Overall Satisfaction with IBM Cognos
We have over 39 systems for which data packages have been developed so that reports and graphics can be developed and used in COGNOS 10. COGNOS is used in most of the company and will eventually be used in all of the company.
It has enabled us to merge data from several systems and develop reports that can give the whole picture for a given program. It is used to access data from systems such as procurement, employee tracking, manufacturing and travel accounting, just to name a few.
It is solving the problem of having to access multiple systems. It has given us the ability to standardize our reporting structure and will eventually enable us to report up to management and the executive level using the same formats and thus reducing man hours spent on specialized reporting, pivot tables, and creating graphics manually.
- COGNOS is very good at not only extracting data but it is very versatile in joining data sets. This is very useful when trying to use several different data streams to accomplish a single report out.
- It is also creating complex formulas/data manipulation. Often the raw data received needs to be put into perspective with other data points. Creating complex case statements, for example, can yield some very interesting results with out further manual manipulation. You can also format it to color code final data outputs based on prescribed standards.
- If you need data relating to data points that are simply not part of the data source, you can create statements that act as reference tables, e.g. if this data point equals that then this is the result. You can also create direct SQL statements.
- There is so much more. I haven't even scratched the surface. I learn about more powerful options and methods every time I use it.
- One big area that needs improvement is the validation option. It is very confusing and not specific enough to actually find a problem. The reports we create can be very complex. If just one item is not validated it often fires off a list that invalidates every field. Even just one item showing up during validation can be hard to find the source. When validating on a field to field basis, it gives you the number of the position of about where the problem is. Some of our case statements, for example can be hundreds of characters and you have to count to find the basic place. It would be nice if it was highlighted instead and offered suggestions.
- The Tips box for available components, e.g. operators, dimensional functions, etc. on each data item needs to be more specific with actual examples. Some have actual data examples but most don't.
- The user guide is not user friendly at all. It needs to have a search and be formatted more like the MS Office help modules with very detailed examples.
- Excel, Power Point, Report Writer and Access
Report Writer was innovative in its day but it was very basic. It was good at accessing multiple data points but it was weak in creating formulas and I don't think you could get graphs out of it.
Excel is very good even today. You can really manipulate data and create pretty good charts. However, it is very manual. PowerPoint is the same and not as powerful. Access is OK but can be confusing.
COGNOS not only can be set up to do the work for you but enables you to drill down off of data and charts. You basically get the end product without the manual manipulation you would need to do in other products.
I would like to know if there are free comprehensive training websites on COGNOS including SQL.
Honestly I think IBM COGNOS is well suited for any application requiring reporting that uses more up to date languages. There are still companies out there using DOS. I would not think COGNOS would be compatible with that. All in all it is an excellent program. I am big on consolidating data into one source and standardizing reporting. I started long ago with Report Writer. My first use resulted in taking a quarterly report out to the EPA that took 3 weeks and gathered data for multiple sources that took less than 2 hours.
The only challenge I have had is gaining an expert working knowledge of all the methods that can be used to accomplish writing the most complex report. I really needed someone with that kind of knowledge to work with me. But each time I started working with someone like that, they moved on. At this point they will be changing my position out of development work and big layoffs are coming. So I will not be able to continue to develop the skill level I want.