The Future of IBM Planning Analytics

Future of IBM Planning Analytics
Future of IBM Planning Analytics
Written by Mike Bernaiche, May 17th, 2024

Before we discuss the amazing future of IBM Planning Analytics we should start with some background. IBM Planning Analytics is a powerful solution for enterprise performance management, business intelligence, and analytics. It enables users to create, analyze, and share insights from data across different domains and scenarios, such as finance, sales, operations, and HR. IBM Planning Analytics leverages the power of IBM Cognos TM1, a proven and scalable in-memory engine that can handle large and complex data sets with ease. With IBM Planning Analytics, users can access and explore data from various sources, create and modify models and plans, design and generate reports and dashboards, and collaborate and communicate with stakeholders.

One of the key components of IBM Planning Analytics is Workspace, a web-based interface that provides a unified and intuitive user experience. Workspace allows users to interact with data and models using various tools and features, such as Books, Reporting, Applications, Plans, Models, and Actions. Workspace also supports natural language processing and generation, which enables users to ask questions and get answers in plain language. Workspace is constantly evolving and improving, with new features and enhancements being released regularly. In this article, we will share links to blogs on the latest updates and improvements in Workspace 93, 94, and 95.

New Features and Improvements in Workspace 93, 94, and 95

IBM Planning Analytics Workspace has introduced several new features and improvements in its latest versions - Workspace 93, 94, and 95. These updates aim to enhance the user experience and provide more advanced capabilities in Books and Reporting, Applications and Plans, and Models.  Please see the below links to Lodestar blogs on each release.

On the Roadmap

Now let’s get to the good stuff. What is on the road map for the future of IBM Planning Analytics?  Let me start by saying… incredible stuff is coming soon!

Quick Start Applications

Recently, IBM made prebuilt applications generally available.  These applications are a quick start guide to your budget and planning model building.  There are currently four available and they include:

  •  Financial Planning and Reporting
  • Advanced Workforce Planning
  • Project Planning
  • Demand Planning

Included in the prebuilt application:

  •  Data Models and Cubes
  • Turbo Integrator processes, rules and feeders
  • Planning Analytics Workspace books
  • Websheets

Once installed, you tweak to meet your requirements, load your data and you are off and running.  If you would like to see a demo of these new pre-built applications, please reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Financial Planning and Reporting in Planning Analytics

Workspace AI Assistant

Coming soon a new AI assistant is included with workspace.  Imagine asking a question about your data or how to create a rule and letting the system guide you through the process or return a chart you are trying to create.  Welcome to the new AI assistant with the future of Planning Analytics Workspace.

I do have a screen shot of the assistant in action and would love to chat with you about the assistant.  Please reach out to me to discuss in more detail.

Bursting Planning Analytics Workbooks

I’m super excited about bursting in Planning Analytics.  You will soon be able to slice a workbook in Workspace and get the information to individuals how they need and when they need it. You will have the ability to burst in PDF or to PowerPoint.  Just think about the time saved by setting up bursting. 

This should be available in 2-3 months, and I can’t wait to put this into practice with my Planning Analytics clients.

Other New Features Coming Soon

Other items coming soon:

  •  New Static Universal Report
  • Personal preference for each Workspace user.
  • Simplified Localization on Modeling Workbench
  • Autocomplete rules

All of the above should be out over the next couple of months.  Please reach out to me to discuss this in more detail.  I love having calls to talk about the future of IBM Planning Analytics.

End of Support

The end of support for IBM Planning Analytics 2.0.9 is slated for April 30, 2025.  What does this mean? You will need to upgrade to Planning Analytics 2.1 to continue to receive support with IBM.  There is also some very important information to understand about moving to Planning Analytics 2.1.

Architect, Perspectives, TM1 Applications and Performance Modeler are no longer in the product with 2.1. The main components are Workspace, Planning Analytics for Excel, PA Spreadsheet Services (TM1Web) and the PA Engine.  Also, Microsoft Server 2016 is no longer supported with Planning Analytics 2.1

Now is the perfect time to reach out to me about your unique needs and let’s talk and plan your upgrade. Please reach out to me at services@lodestarsolutions.com and we can set up a call to discuss. 

Wow, a lot is going on with the future of IBM Planning Analytics and I look forward to connecting with you soon!!

How to Start the Journey to Level Up your Financial Planning & Analytics Processes

Level Up your Financial Planning & Analytics Processes
Level Up your Financial Planning & Analytics Processes
Written by Heather L. Cole, April 25th, 2024

Let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time, there was a struggling named Excel Power User who dreamed of becoming a respected finance professional.

Every day they thought about nothing else but improved financial planning & analytics processes and how to stop data chasing.

But after a while, Excel Power User started to doubt if their improved planning process goals were just a daydream.

One day Excel Power User overheard  Mr. Broken Processes saying there was no way Excel User would ever gain the respect of executives!

Excel Power User was so mad they could barely see straight and resolved to succeed with improved planning processes no matter what it took!

