Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves

Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves
Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves
Written by Heather L. Cole, January 27th 2022

“Heather wanted to let you know Friday is my last day at _____ Company.”  Would you believe I am getting emails like this weekly?  Yes, the Great Resignation is real!  And at Lodestar Solutions, we want you know to know we have your back!  Today I’ll share the Steps to Take When Your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves.  Just know you don’t have to go it alone!

1. Call Lodestar Solutions to Create a Plan

When your IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics Power User Leaves it can be scary.  Especially if you have a smaller deployment and the one person that knows everything about your system just resigned.  When this happens Lodestar Solutions is here to help you create a plan, help you find new talent and back you up when you need it, even if this means you need some temporary staff until you hire someone.  As soon as notice is given, call Lodestar at 813-415-2910 or email Services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule your complimentary “oh sh*t” plan.

2. Create an Emergency SOW with Lodestar Solutions

It’s always best to have a backup plan.  At Lodestar Solutions we recommend all clients have an active statement of work in place to help if you have an emergency, but if your Cognos or TM1 power user leaves, it is even more important.  So, call us at 813-415-2910 or email services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can tell you how many hours you have on your open SOWs or create a new one.  Remember you are not billed unless you use our services.  But you don’t want to have an emergency and must wait for legal to review contracts before we can help.  So, call today to get your emergency SOW in place.

3. Change Your Support Contacts with IBM

Before the person leaves, you want to check if they were designated as the point of contact within the IBM support system.  If so, you want to have them change the primary contact before they leave!  It’s a lot easier to change the name within the IBM system before the person’s email is turned off.  Here’s Lodestars’ blog on how to change the contact’s name.   

You will also want to notify us of who should receive your support renewal quotes in the future.  Reach out to our team at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com for assistance.

4. Switch the Admin within the System

You want to make sure you update security in the system to assign administrative rights to someone else.  This is very important for smaller deployments of IBM Analytics that only have one power user.  You should always remove employees that have left the company from the Cognos or TM1 system, so you don’t risk failing an audit.  Note, when an employee leaves the company you can reassign their license to a new user, just no sharing.  For more information on IBM audits, see our two-part blog series on Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit.

Part 1 - Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit

Part 2 - Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know about an IBM Audit


5. For Cognos Users Plan for Orphaned Content

If you use IBM Cognos Analytics and a user leaves before you reassigned their reports, you may end up with reports you can’t get to.  We call this Orphaned content.  When a user is deleted in a Cognos namespace all of their content in their My Folder gets orphaned and is difficult to access. The good news is you didn’t lose it.  Here’s our blog on how to retrieve it, and a link to Motio’s YouTube Video as they have a great tool to help recover orphaned objects in Cognos. 

Document Your Models with Video

6. Knowledge Transfer Video

When a Cognos admin quits, often there is not enough time to do proper knowledge transfer and does anyone really have updated documentation?  To save you time and money trying to figure out the basic setups of your IBM Analytics system, we recommend the person leaving record a video of the system.  They should record the video as if they are talking to their replacement and sharing all the details of their system.  You can use Zoom or a video conferencing service to do this, or we use Camtasia, a video editing system. This video can be very valuable to the person you hire.

7. Communicate How to Log a Case

If the person moving on, is the person that has access to log cases with IBM you should have them shoot a video on how to log a case and provide your site details.  This will be very valuable if you have an issue and need IBM support.

8. Create a Job Description

Now that you have your backup plan created you want to create an awesome job description to attract top talent.  Don’t just rely on your HR team to do this.  Lodestar is happy to help.  We will provide you a sample description and review what you have before it’s posted.  A few key points:

  •  If you allow remote or flexible work times, make sure it’s on the post.
  • Don’t just write it for what the company is looking for but include what you are offering the candid like training.
  • Read the job description, would you reply?  If not, rewrite it.

A great book for anyone hiring is Hiring for Attitude by Mark Murphy.  

For Lodestar Clients Only:

If you are a Lodestar Solutions client, we are willing to help you promote your position.  It’s what family does… Once you have your job description written send it to me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com and I’ll share it with my network.

