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.

IBM Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS

IBM Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS
IBM Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS

Written by Mike Bernaiche, January 18th, 2024

IBM recently introduced a new partnership and offering for Planning Analytics.  Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS brings together impressive planning and forecasting software with the power of AWS.  While this offering is available to anyone, I would suggest the sweet spot is for those who have smaller teams and have AWS credits that can be utilized. Below I will expand on the offering and why I think this is an incredible opportunity for clients.

What is Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS?

IBM Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS refers to the deployment of IBM Planning Analytics, a performance management and business analytics solution, in a cloud environment hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). This deployment model allows organizations to leverage the benefits of cloud computing for their planning, budgeting, forecasting, and analytical needs.

Key Features of Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS

Just as you would come to expect with Planning Analytics on-premise or SaaS (IBM cloud) you get the following with Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS.

  • Interactive web experience - Workspace, the IBM Planning Analytics interactive and customizable web interface, provides a single, self-service experience for business users.
  • Native Microsoft Excel interface- Continue to use the Excel interface to leverage and automate existing spreadsheets while connected to the Planning Analytics solution.
  • Real-time decision-making ability - Support unlimited data volumes and users, providing real-time aggregation and calculation–without compromising on performance.
  • Secured, Governed, and Compliant - Rest assured that your critical financial and operational analytical data is properly secured and governed.
  • Highly Visual Analysis and Reporting - Don’t export data to external tools. Easily produce a variety of graphical charts within multi-tab displays to provide deep analysis.
  • Powerful Modeling - Move from conventional to advanced scenario modeling including “what-if” analysis. Run calculations and analyze large data sets quickly and easily.

3 Offers for Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS

  • Essentials – Perfect for small teams who want to create faster, more accurate plans and forecasts. Uncover deep insights and adjust plans in real-time without having to export data to other tools.
  • Standard – Tailored for companies that want to harness AI to plan smarter, pivot quickly, and feel confident with trusted insights. Anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing demands at the speed of business.
  • Premium - Designed for large enterprises that want to integrate business planning across every part of the organization.
    Prepare for tomorrow with an AI-powered planning solution that can handle your business's complexities.

What is included?

What is Included in Planning Analytics on AWS

As you can see there is a plan for everyone!  Unless you have a large finance and accounting team, the standard will be great for most.  Essentials provided a great entry point with a minimum of 5 users.

The good news, as you grow you move from essentials, to standard or standard to premium.  Scalability is easy and seamless.

The cost of entry is very reasonable, better than you will find with any competing planning solution for what you get with IBM Planning Analytics as a Service on AWS.

Summary

There you have it!  An excellent solution at a great price providing awesome planning and forecasting features.  Maybe you own planning analytics and are looking to move to software as a service on the cloud.  Perhaps you do not own a planning solution today or are in the process of exploring.  If so, reach out to us today at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.  We can provide all the information you need to make an informed decision.  To learn more about the latest version of Planning analytics check out these blogs:

Empowering Finance Teams with Advanced Technology: Streamlining the Budgeting Process

Empowering Finance Teams with Advanced Technology
Empowering Finance Teams with Advanced Technology
Written by Heather L. Cole, September 28th, 2023

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) play a pivotal role in steering their organizations towards financial success. One of their key responsibilities is the budgeting process. CFOs are increasingly recognizing the need to streamline this process and foster collaboration among various departments to create a budget that aligns with the company's strategic objectives. However, achieving this goal can be challenging without the right tools. In this blog post, we'll delve into the problems associated with outdated budgeting tools and explore the benefits of empowering Financial Planning and Analysis (FPA) teams with advanced technology. We'll also estimate the return on investment (ROI) of adopting modern budgeting solutions.

The Problem with Outdated Tools

1. Inefficiency and Error-Prone Processes:

Traditional budgeting tools, often reliant on spreadsheets, are highly manual and time-consuming. FPA teams spend an inordinate amount of time gathering, inputting, and reconciling data, leaving little room for strategic analysis. Furthermore, manual processes are susceptible to errors, which can lead to inaccurate budget projections and financial decisions.

2. Lack of Collaboration:

Collaboration among various departments is essential for creating a budget that reflects the organization's true needs and priorities. Outdated tools hinder effective collaboration, as they lack real-time sharing capabilities and often involve cumbersome email exchanges of spreadsheet files. This siloed approach can result in misalignment and inefficiencies.

3. Limited Data Visibility:

Traditional tools typically lack robust data analytics and visualization features. This limits the ability to gain insights from historical data and make informed decisions. Without a clear view of the financial landscape, CFOs and FPA teams may struggle to identify trends, risks, or opportunities.

4. Lengthy Budgeting Cycles:

Outdated tools contribute to lengthy budgeting cycles that can hinder an organization's agility. These extended timelines can make it challenging to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions or seize emerging opportunities.

The Benefits of Advanced Technology

1. Efficiency and Automation:

Advanced budgeting tools, such as cloud-based financial planning and analysis platforms, leverage automation to streamline data collection, consolidation, and reconciliation processes. This frees up FPA teams to focus on strategic analysis rather than data entry.

2. Enhanced Collaboration:

Modern budgeting solutions offer real-time collaboration features, enabling multiple departments to work together seamlessly on budget creation and revisions. This fosters alignment and encourages cross-functional communication.

3. Data Insights:

Advanced technology provides sophisticated data analytics and visualization capabilities, allowing CFOs and FPA teams to gain deep insights from historical and real-time data. These insights can inform more accurate budget projections and support data-driven decision-making.

