One of our clients, Orchard Brands, recently participated in an IBM virtual roundtable, and we thought it would be useful to share our recap of the major themes and notable points that each panelist had to offer. The panel included four different IBM clients – Orchard Brands, Logistics AG, Jabil, Inc. and Mueller, Inc. What made this roundtable particularly unique was that every client is currently in a different lifecycle stage with their TM1 product. Some are approaching just a year post-implementation, while others are going on 10-15 years. Here is a recap of the common questions and answers from the roundtable.
What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned after implementing TM1?
“The people,” culture, listening and preparedness are the most important components to having a successful implementation. Knowing from the beginning who is going to run the tool, who will maintain it and planning for change management are all aspects that need to be carefully and thoroughly reviewed. Also, the employee’s jobs that included consolidating spreadsheets become obsolete – how to transform these employees from data crunchers to business people is really important to a company’s culture. Another vital aspect of preparedness includes having the right documentation and reference materials in place. In the case of Orchard Brands, they were the first ever to implement TM1 on the cloud, so a lot of their documentation was being developed as they implemented, which made it a learning experience. Lastly, it’s important to listen to your employees and team members to understand what they’d like to get out of the tool and what is important to them in their day-to-day process. This understanding helps shape the most effective setup and configuration of TM1 from the beginning.
Which new capabilities do you have now, that you didn’t have five years ago?
Visualizing the data in a manner that allows for speed, scalability and volume all at once is key. This has allowed for more data to be thrown at the system and new ways to test TM1. As soon as someone makes a change in the system, it’s immediately visual in their BI system, which previously, had taken hours to update. TM1 has also opened doors, where never thought possible, to other areas of the business like supply chain management, long term planning, pricing, workflows, marketing and sourcing. Although TM1 is a finance-built tool, its interface easily allows for integration across multiple departments, creating a more diverse platform. The other areas of the business (where no ROI was anticipated) has actually been the biggest value.
What is the most important business value improvement you’ve seen from TM1, or anticipate seeing?
Time is of the essence and time is money. TM1 has sped up forecasting, analysis and reacting to sudden changes. This decrease of time spent crunching numbers and consolidating spreadsheets has widened the opportunity to develop new capabilities focused on revenue-generating analysis that help companies grow. Being able to make a decision quicker and with more confidence is a HUGE cost saver. The cost of making a decision a day earlier can save thousands of dollars. Those things add up. This freed up time has also opened doors for exploring how TM1 can impact other areas of the business. Also, TM1 can provide a “500 page level data” or a “20 page level data.” One element can provide for multiple constituencies by displaying the relevant analysis as high-level or as in-depth as you need. Figuring out how to consolidate these lengthy reports to deliver to senior management had previously been a huge time consumer.
What are your thoughts on TM1 Cloud and what steps are you taking in evaluating cloud options?
Orchard Brands is currently running TM1 on the cloud, while the other three clients are running TM1 on-premise. There are mixed reviews about cloud, but it all comes down to if it’s a right fit for your company or not. One huge benefit of cloud for Orchard Brands is that the system is completely contained in finance, with little to no involvement in IT. This separation allows for finance to wholly own and understand the system. Cloud is also a strategic move for most companies considering ease, security and flexibility. Some clients currently aren’t considering cloud because they have recently invested in infrastructure to get new servers, but may consider it on their next go-around. Another panelist viewed that cloud solutions are the future and they can’t wait for it. It’s talked about and considered on a daily basis. Cloud makes your IT department “lean” if you can eliminate infrastructure, maintenance upgrades and migrations. It all comes back to being fully educated about the pros and cons of cloud, and understanding how it would positively or negatively affect your business, and weighing those factors against each other.
What’s your best advice for selling the business case for TM1 to senior management?
It’s important to put your people and process above the technology. Prepare the business case for the positive impact of your people and process, and put that above simply your technology upgrades. Paint a picture of good, concrete examples of “where we are now, and where we can get to in the future.” Focus on the time you’re going to save with this new tool and how this corresponds to “X amount of dollars over the next X amount of months.” Use the concrete examples of new reports, capabilities and hours spent to show how specific applications of TM1 can provide tangible results going forward. Understand your company’s vision, mission and objectives and present your case in a business-focused manner, directly related back to the company’s long-term goals. With this approach, you can’t go wrong.