Cognos Improves Planning Integration

Cognos claims Enterprise Planning Series 7.2 will ease some of the integration headaches of its predecessors.

Cognos Inc. on Tuesday announced Enterprise Planning Series 7.2, an upgrade the company said will ease some of the integration headaches of its predecessors.

The software, which combines the former Cognos Finance product with planning and budgeting software acquired last year from Adaytum Inc., supports financial reporting, calculation of business drivers effects on budget plans and metrics based on time horizons.

Manufacturing company Murray Inc., which began using Cognos Finance four years ago, is now beta testing Version 7.2 of Cognos Enterprise Planning Series after implementing Version 7.1. The real-time engine that is new to Version 7.2 caught Murray Financial Systems Manager Rose Melillos eye, she said.

"You can do a lot of what-if scenarios and see it right there. You dont have to change your entire financial plan, based on one target area," said Melillo, in Brentwood, Tenn. "You can set what you want your bottom line to be, then look at what it would be if you changed something.

"You can do more driver-based planning, rather than just input and calculation."

Melillo called the integration of Adaytum and Cognos technologies the "best of both worlds." Murray had previously evaluated Adaytum applications for financial planning before going with Cognos.

While many of these capabilities existed in Cognos Enterprise Planning Series before Version 7.2, Melillo said this is the first version of the application that integrates them well.

"There was integration before this, but not on the wizard level, only on the IT level," she said. "Now its all click-and-point and drag-and-drop."

The end result is that Murray can do its financial closes much faster, shaving the time it takes down from two weeks to three days.

"Weve been waiting for something like this," said Melillo. "We thought wed have to reinvent the world in planning. Now we wont have to."

In addition to real-time visibility of operating performance, Cognos Enterprise Planning 7.2 includes tighter integration of planning data with production reporting as well as support for direct entry commands for changing planning data, what the company calls "active planning."

Version 7.2 also features attribute-based models to facilitate complex dimensional consolidation and reporting needs and deeper integration with Excel. Melillo said she likes the new Excel capabilities.

"You can have charts and graphs in Excel that link to your planning data," she said.

Integration with other Cognos products such as Metrics Manager, PowerPlay, Impromptu and ReportNet has also been improved in this release, Cognos officials said. All Cognos products also now feature single sign-on user authentication with a single collection of common user and user-class definitions.