9. Review your Licensing and New Functionality

Whenever there is a change in your organization, you should do a State of the Union review.  Lodestar Solution’s recommends reviewing:

  •  Your IBM Analytics Licensing
  • What’s new in the latest IBM release
  • A List of what future enhancements your power users were planning
  • A review or your current environment and models

We find when clients do a review with us, they have comfort in understanding what they own, how they can use it and that their current system is in good shape.  Lodestar is happy to schedule a review with you.  Email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

November Lodestar Virtual Cognos User Group

November Lodestar Virtual Cognos User Group
November Lodestar Virtual Cognos User Group
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 28th, 2021

It is almost that time again!!  Time for the Virtual Cognos User Group for Lodestar clients only!  Lodestar hosts a Virtual Cognos User Group every quarter, that’s 4 times a year of great information FREE for our clients.  We started these last year as the world was going virtual and they have been a great success.  Below you will find all the information to attend.  We break the Cognos User Group into 2 sessions on different days.  Day 1 is for Cognos Analytics and Day 2 is for Planning Analytics.  Join us for either one or both!  Here is the best part, all sessions are recorded and as a Lodestar customer you have access to our library of videos from all user groups that you can watch anytime. 

Cognos Analytics User Group

When: November 9, 2021, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Agenda: Virtual Cognos User Group - CA

Containers are Coming – Cognos Analytics and Cloud Pak for Data
Join Heather as she provides a high-level presentation on what Cloud Paks are and if they are right for you.
Cognos Analytics What’s New

Mike will provide an update with demo of new features in Cognos Analytics 11.2 and 11.2.1.

Cognos Analytics Tech Talk

Ted will give an update on all things technical related to Cognos Analytics 11.2.

Networking Break Out

Talk to other clients and build your professional network with more Cognos Analytics knowledge.

Dashboarding Secrets

Join Mike as he demonstrates dashboarding secrets he has learned in Cognos Analytics 11.2 / 11.2.1.

Predictive Analytics with Cognos Analytics

Heather will be joined by a predictive analytics expert to discuss how you can use Predictive with Cognos Analytics.

Planning Analytics User Group

When: November 16, 2021, 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Agenda: Virtual Cognos User Group - PA

Containers are Coming – Planning Analytics and Cloud Pak for Data

Join Heather as she provides a high-level presentation on what Cloud Paks are and if they are right for you.

Workbench and Admin

Mike will demonstrate the new workbench in Planning Analytics Workspace.

AI Forecasting Capabilities in Planning Analytics

Did you know that Planning Analytics Workspace has AI forecasting capability?  See how to use it in this session.

Planning Analytics Tech Talk

Ted will give an update on all things technical related to Planning Analytics.

Networking Break Out

Talk to other clients and build your professional network with more Planning Analytics knowledge.

Predictive Analytics with Planning Analytics

Heather will be joined by a predictive analytics expert to discuss how you can use Predictive with Planning Analytics.

Creative Uses of Planning Analytics

Heather has some great ideas on how you can use Planning Analytics other than the normal budgeting and forecasting options.

How to Join

Be on the lookout for an email from Lodestar with all the details to join each session.  If you have never joined us before and do not have a special log in to our video library, please reach out to Heather Cole at hcole@lodestarsolutions.  She will get you set up in our library to take part in this user group and watch any of our previous videos from other virtual Cognos user groups.

For a list of topics covered in previous user groups check out this extensive blog listing.

IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Virtual User Group - Lodestar Solutions

Handy Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Links

What’s new in Planning Analytics

What’s new in Cognos Analytics?

Forecast in Planning Analytics with AI

AI and Forecasting in Planning Analytics
AI and Forecasting in Planning Analytics
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 14th 2021

Did you know that you can forecast in Planning Analytics Workspace by using automated tools that model time dependent data?  What does this mean for you?  You can take a series of time related data and let Planning Analytics suggest a forecast for the coming years based on statistics and trends from years past.  You can create a forecast, forecast low or forecast high version simply based on the trends of the past.  Below I will walk you through the steps to get started and create a forecast in Planning Analytics.

Requirements to use Forecasting

Time Dimension

  •  One or more time dimensions can be used to forecast against, and they must all appear on the column of the exploratory view.  In either case, the leaves must result in contiguous, evenly spaced periods of time.