4. Agile Budgeting:

With efficient tools and automation, organizations can adopt agile budgeting practices. This means they can quickly adapt their budgets to respond to market changes, new opportunities, or unexpected challenges.

Estimating the ROI of Advanced Budgeting Tools

Investing in advanced budgeting tools comes with a price tag, but the potential return on investment is substantial. Here's an estimation of the ROI CFOs can expect:

1. Cost Savings:

Modern budgeting tools reduce manual data entry and reconciliation, leading to significant time and labor cost savings. Fewer errors also mean fewer resources spent on correcting mistakes.

2. Improved Decision-Making:

Access to enhanced data analytics and insights enables more informed financial decisions. This can result in better resource allocation, cost optimization, and revenue growth, all contributing to increased profitability.

3. Faster Budgeting Cycles:

Streamlined processes lead to shorter budgeting cycles, which can help organizations react faster to market changes and opportunities. This agility can lead to revenue growth and cost savings.

4. Enhanced Collaboration:

Improved collaboration can lead to better cross-functional understanding and alignment, potentially reducing costly departmental conflicts and inefficiencies.

Conclusion

CFOs play a critical role in driving financial performance and strategic decision-making within their organizations. Streamlining the budgeting process and promoting collaboration across departments are essential steps towards achieving these goals. Outdated tools can hinder progress, but investing in advanced budgeting technology can yield significant benefits.

By embracing modern budgeting solutions, CFOs can improve efficiency, reduce errors, enhance collaboration, gain valuable data insights, and create agile budgets that adapt to changing market dynamics. The estimated return on investment from these tools, including cost savings, improved decision-making, faster budgeting cycles, and enhanced collaboration, makes the case for their adoption compelling. In today's competitive business environment, empowering FPA teams with advanced technology is not just an option; it's a strategic imperative for financial success.

If you think it’s time to explore updating your Budgeting and Planning Tools, join us for our webinar on October 19, 2023.  The Pain of Outgrowing Excel: Midmarket CFOs Discover Relief with IBM Planning Analytics. To learn more and register visit www.fpa-future.com.

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

Did you find the blog insightful? Check out another recent Lodestar Blog: Unlocking Efficiency and Innovation for Midmarket Companies with IBM Planning Analytics.  

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 87

What's New in Planning Analytics Workspace 87
What's New in Planning Analytics Workspace 87
Written by Mike Bernaiche, June 28th, 2023

On May 17, 2023, IBM released Planning Analytics Workspace 87.  A reminder that each update to Workspace is cumulative and all enhancements and fixes from previous releases are included in Planning Analytics Workspace 87.  This update includes some nice enhancements and fixes.  You can always find a detailed list of fixes by clicking here

I suggest checking this link out to see if any of the issues you may encounter have been solved in a recent release of Planning Analytics, Planning Analytics Workspace, or Planning Analytics for Excel.

Books and Reporting

Search and Filter Capability Available for Current Set in Set Editor - The Current set pane in the new experience set editor now has search and filter capabilities. Previously, these features applied only to the Available members pane in the set editor.

Search and Filter Capability Available for Current Set in Set Editor
Search and Filter Capability Available for Current Set in Set Editor

Target Selection Design and Usability Improvements – The target selection is now available on the toolbar in a book.

Expand and Collapse Rows and Columns asymmetrically or symmetrically - You can now expand and collapse rows and columns in a view either asymmetrically or symmetrically.  Click the new Expand/Collapse icon in the toolbar and select how you want to expand and collapse rows and columns.

Expand and Collapse Rows and Columns asymmetrically or symmetrically in PAW 87

Zoom Bar now Available in Additional Visualizations - The Zoom bar is now available in the following visualizations.  The Zoom bar allows you to scroll and focus on a smaller area of a visualization.

  • Box plot
  • Marimekko
  • Heat map
  • Waterfall
  • Bullet

New Properties in Map Visualization – New properties include World View, Icon, Allow Overlap, and Show Map Labels.

New Properties and Changes for the Bullet Visualization

  • New Categories Slot - A new slot under Fields lets you draw multiple bullets without the use of Repeat slots. The Categories slot allows additional sorting capabilities such as sorting by Target and Bar values.
  • Padding Properties – You can now set bullet and target marker padding under Chart in Properties.
  • Style Gridlines, Axis lines, and Labels - You can style gridlines, axes lines, and axes titles and labels.
  • Zoom Bar
  • Manual Range Values - You can now specify minimum, mid, and maximum range values manually under the new Ranges section in Properties.

Ledged Alignment in Visualizations - You can now align a legend vertically to display at the start, center, or end of the plot area in visualizations.  In combination with the Legend position, this new property allows you to position the legend in twelve different areas in the visualization.

Configuration Modification for Learn Pane - The cognitive Learn Pane in Planning Analytics Workspace Local is now hosted on a new domain.  This change requires the following configuration modifications to Planning Analytics Workspace Local and Planning Analytics on Cloud Pak for Data to ensure continued access to documentation and other information through the Learn Pane.

This is an important change and I have put a detailed link HERE for instructions to make this change and continue using the learn pane.

Applications and Plans

New Tabs on the Contribution Panel Show Submissions and Approved Tasks

New Tabs on the Contribution Panel Show Submissions and Approved Tasks in PAW 87

Modeling

New View Related Cubes Option - You can now quickly identify which cubes on a Planning Analytics database include a specific dimension.  This is helpful when you are thinking about deleting a dimension and want to see the impact of the deletion on the cubes in your database.

