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Creative Computing and Cognos host major local firms

Creative Computing and Cognos host major local firms to discuss the importance of Planning for the Office of Finance.

Bringing Order to Chaos. That was one of the themes expressed in this spring’s “Office of Finance Best Practices Event” hosted by Creative Computing, Inc. and Cognos, an IBM company, at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln RI.

Companies like FGX (Foster Grant), Mass Housing, Arbella Insurance, MetLife, and Athena Health among others spent the morning listening to presentations on how to leverage the Office of Finance products from Cognos, an IBM Company, to help create accurate, dynamic, forward-looking plans for future growth and success.

The morning began with Joe Burton of Creative Computing presenting a high level overview of the value of Enterprise Planning, and some tips on ensuring a successful implementation. Burton, Creative Computing’s Office of Finance Practice Manager, cautioned the group not to try to build one massive enterprise wide plan as a first project, but rather identify a couple “quick wins” which would show immediate value and build buy in for the larger implementation. “Don’t try to eat the elephant. By dividing the project into parts and delivering the less complex parts first can help build user acceptance.” said Burton.

Creative’s Mary Smith discussed the various techniques to deliver robust reporting against the Enterprise Planning (EP) environment. The audience was pleased to hear that Smith had successfully designed and built a flexible Data Mart using data from multiple sources including EP, in about a week. This mart became the foundation upon which was built a series of cubes and reports which enabled non-technical users to access and explore EP data interactively. “Data Marts are a great solution,” said Smith. “But they may not be for everyone. If all you need is data from a single EP model, building reports directly against the Published Container with Report Studio can be just as valuable.”

Fuel Cell Energy of Danbury, CT presented a complex, comprehensive information environment which they delivered in just a few months which encompassed a vast cross section of Cognos technologies. Rob Keefrider, Director of Finance and Information Analytics for Fuel Cell, explained how with just a couple month left in the fiscal year he decided to “bite the bullet” and jump full steam ahead into a major overhaul of their existing forecasting and budgeting process, making Cognos EP the new centerpiece technology for the entire system. In spite of a series of challenges, Keefrider’s team pulled it off, delivering incremental pieces of the solution at critical times, and allowing his team to get through the first budget cycle by the skin of their teeth. “Looking back,” Keefrider said, “we made the right call. If we had waited till next fiscal year, we knew the business would have that many more demands on it. The company is growing rapidly now and we’re stretching our resources to cover a great deal of work already. Waiting would have been a mistake.” In the end, Fuel Cell Energy overhauled it entire Business Intelligence platform using Cognos 8, implemented Enterprise Planning to do Budgeting and Forecasting, as well as Cognos Finance to deliver financial reporting.

With lunch being brought in, there was one session left. The forward looking talk was both exciting and possibly a little concerning to some in the room. Joe Fitzpatrick and Atique Taluker of Cognos presented and demonstrated TM1. This multi-dimensional data base, which was developed and well established by Applix before it was acquired by Cognos last year, will form the new underlying data source for the new Office of Finance solution from Cognos. The process will take many months, but the benefits will be substantial. “TM1’s speed and read/write capability along with its ability to handle huge volumes of data make it a natural fit to support a financial planning application,” said Joe Fitzpatrick.

Looking ahead to the Fall, attendees suggested a follow up presentation on TM1 and what the product road map looks like as we move towards complete convergence of the technologies. While all attendees where at different point in their journey towards creating Performance Management companies, all felt they had some valuable takeaways from the day. Many have set concrete next steps to explore how these tools can help streamline, simplify and accelerate their current planning and budgeting processes.


Creative Computing
Ken Gustin
Office: (401)-727-2400
Fax: (401)-727-4998
Creative Computing, Inc.
100 Middle Street
Lincoln, RI 02865


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