Historical Data

  •  The historical data must represent at least double what is being forecasted.
  • The historical data must represent at least two seasons of data if it has seasonality.  For example, if the data cycles yearly and the leaf time members are at a month level of granularity, then it must have at least 24 months of data in the history.  This way, the feature can automatically detect the cycle.

Forecasting Data Cells

  •  The historical data must represent at least two seasons of data if it has seasonality.  For example, if the data cycles yearly and the leaf time members are at a month level of granularity, then it must have at least 24 months of data in the history.  This way, the feature can automatically detect the cycle.

Version Dimension

  •  The version dimension, if you want to use one, must appear in the context of the exploratory view.
AI and Forecasting in Planning Analytics

In the example above we have historical data to 2013 and will be forecast 2014 to 2019.

The Process to Forecast in Planning Analytics

The process starts by highlighting the members you want to forecast.  In the example below you will see that I selected all members shown.  Then click the forecast button .  This will open the forecast dialog box.  You will see 2 options.  Set up and advanced.  The first forecast we will create is in the set-up area.  I am forecasting years 2013 to 2019 based on the set up below. 

forecast button
forecast in planning analytics

Once you have selected everything correctly you will see the preview and forecast button enable and you can select one.  Preview will provide the below info.  You will see I changed the drop down to member 4 and the accuracy based on the AI in the Planning Analytics is high.

forecast preview

If you click the statical details tab you will see all the different statistical points.  This is for all of you data scientist out there!  You can click the learn more link and it will open a window that explains all of this information.

statistical details

If you like what you see you can simply close the preview window and click forecast.  The process will run and you will see all of the forecasted data in the cube.  You will notice the comment flag in 2013.  If you open the comments, you will see that the system has added in the statical information for each member.

forecasted data
comments

Advanced Tab Forecast

Keeping the time frame loaded in the set-up tab, you can now choose to have the forecast written to the optional version dimension (if you created one for your cube).  You can also ignore certain time frame(s).  This can be useful for times like the last 18 months of Covid data that may skew your data high or low, depending on your business.  Now you can select the version dimension and hierarchy.  And assign where you want the values to be loaded.  See below.

select version dimension and hierarchy

Now hit the forecast button and watch the forecast in Planning Analytics get loaded into the version dimension.  I moved the version dimension to the rows to show the below results.  As you can see Planning Analytics wrote data to the Forecast, Forecast Low and Forecast High fields.

forecast low and high

For detailed information on Forecast in Planning Analytics

Forecasting - IBM Documentation

For what is new in Planning Analytics Workspace

What’s New in IBM Planning Analytics Workspace Version 64, 65 and 66 - Lodestar Solutions

Summary

As you can see the process is very simple to get the automated forecast in Planning Analytics.  Take your planning process to the next level with this automated forecasting process.  Is it perfect, no.  But does it give you a great starting point with some artificial intelligence, yes!  For more information on forecasting or anything else planning analytics related reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com

Are you ready to become a Transformational Leader?

Are you wondering how you become the transformational leader?  Lodestar Solutions is here to help!  You might want to check out our blog, It’s Time for CFOs to Leverage Transformational Planning.  

But more importantly Enroll in our complimentary webinar on Thursday, November 18th  from 10:30am-noon Eastern.

Mastering Transformational Planning: Why CFOs Should Lead this Initiative?

In this webinar you will discover:

  •  Why every CFO must discover and lead Transformational Planning
  • How to identify where the quick wins are in your organization
  • How to move your organization to Transformational Planning
  • How to find more time for Transformation Initiatives
  • And more….

To Register for this complimentary webinar, click here.

Scorecards and Metrics in Planning Analytics

Scorecards and Metrics in Planning Analytics
Scorecards and Metrics in Planning Analytics
Written by Mike Bernaiche, September 30th, 2021

Did you know that you can track your key performance indicators (KPI’s) with Scorecards and Metrics in Planning Analytics?  Many people do not realize that Planning Analytics has built in functionality to create the highly visual scorecards and metrics.  A while back the only way to create these up or down arrows or the red, yellow, green indicators was through Metric Studio in Cognos BI.  IBM moved this functionality into TM1 with the use of Performance Modeler and today you can create charts like the above along with visual maps or flow charts to track all your metrics.

