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TM1’izing Excel Planning Workbooks

Project Methodology Primarily Applies to Small to Mid Sized implementations of TM1 (3-8 weeks).

It’s a widely established practice when scoping a TM1 project to take the legacy Planning Workbooks (where possible) for prior budgets and planning rounds to use as a starting point for company-specific business logic and corporate structures.

The advantages of this methodology are obvious:

  • Unless there is a corporate initiative to change the methodology for planning, the logic that worked for last year will likely be a close fit as a starting point for this year.
  • Boosted user adoption from using a similarly formatted (TM1 Enabled) Workbook.
  • Technical TM1 Resources in most cases can understand business processes faster and more precisely when gleaning information from a Workbook as opposed to meeting with key stakeholders for hours at a time.
  • This legacy workbook will be used at some point anyway as the source for historic plans which should be loaded for comparative and what-if analysis – therefore having the formats similar will save time.

The disadvantages are less obvious but can have a heavy bearing on the success of the project.

  • Building in the limitations – It takes honed TM1 acumen to determine places TM1 inherently behaves better than a legacy Excel planning workbook. Without this insight gained from multiple implementations of this sort, developers often without realizing it begin to build limitations and redundancies into TM1 models simply because that’s the way it was before – Which leads to the next disadvantage.
  • Keeping up the Communication – Because of the clear path forward provided by having a model to work off, technical resources can potentially disengage from the key stakeholders. Where the Legacy Solution was meant to be the starting point for this solution, it becomes the Developers Target. This can lead to key requirements (the upgrades and new features) not being implemented or being tagged on the end like a band-aide.
  • Key Person Dependency – This isn’t always a problem for simple and small-sized implementations but can be for the combination of feature-rich implementations with a lack of documentation.

What are the telltale signs of a successful implementation using this project methodology?

When asked: This solution looks exactly the same as last years, so what have we gained?

You can reply:

  • All our corporate Actual and Plans are in a single solution (Budget, Forecast/Target, Actual) and can be compared to each other using pre-made reports.
  • All our reports are just configurable templates, for example, switching the Year from 2019 to 2018 will return all the prior year’s information
  • All our accounts and departments are summed up using our own corporate structure – No more making summary reports in excel which link to thousands of other workbooks.
  • We can duplicate Forecast scenarios, tweak high-level assumptions and then compare against our old baseline for what-if analysis at the drop of the hat.
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