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What is TM1 and Planning Analytics? History, Components and Important Uses

IBM Congos TM1, known as Planning Analytics, is a multidimensional, in-memory OLAP engine that allows write-back to the TM1 database. Originally known as Table Manager 1, TM1 is a client/server software platform. It uses Microsoft Excel and various web applications on the client-side with an in-memory, multidimensional datastore on the server-side. As an example, users commonly use TM1 for corporate planning, reporting, and analysis, Importantly, and different to most multidimensional tools, users have the ability to write back, making it extremely useful for activities like corporate planning.

History of TM1

In 1983, Manny Perez created TM1 at Sinper Corporation. In 1996, Applix purchased Sinper Corporation. Then Cognos bought Applix in 2007, which itself was soon after acquired by IBM.

What is Planning Analytics

Development by IBM

IBM has dramatically improved the performance of the product with multi-threaded queries and a range of other performance-based improvements. They have added also a number of new front ends and integrated it (now) quite well with Cognos Analytics.

First of all, the most recent change has been IBM renaming TM1 to Planning Analytics. In addition, we have also seen the migration to the cloud. It can now be hosted by IBM in a SaaS environment or hosted locally, or managed in a hybrid configuration.

Additionally, Planning Analytics Workspace has also been introduced. This is a highly visual data exploration and dashboarding tool with write-back into the source data.

Finally, IBM has also replaced the original Excel add-in, Perspectives, with Planning Analytics for Excel (PAX). This significantly increased the usability of the Excel user.

What do you Use TM1 for?

TM1 is in use by organisations from the world’s largest corporations and government agencies to quite small companies for everything from budgeting, planning, and forecasting, to consolidations, management reporting, and analysis. Pretty well anywhere where you can use a spreadsheet, you can use TM1, but with massively better performance, highly granular security and no broken links!

TM1 Compared to Spreadsheets

Check off these questions and ask yourself whether you could use TM1 in your organisation:

  • Firstly, do you have a spreadsheet-based model used by multiple people?
  • Secondly, does your model contain multiple files?
  • Do you have security on your model that is more granular than just access to a file?
  • Can you refresh your model on-demand with actuals?
  • Can you roll the spreadsheet model from month to month easily?
  • Should the spreadsheets be the source for BI reporting?
  • Do you have users who are not located physically together?
  • Are your calculations consistent right across your spreadsheet model?
  • Do you need instant updates of all changes right through your model?
  • Can you change formulae in every spreadsheet instantly?
  • Lastly, are you able to create and compare new versions of a plan on the fly?

In conclusion, with TM1, you can take a complex set of excel spreadsheets and convert them into a highly controlled, secure, blindingly fast model.

Local, Cloud or Hybrid

Planning Analytics can be deployed onto your in-house servers (as Planning Analytics Local), or on hosted cloud delivered as a subscription-based service by IBM, or again hosted within IBM Cloud Pak for Data. Additionally, it can also be deployed using a hybrid of on-premise and cloud as required.

Core Components

From an application perspective, the core components of Planning Analytics include:

  • Local (TM1) Server
  • Workspace (PAW)
  • For Excel (PAX or PAfE)
  • Spreadsheet Services (TM1Web)

Core Objects

In this list, we can see the primary objectives of TM1:

  • Dimensions
  • Elements (the individual members of a dimension, usually rolled into hierarchies)
  • Cubes (combining dimensions into a storage repository called a cube)
  • Rules (the formulae that determine how elements are calculated)
  • Processes (specifically for loading data and managing the overall environment)
  • Chores (scheduled jobs)
  • Security (by cube, dimension, element or even cell)
  • Excel Reports and Forms
  • Dashboards and visualisations

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