For businesses looking to take planning one step further, I can tell you that I have not found a better tool to do this than IBM Planning Analytics (PA) powered by TM1.
Having worked with PA for many years, I’ve designed many planning analytics models, ranging from budgeting and forecasting to costings and operational planning. Because I am such a fan of IBM Planning Analytics, I wanted to share my top five benefits of using PA/TM1, using my real life observations of the many clients that I have worked with over the past 12 years.
One of the biggest benefits I have seen across many implementations of Planning Analytics/ TM1 is the time saving experienced by users. I was in a meeting once where a person got quite emotional, and when asked, she said the work she was doing previously took a week out of the month for her to complete. With the solution, we had just presented it reduced her time commitment to just an hour or two. With the model doing the data extraction and transformation and with the rules we had implemented, she was no longer having to do the same steps in excel. It has been a revelation to me over the years just how much time has been saved by clients and how much is in fact wasted using outdated methods (and this typically means trying to do everything in Excel).
A well designed model has the benefit of allowing users to fulfil their job correctly. With TM1/PA doing the data collection and data manipulation. I have had users designated as data analysts who spent the bulk of their time doing data collation rather than analysis. With PA/ TM1 they were able to switch back to doing the analysis of the data and providing constructive recommendations, in other words fulfilling the role that they were employed for. I have seen this all too often where employees are feeling despondent because they do not have the tools to do their job efficiently. TM1/PA has the power to change this and give users information at their fingertips.
Real Time Decision Making
PA/TM1 and its powerful rules engine has the power to process large volumes of data and provide links to multiple cubes. All of this running in memory so that the data is available in real time. The benefit is that users can capture or edit data and have the results consolidated in real time. This means decisions can be made faster, based on the results of the data. There is no need to wait for spreadsheets to be collated or a need to wait for data to be sent from other sources and then still processed. A client once said to me, that decisions that took days to make could now be made in one meeting while checking data across the business.
Flexible Scenario Planning
Planning Analytics/ TM1 sandbox functionality is extremely powerful. Enabling you to create multiple scenarios and test different parameters. Users can test their data without impacting the live data and only commit their scenario once they are satisfied with the results. A financial director once expressed how impressed he was, that he was able to sit in a board meeting and test possible scenarios in front of the board, then make decisions that could immediately be committed to the model. Previously, changes suggested by the board had to be taken back and sent to multiple users to try to implement changes in spreadsheets and then collate it all back before having to report back to the board and potentially go through this cycle several times.
Combination of functionality
As TM1/PA is a modeling tool, the systems can be designed for any form of functionality. Typically, I have found customers really enjoying the benefit of being able to have all their financial reporting and planning in the same place. There are tools which provide superb pixel perfect reporting, but PA/ TM1 and it’s Excel front end, provide management reporting well within the requirements of most businesses. Now with the introduction of Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW), there is a highly visual web front end that can provide great dashboarding as well as more formal reporting requirements for great user experience.
If you would like to benefit from the speed, flexibility, and foresight of IBM Planning Analytics. Please get in touch.
Shane James, Lead Consultant, Simpson Associates
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