• Scott Felten

Managing Cognos TM1 with Effective Documentation: Part 3

If you are new to this blog series, be sure to read my previous blog posts on Managing Cognos TM1 with Effective Documentation in which I have highlighted two key factors that need to be managed: Cognos TM1 Complexity and Cognos TM1 Changes.

In this final blog of my three-part blog series, I will discuss another key characteristic of IBM Cognos TM1, flexibility

When you start Cognos TM1 is is essentially a blank canvas that you use to construct models. Within the toolset there is typically not just one right way of doing things; instead, there are several different ways of tackling your business problems and it is up to the organization to agree on and ensure that standards and best practices are followed.

What is important here is:

  • Having standards in place that address naming conventions and proven practices

  • Having a quality assurance process in place

  • Having a holistic view of the models so that they can be checked for consistency and monitored against the standards

Managing the flexibility of the toolset requires governance processes and quality assurance practices to be in place.

The Framework

Below is a framework for documenting Cognos TM1 that focuses on helping to manage the characteristics of TM1 identified above. The framework is expressed in terms of what to document and the key characteristics that make the documentation effective.

In order to effectively manage Cognos TM1, documenting the following is recommended:

What to document:

  • Data flows, relationships and dependences

  • Definitions

  • Changes to models

  • Rule Scripts & ETL process scripts

  • End user applications

  • Admin processes

  • Standards, proven practices and supporting information

  • Setup and configuration

Characteristics of Effective Documentation

The following characteristics or "features" to include in the documentation are recommended to get the most out of the documentation:

  • Up-to-date - documentation is usually ineffective if it is not up-to-date, especially in an environment like Cognos TM1 which embraces change

  • Focused and relevant - the documentation should be kept relevant and focuses

  • Organized effectively with good navigation and interactivity - documentation needs to be organized so that users are guided through it

  • Easy to maintain - there should be minimal investment in time and cost required to update documentation

  • Graphical and visual - having diagrams available so that solutions can be seen holistically is important

  • Searchable - having documentation that can be searched intuitively is incredibly useful as it allows users to ask questions of TM1

  • Centralized - the documentation should be centralized and easily accessible

To conclude this blog series, Cognos TM1 provides an excellent platform for developing solutions and its ability to embrace complexity, cater for change and be a flexible solution are key strengths of the platform. As will all good things, however, these need to be managed in order to get the most out of the offering. The key to managing complexity, change and flexibility is through good documentation, and useful documentation that is well organized, interactive and visual with drill-through ability. It needs to be TM1 for TM1 - a solution that you can count on when you need to analyze data flow and answer pertinent questions around the Cognos TM1 solution.

For a complete chart of the what to document and characteristics of effective documentation, or if you have questions, please email me at info@qubedocs.com

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