Import a Data Source with Multiple Data Value Columns to an Existing Cube - If a data source includes multiple data value columns, you can now create mappings to import all data columns simultaneously into an existing cube. This is useful when importing data that has multiple value columns for days, weeks, or months.

Use New Editors to Manage Attributes and Security for Data Objects - New settings editors are available from the Databases tree on a modeling workbench, which simplifies the task of managing attributes or security for your database objects.

Manage Cell Security with a More Flexible Control Cube Structure - Previously, a cell security control cube contained all dimensions from the data cube, plus the }Groups dimension. In Planning Analytics Workspace 87, you can select which dimensions to include in a cell security control cube, which can make it easier to manage security.

Administration

View the Last Login Date for Planning Analytics Users - The last login date is not exposed in the Planning Analytics Administration interface but is included when you download a user report to a .csv file.

Include Modeling Workbenches in LifeCycle Management Snapshots - You can now include modeling workbenches when you use Lifecycle Management to copy and deploy Planning Analytics assets.

Summary

Some great enhancements in Planning Analytics Workspace 87.  Please make sure you read the bit on the Learn Pane.  This does require a small change in the setup and we are here to help you!  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Have you heard about our Analytics Success Klub (ASK)?  We believe that the best investment you can make is in yourself.   But analytic professionals are often too busy to attend expensive training. So, Lodestar Solutions in partnership with Heatherized, Inc. is bringing a unique membership program for ambitious analytic professionals that want to go to the next level. Regardless, of whether you use IBM, Power BI, Tableau, or Qlik, social skills are the secret to promotions, raises, and interesting projects.

Check out the full blog on ASK here.

The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies: Leveling Up from Excel

The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies Leveling Up from Excel
The Power of IBM Planning Analytics for Mid-Market Companies Leveling Up from Excel
Written by Heather L. Cole, June 14th, 2023

In the fast-paced world of mid-market companies, there's a hero waiting to rescue you from the clutches of outdated spreadsheets.  No, it's not a caped crusader, but something even better - IBM Planning Analytics!  Buckle up and get ready for an exciting journey as we uncover the game-changing benefits of IBM's solution and bid farewell to Excel, the aging superhero of yesteryears.

Pricing that Won't Give You Nightmares:

Forget about breaking the bank or sacrificing your firstborn for a planning and analytics tool.  IBM understands that mid-market companies have budgets too, which is why they offer pricing options designed specifically for smaller deployments and departmental use.  Finally, a solution that won't leave you in tears when you check your bank account!  Email sales@lodestarsolutions.com to get a quote and save yourself from financial frights.

Join Forces with the Mid-Market Masters - Lodestar Solutions:

Who needs a trusty sidekick when you have Lodestar Solutions by your side?  We have been laser-focused on making mid-market companies successful with IBM Planning Analytics since 2004.  With IBM Planning Analytics’ superpowers of robust budgeting, planning, and what-if capabilities, Lodestar Solutions will guide you through the planning galaxy and help you conquer any data-related challenges.  Schedule a call with them at sales@lodestarsolutions.com and unleash your inner superhero!

AI, the Crystal Ball of Analytics:

Prepare to be mind-blown!  IBM Planning Analytics has been infused with AI, giving you the power of advanced forecasting capabilities.  No more relying on fortune cookies or flipping a coin to make critical decisions.  With AI-driven insights, you'll feel like you have a crystal ball that predicts market trends, demand patterns, and future scenarios.  

Lodestar is consistently releasing blogs on all the latest updates for IBM's Planning Analytics and much more! Be sure to follow us on Linkedin and check out all our blogs

Excel's Retirement Party:

Let's face it - Excel has served us well, but it's time for a retirement party.  Bid farewell to the days of dealing with complex formulas, error-prone fat-fingering, and hair-pulling frustration.  IBM Planning Analytics is here to save the day with its intuitive interface, real-time data consolidation, and advanced modeling capabilities.  Say goodbye to Excel's wrinkles and hello to a streamlined planning process that will make you dance like nobody's watching!  To learn more about what is possible with IBM Planning Analytics and how it compares to Excel see our video - Have You Outgrown Excel for Budgeting & Planning? 

Expand Your Way to Success:

With IBM Planning Analytics, the fun never stops.  Extend your planning processes beyond finance to include sales, marketing, and distribution... all connected to reflect the constant changes in business today.  Say goodbye to spreadsheet nightmares and hello to features like multidimensional modeling, scenario modeling, driver-based planning, and dynamic reporting.  You'll be dancing with joy as you uncover deeper insights, make accurate forecasts, and outsmart your competition.  Who said planning and analytics can't be fun?

Conclusion:

Get ready to unleash your inner Analytic superpowers and embrace the agile world of IBM Planning Analytics.  With tailored pricing, support from the thought-provoking experts at Lodestar Solutions, AI-driven forecasting, and the retirement party of Excel, mid-market companies can find success while having fun.  So, take the first step and email sales@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule a call and discover how IBM Planning Analytics can turn your financial processes into an industry-dominating adventure.  It's time to level up your Planning with IBM!

BONUS!

