IBM Support OnBoarding & Getting Started with IBM Help

We know from experience that finding information can be difficult while trying to navigate on IBM’s website. IBM SupportHowever, IBM Support is trying to make that easier. Whether you are new to managing your IBM Business Analytics products or just need a refresher, I suggest that you participate in one of their upcoming webinars to better manage your account. I would also like to remind you to make sure that you keep you company contacts current in your IBM profile. Outdated contacts can delay support requests, especially if they have left the company.

These IBM support presentations are 30 minutes, followed by Q & A, and will focus on one of three subjects:

• Gaining and Managing Access to Your Software – including managing contacts, roles, responsibilities – Passport Advantage Online
• Getting IBM Support – including getting help on demand – SR tool, Support Portal, Notifications
• Gaining and Managing Access to IBM SPSS License keys – live demo

Click here to link to the page with all information on the recurring OnBoarding sessions.

Lodestar Solutions also recommends that you check out these links for additional information.

Getting started with IBM Support
 VIDEO: Honey, have you seen my keys? (Related to SPSS)

Save money on IBM Support Renewals

For many of you, it is support renewal time with IBM Cognos but do you even see the bill to review it?  Does the invoice go to accounts payable and they just pay the bill?  You may not realize a brief review of your bill could save you thousands of dollars.   Here are some steps Lodestar Solutions can help you with how to save money on IBM Support

Review your invoice in comparison to the prior year’s bill.  Look to see how substantial the increase is, and if it seems high, Lodestar Solutions can help get the increase down to a tolerable amount.  You should also check if you negotiated special terms when you purchased the software that protected your support increase.  If you have special terms, make sure the increase is what was negotiated.
2. REVIEW YOUR PRODUCT MIX – Do you even know what each license does and if you need it?  IBM has different licensing rules than Cognos previously had.  For example, if your BI licenses are all Authorized Users you probably do not need a Non-Prod BI license, whereas Cognos required it. Lodestar Solutions would be happy to walk you through what you own, what it does, and areas you might want to consider trading up.   A common trade-up license is to move from Consumer to Enhanced Consumer as it provides access to a lot of the new C10 functionality.
3. CHECK YOUR STATE SALES TAX RULES – Lodestar Solutions makes an effort to understand the software tax laws in your state and make recommendations that can save you money.  Some states have a download only exemption from Sales Tax even for canned software; GA, VA, and FL are a few, but watch out!  You have to have the correct paperwork on file with IBM to protect yourself in the case of a sales tax or use tax audit.  Most vendors just charge the state sales tax and don’t dig deeper to find out if it is applicable to what they are selling.
4. RESELLERS OFFER DISCOUNTS – As a reseller of IBM support, we have the right to provide prices lower than IBM by giving up some of our margin we receive for selling support.
5. DIVERSIFIED SUPPLIER – Check with your purchasing department if your organization tracks purchases from Diversity/Minority Suppliers.  Many do, especially if you are a government contractor.  Lodestar Solutions is certified by the WBENC as a woman owned small business.  By purchasing from a diversity supplier, you earn the credits your organization may need to satisfy state and federal contracts.
6. DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE – Plan ahead and request a support quote early; it will give us time to save you money.

For a competitive quote on you IBM Support Renewal, or to consolidate multiple IBM Support bills into one, contact

Ibm Passport Advantage Agreement Changes

IBM Cognos purchases are governed by the IBM Passport Advantage terms.  IBM recently announced IBM Passport Advantage Agreement changes which are designed principally to support the expanding offerings available under the program.  Changes automatically become effective on July 18, 2011, unless you notify IBM in writing prior to that date, that you disagree with the change.

You can find a copy of the agreement at :


Please carefully review the information for changes and enhancements being made.  I wanted to bring to your attention a few that will affect my IBM Cognos clients.

• Virtualization Licensing (also called “Subcapacity Licensing”). Terms related to Virtualization Licensing that have been separately available for many years, and that have been included with all new enrollments since 2005, have now been incorporated into the Agreement, making this rapidly-expanding technology solution available to all customers without separate action being required.

