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Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan – a high level comparison

We recently attended a conference in San Francisco for Anaplan, a cloud based performance management tool. This application was developed by a few ex-Cognos guys that were the original developers of Cognos Planning (aka Adaytum). Traditionally most performance management applications have been based on the old client-server model; however with the greater acceptance of storing data in the could and using cloud based applications, tools such as Anaplan are starting to give the older technologies a run for their money.

 

Comparing Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan

When comparing Anaplan to Cognos (specifically Cognos TM1) lets focus on implementation time, functionality, and cost.

 

Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan Implementation Time

Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan
One selling point Anaplan focuses on heavily is the quick implementation time. With being able to access Anaplan via the web and not having to do any installation of software on your company’s server, your ability to begin developing is definitely quick. Comparatively with Cognos you must manually install it on a server (i.e. your company’s servers, Amazon Web Services, etc) and spend the time tuning your environment (Note: At the time of this writing IBM is beginning to offer Cognos TM1 in the cloud but it is not a mature product). Initial start up time is definitely in Anaplan’s favor here.

 

One thing I do notice from Anaplan is the “start small” pitch. With any software application that is maturing customers don’t want to jump all in at once with large projects. Customers typically start small with a very specific task that they want to use Anaplan for. If they like the application they then consider expanding its uses within their business. Comparatively to larger Performance Management applications such as Cognos TM1 who have been battled tested over time, customers are more willing to jump into larger projects that naturally take more time to implement. With any performance management application, the longest part of the implementation process is identifying the project’s requirements and fine tuning the requirements during sprints, not actually developing the model in Anaplan or TM1. In our opinion the actual build time of an application in Anaplan and TM1 is equivalent. Any project that is small in scale and has a clear requirement definition can be completed quickly when you have good developers regardless of application.

 

Anaplan gets the edge in this section with being a cloud based solution.

 

Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan Functionality

Anaplan and Cognos TM1 currently take a different approach to application functionality. Within Anaplan input pages often have input tables and charts integrated on the same page to analyze and see data in multiple different ways. TM1 by default often only has input tables within the input pages and then dashboards and pre-built reports are consumed through the separate BI application. When developing the application Anaplan development is based fully on a GUI based development tool. Other than writing some SQL code to tap into a database there is not coding required by a developer for most applications. TM1 utilizes its own scripting language and a developer will have to utilize TM1’s programming language to load and pass data through the system. TM1 is currently pushing Performance Modeler which uses a development GUI much like Anaplan but this is still a product that is maturing at the time of this writing. One benefit of the simplified development interface provided by Anaplan is that Business Analysts can truly sustainment this application vs. TM1 where employees in the IT development with a basic programming language understanding is typically required for TM1 sustainment.

 

Application performance and data management for large data-sets is very similar between applications. Both tools utilize an in-memory server concept for storing data which means calculations and retrieving data from the server is very quick. No tool has a clear advantage here.

 

If your business is a user of Salesforce or Workday, Anaplan does have connectors setup to import the data from these applications however some advanced programming may be required. TM1 does not provide any connectors to external applications and data of this type needs to be exported to a flat file or pushed to a datamart before it can be accessed via TM1.

 

We will give the slight edge in functionality to TM1 because of its proven ability to handle many different use cases. We heard multiple clients at this conference talking about how they required Anaplan to implement new functionality to meet their requirements. TM1 is a mature product that can almost always meet a customers requirements. As Anaplan matures this comparison to TM1 would need to be re-evaluated.

 

Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan Cost

If you are a small customer not requiring a lot of data in your application then Anaplan can be the cheaper alternative. Larger organizations that require large amounts of data, complexity, and ERP actual data integration may find that Cognos is a cheaper solution. Both applications require the purchase of user licensees and within Cognos you will often times have to purchase a planning and reporting user license for the same person. Again, this all depends on whether you also use Cognos BI or if you do all of your data analysis internally within TM1. Additionally, TM1 pricing can be complex as cost is calculated on processing power on your servers and PVUs.

 

Often times the only limitation to the amount of data in TM1 is the amount of RAM you have for your production servers. RAM is cheap and as your TM1 model grows so can the amount of RAM installed on your server. Anaplan charges based on the amount of memory that you take up on the cloud server. Again, this is a cloud based application and servers will often times be shared between customers and server memory is allocated to your application instance. As your application grows and you use more memory, your business may need to purchase more memory in the cloud from Anaplan. When designing your application in Anaplan you will need to be cognizant of overall dimension and cube size and identify what really needs to be included in your model.

 

You will also need a good plan in place to purge data our of your system when historical data is no longer needed in Anaplan. Comparatively to Cognos TM1, you always want to keep things as compact and simple as possible in your application but overall cube size and memory usage is not always of great concern.

 

We will say Anaplan and TM1 are a tie regarding cost. If you are a small business or have a very small use case then Anaplan has the advantage. If the foot print of your Performance Management solution is going to grow or you are doing a large implementation right from the start then TM1 may be the more affordable solution depending on data volume usage and other variables.

 

Cognos TM1 vs. Anaplan Overall Analysis

From this article you can see that Anaplan and TM1 have their strengths and weaknesses. Which application is a better fit for your business? The simple answer is “It depends on your use case”. For assistance with tool evaluation or to talk about Anaplan and Cognos TM1 please contact BEM Partners.

Brandon
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