Elegant, Practical and Robust Solution Design for Your Analytics Needs

Why is Getting the Design Right so Important?

We all know that we can improve the way we perform Business Analytics and Business Performance Management. An important part of the solution is choosing the right technology, so this is a great first step on the journey to better practices. However, with so many pieces of the puzzle to fit together, it may be difficult to work out where to start, and how to build with future components in mind.

For example, you may be considering a new budgeting process, self-service reporting, incorporating data that has never been presented to users before, and doing all of this through a combination of web, mobile and Excel platforms.

Solution Design

Without a clear understanding of the end-state, and the ‘best practice’ rules for creating a simple, useable system, you could miss the opportunity to create a great first impression for your stakeholders.

What Makes a Good Solution Design?

Budgeting & Forecasting
  • Uses real business drivers – eg product quantities, hours worked, rather than derived $ values
  • No re-keying – model is integrated, with real-time updates
  • Workflow – with clearly defined responsibilities for each user
  • Simple to understand – leave the more complex areas for later
  • Maintenance tasks are automated
Business Intelligence
  • Consistency of data and presentation style across delivery platforms (web, mobile, Excel)
  • Intuitive and un-cluttered interface
  • Dashboards at high-level, drill down to detail as required
  • Optimised performance for high-speed results
Information Management
  • Don’t read directly from source systems – ‘stage’ the data instead
  • Create ‘conformed’ dimensions to provide a robust underpinning for BI
  • Cater for multiple hierarchies and slowly changing dimensions
Predictive Analytics
  • Perform ‘data reconnaissance’ before you start
  • The more history/reference data you have, the greater the model accuracy – choose your first modelling focus accordingly
Integrated Solution
  • Seamless user experience – components should be tightly integrated and presented as an ‘application’, not a software product
  • Use right tools for each job – each component of the architecture has its strengths and weaknesses
  • Apply consistent development standards and terminology, to make it easy to build upon

The Cornerstone Approach to Solution Design

Cornerstone is an IBM Premier Business Partner and has experts in each of the toolsets that make up IBM’s portfolio of software for business intelligence and business performance management. We are also the exclusive Australian distributor for Motio Cognos version control and testing software.

The consultants of Cornerstone have three guiding principles:

  1. We believe that having a thorough understanding of the business principles and strategic motivations of our clients is paramount in helping them achieve an effective business intelligence or business performance management solution. We will ensure that we understand these motivations before attempting to design a solution for you.
  2. We believe that there are no “one-size-fits-all’ solution designs, and that the most effective approach is to balance best-practice with considerations of cost and specific business priorities. Our consultants have the expertise to design the appropriate solution for each client, but also know how to apply it in a pragmatic way.
  3. We believe that, due to the unique combination of skills required, the delivery of these solutions can only be performed by highly-skilled consultants. Our business is nothing without them, and hence our corporate framework is designed primarily to support our consultants and to ensure that they reap the appropriate rewards from a demanding job.

Our customers tell us that this is a very effective approach:

Wesfarmers Insurance

“What we have loved about this project is the way it has changed the company’s perception of financial planning. There’s now a genuine enthusiasm within the business to harness the solution and expand and enhance its capabilities.”

– Rachael McVitty, Acting Chief Financial Officer of the Australian Underwriting Business, Wesfarmers Insurance

Case Study – Wesfarmers

Australian Hearing

“Cornerstone were definitely the right choice – they helped with every aspect of the initial project, and we’ve now started working with them on some subsequent requirements that weren’t part of the original scope,” says Mario Torresan, Chief Financial Officer. “Our HR department decided to use TM1 too, so Cornerstone have extended the solution to handle both financial and HR data. In general, we’ve been very impressed with the speed of deployment of Cognos TM1, which is partly due to the user-friendly design of the product, and partly to Cornerstone’s expertise.”

Case Study – Australian Hearing

Where Do I Start?

If you have an existing implementation using any of the IBM Business Analytics tools; Cognos BI, TM1, SPSS – contact Hamish Dwight today for a health check – and see what opportunities are available to really impress your stakeholders.