Should you choose to partner with Lodestar Solutions as your sidekick, you gain access to several client-only offerings such as our quarterly Planning Analytics User Group where we share all the latest and greatest of IBM’s Planning Analytics tools.  Featuring live demos, Q&A, and breakout discussion time, you’ll leave with a wealth of knowledge and support.

Also free to Lodestar clients is our Analytics Success Klub!  Are you ready to ASK for success?  Our Analytics Success Klub is not your ordinary monthly subscription program.  It's a community of ambitious analytics professionals who are serious about their soft skills.  We're talking about communication, influence, facilitation, presentation, negotiation, storytelling, and more.  And this is FREE to Lodestar Solutions clients.  Click here to learn more about our ASK program and contact sales@lodestarsolutions.com to become a client!

Why Upgrade Planning Analytics?

Why Upgrade Planning Analytics
Why Upgrade Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, May 18th, 2023

Are you challenged to get the funding or resources to upgrade your IBM Planning Analytics?  Maybe your team is too busy just keeping their heads above water with all the requested changes to your Planning or Budgeting models.  Maybe IT says it’s not a priority… Today I’ll share 3 talking points to help you make upgrading a priority.

1. Lack of Support for outdated Versions -

The most important reason for upgrading your IBM Planning Analytic software with the latest version is that older versions are not supported by IBM.  Like all software companies IBM only supports a specific number of versions.  At some point they will announce that a version will be sunset which means they will no longer offer support for the old version.  What this means is if you have an issue like the Log4G issue that presented itself in Dec 2021, they may require you to upgrade to resolve the issue or security risk. 

You may be thinking, but we haven’t had to log a support ticket with IBM in years.  What we find is disaster strikes, not because Planning Analytics had a bug, but rather because a client upgrades their SQL or other 3rd party software, and it breaks the connect with the old version of Planning Analytics. 

Imagine this… You are in the middle of your budget cycle and Microsoft updates their software.  But the new Microsoft update is not compatible with your version of IBM Planning Analytics and suddenly your Planning software is not working.  End users start calling and emailing.  After a little investigation you log a support case with IBM.  Then you get the news, that the update from Microsoft is not compatible with your version of IBM Planning Analytics but since you are on an old unsupported version, IBM will not create the patch, and you must upgrade.  All this in the middle of a budget cycle.  How stressed would you feel?  What would you do? 

Well, this has happened to a client.  The client was extremely stressed because the CEO, was apprised of the situation.  They called Lodestar Solutions, in a panic.  We were able to restore them to where they were before the update, but you could feel the panic.

Another client had the SSL Certificate expire 3 days before their budget cycle.

So, it happens, but you don’t want it to happen to you.  So, if you are on an old version, reach out to us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com  and let’s discuss your plan.

In order to see if you are on an old version of IBM Planning Analytics check out this link.

2. New Functionality will save you time!

Another reason you should upgrade your IBM Planning Analytics is that they are always releasing new functionality.  IBM continuously adds functionality to the software.  The functionality is based on what clients are asking for, so the enhancements are often game changing.  But here’s the thing, if you don’t take time to learn what’s new you will continue to use the software the way you always have.

Imagine trading in your 2010 car and never using the auto breaking, blue tooth or airplay that comes with a modern car, because you didn’t bother to ask about the new functionality.  Well, with software it happens more than we would like to admit.  Clients upgrade and they never stop to explore the new features.  But there is a simple resolution.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can discuss all the cool new stuff and share how our clients utilized the functionality.   Here’s the link to a previous blog on the new functionality.

3. Keep Talented Team Members

Would you mow you ½ acre lawn with a weed eater?  Probably not.  You would want the right tool, a lawn mower for the task.  Well top talent is the same way.  Top analytics performers want the latest tools to perform their jobs.  Keeping updated IBM Planning Analytics software and investing in their growth and learning will help you attract talent, keep it, and win the analytics race.

Call to Action

So, what are you waiting for?  Take the first step.  Open your IBM Planning Analytics and check your current version.  Then click the link Life cycle to see if it’s supported.  Next contact Lodestar Solutions to discuss the functionality you might not know exists in your current version.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 86

Planning Analytics Workspace 86
Planning Analytics Workspace 86
Written by Mike Bernaiche, May 12th, 2023

On April 18, 2023, IBM released Planning Analytics Workspace 86.  Continuing with their monthly update schedule for Planning Analytics Workspace, this release has a few enhancements of note.  This is not a large update but does include a future change that deals with the cognitive learn pane you can read about below.

Books and Reporting

Synchronize same hierarchies across different databases - when you enable synchronization for the same hierarchy that is in two different databases, changes you make to the data in one widget is reflected in the synchronized widget.  To learn more about how to enable this synchronization please see this link

Disable select spread methods on Planning Analytics Workspace local - You can configure your Planning Analytics Workspace Local environment to disable any combination of the Repeat, Repeat leaves, Equal leaves, and Straight line data spreading methods.  To read more on how to disable select spread methods see this link

Plans and Applications

Duplicate Tasks and sections in Plans and Applications – you can now duplicate tasks and sections easily with a click of a button in Plans and Applications. 

plans and applications in paw 86

New look and usability enhancements in Plans and Applications overview – These include a new progress bar, advanced filtering, new tasks, and submission panel.

plans and applications view in paw 86
plans and applications view in paw 86

Modeling

Git repository integration for Planning Analytics Database objects – In Planning Analytics Workspace 86, IBM added in Git repository integration.  You can now access a Git repository (GitHub, Microsoft Azure, or AWS CodeCommit) directly from Planning Analytics Workspace. You can use the Git repository to store Planning Analytics database objects such as cubes, dimensions, rules, and processes that are common across multiple models.  You can also use the repository to move database objects from one environment to another.  For example, you might want to copy database objects from a development environment to a production environment.

