Cognos adds more to Metrics Manager

Cognos Inc. on Monday announced it has upgraded its Cognos Metric Manager (CMM) scorecarding product, adding more seamless integration with other Cognos applications, enhanced scalability, and a higher degree of personalization for users.

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, corporate performance management (CPM) components, at Cognos in Ottawa. Now users can bring in third-party data via the Web from Web sites or other applications and load those into CMM, he said.

For example, Smith said Cognos has users in the hotel industry who wanted to view data such as the occupancy rates and average room rates of 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.

The Calgary Health Region purchased CMM v1.1 in February and has been implementing the software incrementally over the past few months. Donna Henuset, balanced scorecard project manager for the Calgary Health Region, said CMM was selected because the Region liked the interface, the simplicity of the red, yellow and green indicators, and it aligned well with other Cognos products the Region uses including PowerPlay.

“The interface is wonderful from a user point of view,” she said.

Once the first phase of the implementation is completed, Henuset said the Region will upgrade to v2.0.

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 diverse and disparate data sources, Henuset said, but she added that is an issue with the Region and not within CMM.

Cognos has 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 Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating systems 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