What are Scorecards and Metrics in Planning Analytics?

Let’s start with the basics.  IBM Cognos Planning Analytics Scorecards and Metrics integrates scorecarding and strategy management capabilities to provide better integration of performance management with planning.

This allows you to:

  • Visually capture and monitor organizational strategy and goals
  • Define and monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs) with traffic light and trend icons
  • Compare your KPIs to corporate strategic goals
  • Create interactive scorecard diagrams and data visualizations

Components of Metric Cubes

Metric cubes are made up of the following:

  • Metric dimension
  • Metric Indicator dimension
  • Metrics cube
  • Impact diagram – auto created with metric cube
  • Strategy map
  • Custom diagram
  • History chart - - auto created with metric cube
Metrics Cube

Metric Dimension Properties

Metric dimensions are made up of the follow properties that need to be set:

Format property

      Specifies the numerical or date/time display format.

Performance Pattern

      Above target is favorable

      On target is favorable

      Below target is favorable

Tolerance Type

      Absolute - the value in the tolerance indicator is the tolerance and is used as-is.

      Percent - the value in the tolerance indicator is used to calculate the tolerance as a               percentage of target.

Tolerance Type

Metric Diagram Types

There are four types of diagram types that can be used with scorecards and metrics.

  • Impact diagram
    Impact diagrams visualize the positive and negative relationships between the metrics in your metrics cube.  This type of diagram shows how the business actually works by displaying how one metric influences another.
  • Strategy map
    A strategy map is an industry standard visualization that tracks business performance by perspectives, objectives, and metrics.
  • Custom diagram
    A custom diagram is a strategy map where you import a custom image and show metrics with dimensional context onto the image as data points.
  • History chart
    A history chart shows a column chart of data for a metric.

For even more information on scorecards and metrics from IBM check out this link, Understand Cognos TM1 Scorecarding - IBM Documentation.

IBM Planning Analytics and Transformational Planning

Recently we started researching and developing a program to teach clients transformational planning.  Heather Cole recently wrote in this blog, It’s Time for CFOs to Leverage Transformational Planning - Lodestar Solutions “the world has changed. Organizations of every size are being forced to rapidly adjust to the new world where distribution challenges are the norm and employee retention is top of mind. The uncertain world is forcing companies to create a transformation strategy. I believe this needs to start with the CFO. It’s Time for CFO’s to Leverage Transformational Planning.”

I couldn’t agree more with these words and believe that scorecards and metrics in Planning Analytics can help take you to transformational planning in your organization.

Here is another blog from Heather that further talks about getting on board the transformational train before some else does.  Finance Must lead Business Transformation Before Someone Else Does - Lodestar Solutions.  Also, inside this blog is a place to register for our free webinar titled - Mastering Transformational Planning: Why CFOs Should Lead this Initiative?  This webinar is on Thursday, November 18th, from 10:30am-noon Eastern.

In this free webinar you will discover:

  • Why every CFO must discover and lead Transformational Planning
  • How to identify where the quick wins are in your organization
  • How to move your organization to Transformational Planning
  • How to find more time for Transformation Initiatives

If you have any questions regarding the webinar or scorecards and metrics in Planning Analytics, please reach out to services@lodestarsoltuions.com.

How to Create your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants

How to Create Your Analytics Roadmap Without Hiring Consultants
How to Create Your Analytics Roadmap Without Hiring Consultants
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 17th 2021

“This is going to be the year!  I swear this is the year we really leverage our Cognos and Planning Analytic investment!”  This is a quote from a mid-market client I have worked with and each year at renewal time, he says this is the year.  While I reflected on his challenge, I realized other clients including Cognos Analytic and Planning Analytic clients may have the same struggle.  So, today we will start our guide on how to create your analytics roadmap without hiring expensive consultants.   This is part one of a two-part blog.

