Cognos adds more to Metrics Manager

When the Calgary Health Region was looking for a scorecarding application, it turned to Cognos Inc.’s Metric Manager v1.1 (CMM) for its user-friendly interface, easy integration with other Cognos applications, such as PowerPlay, and the simplicity of its status indicators, according to Donna Henuset, balanced scorecard project manager for the Region.

In July Cognos announced it had upgraded its Cognos Metric Manager (CMM) to v2.0, adding more seamless integration with other Cognos applications, enhanced scalability and a higher degree of personalization for users – and Henuset couldn’t be happier.

The Calgary Health Region purchased CMM v1.1 in February and has been implementing the software incrementally over the past few months. While the Region is currently in the first phase of the implementation, Henuset said it will be upgrading to CMM v2.0 at the start of the second phase.

Users can now work offline and print with CMM v2.0, which Henuset said is thus far the most useful enhancement to the product.

The biggest challenge for the Region has been tying in data from its numerous and disparate data sources, Henuset said.

In the previous version – v1.1 – users could only look at the actual number and the target number and examine the variance between them, explained Mike Smith, product marketing manager of corporate performance management components at Cognos in Ottawa. Now users can bring in third-party data via the Web or other applications and load those into CMM, which helps personalize the interface.

Henuset said the interface is wonderful “from a user point of view.”

For example, Smith said, Cognos has users in the hotel industry who wanted to view occupancy rates and average room costs

of their competitors to compare to their own. Now those users can bring that information into a report, and can take advantage of between one and eight fields in v2.0, as opposed to a standard of three in v1.1, Smith said.

Right now, metrics are indicated in one of three ways: in red if the metric is below tolerance level; yellow if the metric sits in the performance level, and green if the metric exceeds the tolerance level.

A tolerance level is a range of acceptable values for a given metric. For example, revenue might have a tolerance level of between $1 million and $5 million. So if revenue was less that $1 million it would be indicated in red, between $1 million and $5 million it would be indicated in yellow, and above $5 million it would be indicated in green.

In v2.0, these indicators have been expanded to include a half-red and a half-green indicator so users can know in more detail how metrics are performing.

In this case, the tolerance level could be split up to show that revenue is between $1 million and $2 million, coloured half-red, and between $4 million and $5 million, coloured half-green.

Also, users can indicate if they want to be notified via e-mail if a metric changes. So, for example, if during one day the revenue metric dropped from $4 million to $3 million, or from half-green to yellow, the administrator could be notified.

Henuset applauds this enhancement, saying it allows for a more accurate indication of a metric’s status.

Cognos has also improved the product so it integrates more seamlessly with Cognos’ analytic applications such as PowerPlay, its Enterprise Planning Series, and Enterprise BI Series 7 Version 2.

Henuset said the added integration is beneficial but noted she would like to see further tie-ins with Cognos’ Visualizer. She added she would like to see a report tab in CMM that would allow the user to build more sophisticated charts.

“It’s difficult to set parameters and control parameters,” she said, explaining that the charts they are looking to create have three sets of parameters, making it tricky to produce. “All it does is increase functionality for evaluation purposes, but [regardless of this lack of functionality] I think CMM now is very functional and very user friendly and it’s got good features.”

CMM v2.0 also supports more application servers including IBM Corp.’s WebSphere, BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic, and Sun Microsystems’ ONE platforms. It also supports Windows and Unix.

Additionally, the product now supports up to 10,000 scorecards and 100,000 metrics according to Cognos’ Smith, which he said is a substantial improvement over version 1.1 of the product.

CMM v2.0 costs US$650 per user, and discounts may apply for large volumes. For more information visit Cognos online at