By Paul Hausser, Envisn, Inc.
The biggest challenge faced by Cognos administrators in any Cognos BI environment is having the tools and information needed to manage it. A key part of this needed information is a complete picture of usage and overall utilization. Creating this can be a challenge but once it’s done the payoff can be huge. In this blog we will focus on going beyond the basics and using the Cognos audit data in some creative ways.
Going Beyond Basics
Can you use the audit data available from the standard, out-of-the-box offering that IBM Cognos provides? Yes, but you’ll quickly find there are some limitations with what you get here. Our previous blog on Cognos Audit Extensions noted that the sample reports provided with this can be helpful up to a point but have limited dimensionality and measures. Moving beyond this requires some work unless you decide to purchase a tool that does this for you.
The key thing to keep in mind here is that the value of going beyond the basics of what’s available is that the benefits are cumulative. The more you are able to do with the audit data the more you’ll be able to extend this into new areas of use and build upon what you have created.
Adding dimensionality and measures can greatly enhance the basic audit data to be able to identify problems or opportunities. One or more organizational dimensions can add a lot of value to analyzing what content is being used, with what frequency and by whom. More granular measures on usage such as sessions, activity types and content will make it easier to add value and precision to your audit data for usage analysis and reporting.
Standard reports or OLAP? – In many Cognos environments the audit data is used in multiple reports with different dimensions while others use OLAP cubes. Reports are best for standard metrics on things like utilization of content, frequency of usage, Pareto analyses, etc. OLAP cubes have an advantage when exploring and analyzing the data because of the ease with which this can be done on the fly.
Drill-through reports are the example where both are used together. Thus, most environments will usually have a mix of offering audit data using mulitple formats. The decision should be made on what makes it easiest to consume the information.
Some examples of using Cognos audit data creatively include the following items:
- Average User Session Length – (Figure 1 - click image to view full size) This example shows average session length by users from high to low for a given time period.
- Report Run Count by Dispatcher and Run Type – This is useful for looking at the load by dispatcher and run type (interactive or batch) for a given time period.
- Object Type Count by Package – Makes it easy to see which FM packages are actually being used and weed out those that have no usage.
- Report Average Run Times – (Figure 2 - click image to view full size) Identifies reports with consistently long run times that may indicate problems. Can also drill down on weeks/days/hours.
- New Content Adoption Rates by Organization and User – Measures subsequent usage of new content developed in a given period. Useful to see if new content is actually being used and how quickly it’s being adopted.
- Test Validation – Shows run counts for reports in Test or UA environment to validate that testing is actually being done.
- Reports Scheduled & Run but Never Viewed – (Figure 3 - click image to view full size) This can be a problem in any environment but especially in large ones where users may schedule and run reports but seldom, if ever, look at them. Getting control of this can free up lots of platform resources.
- Run Count by Hours/Days – (Figure 4 - click image to view full size) Shows run activity by week broken down into hours and days. Helpful for identifying peak activity periods.
- Users With No Activity – This can be useful in identifying user licenses that can be redeployed.
- Reports Ranked by Success/Failure Rate – Identifies reports that consistently have problems.
- Top Active Reports – Useful for identifying most popular reports by organization, package, user, etc.
Once you’ve created the appropriate dimensions and measures to use with the Cognos audit data the creative opportunities are limited only by your imagination and real needs. Focus on those that represent real opportunities to expand user adoption and remove problems that get in the way of users.
© 2014 Envisn, Inc. – All rights reserved. Advanced Tips for Cognos Audit Data