Last year, about 60% of businesses were still using Excel spreadsheets as their main tool for planning and budget analysis. While these manually-updated spreadsheets were previously a main forecasting and performance management tool for enterprises, the time has come to leave these error-prone and clunky programs in the past.
If your organization is among the percentage of those still using spreadsheets, we have more bad news for you: Nearly nine out of every 10 spreadsheets include errors. These mistakes are so severe that they impact the resulting insights or analysis that the spreadsheet supports.
Your business's planning, analysis and reporting processes are critically important, and there are much more intuitive, accurate and efficient solutions available to support these activities. When it comes time for your company to upgrade and leave spreadsheets behind, one of the options to consider is IBM Planning Analytics. There are a few main elements you should be aware of with this solution, and some key reasons to think about upgrading:
1) An intuitive user interface
IBM Planning Analytics includes Workspace, the simple and customizable user interface that enables its functionality. This UI represents a considerable improvement, not only over the basic and blocky interface of Excel, but of the previous IBM Cognos TM1 as well.
As IBM Business Analytics blog contributor Paul Bard pointed out, Workspace was designed to be very visual in its use, with a freeform design that encompasses more than 25 charts, scorecards, shapes, images, text, video and more. Users can also leverage features like Quick Search and Snap Commands for a natural-language style experience.
Workspace also enables users to combine data from sources across any cube to initiate a single view, without the previously-required conversion process.
"With the highly interactive viewer, it's easy to navigate a multidimensional cube and convert 'data exploration' into a chart," Bard wrote. "Then, you can use this chart to present and share results with others."
2) Hierarchies: Advanced features improve overall use
In addition to the improved user interface, new capabilities like the paradigm-changing analysis tool Hierarchies improve the experience for users even further. This level of data analysis and attribute exploration is unmatched within basic manual spreadsheets like Excel.
Hierarchies allows users to eliminate previous limitations for cube definition analysis, and enables the use of attribute data for virtual dimensions from the time each cube was originally created to any time afterward. This means users can explore data points that were previously unviewable, and include these in their analysis and considerations for a more holistic and comprehensive view of the data.
3) Benefits of PAx: Microsoft Excel access
While many businesses still leverage Excel — and the spreadsheet program will no doubt continue to have a place in the enterprise for more basic functions — IBM has made it simple to access Excel through Planning Analytics with the PAx feature. PAx (or Planning Analytics for Excel) provides Excel access to the Cognos TM1 database through several, key integration points with Planning Analytics' Workspace interface. In this way, users have a more streamlined experience across Planning Analytics and Excel, and can leverage data from the latter within the former for improved analysis and decision-making.
4) Other improvements and advantages
Overall, IBM has worked hard to create a solution within its Planning Analytics that takes reporting, planning, analysis, performance management and other key functions to the next level. In addition to the above benefits, other reasons to upgrade from manual spreadsheets to IBM Planning Analytics include:
- Intelligent automation: IBM Planning Analytics brings automation to critical processes to help improve efficiency while reducing manual errors.
- A robust calculation engine: Calculations are backed by a powerful on-board engine to ensure that each computation and projection is precise and accurate.
- Unified Data: Bring previously siloed sources together within Planning Analytics — including data from different spreadsheets and databases — to ensure access to a single source of truth for analysis.
- Improved analysis capabilities: Data modeling including multidimensional and what-if scenarios, within a personal sandbox.
- Real-time collaboration: Users can work simultaneously and incorporate any necessary adjustments or changes in real time to support the best decision-making process.
- Strong integration and available deployment styles: Businesses can choose from on-premises or cloud rollout of IBM Planning Analytics, and can select from different solution levels to support trial, midsize or unlimited scalability needs.
Working with an expert solution from IBM Gold Partner Grandview makes the process of upgrading to IBM Planning Analytics even more efficient and beneficial for your organization and its users. With a partner like Grandview by your side, you can take advantage of unmatched expertise and bring your strategic planning, analysis and decision-making to the next level.
To find out more about how IBM Planning Analytics stacks up against traditional spreadsheets, connect with us today.