By Stephen McKittrick, 17-May-2013 12:50:00
I’ve been a very lucky boy this week, as I’ve been working concurrently on developing Anaplan, Cognos BI and Cognos Enterprise Planning. In the history of the world there have only been a handful of people who can say that! Nothing like getting a real life look at these three products all working in unison. I know it sounds geeky, and it probably is, but it has been great fun!
So what have I learned?
For starters, I’ve been reminded once again how addictive development work can get. Hours, days pass burrowing into the details of the dev work. It is easy to let everything slip past, just wanting to get that one next step in the dev completed to see how it works out. Everything – including completing this blog! Maybe it is just me, but there is something intensely satisfying about thinking through what you want to deliver, making rapid initial progress and them hitting a tricky problem, working through that and seeing your visions realise itself in front of your eyes. Powerful, powerful software.
I’ve also been reminded that it is very easy to build in Anaplan – much easier that Cognos EP. I’ve been using EP for nearly a decade and already I can build equivalent applications in Anaplan in a fraction of the time it takes to do that work in EP – and EP is good. And scalability – don't get me started! On Monday I used Anaplan to build a 269 million cell planning application in 15 minutes. I’m not joking – 269 million cells. And any data entered consolidated through the entire application in less than two seconds after every change. And an end user who would see only the parts of the model relevant to them would see instant data entry. Incredible.
Finally for now, reporting capabilities. As we know EP has no modern reporting capabilities. That isn't a failing – it was never designed to be a reporting tool – it is a great little data gathering tool, it was true world-beater in its time, and even today it is still powerful enough to meet many FP&A business requirements. Apart from just looking so modern and professional, the beauty of the reporting in Anaplan is that the charts, graphs and dashboards auto-update every time a number is changed anywhere in a model. I STILL keep looking for the save button; but there is no concept of save, refresh, update, ETL, Go To Production – you enter your data or make your model changes and everything everywhere updates practically instantly and consistently. Without crashing / hanging for ages. I know that there are reporting features in Cognos BI which are not available in Anaplan – certain styles of graphs, for example, and bursting of reports. But – once end users get used to the idea of the data relevant to them being available on-demand from inside the Anaplan software they will quickly forget that they used to crave having Excel reports delivered to their in-box and get used to using the features of the software. This statement is based not just on my personal experience, which let’s face it isn't entirely objective – it is mainly based on feedback from many, many clients. Trust me; you’re going to love this!
By Neil Doyle, 01-May-2013 19:04:00
I recently had the pleasure of being involved in a sales hot house, a deep dive evaluation of Anaplan against one of it's main cloud based competitors. I was of course batting hard for Anaplan, during the week long evaluation. I want to share a couple of things I learnt during the week, which ultimately saw us and Anaplan win the tender.
Number 1 : Business Self Service is not just marketing jargon.
I recently wrote some literature on the value of Anaplan against TM1 in which I was waxing lyrical about how the real advantage of Anaplan is the business self service aspect. The ability to skill Excel users up in a matter of days and having them build models almost immediately is a huge advantage of the Anaplan platform. During the evaluation week, this was proven to me yet again. After four days, the Super Users were able to build models with my guidance and even took charge of driving the demonstration on the final day to their senior managers. This cannot be underestimated as an achievement for a product as powerful as Anaplan. To completely remove the reliance on IT and to hand the planning process back to the business is amazingly powerful.
Number 2: the iGeneration approach
A number of years back I wrote about a different type of implementation from the traditional. I called it the iGeneration approach and Anaplan is the biggest enabler of this type of project I've seen. To recap - the iGeneration approach is a much more fluid approach to project implementation. It involves skillng users up quickly and creating a system within days and weeks rather than weeks and months. It's about modelling on the fly, sitting in conference rooms and modelling thoughts immediately. No design specs, no requirements documents just Super Users and Stakeholders in a room building. Refining ideas, brainstorming, identifying limitations and building. Live. Real time. A similar approach to how we would have run requirements workshops in the old world, but this time we're modelling them immediately - in front of the business users. I know some people will be horrified by this, but this is what we must evolve to. Instant Application Development. This is what the iGeneration expects, implementations in days, we're used to instant gratification in our modern lives and will not accept anything less from our IT projects. To me this type of development simply wasn't possible before, but Anaplan is the tool of the iGeneration.
By Stephen McKittrick, 23-Apr-2013 09:41:00
We all know the theory: articulate what is required, decide when you need to finish and work back from there. Clearly think through the resources required, and be realistic about what is achievable. Perhaps even build in some 'slack' for unforeseen contingencies. So why do so many IT projects take longer than expected and consume more resources than planned? You might think that as an evil management consultant that's precisely what I want - but it isn't. I want happy clients who get what they wanted when they want it and for the price they planned to pay.
