2). They definitely keep me on my toes! They are so busy, and each with their own different personalities. They will go from driving me absolutely crazy one minute, to making my mom heart well up with tears as they sing worship songs the next. My life was so dull with out them! I am so thankful to be their mom.

I’m thankful for my husband of 9 ½ years, Richard. He works so hard for us and at the same time supports me and makes sure that I have the time I need for me. When I told him I wanted to start a side gig, he was in full support! Even if that means it takes up more time. He sees me for who I am, supports my need to always want to be busy, and yet helps me slow down when I need to. God sure gave me the right partner!

2023 has been a busy year and a year of growth. I am hoping to carry this practice of thankfulness into 2024. I have big goals, and I know if I only focus on what is left to be done, not all that has been accomplished, and my blessings, then those goals will feel unreachable.

6 Myths About Working with a Boutique IBM Partner, Like Lodestar Solutions

6 Myths About Working with a Boutique IBM Partner, Like Lodestar Solutions
6 Myths About Working with a Boutique IBM Partner, Like Lodestar Solutions
Written by Mike Bernaiche, August 10th, 2023

In a world where big names often dominate the business landscape, boutique IBM reselling firms offer a refreshing and highly effective alternative.  A boutique firm like Lodestar Solutions may be smaller in size, but its uniqueness lies in its personalized approach and specialized expertise.  We believe our boutique size and laser focus on IBM analytic solutions is a key to why Lodestar Solutions has been so successful in implementing IBM analytics solutions and elevating clients’ soft skills for over 19 years.

Lodestar Solutions - Offering a Better Way with Analytics

As a boutique IBM gold partner, Lodestar Solutions is often asked, why should we work with you for our IBM analytics needs? Wouldn’t we be better off working with a large firm or IBM directly?  Today we will share the 6 myths that you may believe when checking out a boutique firm and the reasons why you should embrace a boutique partner like Lodestar Solutions for your IBM Analytics software, support, training, and consulting needs.

Myth 1:  It Costs More to Buy from a Boutique IBM Reseller Instead of a Big Firm

Choosing a boutique IBM reseller like Lodestar Solutions does not incur higher costs compared to larger firms.  Our boutique approach offers competitive pricing, and we prioritize empowering your team with self-sufficiency.  We embrace the 'teach a man to fish' principle by educating your team, and additionally, we provide exclusive benefits such as quarterly client-only virtual user groups and membership in our Analytic Success Klub (ASK).  This commitment translates to substantial cost savings for our clients.

Learn more about our Analytic Success Klub which is free to Lodestar Solutions’ clients.

Myth 2: Working with Our Existing IBM Partner is Better for Us

Exploring new partnerships, such as collaborating with Lodestar Solutions, can bring significant advantages to clients.  Our objective is not to replace your current partner, but rather to enhance their services with our distinct offerings.  For instance, some partners might overlook discussions about new licensing options during support renewals, or they might not ensure seamless system upgrades to prevent audit issues.  At Lodestar Solutions, we prioritize your success.  Our commitment to excellence means we can seamlessly complement the services provided by your existing partner, ensuring a comprehensive and proactive approach to your needs.

Myth 3: I am Better off Working Directly with IBM

Choosing to partner with a boutique firm like Lodestar Solutions offers distinct advantages over a direct engagement with IBM.  Our collaboration with IBM remains strong, ensuring that you don't sever your connection with the company.  In fact, our close relationship empowers us to deliver exceptional support, harnessing the combined strengths of both direct IBM resources and our specialized assistance.  Surprisingly, IBM's business model encourages midmarket companies to work with Partners, not directly with IBM.

Clients cherish working with Lodestar because of the stability we offer; our staff turnover and account transitions are notably lower than those experienced with IBM.  Some clients have been with us for an impressive 19 years.  Unlike the vast expanse of IBM, where each client interacts with multiple representatives for different aspects – be it software sales, renewals, or services – Lodestar Solutions provides comprehensive expertise solely in IBM Analytic Solutions.  Our team is well-versed in support renewals, upgrades, training options, software consulting, and more.

While our core focus is on IBM Analytics, we extend beyond by offering programs to develop the essential soft skills vital for success in analytic solutions.  Our exclusive initiatives include the Analytics Success Klub, Requirements Discovery Workshops, Internal Demoing skills, and the highly sought-after Software Upgrade Bundles.  Partnering with Lodestar Solutions ensures not only specialized support but also a comprehensive approach to enhancing your analytic journey.