Git repository integration for Planning Analytics Database objects

Dimension editor search and locate in hierarchy - The dimension editor search function now includes a menu item called Locate.  Searching in the dimension editor acts as a filter to generate a list of members that match the search term.  After searching, right-click a member from the generated list and select Locate to remove the filters and locate the member in the hierarchy.

Hide databases in preferences – you can now hide databases from the database tree on the modeling workbench.

Change in Planning Analytics Workspace 87

The following change is being accounted with Planning Analytics Workspace 86 and will take effect in Planning Analytics Workspace 87. 

Update to configuration for the Cognitive Learn Pane - The cognitive Learn Pane in Planning Analytics Workspace Local will be hosted on a new domain in the near future.  This will require configuration changes to Planning Analytics Workspace Local installations to ensure continued access to documentation and other information through the Learn Pane.  This applies to Planning Analytics local only.  Full details will be provided when Planning Analytics Workspace 87 is released in the next few weeks.

Summary

As I mentioned above, this is not a large release but does include some nice enchantments for some.  To read in more detail please see this article from IBM.  

Click here to read other Lodestar blogs on Planning Analytics Workspace

Lodestar is hosting a number of events this month all centered around Analytics Leadership and Requirements Discovery.  I highly suggest you check them out and sign up if you want to level up your analytics knowledge.  Please see our events page for more information. 

We can always be reached at services@lodestarsolutions.com for any questions you have on Planning Analytics Workspace or anything else planning related.  Reach out!

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics

Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Stop Spreadsheet Anarchy, Increase End User Adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 1st, 2023

The number one question I get asked from our IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics customers is, “How can we increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics?”  One client made me laugh when they asked, “How do you control spreadsheet anarchy within an organization?  The ongoing trend by some is to grab large amounts of data from multiple published data sources and spin up highly customized versions of existing reports or parts of other reports.”   Spreadsheet Anarchy, what a great way to describe it.  It’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Today I’ll share a few secrets to increasing end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.

Listen to End Users Challenges

The first step to solving spreadsheet anarchy is to understand why end users are not using the tools you are providing.  When you stop telling them to use Cognos or Planning Analytics and start listening to their challenges and why they feel the tools are not meeting their needs, you will discover the cause.  In our experience the cause is one or more of the following:

  •  the end users were not properly trained on Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • clients are on an outdated release and the functionality they seek is in a new release.
  • the data they seek has not been incorporated into Cognos or Planning Analytics.
  • functionality has been restricted by administrators.

Share the WHY!

After you listen to their challenges and why they are using spreadsheets, it’s important to share the WHY.  Why is it important that they use the tools you provide?  Is it that you want to ensure everyone is working from the validated and secured data?  If so, share what happens when decisions are made on bad data.  Is it to eliminate the errors that spreadsheets are prone to having?  We recommend you create a list of why you need your users to standardize and make sure your team knows how to communicate the message.

Engage Users in The Creation (WORKSHOPS)

It’s been long proven that people support and embrace what they create.  A fast way to increase end user adoption is to engage end users in the design and development of the solution.  I know you may be thinking whoa that would be nuts, they don’t know how to create reports or models.  But hear me out, you don’t need them to create the Cognos reports or Planning Analytics models, you need to let them discuss the business goals they are tasked with achieving and the challenges they are facing.  The best way to do this is by hosting workshops.  Workshops can be held live, in person, or virtually via zoom.  If you are not familiar with workshops check out or blog on Discovering Requirements.

Continuous Training of New Functionality

The next step to increase end user adoption of analytics is to provide continuous training.  Do you see that?  CONTINUOUS!  IBM keeps adding new functionality to the software and end users typically only really learn what they need to use at the time.  So, it’s important to provide continuous training and workshop opportunities for your end users.  Consider building a training program internally.  If you need help with training, here’s a link to how Lodestar Solutions can help. 

IBM Infusing AI & Improve Self Reliance

IBM has done a great job of working to help increase end user adoption of Cognos and Planning Analytics as well.  They have done this in a number of ways.

Better In Application Help

Do you remember the day of the Red Books?  They were guides to help you use Cognos.  Or maybe you purchased the big, IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide, and had it on your desk.  Lugging that around was a good workout. 

IBM Cognos TM1 The official Guide

Today IBM has incorporated the details you need into their in application help and search.  This empowers end users to try new things and feel more confident using the solutions.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

IBM has incorporated NLP capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which enables users to ask questions in natural language (normal words) and get answers in a human-like response.  This allows for more intuitive and user-friendly interactions with the software.

Predictive Analytics

One of the coolest things we are seeing from IBM is the integration of  predictive analytics capabilities into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This allows users to forecast trends and identify patterns in data.  This is especially useful for Planning Analytics users that want to leverage the data to forecast out the future.  The result is end users can make more informed decisions and optimize their business strategies.

Cognitive Computing

Did you notice IBM changed the name of their products again?  Cognos is now IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson, and TM1 became Planning Analytics, and is now IBM Planning Analytics with Watson.  Well, it was not just the marketing team being creative.  IBM has incorporated cognitive computing and Watson technologies into Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  This includes the use of machine learning algorithms and other advanced analytics techniques to automate data analysis and decision-making processes.