(Note: Subcapacity Licensing  is beneficial if you are investing in IBM Cognos PVU licensing and want to purchase beefier hardware to accommodate growth but don’t want to buy the extra PVU licenses. )

•Renewal of Software Subscription and Support. To protect customers from accidentally becoming noncompliant with the terms of the Agreement, it will now be required that for each Passport Advantage Site, the renewal of Software Subscription and Support for a particular product must either be for all licenses currently in service, or for none at all.

(Note:  The language states “licenses currently in service”, I believe this means if you have licenses not being utilized you can terminate those, but we have not received confirmation of that from IBM yet. )

In addition to the major enhancements, the IBM Passport Advantage Agreement has been generally reorganized and sections related to compliance, taxes, data privacy and security have been updated to make it easier to read and to better align with other IBM Agreements that you may have in place.

For more information, please visit the IBM Web site at or contact Lodestar Solutions at  813-415-2910.

Should I continue IBM Cognos Support?

I am repeatedly asked by clients whether they should continue IBM Cognos Support.   I am a big believer in maintaining IBM Cognos Support as there are a number of benefits.  Many benefits clients don’t even know exist.  There are three basic levels of IBM Cognos Support – Standard, Advantage, and Premier.
Most clients have Standard Support, so I’ll focus on the benefits associated with standard support.

New Releases
The biggest benefit is access to new maintenance releases.   As long as you continue support, you have the right to upgrade your software to the new maintenance release.  Please note that when significant functionality is added, there may be a migration fee or a need to upgrade your licenses to get this new functionality.
As long as you continue to be supported, you will have access to contact IBM Cognos Support if you have issues.  Clients have on-line support access to service request management and research issues in the knowledge base.  If you are designated as a support contact for your organization, you have the ability to log service requests via the web or phone.  There are different levels of designation which are primary, secondary and authorized caller.
See the chart from the IBM Cognos Support Plans Guide:
What happens if you let IBM Cognos support lapse?
You will not get access to support and will not be able to upgrade your licenses.  If you recently lapsed, we recommend you contact your support renewal representative and try to get reinstated.  You may be penalized for letting it lapse.  If your support lapsed a long time ago and you want support or to upgrade, contact Lodestar Solutions and we can provide you a competitive quote on new licenses.
Should I pay for support for licenses I am not currently using?
That depends on if you think you will use them.  The prices for IBM Cognos have increased, so if you let maintenance lapse on some of the licenses and you decide you want to use them later, you will be required to purchase new licenses at a higher price.  IBM Cognos Maintenance is 20% of the purchase price and it’s a lot cheaper to pay maintenance instead of buying new.   I recommend you evaluate if other departments in your organization may need licenses or see if you can expand IBM Cognos to solve another business issue.
If you need more information please check out IBM Cognos Support.
The below chart is from the IBM Cognos Support Plan Guide:

Help Navigating IBM Cognos Support

Help navigating IBM Cognos Support

For those of us who come from the Cognos world and were just getting the hang of how to find answers to the most cryptic error messages known to man, I have news for you.  Forget every trick you learned of navigating the Cognos Support system and welcome to the IBM Super Highway of Information a.k.a.

This is a much needed blog for two reasons:

1. To forewarn any IBM client; DO NOT WAIT on getting your ID setup until you have a production down issue. This process takes about 5 business days to complete.

2. Provide you the quick and dirty steps to get setup painlessly and quickly (relatively speaking).

First, where do you start?  Here is a tip. This email address is the save all, end all.  This email address is who you contact if you don’t know what your Site ID is, who your primary user is and other somewhat pressing issues.  Keep this in a safe place.

This is what you will need:

1. Your IBM Customer Number (ICN)
2. The name of your primary account holder
3. Patience, my friend, patience

I don’t have my ICN  or IBM Customer Number, what do I do?
You can handle this two ways, you can send out smoke signals for your IBM rep or you can email  I would suggest the latter.

I also have no idea who my primary account holder is!
This was the main person that was setup with Cognos support when you purchased the software.  In many cases, that person may have moved on to another position or company.  Again if you are unsure, email and inquire who this person may be.