I currently think that two of the main reasons for Cognos and Anaplan project overruns are:
- overly aggressive planning; and
- failure to properly consider competing activities.
Aggressive planning - a pet hate if mine is that I continually hear the words, "It just has to be done by date x, no ifs, no buts." I'm all up for a challenge, and without targets nothing gets done. But unless the plan to complete the project is realistic and achievable I can guarantee you that the deadline will slip or the resources will increase. So, by all means set an aspiration all target date, but make very sure to allow time to develop a detailed plan and be prepared to make changes if that plan doesn't look like a roadmap for success.
Competing objectives - no project takes place in a vacuum. The business environment is a roiling milieu of ever changing activity. So what happens when something else 'drops' which takes priority over the project at hand? That higher priority item should and will take priority. Which will delay the project at hand.
It is vitally important to state the desired outcomes and achievables of each project very clearly at the inception of the project. Otherwise how can you know which competing activities take precedence? But accept that things will change and that some delays are just the consequence of the changing environment.
What is unforgivable is when resources allocated to a project can't or won't participate due to conflicting Business As Usual activities. This is a failing of the Project Sponsor - please don't allocate resources that you know won't be able to participate without taking care to backfill their BAU or minimise their project exposure to a meaningful level.
Otherwise I can again guarantee that you will miss project deadlines and spend more money than you planned. That’ll make you unhappy, and me unhappy because you are unhappy – so let’s not go there!
By Neil Doyle, 09-Apr-2013 14:33:00
• Conditional Formatting in modules and Dashboards: Lets you color-code a cell dependent on the value in that cell or another cell. Use Conditional formatting for reporting and alerts and also to indicate warning or error conditions when filling in forms or grids.
• Filter using ‘Contains’, ‘Starts With’, ‘Ends With’: It is possible to filter to show rows containing, starting with or ending with certain text.
• Auto-Filter: Provides a short-cut to setting up filter rules quickly in modules. It is possible to create several filter rules at once by selecting up to 5 columns.
• TEXTLIST as an Aggregation Function: The TEXTLIST function lets you combine the individual text cells into a comma-separated list.
• FIRSTNONBLANK and LASTNONBLANK Functions: Shows the first (or last) non-blank text, list or date cell and uses the mapping to determine where to post the result. First non-blank and Last non-blank can also be used as a summary for normal totals.
• Add and define Quarter lengths for 13 by 4 week Timescales: Add the Rollups by quarters, and define which quarter contains 4 periods and which contains 3 periods.
• Performance Improvements in large models with a large number of concurrent users: The speed improvements relate to multi-threading large individual calculations, multi-threading independent submissions from multiple users, speed improvements to ‘Show History’ and resolving selective access.
By Neil Doyle, 04-Apr-2013 11:01:00
To review an updated list of environments that are supported by IBM Cognos Insight, such as operating systems, Cognos servers, and databases, see System requirements (http://www.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27025127).
IBM Cognos Insight includes a new theme, called Diamond Plate. The Diamond Plate theme includes a diamond plate pattern as the workspace background and a new color palette.
Dotted guidelines to align widgets
When you drag widgets around the canvas, IBM Cognos Insight now displays a dotted line to show you where to drop the widget to align it with the other widgets on your workspace.
You can now create bubble charts and scatter charts to display the relationships between measures of data at the same time. For example, create a scatter chart to show revenue and cost. Plot revenue on the y-axis and cost on the x-axis. Or create a bubble chart to show revenue, cost, and number of sales.
Number of sales is represented by the size of the bubbles.
Expand or collapse all data in the content pane
You can now expand or collapse the entire tree in the content pane using the new Expand All and Collapse All icons in the content pane toolbar.
Show charts above crosstabs
You can change the order in a crosstab and chart widget to display the chart above the crosstab. This feature can help you analyze your data more quickly at a glance, because the chart gives a snapshot of the data and the crosstab gives more details.
Display more or less data in new crosstabs
You can now change how many levels of data are displayed in crosstab widgets in new workspaces. You can choose to display the entire data hierarchy, only the dimensions and one child level of data, or only the dimensions.
Drill up and drill down
You can now drill up and down on the data in your crosstabs and charts in several new ways.
You can now set the range of values in chart axes to begin at the lowest value in your data instead of beginning at zero. This is useful if your range of values has only slight variations. For example, if your values range from 2.134 to 2.765, you can optimize that axis to display values from 2 to 3 instead of the default display of 0 to 3.
IBM Cognos Insight Standard Edition and IBM Cognos Insight Personal Edition now alert you when an update to your version of Cognos Insight is available.
You are viewing the text version of this site.
Need help? check the requirements page.