Intelligent Automation

IBM has introduced greater automation capabilities in Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics, which allows for the automation of routine data tasks such as data preparation, cleansing, and transformation.  Automation is the key to increasing productivity, so look at where you are spending time doing repetitive tasks and see if you can automate it.  This will give you time to focus on more complex data analysis and strategic decision-making.  (Cognos Automation)

Cognos SDK

For Cognos users the IBM Software Development Kit (SDK) is used to automate many tasks.  But what a lot of users don’t know is IBM includes the Cognos SDK in the Admin license.  This has not always been the case.  You used to need to buy a separate license.  Here’s our very old blog, where we informed everyone of this change. 

The Answer

We can all agree it’s time to stop spreadsheet anarchy and increase end user adoption of Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics.  The first step is to create a Plan that includes engaging with your end users.  I am a huge fan of workshops because they can align the teams and build camaraderie even if done virtually.  Keep an eye out, Lodestar will be sharing more on hosting workshops soon.

If you are on an old release of Planning Analytics or Cognos, it’s probably time to upgrade.  Lodestar solutions can help you plan your upgrade and provide technical services and training for your team.  For more information email services@lodestarsolutions.com.

2023 Lodestar Solutions Services

2023 Lodestar Solutions Services
2023 Lodestar Solutions Services
Written by Mike Bernaiche, December 23rd, 2022

Lodestar Solutions Services team is ready to help in 2023!  I wanted to take a minute and provide details on everything Lodestar Solutions Services team offers.  Whether it is a big project or small, redesign or upgrades, we can deliver on all of your needs for Cognos and Planning Analytics.  We even provide consulting on Power BI!  Plus, with our partner network and addon products, we can help take your analytics initiatives to the next level!  Please reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss your needs and let us put a plan in place to take your analytics to the next level.

Technical Services – Installations and Upgrades

At Lodestar Solutions Services, we can handle all your installs and upgrades on:

  •  Planning Analytics
  • Cognos Analytics
  • Cognos Planning
  • Cognos Controller
  • ILMT
  • Data Connections to IBM SaaS offerings

Our technical expert has over 15 years of experience on IBM Analytics products and can perform the upgrade on their own or work with your team to guide your internal resources on a successful install or upgrade.  Over the years we have performed hundreds of installs or upgrades on IBM products and we are here to help you be successful!

We offer upgrade bundles that can save you time and money on your install or upgrade and provide extra technical support hours for those pesky issues that come up from time to time.

Planning Analytics Services

Lodestar has a vast array of Planning Analytics Consultants that can handle the smallest project to the very large and complex.  Utilizing best practices and the newest technology that Planning Analytics has to offer so we ensure all your Planning Analytics needs are exceeded.  Lately, we have been performing model redesigns to utilize some of the newer features in Planning Analytics, like virtual hierarchies.  Maybe you have outgrown your current models and it is time for enhancements.  Whatever your needs are we are here to support you and make you successful.

Our services include but are not limited to:

  •  Architecture
  • Dimension builds
  • Cube builds
  • Integration with Data
  • Model Redesign
  • Planning Analytics for Excel Reporting and Data Entry Points
  • Planning Analytics Workspace Dashboards and Entry

Cognos Analytics Services

We also have you covered on Cognos Analytics Projects.  Lodestar has several excellent consultants to meet your needs on reporting, dashboards and modeling in Cognos Analytics.  Perhaps you want to learn about some of the new features in Cognos Analytics or just need some simple reporting work, we have you covered. 

Our services include but are not limited to:

  • Framework and Data Modeling
  • Dashboard Design
  • Reporting
  • PowerPlay and Transformer
  • Explorations
  • Bursting Reports
  • Power BI Services

    Recently we started consulting on Power BI Reporting.  We have an excellent Power BI resource that can work with your team on dashboards, reporting, and data.  Reach out to us to discuss your Power BI needs and let our expert work hand in hand with you. 

    Training

    Lodestar offers several different training programs on both Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics.  Let our certified trainers help your organization get up to speed on everything from model design to Dashboarding.  We can come onsite or deliver virtual training for your organization at a very cost-effective rate.

    Cognos Analytics

    •  Framework Manager
    • Data Modules
    • Explorations
    • Basic and Advanced Reporting
    • Dashboards
    • Administration

    Planning Analytics

    •  Complete Modeling in Workspace
    • Workspace end user set up and design
    • Planning Analytics for Excel
    • Administration

    Add on Software

    Did you know that Lodestar partners with and sells several different addon software platforms to take your Cognos or Planning Analytics to the next level?  Read below for information on each product and don’t forget to reach out to us if you are interested.  We can set up demo’s and take care of everything to get that product ordered for you!

    TM1 Connect – Do you own Planning Analytics and need to create reports in something other than Cognos Analytics?  TM1 Connect solves that problem!  You can connect your PA data to Power BI, Tableau, Qlik and pretty much any other BI tool through an ODBC connection and provide that reporting in your BI software. 

    TM1 Connect

    Digital Hive – Those of you with multiple BI/Data systems need to check out Digital Hive.  It is your single-entry point to all of your data and so much more.  We recently had a demo of this product in our client only user group and it was amazing.  Reach out to us for more info and a demo today!

    Digital Hive
    Digital Hive

    Motio – Tools for the CA administrator or power user to make your life so much easier!