1. Take One Step Toward Creating an Analytics Roadmap

The first step towards accomplishing any goal is to take the first step.  Have you ever had a project or goal that looks so massive that you don’t even know where to start?  Creating an analytics roadmap can feel very overwhelming.  You want to decide what to monitor, determine where the data is, make sure you have the right tools, and deal with all the personalities of the people that need to be involved.  It’s no wonder so many projects fail before they even start.  Then add to the fact you might have multiple tools like Cognos Planning Analytics, Cognos Analytics, Power BI, Excel….

But I’ll let you in a little secret.  It only takes one step to start.

It Only Takes One Step to Start

Yes, that is right!  It is okay for your organization’s analytic journey to start with just you and a simple l idea to provide better insights.

A Single Spark

The First Step

Let’s take the first step together.  Grab a stack of sticky notes.   Set a timer on your cell phone for 10 minutes.  And for 10 minutes I want you to jot down one idea on each sticky note.  Maybe you want an inventory dashboard to track shortages or maybe a headcount dashboard to deal with resource shortages.  What ever pops in your head write it down.  There are no stupid answers.  Just let the ideas flow. 

When you are done raise your right hand in the air.  Reach behind your back and pat yourself on the back!  You have officially taken the first step to creating your analytic roadmap without hiring expensive consultants.

2. Review Your Ideas

In step two we will review your ideas and prioritize them.  The goal is to choose an item that will make the biggest impact to the organization.  You could evaluate your analytic ideas considering several factors, but Lodestar Solutions has been implementing Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics solutions for decades and we have learned there are three major considerations that help determine which analytic initiative will have the biggest impact.

  • How much money will the organization make or save by having visibility to this data?
  • Does the company currently have the data necessary to monitor this analytic initiative?
  • Will having visibility to this data help the organization accomplish their strategic goals?

When I work with our IBM Cognos clients to create their analytic roadmap, I have them score each idea 0-10 on each of the questions above.  Then we add up the scores and the analytic idea with the highest number is a great place to start.

3. Identify Other Stakeholders

Now that you have narrowed your analytic ideas down, it is time to go find some allies.  Successful analytic journeys almost always include stakeholders that are excited and have the power to make the vision of a dashboard, report, or scorecard a reality. 

Therefore, you will want to grab a piece of paper and write down everyone that would benefit from having greater visibility to the analytics and data you are proposing for your first destination in your analytic roadmap.  Once you have a list of people start reaching out to them and schedule a casual conversation.  You want to listen more than you talk and ask them for their ideas on the analytic idea.

If you are an IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics user, we recommend you include the Cognos or Planning Analytics administrator on your list of people to contact.  They can be a big ally for you if you ask for their ideas. 

Analytic Leaders

We are so proud of you.  The fact you read this far tells us you are destined to become a great Analytic Leader.  Here are a few resources you might want to check out.

Need Help?

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

In Conclusion

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

Be sure to check out part 2 of this blog!

Click here for How to Create Your Analytics Roadmap without Hiring Expensive Consultants Part 2.

What Should Finance’s Role Be In Pricing?

What Should Finances Role Be In Pricing
What Should Finances Role Be In Pricing
Written by Heather Cole, April 1st, 2021

As COVID 19 has changed the world, finance departments are challenged to rethink their business.  In some sectors costs are souring while buyers are shrinking.   With an eye on profitability financial planning and analysis (FPA) departments are running numerous forecasting scenarios.  CFO’s understand how to manage the cost side of the margin equation, but what about the price side?  Should finance set pricing?  Does the finance team understand the real value of the products or services?  What should finance's role be in pricing?  And does your finance team have the right tools?

Cost + Basis Is Not Enough

Some organizations have looked at pricing as a Cost + Basis in defining their pricing.  But is that the best way to drive profits?  Let’s look at the effect of increasing the price 1 percent.  According to a McKinsey article The Power of Pricing,

“Consider the average income statement of an S&P 1500 company: a price rise of 1 percent, if volumes remained stable, would generate an 8 percent increase in operating profits, an impact nearly 50 percent greater than that of a 1 percent fall in variable costs such as materials and direct labor and more than three times greater than the impact of a 1 percent increase in volume. Unfortunately, the sword of pricing cuts both ways. A decrease of 1 percent in average prices has the opposite effect, bringing down operating profits by that same 8 percent if other factors remain steady.” 

