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IBM Cognos Planning Implementation

Key Features and Benefits

The key features and benefits of IBM Cognos Planning are:

  • Sophisticated modeling capabilities let you create linked models that accurately reflect cross-functional interdependencies
  • Flexible deployment with a user-friendly web browser or Microsoft Excel interface offers all the advantages of a dedicated enterprise solution with the familiarity and convenience of a spreadsheet. Multidimensional slicing-and-dicing, drill-down, and the exclusive break-back feature help you explore data fully and efficiently 
  • The workflow management tracks the entire planning process and gives you the status of every participant
  • Flexible security with single sign-on provides appropriate access to each user. Distributed administration shares the responsibility for planning processes across functions, geographies and business units within a secure, unified planning environment
  • Planners can attach any file type to a cell, model, or submission of a forecast to communicate the rationale and policies behind plans and forecasts.
  • Build models in days, not months
  • Import data definitions from sources such as applications from Oracle and SAP 
  • Underlying business logic and principles can quickly and easily be changed. Compare alternatives and assess the impact in real time
  • Driver-based planning and flexible rolling forecasts provide greater visibility into likely operating performance
  • Finance-owned solution with easy modeling language that can be developed by financial analysts without IT involvement
  • Take advantage of rich Built-In Functions to add power and sophistication to your business models
     

Functional Specifications

Scalable and flexible

With IBM Cognos Planning you can involve as many cost centre owners in your budgeting process as you need. These people are given access to their secured part of the budgeting application, via either a web browser or via Excel, where they can enter the values for the requested drivers. Centrally, one can determine what values will be accepted as input, e.g. no blanks, within a certain range, etc.

The application can then be modelled in such a way that it calculates automatically the desired output, e.g. P&L statement, based on the drivers inputted by the cost centre owners. In addition, the application provides a complete audit trail – showing who has changed what in the budgeting application - allowing for full accountability and traceability of the figures.

Adding new elements (products) to a list can be done during the budget process by the administrator of the application. This will not affect the users currently working on the system.

Automated and secure platform

IBM Cognos Planning is based on a distributed architecture. This means that on the one hand it stores the entire application on the central server. The benefit of this is that the owner of the budget process always has full visibility of the values entered in the application at any time. Moreover, every time data is entered this data is automatically summed up, showing the impact up until the highest level. As a result you do not need to wait until the last contributor has submitted his data before you can start analysing the data centrally. In addition, as this consolidation process is fully automated it eliminates the possibility of calculation errors through manual work.

On the other hand, although the application is stored centrally on the server, it makes use of the processing power of the cost centre owners when they work on their part on the model. The benefit of this is that these users experience ‘Excel-like' calculation performance even at peak times during the budgeting cycle when many users are working on their model.

Top Down Adjustment

With the break-back functionality of IBM Cognos Planning you can make adjustment on the highest level of a list, but changing the numbers on all the base elements of that list. To avoid unnecessary changes, you can lock elements which may not change.

Driver oriented

IBM Cognos Planning allows you to model your budgeting application based on the driver-based budgeting methodology. In this manner cost centre owners only need to provide input for very specific drivers. These are typically drivers that they know very well and thus they can answer them usually quite readily. This increases the budget accuracy and it also allows for regular revision of the budget data, thus allowing you to react more quickly to changing market conditions.

Scenario building

IBM Cognos Planning is ideally suited to perform simulation of various alternative scenarios. Given the automated data aggregation, it is very simply to enter the values for certain drivers and immediately see the impact on the highest level bottom line.

Process

IBM Cognos Planning comes with the necessary work flow capabilities enabling you to clearly set up the various budgeting elements and the sequence in which they need to happen and who's input is required at which time. This same work flow capability will enable you to track what work the cost centre owners already have performed at any one time.

Model Performance

IBM Cognos Planning is an application in which cube performance is of utmost importance. When the end user has to look at an hourglass every time a budget is being submitted, the application will not be used. Therefore, one of the key activities and competencies in building a Cognos Planning application is tuning for performance. Through careful modelling of dimensions and cubes, the size of the resulting model(s) can be less than 20 million cells. In our experience, most potential performance issues in Cognos Planning can be resolved through careful model design.

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