Analytics Success Bootcamp

Myth 4: I Will Not Have Good Enough Service Coverage from the Boutique

Collaborating with a boutique firm like Lodestar Solutions opens the door to a wealth of resources, ensuring you benefit from the most comprehensive coverage possible.  Despite our compact size, our access to top-tier resources is vast.  Lodestar has forged strategic partnerships with fellow boutique IBM Analytic implementers across the globe.  Unlike merely assigning available personnel to your project, we prioritize a deep understanding of your business, objectives, and timelines. This approach enables us to match you with the absolute best resource available, often consultants with profound industry insights to expedite your success.

Our commitment extends to addressing every facet of your IBM Analytics needs, guaranteeing meticulous and dedicated support.  We recognize that each client's situation is distinct, and our services are meticulously tailored to accommodate your unique requirements. Designed to evolve alongside your growth, our services cater to entities of all sizes, be it a small business or a large enterprise.  Our adaptive methodology ensures consistent, personalized attention and unwavering support quality.

The advantage of our boutique scale becomes evident in our responsiveness.  Our expert team is at your immediate disposal, translating to prompter response times and swift solutions to any challenges that arise.  Typically, our response time falls within 24-48 hours, often even quicker. Partnering with Lodestar Solutions equips you with a powerhouse of expertise and a rapid, tailored approach that prioritizes your success.

Myth 5: A Boutique IBM Reseller’s Resources Aren’t As Good

Boutique firms like Lodestar Solutions often stand out with superior resources compared to larger entities.  Our certified professionals possess profound expertise in IBM Analytics, having undergone the same rigorous certification courses and exams as IBM itself.  The key difference lies in the extensive experience many of our resources bring – often spanning over 20 years with IBM Analytics solutions.

Lodestar's mission, to 'Elevate Analytics and the People that Deliver them,' is at the core of our approach.  Beyond educating your team on IBM Analytics solutions, we go a step further by enhancing your team's soft skills.  Our commitment goes beyond simply placing an available individual on your project; we form a partnership to comprehensively understand your needs.  Then, we strategically assign the ideal resource based on their knowledge, experience, and personality, ensuring a harmonious fit that maximizes project success."

Myth 6: Changing Partners is Scary & Painful

Making the move to partner with Lodestar Solutions doesn't have to be a source of worry or stress.  We understand that change can be unsettling, but our dedicated team is here to guide you through the transition process seamlessly.  Whether you're considering enhancing your current partnership or seeking a new one, we prioritize a smooth changeover that minimizes disruptions to your operations.

In light of recent shifts in the IBM partner landscape, many firms are adjusting their focus.  However, at Lodestar Solutions, our unwavering dedication remains with IBM Analytics and the people who drive its success.  Our unique focus and commitment provide us with direct access to IBM executives and top-tier talent.

Reach out to us today to start a conversation about your challenges.  Let's explore how we can collaborate to deliver swifter and more cost-effective analytics solutions, all while ensuring a stress-free transition process.

Additional Benefits:

In addition to our core services, our extras, such as quarterly user group meetings, ASK training, and license review, offer unique opportunities for skill-building, networking, and ensuring compliance.  These benefits directly contribute to your long-term success.  We firmly believe that in the analytic world, it is people, processes, and tools – in that order!  Our unique programs level up people, and improve processes, resulting in better end-user adoption of tools and happier, better-equipped employees that bring success to your organization. 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the journey with a boutique partner, exemplified by Lodestar Solutions, unfolds as an expedition into a world of unparalleled advantages.  Our distinct methods, customized solutions, and attentive care cultivate an environment ripe for achievement.  If you're in pursuit of a partnership that harmonizes expertise, innovation, and an authentic dedication to your triumph, I urge you to contemplate the transformative journey with Lodestar Solutions.  Together, we stand poised to chart a course toward excellence, scaling remarkable summits in the realm of analytics.  Don't hesitate to connect with us at services@lodestarsolutions.com or sales@lodestarsolutions.com, and let's embark on this enriching adventure together.

Below are a few of our recently written blogs and demos for you to check out. 

