TM1, Transcended

Joseph Pusztai

Joe is currently the General Manager for Cubewise North America. Prior to joining Cubewise, Joe held senior management positions at Datawatch, IBM, Cognos, Applix and Nortel Networks.

Joe is a certified TM1 developer, and has worked with TM1 for almost twenty years implementing large, complex planning and analysis projects. While at IBM, he was the product manager for the TM1-based “Cognos Express” mid-market solution.

Listen to my 12 min interview with ScottCundill.com on "TM1, Transcended"

Busy Beth is being tested. Migration. Promotion. Deploy-to-Production. Application Lifecycle Management. Whatever you call it, it's driving Beth crazy!

Busy Beth has been working with TM1 for more than a decade, but promoting applications from Development through Test and Production remains a challenge, not to mention the risk that system migrations introduce for corporate governance and compliance.

An introvert by nature, Beth is not a fan of any kind of confrontation… so, she hates it when everyone in the organization is impacted because she has to bring TM1 Servers down, which can annoy some people.  Every so often, and usually at month-end, Busy Beth and Conventional Chris from Finance have a showdown, because Chris’s ability to do his job is affected whenever the servers are off-line.

Adding to Busy Beth’s stress level is that as her TM1 applications grow in size, complexity and the number of supported users, the mental gymnastics required for her to keep track of all TM1 object dependencies gets tougher and tougher.

Beth is convinced that one of these days she’s going to make a big mistake, and in fact, many migrations these days require more than one attempt to perform correctly… a fact that Conventional Chris likes reminding her of, in between demanding to know when the TM1 servers will be back on-line.   
Chris has now escalated his dissatisfaction to Beth’s manager, Concerned Paul. This has made Busy Beth’s stress level tick up yet again. Neither Chris nor Paul really understand the technical details of her job, but Beth’s going have to try to explain everything to both of them… using outdated system documentation.

Of course, Beth’s been meaning to update her documentation… but when is she going to find the time to do that?

1. Management Challenges

The CFO has just sent an email to Busy Beth requesting the latest financial and operational forecasts.  Today of all days, when she's in the middle of an important migration.

The fact is that TM1 system management consumes a lot of Busy Beth’s time. Apart from automating the migration and change management processes, Beth wishes she had a way to monitor everything 24/7, and something that would automatically analyze the health of her TM1 servers and alert her when anything needs attention.

In short, in order to make customers like Chris happy, Beth needs to maximize system uptime and minimize her manual effort. She also needs to know who modified what, when and where, and to clearly separate the duties of the TM1 development team and the IT department. And, she needs time to plan for end-of-life for TM1 and migrating to Planning Analytics.

Beth is not successful in managing everything the way she strives to… and speaking of management, Beth’s manager, Concerned Paul (remember him?) is hovering over her more than ever!

2. Spreadsheet Sprawl

Beth loves Excel, but when she discovered TM1 a decade ago it was a revelation for her.

Excel remains a useful tool for Beth to manipulate and visualize data, but she knows better than to rely exclusively on spreadsheets. TM1 allows her to manage far more data, from a larger variety of sources in a shorter period of time.

But rather than using tested and sanctioned TM1-based Excel reports for collecting and disseminating data through the organisation, Conventional Chris from Finance prefers his own personal spreadsheets.

Chris’s spreadsheets can't store all historical data, they need to be manually refreshed at month end, and they often introduce calculation errors and results that deviate from the centralized TM1 models.

Despite that, the CEO is a fan of Chris’s meticulous, cleverly-formatted spreadsheets, and Beth wishes she could find a happy middle ground between Chris’s need for end-user creativity and flexibility, and IT’s need for governance and control.

3. Getting Sticky

Despite Beth's best efforts, Conventional Chris refuses to make full use of the company’s TM1 applications as they were designed and continues to rely heavily on his own customized spreadsheets.

Busy Beth knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Chris’s refusal to adopt the TM1 applications will soon be unsustainable; spreadsheet-based processes cannot scale, nor be as dynamic, robust or secure as the data management and distribution that TM1 delivers.

Beth knows she can make TM1 “stickier” – she just needs hard evidence that Chris's spreadsheets are causing problems.

And because Beth’s department owns the operational budget for the TM1 applications, it is her and her manager Paul’s fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the investment the company is making in TM1 software, hardware, development, training and support is paying off.

Getting an evidence- and fact-based handle on actual TM1 user adoption is key.

4. Flawed Decisions

Between Conventional Chris's ungoverned spreadsheets, her manager Concerned Paul's limited understanding of the TM1 applications, and her having to manually track large amounts of data and metadata on her own, Busy Beth is struggling to stay on top of things. It's almost impossible for her to feel like she's in control.

And, she is continually haunted by the memory of Fired Fred. Fred was one of the company's Regional Managers who was let go a year ago due to misinterpretation of data that Chris provided to the CFO, in one of his unsanctioned spreadsheets.

Because Chris's spreadsheet omitted important historical data and did not make it clear what parts of the data were actuals versus forecasts, the CFO misunderstood the real profitability of Fred’s region. As a result, the CFO made an uninformed, flawed decision, and Fired Fred was most likely dismissed unnecessarily. 

Busy Beth knows this could have been avoided if she could ensure that everyone in the company, from the C-Level on down, relied on a single version of the truth when making critical business decisions with far-reaching impact.

5. Corporate Governance

Concerned Paul has a problem – his company’s auditors are asking him a bunch of tough questions, like “When was the last time this code was modified?”, “By who?” and “What is your evidence for that”?

That’s just for starters. They also want to review all of his system documentation and change control processes and explain what security measures are in place to prevent unauthorized code changes, and how he plans to recover from a security breach or a catastrophic data loss.

His rock-star TM1 developer Beth probably knows most of the answers, but she is so busy working on development projects and supporting end-user issues, he doesn’t have the heart to ask her to work late again tonight to pull this information together for the auditors tomorrow.

Paul wishes there was an easy way he could have better insight into the details of what his team is doing, a way to monitor developer and user activity, including keeping his documentation up-to-date without doing a huge amount of work that nobody likes doing.

6. Better Tools = Happier Employees

Concerned Paul just finished up a distressing meeting with Busy Beth, his best employee. Despite working crazy hours and wanting to do the right thing, it’s obvious she is slipping further behind.

Busy Beth laid it on the line for Paul – she simply can’t keep doing everything anymore and told Paul she is on the point of burning out. Her recommended remedies were pretty blunt: either they need to invest in more people, or in developing automated tools and support utilities that do most of the manual work.
Beth prefers the latter approach – she loves process automation and scalable, technology-based solutions - and she has a pretty good idea of the tasks an ideal TM1 system management tool would do for her.

Things like tracking every change that developers make in the TM1 model, measuring user activity levels and patterns (including spreadsheets!), automating the migration process, automatically determining object dependencies, and generating up-to-date system documentation on demand.
Last but not least, an ideal system management utility would constantly monitor her TM1 environment in real-time, and proactively notify her of anything that required her attention.

Is there a Solution?

Busy Beth would be a lot less busy if she had access to solutions that would allow her to optimize her TM1 use.  As a true ‘TM1er’, Beth knows there must be pragmatic ways to fix these things. Should she develop them herself or find someone else to do it for her?

Either way, once she does, her job would become a whole lot easier, so we’d probably have to start calling Busy Beth something else…

Breezy Beth, perhaps?  

If you ever see yourself in any of Beth’s predicaments, get in touch. We’ve got solutions.

 

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