Cognos data modules and data sets were used to leverage existing Framework Manager model structures. The result is a nimble ad hoc reporting environment where users can drag and drop the measures they need and reports run fast.

Challenge

The client is a multi-billion-dollar international provider of specialty vehicle parts.  The company wanted to provide analysts with a fast, simple way in Cognos to do ad hoc reporting and dashboard creation for sales and supply chain forecasting. They also wanted to be able to perform comparisons going back five years, a capability that is not out-of-the box with Cognos.

The client’s Cognos environment included a Framework Manager (FM) model that was very well structured and contained details down to the order line by day and SKU level. While this level of granularity was excellent for operational needs, it translated to millions of rows of data that in turn bogged down ad hoc reporting efforts, where only summarized subsets of operational data were needed for high level analysis. Analysts were exposed to unnecessary granularity and only base measures were available. Valuable measures like relative time comparisons were unavailable and were calculated off-line in spreadsheets.

Solution

Senturus built a hybrid architecture that leveraged old and new Cognos functionality. Including custom calculations and separate self-service analytics layers, we delivered the client a high-performance self-service reporting solution with drag and drop functionality.

  • Built Cognos datasets and data modules using the existing FM packages and data mappings.
  • Extracted dimensional and factual datasets from those packages and put those datasets into subject areas, specific data modules.
  • Created an analytics layer for supply chain reporting to include data such as supply sales, forecast, budgets, SKU levels, etc.
  • Created an analytics layer for sales reporting with varying grains of detail including month, day, customer ship-to, etc.
  • Narrowed data set definitions, summarizing them for specific levels of granularity as needed and summarized them into dataset files, significantly shrinking the size of the resultant data sets.
  • Created calculations in the data module for frequently needed measures, eliminating the need for manual calculations.
  • Integrated third-party data and analyst-supplied files (e.g budget data, Excel files) into the data module. This allowed us to integrate files into the Cognos solution without having to update back-end databases or client created Excel extracts.
  • Leveraged and customized relative time calculations and relative time clocks to allow the client to perform dual year-over-year calculations going back five years and with granularity into month, quarters and year.

Benefits

  • Ad hoc reporting leverages the existing, sanctioned and clean data in Framework Manager.
  • Eliminated (time consuming) data remodeling work in Excel.
  • Users can now simply drag and drop the measures they need into reports and dashboards.
  • Reports run fast.
  • The utilization of high-performing in-memory datasets allow for very fast reporting and dashboard displays.

Building a hybrid FM/DM model to enable ad hoc and self-service reporting makes excellent sense for Cognos organizations with a lot of Framework Manager models.

About this client

The client is a multi-billion dollar provider of specialty vehicle parts, with 11 distinct brands, operations in three continents and more than 50,000 employees worldwide.

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