Unleashing Analytic Leaders - A Recap of Lodestar Solutions' Business Analytic Success Bootcamp

Unlocking the Full Potential of IBM Subscription and Support for Cognos and Planning Analytics: X, Y, and Z Parts Explained

Cognos Analytics 12 Demo

Heather L. Cole Embarks on a Podcasting Journey: Seeking Engaging Conversations and Thought-Provoking Insights

Heather L. Cole Podcast
Heather L. Cole Podcast
Written by Heather L. Cole, July 13th, 2023

Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of data analytics, one name stands out as a beacon of knowledge and expertise: Heather L. Cole.  With her unrivaled experience, diverse skill set, and profound passion for driving positive change, Heather is now venturing into the realm of podcasting.  But before she dives right in, she is actively seeking opportunities to be a guest on other podcasts.  In this blog post, we will delve into Heather's remarkable background, her areas of expertise, and her upcoming podcasting endeavors.

Heather L. Cole's Biography and Expertise

Heather L. Cole is a highly sought-after expert and thought leader in the field of data analytics.  With over 30 years of experience in data analytics and finance as well as 19 years as the owner and developer of a successful software reseller and implementation firm, Heather's expertise is unparalleled.  As a lawyer, scrum master, certified high-performance coach, and captivating speaker, Heather brings a diverse skill set to her work.  Her purpose is clear: to elevate the use of data analytics and the people who deliver them, driving positive change in the world.  As the founder of Lodestar Solutions and Heatherized, Inc., she leverages her multidisciplinary knowledge to empower businesses and individuals to succeed in the data revolution.

High Performance Coach

Previous Appearances:

Here are a couple of samples of Heather presenting if you missed them before.

Topics Heather L. Cole Is Qualified to Speak On

Heather's vast expertise spans numerous topics within the realm of data analytics, budgeting and forecasting, leadership, and personal development.  Here are just a few areas in which she excels:

Business Intelligence Bull's-eye by Heather L. Cole
  1. Socializing the Nerds: Bridging the Gap between Tech Experts and Non-Technical Professionals
  2. Analytic Leadership, Developing a Data-Driven Culture: Challenges and Strategies
  3. How to Increase End User Adoption of Analytics Solutions, Unlocking Innovation and Collaboration
  4. From Strategy to Execution, Aligning Analytics with Organizational Goals to Drive Business Value
  5. Tech Talk with a Twist: Women's Perspectives on Innovation and Disruption with Analytics
  6. Ethical Considerations in AI Adoption: Implications for Finance and IT
  7. AI-Powered Growth Strategies: How CEOs & CFOs Can Drive Transformation and Gain a Competitive Edge
  8. The Power of High-Performance Executive Coaching: Unlocking Your Full Potential
  9. Financial Planning and Budgeting: Best Practices for Driving Growth and Profitability
  10. Influence, Persuasion, and Negotiation: Essential Skills for Business Leaders
  11. Empowering Women in Leadership: Overcoming Challenges and Driving Success
  12. The Future of Data Analytics: Trends, AI, and Innovations Shaping the Industry
  13. Balancing Work and Life: Tips for Busy Executives to Achieve Personal Well-being and Success
  14. What Every Executive Should Know about Buying and Negotiating Software Purchases
  15. Overcoming the Loneliness and Stress of Being the CEO

Heather's captivating insights and dynamic speaking style make her an ideal guest and collaborator for podcast hosts aiming to explore the limitless potential of data analytics and its impact on the world.

Call to Action:

If you host a podcast or know of one that would benefit from Heather L. Cole's expertise, we invite you to contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.  Heather is eager to engage in insightful conversations and share her transformative insights with a wider audience.  By featuring Heather as a guest on your podcast, you'll provide your listeners with a unique and valuable perspective on the world of data analytics, leadership, and personal development.

Conclusion:

Heather L. Cole's journey into podcasting marks an exciting chapter in her illustrious career.  With her exceptional expertise, impressive track record, and genuine commitment to making a difference, Heather is an inspiring figure that executives and podcasters are eager to engage with.  Her insights, speaking style, and coaching approach have impacted countless lives worldwide.  As Heather embarks on this podcasting adventure, her desire to share knowledge, inspire change, and explore the future of data analytics is set to captivate audiences in new and exciting ways.  Stay tuned for the upcoming episodes and prepare to be enlightened by Heather L. Cole's podcasting endeavors. 

For more information click here!  

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