Cognos Offers Blueprints for BI and Scorecarding Success

New blueprints are designed to support quasi-turnkey BI and scorecarding

At last week’s Cognos Forum user confab, the big news was, of course, Cognos Inc.’s Series 8 BI suite, which has just entered beta.

Series 8 wasn’t the only news out of Cognos Forum. The Toronto-based BI powerhouse also added to its portfolio of rapid deployment tools, announcing—for the first time—new “blueprints” designed for BI and scorecarding.

Cognos announced its first “blueprints”—prepackaged products that encapsulate processes, workflows, and best practices for certain functional areas—last December, as part of its Cognos Planning 3.0 release. The idea, officials said, was to enable quasi-turnkey deployments, with versions for strategic financial forecasting, head count, and compensation, and sales and capital expenditures.

”They are pre-packaged solutions that sit on top of Cognos Planning and provide an out-of-the-box planning capability,” said Delbert Krause, director of enterprise planning product marketing, at the time. “They contain workflow processes and policy processes, so that out of the box, you can start planning.”

The first plan-to-perform blueprints were strictly planning-related items. The blueprint deliverables Cognos announced last week are designed to support extra-planning activities such as scorecarding and BI. “These [blueprints] include the processes that surround the planning process—business intelligence and scorecarding—so now we’ll be delivering blueprints that allow people to score how well they’re doing against the plan, or provide analysis [of the plan],” says Mychelle Mollot, vice-president of market strategy with Cognos.

All told, Cognos announced three new blueprints—for Risk Analysis, Allocation, and Sales Compensation, all of which are based on what the company claims are proven best practices and process-design choices.

The Sales Compensation Planning Blueprint, for example, is designed to support sales projections, and includes support for salary draws and commission payouts against targets linked to revenue and head-count plans. Likewise, the Allocations Blueprint helps organizations negotiate and coordinate overhead expense allocations between cost centers and profit centers. The Risk Analysis Blueprint—the last of the new deliverables—is designed to enable scenario planning across risk categories.

The new plan-to-perform blueprints, like their predecessors, are products of the Cognos Innovation Center that Cognos first launched last June. At the time, the company positioned the Innovation Center as an adjunct to its Cognos Planning efforts. Since then, Mottle acknowledges, the Innovation Center’s mandate has been extended—in this case, she says, to include activities (like BI and scorecarding) that can augment planning. Cognos in its recent marketing has stressed what it calls a “holistic” approach to performance management, which encompasses not just planning and forecasting, but scorecarding and BI. In this respect, Mottle acknowledges, the new plan-to-perform blueprints are a reflection of this strategy.

Mottle says other plan-to-perform blueprints will almost certainly be forthcoming. “The blueprints have been so well received, it’s incredible. Customers have been telling us that they’ve saved so much time and grief by implementing blueprints,” she comments, stressing that the blueprints aren’t turnkey solutions.

“I wouldn’t say they’re turnkey—they’re more like head starts for customers. They give the complete model and the best practices and they let [a solution] be customized for [a customer’s] specific environment.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.