Alan Whitehouse's Ramblings

Continuing to work until my heavy investment in lottery tickets finally pays off….

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Update on the TGO Planning Solution

Posted by Alan on October 7, 2011

It has been a while since I did any serious posting.  My off hours have been busy with summer activities (mostly drinking beer and mojitos on the back deck) and work has been consumed with our new planning solution.  Any of you who have followed me know about my long and sordid history with planning solutions.  To avoid the pains of the past we here at TGO Consulting decided to take matters into our own hands and over the past 6 months have been working on building our own solution.

I am very happy to report that a half-year of joy, frustration, awe, anger and a dozen other emotions has finally resulted in our first release.  Below is our first semi-formal write-up for True Sky Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting.  I am sure it will undergo some marketing transformations as we refine our message, but it should give you a good overview of what we have accomplished.

* * * * * *
True Sky Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting™ is a powerful and flexible solution that helps organizations manage and streamline their planning process.  The basic philosophy of True Sky™ can best be described as:

  • Budget in Excel
  • Manage in SharePoint
  • Store in SQL Server

Budget in Excel
True Sky allows end users to enter planning information in a familiar and easy to use tool – Microsoft Excel.  While other products promote their “Excel like” look and feel, the True Sky interface is Excel and therefore provides all the traditional Excel functionality users have come to expect.  In addition, True Sky provides a set of integrated tools specially designed to speed the planning process and aid the user with their
assigned tasks. Some of these include:

  • Spreading/Calendarization of Values
  • Mass Adjustments by Dollar Amount or Percentage
  • Attachment of Detailed Notes, Explanations and Attachments
  • Automatic Build Up of Detailed Line Items
  • On-Line Review and Approval

Manage in SharePoint
Designed with the Finance and Operations groups in mind, once initial installation and configuration has been completed, the planning process can be as independent from the IT group as desired or as allowed by corporate policy.  Since the process is centrally controlled within SharePoint, organizations avoid the traditional pitfalls traditionally associated with other planning solutions.  Whether it is creating entry templates, maintaining user access, configuring security, generating assignments or managing the process; the Finance or Operations groups can assume total ownership of the system.  Some of the administration features available within True Sky include:

  • Global What-If Modeling
  • Unlimited Versioning
  • Integration to Most ERP or Line of Business Systems
  • Support for Hard Stop or Warning Validations
  • Insight to the Complete Process at Any Point in Time

Store in SQL Server
All planning related data is stored in SQL Server. Not only does this allow the solution to scale to large number of users, it ensures that this critical data is being handled per to corporate policy, backed up and instantly available for analysis.

Powerful reporting and analysis of your planning data is available from within True Sky.  However, should you so choose, any of a number of commercially available analytical/reporting tools such as Excel, PowerPivot, SQL Reporting Services, SharePoint, Cognos, Tableau or Qlikview can also be used.
* * * * * *

We currently have a couple early adopters already lined up and will be beginning deployment projects over the next month and a half or so.  Right now our plan is for us to do any implementations of the software until we have enough real-life deployments behind us that we can identify any of the gotchas with our solution and determine our best practices.  After that we will be looking to open it up to partners.

In the meantime I am working on a series of videos and write-ups on various components of the solution and will be posting links to them here as they are finished.

It feels good to be back in the planning game especially now that we are in control.


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