Why to Upgrade From Excel to Cognos TM1 or Express


Upgrade from excel to Cognos

Most people have a love/hate relationship with Excel. They love what it can do but hate when it fails because we try force it to do what it was clearly not built for.  In this day and age, businesses are being overwhelmed by data and need a system in place to analyze it all quickly, provide accurate information yet nimble enough to drill down into the most minute details. This is why we suggest an upgrade from excel to Cognos TM1 or Express.

A 2008 analysis of multiple studies suggests that 88% of spreadsheet documents contain errors. The larger the spreadsheet, the more undetected errors there will be which is being used to make bad decisions or even inflate/deflate your company’s profitability. You can read more about errors at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/88-of-spreadsheets-have-errors-2013-04-17

How can Cognos TM1 or Express solve Excel problems?

Multi-User system – Excel is a single user tool which allows for only one person at a time to input or update data. Cognos allows everyone with a license and access to work in collaboration and at the same time.

Distribution is a breeze – Instead of creating/saving multiple versions of a spreadsheet for each user and affixing various security setting on specific cells per user, Cognos uses the security already built into the system. Everyone who should be able to see and update information does.  And with the embedded security in Cognos, confidential information remains that.  You don’t have to worry about the wrong document accidentally being forwarded around the office or outside the business.

Version Control – How many times have you created and sent out an Excel spreadsheet to many users only to realize there was an incorrect formula or vital information not included? You go back and make those changes and send out the latest version.  Depending on how complex your spreadsheets are and how many users it is being sent to, this cyclical problem quickly becomes an unending nightmare of confusion.  Which is the latest version?  I didn’t get a copy of THAT version, etc.  With Cognos, the changes and updates are made once and the business logic is updated across the board.

Linking – Data in Excel is often linked to other cells or even other worksheets. These links have a tendency to break causing data confusion & frustration to identify and fix.  When someone adds extra rows or columns to their version of the Excel document, it isn’t reflected in everyone’s document. With Cognos, changes are immediately shown (depending on access) to all users as well as built in functionality to check links. (not sure this sentence fits here)

Viewing data in different ways – If you have an executive that wants to view data one way while another wants to view it differently, this takes time and finesse to alter. However, Cognos makes it easy to view data from various perspectives and perform ‘what if’ analysis.

Saving Time and Money – Excel is a program that requires substantial manpower whereas a system like Cognos has more automation and built in user controls. What does that mean to the bottom line of the company?  Less hours are required by employees trying to find answers and maintaining the spreadsheets.  Cognos frees up their nights and weekends while allowing these employees to actually analyze the data instead of chasing it or putting a band-aid on it.

Excel is a great tool for the right situations. Using it for budgeting, forecasting or when multiple user access is required is just not one of them.

To learn more about Cognos and how it can get you out of “Excel Hell” with an upgrade from excel to Congos, email us at Sales@LodestarSolutions.com or call 813-248-2040.  You can read our blog on the differences between Cognos TM1 and Cognos Express here https://lodestarsolutions.com/lodestar/?p=5093

Understanding Cognos TM1 Licensing


​Cognos TM1 licensing - Enterprise vs. Express

To better understand the IBM Cognos TM1 licensing functionality and structure, we’ll break it down into its components. By the way, are you aware that Cognos Express is now using the same EXACT architecture as the Cognos Enterprise version? Even if you are an existing Cognos TM1 owner, keep reading, because seeing the functionality in black and white may make you re-think how your user base really uses the software. You may find that your current license mix is not what you really need going forward.

Cognos TM1 licensing

Cognos TM1 Enterprise (aka Cognos Performance Management)

Required licenses:

  • IBM Cognos Analytic Server (ICAS)
  • IBM Cognos Performance Management Modeler Authorized User (min. of 1)

Additional licenses:

  • IBM Cognos Performance Management User Authorized User
  • IBM Cognos Enterprise Planning TM1 Explorer Authorized User
  • IBM Cognos Enterprise User Authorized User
  • IBM Cognos Enterprise Planning Contributor Authorized User*

IBM Cognos Analytic Server (ICAS): This is a Processor Value Unit (PVU) based license. A PVU is a number that is assigned to a specific processor core type by IBM – what’s your processor’s PVU rate? The ratings generally range from 30 to 120. Its best to check every year with your IT department to determine what processor(s) and how many cores are currently being used, as they may have changed your server. Also, IBM reserves the right to change a processor’s rating. Once you determine the rating of your processor and the number of cores used, the formula for how many PVU’s you need is simply:

Processor Rating * # of Cores Used = PVU requirement

IBM Cognos Performance Management Modeler Authorized User: This license is basically an administrator licenses. It is based on Authorized User (named person) and has all functionality to use the software (ie create, execute, delete, security, etc). You need a minimum of one of these licenses to use Cognos TM1. We suggest that you have at least two, that way someone in your organization is cross-trained to ensure coverage. Also note that you will need a license to cover any and all consultants that are logging into your Cognos TM1 environment.

IBM Cognos Performance Management User Authorized User: This license allows an Authorized User to have Write access to the database (Contribute) and run processes. They will not have the ability to build cubes, write processes or build objects. They are able to update a dimension.

IBM Cognos Enterprise Planning TM1 Explorer Authorized User: This license only allows this Authorized User to have Read access to the database.

IBM Cognos Enterprise User Authorized User: This license allows all the functionality of the IBM Cognos Performance Management User Authorized User AND gives them IBM Cognos BI Analytics User capabilities.

IBM Cognos Enterprise Planning Contributor Authorized User*: Even though this is an older license, it is still very valuable for organizations to keep. This license allows your Cognos Enterprise Planning Contributors to retain access to your Cognos Planning model and gives them access to use Cognos TM1. It also is a very cost effective way to “renew” these users into Cognos TM1 as you migrate from Planning to TM1. If you are still using Planning and your Contributors are not Enterprise Contributors, please contact us to go over your licensing renewal (Renewals@LodestarSolutions.com). Right now IBM is offering to trade-up your Planning Contributors to Enterprise Planning Contributors at no additional cost per unit than what your renewal would be for your existing Contributors.

Cognos Express for Performance Management (Cognos TM1 Express)

Previously, Express had a slightly different look and would be about six months behind on new functionality. Now they are one and the same, though Express has some size limitations. There still is the limitation of a max of 50 users. However, you don’t have to pay the higher cost of an IBM Cognos Analytic Server license that may have been cost prohibited for smaller organizations.

Required licenses:

  • IBM Cognos Express Connector for Performance Management per Install
  • IBM Cognos Express Administrator Authorized User (min. of 1)

Additional licenses:

  • IBM Cognos Express Performance Management User Authorized User
  • IBM Cognos Express Connector for Performance Mgmt for Non-Prod Env per Install*

IBM Cognos Express Connector for Performance Management per Install: This license is in lieu of the Enterprise Analytic Server license and makes Express very affordable.

IBM Cognos Express Administrator Authorized User (min. of 1): This license is primarily for granting Authorized Users access to Cognos TM1. This is not to be confused with the Enterprise version of the Administrator/Modeler license.

IBM Cognos Express Performance Management User Authorized User: In Express, this is your primary user of Cognos TM1. Through security of the Authorized User, you have a lot of flexibility to grant specific users greater responsibility to objects.

IBM Cognos Express Connector for Performance Mgmt for Non-Prod Env per Install*: This is an optional license. However, we do suggest that it is best to have a Non-Prod environment for testing purposes. This comes in handy if you have Cognos Express that includes Business Intelligence reporting.