There is a lot of buzz about Cognos Insight. It is a great tool for analyzing and discovering data. There is also the ability to perform powerful what-if analysis through the use of write-back capabilities. But Cognos Insight is actually more than just a personal desktop analytics tool. You can use it to create visually appealing planning applications for IBM Cognos TM1.
An awesome planning client
Many business users literally hate the mandatory planning, budgeting and forecasting processes. Part of the issue are the cumbersome spreadsheet templates. Cognos Insight provides a radically new approach. You can develop visually appealing applications that connect directly to your TM1 model. Here are some of the great things you can do with Cognos Insight:
Create detailed instructions for the planning or forecasting process
Instructions can include images and hyperlinks
Automate process steps by including action buttons
Provide additional planning context by including dashboards that connect to your Cognos 10 models
To do that, you simply have to connect Cognos Insight to the workflow of a specific TM1 planning application.
Cognos Insight and TM1
Let’s take a look at a simple example – a sales forecasting model. It is a well-known best practice to include specific instructions in a planning template. That helps the business understand the model and to identify specific tasks that they need to focus on. Cognos Insight allows you to insert text boxes, images and hyperlinks. Action buttons make it easy for casual users to jump between different planning pages and cubes. The result is a clean-looking set of pages.
You can finally also include traffic lights and real-time charts right in your actual planning application. This provides users with instantaneous & visual feedback. We all know that a picture says more than a thousand words, right?
Last but not least, you can also leverage great short-cuts for entering data.
Cognos Insight & TM1
Cognos Insight is much more than just a personal analytics tool. Using it as a client for TM1-based planning or forecasting models offers up some fantastic opportunities. Business users love the visual and interactive applications you can build. Is it hard to create these applications? No, not really. All it takes is drag and drop.
About our guest blogger – Paul Bremhorst
Paul is currently working as a Solution Architect for the IBM Business Analytics Product Marketing team. He joined Cognos as a BI Consultant in 2007 from a background of developing sales reports in the banking and finance sector. He lives in beautiful Stuttgart, Germany and loves to ride his motorcycle.
There is an interesting discussion going on right now. Actually, it’s been going on for a few years. There are some people that argue against planning: “Why plan today? The world is so volatile! Any plan is typically rendered useless within a few weeks or months.” And then there are others who argue that planning is more important today than it’s ever been: “Planning helps us prepare for the future. It helps us consider our options.” I personally support the later opinion. Planning is a critical process today.
Forecasting is a critical topic for many companies these days. No big surprise: the volatility and the speed in the world requires organizations to stay agile. About four years ago, my team and I started working with several customers and thought-leaders (David Axson, Steve Morlidge) to collect best practices for forecasting in these turbulent times. The results of the countless hours of talking, brainstorming, analyzing and reading are captured in the IBM Cognos ‘Best Practices in Rolling Forecasts’ workshop. This workshop ended up being way more successful than any one of us would have ever imagined. I have personally delivered over 100 of these events in the past three years.
THE WORKSHOP FORMAT
Forecasting is a complex topic and we were able to collect a full library worth of experiences. But simplicity rules and we selected the most interesting aspects
to fill the agenda for a half-day workshop. That creates more focus and the attendees leave with just enough ideas to drive change in their organizations and without feeling overwhelmed. The overall focus is on the business process and not software. While we share a lot of best practices, the workshops are very interactive. We usually have extended and very fruitful discussions amongst the participants. Many attendees stay after the official event ends to continue their idea exchange. This is one of my favorite parts. There are always many things to learn.
BEST PRACTICES AND MORE
So, what do we cover? A lot! The focus is clearly on proven practices that were identified by our customers. But it is also important to look beyond those things. We therefore injected some thought-provoking ideas from our thought-leaders. And each workshop we run typically provides new ideas, stories and experiences that we leverage to enhance the materials. It would be too much detail to cover in this post but here are some of the things we discuss:
Is a rolling forecast right for your organization?
What’s the right time horizon? 90-day? Four quarter? Six quarter? Three year?
How often should you update the forecast?
How do you use a rolling forecast as an early alert of threats and opportunities?
What is the role of scenarios?
What role can driver-based modeling and tools play in the forecast process?
How do you sell the need for a rolling forecast?
What does the business case look like?
How can you measure the efficiency and effectiveness of your process?
IT’S YOUR TURN NOW!
If you are considering to make changes to your forecasting processes or if you are working in the IT department supporting Finance, you should join one of these workshops. It is a great opportunity to meet other finance & IT professionals and to get solid ideas. Believe it or not, but we have had several customers attend multiple events. They simply liked the interaction with the other professionals so much and they felt that they got a lot of value out of each workshop. Check out my events page to find out about upcoming dates or simply drop me a note. Hope to see you soon!