So just a 1% decrease in price would require a significant increase in volume to maintain the same profit levels. 

Pocket Margin

Pocket Margin

It is time for companies to look at what is actually pocketed from each transaction.  Profits can erode from the list or base price in the form of customer discounts, incentives, promotions, cash discounts, freight, and other giveaways to gain the contract.

The pocket price is the list price minus discounts, rebates, promotions, free freight, and similar offers.  The contribution margin of a sale transaction can be determined by subtracting the cost of goods sold from the pocket price.

For example, a company sells a product for $1,000 at list.  The client negotiates a 20% discount for $200, therefore the pocket price is $800.  If the cost of goods is $500, the contribution margin is $300. 

But we all know that discounts, rebates, promotions, and payment terms are rarely the same for all your clients.  To get a better view of your profits, you need to dive deeper down to profitability by customer and product. 

According to Deloitte’s CFO Insights article “Pricing for Profitability: What’s in Your Pocket,” an effective pricing “strategy should rely on understanding economic profitability at the customer, product, and segment level—the so-called pocket margin.” 

Finance’s Role in the Analysis

So what exactly is finance's role in pricing? For organizations to effectively drive profits there should be a team effort.  Marketing understands the value the products and services bring to the market as well as the competition.  Sales is in the trenches and understands the clients.  Finance is in a unique position to provide a profitability perspective to pricing.  Pricing strategies should align with corporate strategies.  For example, are you looking to be the lowest cost provider or the boutique specialty product?  FPA teams that take view at profitability from a customer-level can find opportunities to improve margins.

Does your FPA Team have the right tools?

The secret to unlocking profits using a customer centric approach requires the right tools for analysis.  Finance teams need to have access to the right data, and advance analytics modeling tools to do what if scenarios.  Could they use Excel?  Sure, but we all know that Excel is prone to user error and challenging to maintain.  Unfortunately for many financial analysts their organizations have not stopped to think about the time they spend data chasing and maintaining spreadsheets.  Valuable time that could be spent analyzing data for valuable insights. 

IBM Planning Analytics

IBM Planning Analytics

IBM Planning Analytics is a power tool that can help financial professionals add significant value to the pricing discussion by streamlining models and allowing time for insightful analysis.  The Planning Analytics’ multi-dimensional models allow for deeper dives into customer and product margin analysis.  But IBM Planning Analytics can also be used to increase the accuracy of your forecasts and simplify your budgeting process.  Check out this brief demo of IBM Cognos Planning Analytics. This is a valuable tool that can help finance's role in pricing.

Other Ideas to Increase Profits -

Now that we discussed what should finance's role be in pricing and the need for the right tools like IBM Planning Analytics, CFO’s need to also influence the other areas that have a role in the pricing discussion. 

Ending Steep Discounts:

In many organizations the salespeople are quick to give steep discounts so they can win the deal.  But are the discounts necessary?  What if you encourage your sales teams to change how they sell your goods or services?  What if during the sales cycle they proved so much value that clients did not ask for discounts?  Yes, for many this would require a cultural change, but I can tell you from my own business, retraining your teams to learn a different approach can have a huge impact on your bottom line.  To learn more about an approach I recommend check out the book Gap Selling by Jim Keenan.  Here’s a link to a book review I did on it. 

Teaching Negotiation Skills:

Do you offer your teams training in negotiation and influence skills?  Hmm I didn’t think so.  But why not.  By training your sales and finance team to improve their negotiation skills, you could see profits rapidly.  As a high-performance and executive coach I have a gift for you.  For years, under my Heatherized company,  I have coached CFO’s on the art of negotiation.  I feel so strongly that this is a vital key to profitability for all companies that I am going to provide you complimentary access to my Negotiation Skills Training.  

Time to Act

As a finance professional it is time for you to act. You now know finance's role in pricing, so let’s get started. 

  1.  Watch our Planning Analytics video to learn what power planning and modeling tools can do for you.  IBM Planning Analytics
  2. Upgrade your Negotiation Skills, start by watching my Negotiation Skills Training
  3. Contact me and let’s discuss ideas how you can increase your profits. Email hcole@lodestarsolutions.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the Penalty?

