Three top tips for a successful IBM Planning Analytics / TM1 Project

Gain User Buy In

Business change or transformation can be difficult for any organisation. As with any implementation of any new software or business solution, there is an element of fear of the unknown and therefore resistance from users.

Good change management is critical to the successful implementation of any IBM Planning Analytics (previously Cognos TM1) project. Most unsuccessful implementations that I have observed have been due to a lack of user buy-in. This usually is a result of poor training and allowing users easy access to old processes, enabling the team to revert to their old ways.

Good implementation requires some time for changeover where old processes are run at the same time as the Planning Analytics/TM1 model. A final date should be set and from then on full use of the model should be adhered to. I would recommend enlisting a champion within the business, to ensure that users cannot revert to prior processes. This will ensure that users commit to using the system and therefore get the full benefit and ongoing usage will improve their comfort and skill within Planning Analytics.


A good Design is imperative

Often TM1/Planning Analytics is sold as a user friendly/end-user-based system. While this is true to some degree and one doesn’t need to be an IT specialist to build models, there are definitely good designs and bad designs.

A bad design can severely impact performance, which can negatively impact users and make the product seem inefficient. Bad designs can also be too rigid and not allow for growth or new data. This then requires rebuilding and more development time which can mean down time for the model. A developer builds well designed models through experience and experience comes through designing poor models. If I look back at 13 years of building models, I am constantly improving my designs and learning better methods to satisfy customer requirements.

Businesses should carefully consider the implementation partner that they choose and recognize that it is always best practice to have professionals do the initial design. If there is a requirement for design to be taken over by someone within the company, then it is best to have them shadow the developer and always consider getting support and advice from your partner going forward.


Choose the right level of complexity or detail

One of TM1/Planning Analytics strengths is its ability to handle large volumes of detailed data. Its ability to handle extremely complex rules, data structures and huge quantities of data, means that there is no comparison to the commonly used excel.

However, sometimes there is the temptation to make very complex models just because it has the ability to handle it. There is a fine line between having high levels of detail and the effort required to capture and edit that data. I have had examples of clients who wanted to do planning at product detail and by day. While they were advised that it might be too detailed, they pressed ahead. After the implementation, they soon discovered that the effort to plan at that level ended up taking longer than the previous process. While the data may have seemed “more accurate”, the cost was greater than the benefit of having the detail.

Give careful consideration and heed the advice of implementation partners. There might be better ways of achieving the same result without making the models overly complex and detailed.


If you have any questions about implementing Planning Analytics or any of the tips mentioned in this article, please feel free to speak to us using our live chat, where one of our experts will be happy to speak with you in more detail.

Blog Author

Shane James, Lead Consultant, Simpson Associates

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