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Blog Posts from the team at Budgeting Solutions

Separating out the wheat from the chaff can be challenging and sometimes the right facts are hard to find.  Our blogs contain a wealth of information gathered from many years of experience by our consultants dealing with everyday issues in projects on client sites.

They may provide clear insight on particular problems or act as a launching pad to clarify your thoughts on issues with how to deliver robust performance management solutions.

Main Posts

How does IBM Planning Analytics meet the demands of finance transformation?

Posted by James Salmon at 19/11/2018 10:30:24

Finance transformation aims to create a financial analytics solution infrastructure that can unlock significant value across the offices of the chief financial officer (CFO), the chief operating officer (COO) and beyond. Such an infrastructure allows users to easily and readily analyse and manage financially relevant operations and activities. It enables users to:

  • work in a self-service mode
  • work in (near) real-time when needed, leveraging very high data volumes and data granularity
  • coordinate with related upstream and downstream business processes and functions, including Operations, Sales, Marketing, Risk, Treasury and regulatory frameworks
  • integrate with hybrid-cloud infrastructure to apply predictive analytics and other cognitive computing methods to unlock further value previously hidden in the data


 Make data accessible to the non-technical among us

The need for self-service analysis creates a particular demand on your financial analytics software infrastructure: every user — even non-technical ones — must be able to access the data tier via an easily understandable semantic layer that uses plain language. In other words, the semantic layer needs to map technical and often complex data models to familiar business terms and concepts such as Accounts, Products, Customers, Locations, Regions, Time, Currency, etc. IBM Planning Analytics, by virtue of being an online analytical processing (OLAP) solution platform, provides non-technical end-users with an easily understandable semantic data layer based on cubes, dimensions and hierarchies.

 Let users choose the interface they prefer

For analysis and reporting, the semantic layer should be exposed via a Web user interface (UI) as well as, ideally, the familiar Microsoft Excel UI. Web UIs have the benefit of providing convenient, platform-independent access, plus they have a low infrastructure footprint. Meanwhile, Excel UIs provide the most convenient access for both financial and business analysts, simply because Excel is and will likely continue to be their most important and pervasive day-to-day tool.

IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW) is the latest-generation WEB UI for self-service analysis of IBM TM1 data, and for contribution and collaboration in the planning process. In parallel, IBM Planning Analytics for Excel (PAx) is the optional interface that features latest-generation Excel desktop analysis and contribution capabilities for both cloud- and on-premises data sources, and also provides interoperability with PAW.

The need for real-time analysis — against potentially very high data volumes — demands fast performance in real-world scenarios. Ever-changing fact-data, meta-data, master-data and very high data volume should not be a constraint.

IBM Planning Analytics easily meets these demands. It calculates and aggregates data on-demand and hence in real time. It does not store ‘null-values’ (non-populated cells), and it employs parallel processing capabilities to maximize the use of available hardware resources. This means that queries against even billions of new records can be resolved in seconds.

Collaborate across business functions

Last but not least is the need to consider how the planning solution integrates across the organisation. On the operations side, this means enabling collaboration across related upstream and downstream business processes and functions such as Operations, Sales, Marketing and more. On the IT side, it means having a flexible architecture that is compatible with hybrid-cloud infrastructures so you can apply predictive analytics and other cognitive computing methods at scale.

IBM Planning Analytics meets all of these demands. It employs a multi-cube architecture with a shared-dimension model, meaning that it can naturally grow and mature along with your business and your processes. It is available as both a cloud and on-premises solution, and it integrates with best-in-class cognitive computing solutions and analytics platforms, such as Cognos Analytics and SPSS. 

If you are interested to see a demonstration of IBM Planning Analytics click on the link below and a member of the team will be in touch to arrange a suitable time.

Request Demonstration

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions

Posted by James Salmon at 03/09/2018 09:49:18

IBM has been ranked as 'Leader' in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis solutions. Below you will find Gartners perspective on IBM Planning Analytics. 