                MotioPI Pro - MotioPI Pro gives Cognos Administrators tools and automations to bring even more efficiencies to your work with Cognos.  MotioPI Pro saves you time, effort, and frustrations across a world of Cognos administrative tasks.

                MotioCI - MotioCI provides Cognos authors and administrators with new capabilities including faster upgrades, change management & version control, faster deployments, automated testing, and improved cleanup.

    ReportWorq - enables you to generate and distribute personalized reports across your organization with ease.  You can develop stunning dashboards and professional reports with all the power of Microsoft Excel from IBM Planning Analytics.  When it’s time for distribution, ReportWORQ’s scalable bursting functionality is like an enterprise mail merge, generating, collating, and distributing personalized reports across your organization through Network Drives, Email, SharePoint and even Slack Channels. Yes, burst PA data!

    ControlWorq – extends Planning Analytics by providing a framework of controls that facilitates financial reporting.

    Key Benefits:

    •  Controlled, balanced, authorized, and auditable journal entries
    • Excel and web user interfaces available
    • Automated recurring and reversing journals
    • Journals can be posted individually or in a batch
    • Reconciliation reporting for inter-company balances
    • Automatic elimination of journals of inter-company balances
    • Real‐time visibility of the impact of journal entries in IBM Planning Analytics

    Summary

    As you can see Lodestar Solutions Services team has you covered.  Our consultants have many years of experience and hundreds of successful projects on our resume.  Reach out to us at services@lodestarsolutions.com and schedule a consultation today.

    Top Ten Cognos and Planning Analytics Features in 2022

    Top 10 Cognos and Planning Analytics Features in 2022
    Top 10 Cognos and Planning Analytics Features in 2022
    Written by Mike Bernaiche, November 11th 2022

    It is that time of year where you start to see top ten lists of different things.  I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of my favorite things about Cognos and Planning Analytics in one place and thus provide you my top ten features in Cognos and Planning Analytics in 2022.  Without further delay….  Here are my top ten features in Cognos and Planning Analytics for 2022!

    Favorite Features 10 to 7

    10. Learn Panel in Cognos and Planning Analytics.  IBM spent considerable resources on the quality and usefulness of documentation on both products.  The learn panel is intuitive, gets you answers quickly and even suggests things to view as you look something up.  It includes webpages, videos, tutorials, and documents.  Let’s say you need to figure out a rule in Planning Analytics or how to set up bursting in Cognos Analytics.  Simply start typing in the learn panel and watch the magic happen.  As you can see below, the results speak for themselves. You can even click on the forum area to get even greater info for a broad user base.

    Learn Panel
    Learn Panel

    9. Insights in Visualization using Analytics Panel in Cognos Analytics.  Insights in visualizations provide analytic insights that can help users to detect and validate any important relationships and meaningful differences based on the data that is presented by the visualization.  The type of insights depends on the displayed data by the visualization.  Available types of insights are Average, Predictive strength, Meaningful Differences, Fit Line, and Most Frequent.  Average provides the mean of the displayed summaries, and most frequent the category or category that appears most often in the data.  The rest of the insights depend on more advanced analytics and statistical tests.  The goal is to provide reliable information that you can use for an enhanced description of the viewed data and discovery of any relationships that are expected to be found in the population that is represented by this data.  This area is new to Cognos Analytics 11.2.3 and I would expect IBM to continue to enhance this area in future releases.

    Insights in Visualization using Analytics Panel

    8. Explorations in Cognos Analytics.  Explore is a flexible workspace where you can discover and analyze data.  You can also explore an existing visualization from a dashboard or story, uncover hidden relationships and identify patterns that turn your data into insights.  Correlated insights are represented by a green icon with a number on the x-axis, y-axis, or the title of a chart.  Ok that was the technical speak.  Now for my thoughts.  At first, I didn’t really get why explorations could be powerful or why you would even use it.  After spending some time really getting to understand how explorations can work and how much effort IBM has put into improving them, I’m a big fan.  Simple case, select 2 points of your data and let the system tell you what to start to look at.  Pin that information and quickly use it in a dashboard.  Speaking of pins.  This is 8.1 of my favorite things in Cognos Analytics.  Pinning visualizations allows you to save information and use it across Cognos Analytics in a quick and efficient way.

    Explorations in Cognos Analytics
    Explorations in Cognos Analytics

    7. Planning Analytics for Excel (PAFe) in Planning Analytics.  Everyone loves Excel!  With PAfe you can have an excel experience in Planning Analytics while exploring data, reporting or inputting data.  You can create several different items in PAFe.

    •  Explorations – slice and dice your data
    • Static – Create a report that is disconnected from the PA database and send to anyone
    • Dynamic – Create presentation style reports and also create data input files
    • Custom – Start from scratch and build what you want.

    By the way, whatever you create in PAFe, you can publish to Planning Analytics Workspace

    Planning Analytics for Excel
    Planning Analytics for Excel

    Favorite Features 6 to 4

    6. Data Models and Data Sets in Cognos Analytics.  You can use data modeling in Cognos Analytics to fuse together many sources of data, including relational databases, Hadoop-based technologies, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, text files, and so on.  Using these sources, a data module is created that can then be used in reports, dashboards, or explorations.  Data sets are customized collections of data items that you use frequently.  As you make updates to the data set, the dashboards, stories, or explorations that use that data set are also updated the next time you run them.  You can create data sets from packages or data modules, and use as sources to create dashboards, stories, explorations, and data modules.