Unfortunately, reality quickly set in for Excel Power User.

They were confronted by critical questions, including: how do I fix our budgeting and planning processes?

They also had to face the fact that everywhere they turned there were broken spreadsheets and data links.

Finally, they needed to get past the false belief that they would never have enough time.

But, despite all that, they were determined to connect the strategic plan with the planning and budgeting process.

Then, as if by chance, Excel Power User discovered the Evaluating your Planning Processes & Tools Program video , and things changed fast.

They discovered Steps to Review The Current Processes, Steps to Evaluate Planning and Budgeting Software, and how to get IT buy-in for their initiatives.

Before they knew it, Excel Power User had become a respected finance professional who understands the secrets of "How to Start the Journey to Level Up your Financial Planning & Analytics Processes”  so that it aligns with the strategy of the executive team and is viewed with significant importance.

So, if you view yourself as the “Excel Power User” in this story and would like to discover a faster path to success, we have a program for you.  After working in the budgeting and planning software space helping hundreds of clients evaluate your processes and tools to level up their planning, Heather Cole has created the Evaluating Your FPA Processes and Tools Program.  It’s a series of self-paced videos and checklists that help you look like a rockstar in your organization.    This program costs you nothing but your time and commitment to making a difference.

To access the Program just register here.

Not sure, and not ready to commit to a “program” no problem. 

Would it help to have a 20-minute call with someone who has walked in your shoes?  Someone who knows the challenges you face in initiating corporate change and the struggles you have to get the executives to understand the importance of having a robust, agile process.  You don’t have to go it alone!

So, click here to schedule a complimentary 20-minute FPA Next Steps call with one of our experts.

If you have questions, you can email us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Check out all of Lodestar's upcoming events here.

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 94

What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 94
What’s New in Planning Analytics Workspace 94
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 4th, 2024

If you are using the AI forecast option in Planning Analytics, then you will love Planning Analytics Workspace 94 update.  Multivariate forecasting is now available plus several other enhancements that you are sure to love. Below I will outline everything new in Planning Analytics Workspace 94.  For a full list of everything new in Planning Analytics Workspace, including all other versions you can check out this link or the prior blogs listed at the bottom. 

Books and Reporting

Create Multivariate Forecast – Before Planning Analytics Workspace 94, the user could only create a forecast based on a single variable (univariate).  With Workspace 94, the user can now create a forecast based on multiple variables.  A multivariate forecast takes into consideration multiple time-dependent variables. The forecast model looks not only at historical data but also at the dependencies between the specified variables to create a forecast. The selected variables play a significant role in driving the forecast results. Therefore, it is important to select variables that have a high correlation with the historical data.

Please note if your data is highly seasonal, then univariate forecasting is recommended.

Univariate and Multivariate in PAW 94

Field Panel in Exploration – Select an exploration and go to Fields to open the fields settings. Dimensions that are in the Context area of the exploration appear under Filters in the Fields panel. You can drag dimensions from Filters to the Row and Column fields.

Click the More icon next to a dimension in the Row or Column field to edit the set, remove the hierarchy, create a subset calculation (set consolidations), and customize sets. You can also add a Selector list, Selector tile, or an Advanced Selector widget to the book from this menu.

Field Panel in Exploration

New Format Manager for Cube Views

The new Format manager is subject to enablement by a Planning Analytics Workspace administrator. If an administrator does not explicitly enable the new Format manager feature, all cube viewer formatting options remain in their existing locations until the enablement release for this feature.  To enable click this link

New Format Manager for Cube Views
New Format Manager for Cube Views 2

Plans and Applications

Open a Specific Tab in Books - To specify a default tab, make a selection under the new Default tab option on the Assets page when you attach a book to a section or a task.  Get your users where they need to be quicker and more accurately by using this great new feature.

Open a Specific Tab in Books in PAW 94

Modeling

Change Multiple Parameter Types in Process Editor -   You can now change multiple parameter types by clicking each of them.  This can help the modeler save time when address parameter changes.

Change Multiple Parameter Types in Process Editor in PAW 94

Administration

Support for Planning Analytics Workspace (local) on Microsoft Server 2016 ends in 2024 –   please see this link for more information. 

Summary

Good stuff arrived in Planning Analytics Workspace 94.  I can’t wait to work with our clients on the addition of multivariate forecasting.  I love the fields panel and the ability to set formats for cube views.  Stay tuned, I know some additional enhancements are coming that you will love! 

Quick question before I sign off.  When was the last time you upgraded Planning Analytics Workspace or Planning Analytics for Excel?  Reach out to me and discuss your environment.  We have some excellent upgrade bundles that can help you save time and money and get you updated quickly!  You can reach me at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

You can check out some of our other blogs below:

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

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

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

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

Embracing Advanced Financial Tools

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

We Recommend IBM Planning Analytics

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

Workforce Quality and Financial Health

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

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

Stakeholder Alignment and Strategic Foresight

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

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

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

Navigating Common Challenges

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

Harmonizing Strategies with Flexible Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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