• IBM has many large customers, a global reach, a large implementation partner ecosystem and an extensive service organization, with broad business domain and industry expertise.

• IBM Planning Analytics is based on TM1, and has had many improvements to enhance functionality, usability and flexibility. IBM's reference customer scores for solution flexibility were above average.

• IBM has a diversified customer base. The vendor tends to be used by large organisations for complex, enterprise-wide applications — 58% of reference clients had over $1 billion in annual revenue, and 17% more than $10 billion. At the other end, 25% of reference clients had less than $1 billion in revenue.


• Survey respondents rated IBM below average in 10 of the 11 key areas surveyed, although few individual ratings were especially weak. It had bottom-quartile scores for ease of implementation and maintenance, application governance/life cycle management, overall experience with vendor, and meeting needs vs. money spent.

• IBM is in this Magic Quadrant's bottom quartile for reference customers needing ongoing support for upgrades related to maintenance or updates, with almost half requiring it.

• A clear majority of IBM customers surveyed would recommend the vendor without reservation; however, a material number would do so with minor qualifications. These qualifications generally reflected some dissatisfaction with support responsiveness.

London South Bank University choose Budgeting Solutions

Posted by James Salmon at 11/05/2018 17:27:57

London South Bank University choose Budgeting Solutions and IBM Planning Analytics to drive educational excellence with smart financial planning - Read the case study here: https://goo.gl/b6CRZE

Nucleus Research ranks IBM Planning Analytics #1 for Corporate Performance Management (CPM)

Posted by James Salmon at 02/08/2017 14:51:02

IBM Planning Analytics is the next generation of cloud or on-premise CPM solutions. It is a unique blend of widely used, deeply proven, feature rich, immensely fast and scalable technology combined with the latest user-friendly, optimised cloud architecture. The solution is built on the TM1 analytics platform, which has tens of thousands of users within the UK. It also leverages IBM’s full cloud architecture, reaping the benefits of a huge and vastly experienced Research and Development arm focused entirely on cloud development on a global scale.

To download the research paper click here.

Find out more here: http://www.budgetingsolutions.co.uk/products/ibm-cognos-solutions/ibm-planning-analytics/  

Retail sales planning with IBM Planning Analytics

Posted by James Salmon at 17/03/2017 16:35:17

Challenges often arise in planning product sales when Head Office sends down high level figures that need to be achieved by regional entities or product managers.

These targets are usually set at a Product Group, Division or even Regional level. The challenge is to push these numbers down the product hierarchy to the product or SKU level. Once the projected sales figures are at product level, they can then be rolled up according other hierarchies for planning purposes. For realistic sales planning it is important to show the sales figures by other groupings such as Customer, Territory, Sales Rep etc. It is only when we see the figures by these dimensions that accurate sales planning can be achieved. For example, it is easy to take last year’s product sales and apply an uplift factor to achieve Head Office targets but what do these figures mean in terms of how much is to be sold in each territory, by each Sales Rep and to which Customers?

Using spreadsheets, it is very easy to roll-up or aggregate figures by any number of criteria but very difficult to make changes to these figures at aggregated levels and push the results back to the lower levels of detail. When using a multi-dimensional planning tool such as IBM Planning Analytics, Companies can realise top down and bottom up planning at any level of the Product or Customer hierarchies. The fact that in Planning Analytics this top down/bottom up planning happens in real time means that it becomes possible to carry out many more iterations of the planning process at a far greater level of detail in a much shorter period of time than with manual systems.

For those in the Retail sector, IBM Planning Analytics supports 4-4-5 week Calendars for both planning and reporting and has the flexibility to configure planning systems for Open-to-Buy (OTB), weekly sales, stock and intake (WSSI) and Comp Store analysis. IBM Planning Analytics also has the option to rollout sales planning across regional entities in different currencies and languages if required with a configurable workflow in place to control the planning and approval process.

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