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

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

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

How Do I Know If I Have the ILMT Installed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cognos Express Licensing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

Call Lodestar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Your Cognos Licenses Supported

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

IBM Audit Summary

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

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

Don't Wait!

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

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

Questions You Should Ask When Upgrading to the IBM Cloud Pak for Data

Questions You Should Ask When Upgrading to Cloud Pak for Data
Questions You Should Ask When Upgrading to Cloud Pak for Data
March 11th, 2021

IBM is actively encouraging existing IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics (TM1) clients to migrate to their new model of licensing called Cloud Pak for Data.  IBM renewal reps, sales reps and partners are all encouraged to present and encourage clients to migrate.  They call this the Cognos Modernization Upgrade program.  For forward thinking Cognos and Planning Analytics clients, this is a great opportunity.  This blog will cover the Questions You Should Ask When Upgrading to the IBM Cloud Pak for Data.

What is an IBM Cloud Pak for Data?

With the acquisition of Red Hat, IBM is in the process of combining their technologies.  As a result, in 2020 they released the new IBM Cloud Pak programs which packages Red Hat OpenShift with various IBM offerings.  These programs also come with new licensing models that allow Planning Analytics and Cognos clients to leverage Red Hat and IBM’s containerized environment.  The concept is that the containerized environment will allow for faster upgrades, more integration, and more flexibility.  

Reference: See our earlier blog, Modernizing Cognos Licenses the Path to the Future with Cloud Pak for Data which goes into more details on IBM Cloud Pak for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers.  Or visit IBM’s site

Does your company currently own IBM Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics on-premise, perpetual licenses? 

If you have owned Cognos for a while and are not leveraging IBM’s SaaS option where IBM does all your upgrades and backups, you are probably on a perpetual license, which means you own it as an asset on your Balance Sheet.  The reason you want to know this is that this helps to determine which options are available to you when trading up to the IBM Cloud Pak for Data. 

If you don’t know what type of licensing you own, email renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and we can help you.

IBM Has a Couple Flavors of IBM Cloud Pak for Data for Planning Analytics and Cognos

  •  A perpetual license that requires you to upgrade your existing licenses to one that includes the Cloud Pak for Data entitlements.
  • A subscription model that can be on-premise, but is a subscription so typically an operating expense, not an asset.

There is no right answer as to which is a better option.  The best flavor of the IBM Cloud Pak for Data depends on a few factors that are unique for each client, like does your CFO want operating expenses or capital expenses? 

For more information on this check out the CIO.com article, Can I capitalize my system implementation or get tax advantages?

Lodestar Solutions is happy to discuss the options to help you choose the right option.  Just email us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

Does your company plan to leverage advanced technology and simplify the costs of connecting to lots of data sources?

If you answered no, I must ask you, “What are you thinking?”  Of course, your company wants to leverage advanced technology.  IBM has invested in amazing technology and now they are starting to blend them to better serve their clients.  I fully appreciate that maybe now is not the time to implement the new technology.  Maybe you don’t want to be an early adopter, but what if I told you there’s a why to upgrade your licenses so when you are ready you already have the licensing needed?

Now is a good time to set yourself up for long term success!

This is purely speculation, but I have seen it many times in the tech industry, clients that upgrade their licenses early in the roll out usually do so at the lowest price.  So, if I was a Cognos or Planning Analytics client, I would consider trading my licenses up now, but keep my software on-premises or in the cloud, so business as usual.  This would allow me later, when I am ready, to use the new technology of the IBM Cloud Pak for Data.

Here’s the IBM Secret -

The IBM team, at least in North America, has committed to help make it possible for clients to leverage their support renewal dollars to upgrade their licenses.  Everyone’s situation is a little unique, but let’s chat and see how you can get even more functionality out of your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos support dollars.

When is your current IBM software up for renewal?

The best time to upgrade your licensing is the same time it’s always been.

BEST TIME TO CHANGE PLANNING ANALYTICS AND COGNOS LICENSING IS AT TIME OF RENEWAL!