    Data Models and Data Sets in Cognos Analytics

    5. Navigation Paths and Relative Time in Cognos Analytics.  To expand on your Dashboards and Reports using data models and data sets, use navigation paths and relative time.

    • Navigation Paths – provide a drill up and down feature to your data.  In data models or dashboards simply click on the navigation path area and create your drill path.  Go from Country, to State, to City with clicks of a button in your data and visualizations.
    • Relative Time – with a few clicks of a button create YTD, QTD, MTD, last month, current month and so many more relative time filters in your data to be used across Cognos.
    Navigation Paths and Relative Time in Cognos Analytics
    Navigation Paths and Relative Time in Cognos Analytics

    4. Dashboards in Cognos Analytics.  Dashboards in Cognos Analytics has come a long way over time and especially in the last year.  First, with Cognos Analytics version 11.2.1 the speed to render improved signficantly.  IBM has added in a ton of formatting enhancmenets from colors, fonts and the like.  There are many new visualizations that compete with other BI products available and you can now export the dashboard to a PDF document.  All things considered I believe Cognos Analytics dashboards compete and exceed any BI product available!

    Dashboards in Cognos Analytics

    The Top 3 Features in Cognos and Planning Analytics for 2022

    3. Applications and Plans in Planning Analytics.  Applications and Plans have seen significant enhancements in 2022.  Honestly, Planning Analytics Workspace has improved so much that it is imperative you own it and use it.  More on that shortly.  Back to application and plans.  I wrote a detailed blog on everything new in applications and plans and you can find that here.   Everything written in the blog above is now available as of Planning Analytics Workspace 82 (the most recent version).  In short if you haven’t checked out applications and plans in Planning Analytics, do so now!

    Applications and Plans in Planning Analytics

    2. AI Assistant in Cognos Analytics.  The AI assistant is game changing for Cognos Analytics.  It has gained so many enhancements over the past year that if you are not using this, you are missing out.  In Cognos Analytics version 11.2.2 and 11.2.3, the AI assistant added in time specific filtering.  Things like:

    •  Show sales this Thursday
    • Show sales between last Monday and last Wednesday
    • Show me sales for camping equipment from June 1-5
    • What is the total income between Halloween and Christmas
    • Show sales for 2021
    • Show October 2021 sales by product
    • YTD, QTD, MTD and abbreviations like Mon for Monday and Thur for Thursday and Xmas for Christmas to narrow your search in the assistant.

    Type in “Show quantity between 1/1/20 and 2/29/20” and let the system generate visualizations based on what you typed. 

    As you can see, I typed that into the assistant, and it provided the following.

    AI Assistant in Cognos Analytics

    Now let’s check to make sure it is correct.  I simply created a visualization and filtered on the dates I typed into the AI Assistant.  As you can see the system generated the correct data.

    AI Assistant

    Finally, my favorite feature in the AI Assistant is the ability to grab a data source and type in “create dashboard’ and watch the magic happen.  The system will create a dashboard with relevant data and then you can pick and choose what you would like to keep by pinning it and then creating other items to complete your dashboard. 

    Create Dashboard in the AI Assistant

    1. Workspace in Planning Analytics.  Finally, my favorite feature in Cognos and Planning Analytics is Workspace.  IBM has done an excellent job with Workspace in Planning Analytics and I’m going to spend a little time on why you should be using this.  And if you don’t already own it, why you should reach out to us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com to discuss adding this to your license entitlements.

    IBM Planning Analytics Workspace is a web-based interface for IBM Planning Analytics with Watson™.  It provides an interface to TM1® data, with ways to plan, create, and analyze your content.

    Planning Analytics Workspace helps you focus on the things that matter to your business. Using Planning Analytics Workspace, you can identify and understand patterns and relationships in data.  You can use this information to understand why things happen and predict what might happen. Planning Analytics Workspace opens the world of advanced analytics to all business users.

    IBM has spent an enormous amount of time building Workspace to be your A to Z space to build models, input data, analyze data and reports.

    Over the past year IBM introduced the Workbench in Workspace.  This is the main area for modelers to create TI processes, dimensions, cubes, rules and everything else you need to build your models.  Those of you who build models in Architect remember having multiple windows open to simply create a cube.  Now with the Workbench you have a flexible space that allows multiple windows open in one place adding great efficiency to the model building task.

    Workbench in Workspace

    Now that we have talked about the Workbench, let’s spend some time talking about the power of Workspace from a user perspective.  The ability to enter data and create visualizations based on the data that sync with data entry is so powerful.  After data entry the ability to create a dashboard to analyze that data in a visual way brings many insights to your data that were not readily available prior to Workspace.

    Planning Analytics Workspace

    Trust me when I tell you, if you are not using Workspace or do not have licensing for Workspace, you need to reach out to us today!

    Helpful Links and Summary

    There it is!  My list of the top ten features in Cognos and Planning Analytics for 2022.  There are so many more great features that didn’t make my top ten list.  However, both Cognos and Planning Analytics have come a long way and are both very impressive offerings from IBM.  Based on the roadmap for both products even more is coming in 2023. 

    If you are not on the latest versions and you need help upgrading, reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com.  We have several different offerings to get you upgraded and save you dollars and time.

    If you do not own Workspace and would like to learn more reach out to us at sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

    For everything new in Cognos Analytics

    For everything new in Planning Analytics

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