With those three things in hand, you can now get started.

1. Login to many of the IBM pages and register for a new profile. Your ID has to be your email address.  Here is the link.

You will setup your ID, which will be your email address.  The email address MUST be the primary account holder.  If that person is no longer with the company, you must update that information FIRST; otherwise all of this will be in vain.  Contact the email listed above to change the primary contact information.

Choose a password and secret security question.

Within 24 hours you should receive an email stating your ID has been activated.  Check your spam/junk email folder, sometimes IBM gets thrown in there.

Once you get that email, login with your new ID (Email) and confirm the Authorized User. You will have to do this the first time for the Authorized User.  After that, you can repeat this process for other contacts.  Also, if you work with a Business Partner that helps you out with Technical/Support related issues, I strongly suggest you grant them access as well.  For step by step instructions on how to complete this, please email

Once the Authorized User is confirmed, you will need to link your account as an AUTHORIZED USER to your ICN (IBM Customer Number – 9 digit account number) account.It takes about 2 days to link your ID to your ICN.  Once that is done, you should be good to go.

There is a whole website in IBM dedicated to this process. It provides insight on how to open a new service request, how to search errors, etc.  It should only take about 15 minutes to glance through it but it should help somewhat with the transition.  You can find the guide here.

To access Cognos Support use this link.

A word to the wise, once you find an IBM site bookmark it in case you ever need it again. is a wealth of information, which tends to be a gift and a curse.  When looking for something specific, it is sometimes easier to find it on a Google search than an search. Keep in mind that IBM has several product lines, so always include the word Cognos in your search criterion.

Also, check out our blogs and video archived events.  A recorded webinar will be posted about this and several other processes to make your job and life easier.

Best of luck.  May the force be with you!

Save Money on BI Purchase – Part 2

This article is a Part 2 on how to Save Money on BI Purchase.

4. Support Renewal– Software Maintenance/Support renew fees are recurring, so when you negotiate your contract consider the support renewal. Software providers often state it’s a set percentage of the price. Remember that the savings you negotiate upfront on support/maintenance will result in savings every year.

Secret 5: Support Maintenance a percentage of the purchase price. Some companies make the support renewal a percentage of the list price. However, ask for it to be X% of the purchase price after the discount and make sure it’s written in the contract.

Secret 6: You can cap the increase of Support Maintenance. Put language in the contract that says the annual maintenance fees can not increase by more than Consumer Price Index + 3%. This will protect you years down the road if the software company is sold to a huge company that wants to jack the prices by 10%.

Secret 7: Often times the first year maintenance is bundled in the purchase price. So if they are charging you 20% of the purchase price for support, guess what – you are paying twice as much. If you bought it for X, this includes the license + 1st year Maintenance. In year two, you will receive a maintenance bill for 20% of X – this is equal to 20% of (License +1st year maintenance). You might not be able to get this changed, but just knowing it helps your negotiating power.

5. Lock in Pricing – When you negotiate a large purchase, you may underestimate the number of licenses. Yes, you can always buy more, but shelf-ware is expensive. In the initial purchase contract, ask for price protection for one year. They rarely go over a year or past their fiscal year end. By asking for language in the contract stating for one year you can buy licenses at X, you make sure you protect yourself when your project is successful and you need more licenses.

6. Put everything in the contract – I am surprised that people don’t request the descriptions of the licenses to be included in the contract. Software companies regularly change their license mix and pricing. So make sure the contract clearly states what functionality is included in the Administrator license. Years from now, when you can’t recall your license mix and the names have all changed, you will appreciate this detail in the contract.

7. You have what they need – Software sales representatives have needs too. Besides selling licenses, they need good references, presenters and clients willing to do press releases. While you are beating up your sales representative because now you are an educated consumer, offer him/her a bone. Instead, suggest that after a successfully completed project you would be willing to be a reference, do a press release or present at the annual user group in Vegas. Maybe you’ll even get a free trip out of it.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you or your company is about to make a major software purchases.

See Part 1 of Save Money on BI Purchase HERE