When you upgrade your licensing, IBM includes 1 year of support and subscription.  Therefore, the best time to discuss upgrading to IBM Cloud Pak for Data Analytics is a couple months before your renewal.  The worst time is if you just renewed.  Contact Lodestar Solutions today and let’s start the IBM Cloud Pak for Data conversation and explore if trading up your licensing is a strategic move for you!

Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to set up a complimentary discussion about your licensing.

More Questions?

I hope this blog on Questions You Should Ask When Upgrading to the IBM Cloud Pak for Data was informative, but I also appreciate this is just the tip of the iceberg.  This technology and licensing is so new, it’s constantly evolving, but I believe it’s time to start seeing down the road and set your IT team up for success.  Let’s continue the conversation.  Email Sales@lodestarsolutions.com and set up a time for us to discover how you can get more out of your IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos investment.

Planning Analytics Excel Options

August 20th, 2020

Many of you use Excel when working with Planning Analytics.  You may be creating budgets, exporting files, creating reports, or uploading info via Excel.  It can be a little overwhelming figuring out all of the different Planning Analytics Excel options.  Below I am going to outline all the different options to help you in your Planning Analytics journey. 

We recently had a client looking to create offline reports for people to enter their budgets and then reconnect to the TM1 server and update the info. We worked with them to create quick reports to send to people and once they send back, we will reconnect to TM1 and update the info.

Planning Analytics Excel – PAX

Planning Analytics for Excel, known as PAX, is the new Excel add in for Planning Analytics.  Unlike Perspectives, the old and slower prior version of Excel for TM1, PAX offers a seamless Excel add in experience that works great over both local and wide area networks.  PAX also offers several different report types and options.  Below you will find details of each report option.

  • Exploration Report - quickly change how you view performance measures and to show detailed information from your database in rows and columns.  Explorations offer slice and dice capabilities to easily change the look and feel of your reports and create quick analysis. You can learn more here.
Exploration Report

  • Quick Report - combine data from multiple data sources in a Quick Report and then enhance the data by using Microsoft Excel formulas, formats, and cell references. When you create or open a Quick Report, the names of the dimensions used in the Quick Report are automatically displayed at the top of the report. Click here for more information. 
Quick Report
  • Dynamic Report – create complex reports that combine the functionality of IBM® TM1® with Microsoft Excel features.  Dynamic Reports are implemented through a series of worksheet functions that define the components of a form such as context members, row members and display properties. When you convert an Exploration View to a Dynamic Report, the functions are created for you. Dynamic Reports support features available in Explorations and Quick Reports, such as selectable context members, stacked row and column dimensions, expandable/collapsible consolidations (rows only), zero suppression (rows only) and inserting rows and columns (with some restrictions).

You can read more here about Dynamic Reports

Dynamic Reports
  • Custom Report - create reports by using TM1® worksheet functions to populate the cells of the report.  You can create a Custom Report by using the following methods - converting an Exploration View to a Custom Report, converting a view in the source tree to a Custom Report or manually entering formulas to build a report.  Learn more here.
Custom Report

Exporting to Excel

There are a couple of ways to export to Excel.  You can use the PAX option as detailed above.  You can also use TM1 Web and Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW) to export.  Both options allow an export on to multiple tabs based on a dimension you choose.  There are some limits and I will detail all of this below.

  1. PAW – The procedure to export from PAW is detailed here.

Couple of items to note.  There are size limitations to the export. 

  • Max rows – 1,048,576
  • Max columns – 16,384
  • Max # of cells – 8 million
  • Max # of views (tabs) – 100

The screen shot below would result in 15 tabs in 1 excel workbook.  You do have the option to separate these into multiple workbooks.

PAW Procedure

2. TM1 Web – The option to export to Excel in TM1 is similar to PAW except you are only allowed 50 views in total.

TM1 Web

Import to Create Dimensions

Did you know you can create dimensions from csv or text files?  Simply click, create new dimension, in PAW and click, browse for file and upload directly in to Planning Analytics. 

Import to Create Dimensions

Summary

Excel is not going away and if we can learn to use it in conjunction with Planning Analytics, the power of both can take your planning and analysis to the next level.  If you need to discuss your particular case please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com  For more information on TM1, Excel and Planning Analytics check out our long library of blogs.

X