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IBM® Cognos® Analysis for Microsoft Excel brings the benefits of modern enterprise performance management to your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. It provides a way for business analysts, financial analysts, line-of-business managers, and users on the front line to pull data from a variety of sources, including IBM Cognos TM1® and IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, and perform data analysis in a familiar Microsoft Excel spreadsheet environment.

We’ve discussed the many issues that plague spreadsheets when used for strategically-important functions in the business on more than one occasion – and the case has been repeatedly made in favour of specialist budgeting, forecasting, planning and reporting tools for any business serious about clearly aligning these functions with the strategic drive of the firm.

But regardless of how Cognos, and other similar specialised tools can revolutionise your workflow and strategy execution – the initiative to analyse this data is still left in the hands of the personnel.

The Best of Both Worlds

Staff – even highly skilled staff – are resistant to change. They are used to working in Excel, and are highly productive and comfortable in that environment. As an executive, you don’t want to cause any disruption that could impact the fluid running of your business, least of all in the office of finance.

We spoke with Teresa Griessel, a consultant at Cortell Business Performance Management, one of the first companies to roll this software out almost two years ago. IBM® Cognos® Analysis for Microsoft Excel, also known as Café, recently released a major upgrade and Teresa took us through what the software can do.

Cafe Features

“Café  is seamlessly integrated with Excel as an add-in interface, and can be used as an alternative to IBM® Cognos® TM1 perspectives”, says Teresa. “It is also an analysis tool that integrates your Excel interface with that of TM1, allowing you to read and write back data and commentary from TM1. “

“Because of its integration with TM1 and the familiar Excel interface, it allows users to easily navigate through the system and do the required data analysis.

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Café also features a new and exciting, modernised interface. Fast and immediate analysis capabilities can be explored in either of the two development modes; namely Exploration mode and Flex Views mode, both of which allow you to create your own reports using drag and drop functionality of TM1 views and processes. Café’s integration with BI also allows for quick storage, management and sharing of reports amongst various users.

Reporting and Simplicity

One of the most important factors in any specialist interface of this kind, is dynamic reporting, and Café doesn’t disappoint. Cortell often delivers this solution with standard reporting, but multiple entities can also build their own reports through a comprehensive template-building engine. The drag and drop functionality of Café allows users to pull in the view from a Cognos® TM1 cube, and rearrange the view to display the data in the most effective way for data analysis.

Teresa also mentions the ease-of-use factor:  “The Excel interface, the speed, and the simplicity really make it the best tool to use in organisations that need to hold on to a spreadsheet interface. Integration across Wide Area Networks or VPNs is also excellent. “

Finally, as with any new implementation, training is often a factor. “Very little training is required with the familiar interface and ease of use that Café provides users with. Cognos Analysis fast becomes the preferred data analysis tool with its vast capabilities and continued improvements with every new release,” says Teresa.

Download the IBM® Cognos® Analysis for Microsoft Excel White Paper here, or visit our products page to get an overview of some of the tools Cortell uses to revolutionise your office of finance.