With the upcoming Clarity 6.2 support deadline looming at the end of this year, there has been a lot of debate among Clarity clients who are still on 6.2 as to whether they should upgrade, stay on version 6.2 or look for another planning solution. I may be a little biased here, but I would highly recommend staying with Clarity, either on the future unsupported 6.2 version or the latest 7.x release. Every Clarity client went through a purchasing cycle and selected Clarity CPM over its competitors for specific reasons – and most likely those reasons have not changed. Significant investments have been made not only in the software purchase, but also in training and business process integration. Changing to a new platform is not an easy, quick or inexpensive task.
Let’s start by debunking a number of myths that have been circulating about Clarity CPM and IBM
1. IBM could stop supporting Clarity 7 (C7) at any time
This is simply not true. Each time a new official version or hot fix of Clarity is released, IBM has committed to supporting that version for 8 more years (5 years standard + 3 extended). IBM has a proven track record in this respect and there is no reason to doubt they won’t continue. You can review the IBM Software Support Policy at http://www-01.ibm.com/software/support/lifecycle/lc-policy.htm.
2. IBM does not care about the Clarity CPM product
While it’s true Clarity CPM may not be the brightest star in the IBM software portfolio, they do care. Development work is continuing on the product and there is a scheduled service pack with both enhancements and IE compatibility fixes to be released in fall.
3. It’s going to be impossible to find consultants to assist with my Clarity CPM solution
I have heard from clients that it is getting more difficult to find knowledgeable Clarity CPM consultants through IBM – but it’s not true that these experts are not around; you just need to look in different places. Along with my colleagues here at OLAP Solutions and the other members of the e4 Solutions Alliance , there are also a number of other smaller firms with ex-Clarity staff who can provide some assistance as well. While I can’t speak for everyone – I can guarantee that as long as clients are looking for assistance on Clarity, we’ll be offering our services.
4. Upgrading to C7 is going to be expensive and time consuming
This is simply not true. Upgrading the Clarity software itself is actually quite easy and quick – the majority of the work would be in upgrading all of your templates and reports. This is purely based on volume – the more files you want to upgrade, the longer the project will take. However, thanks to the Clarity development team we have 2 great methods of keeping the upgrade project timeline short, resulting in a lower cost.
#1 – Clarity 7 supports Clarity 6.2 templates and reports in their native format. This means you can take your existing templates and reports and continue to run them under Clarity 7. That said, there wouldn’t be much point in upgrading if you did this for all your documents – but it would make sense to convert those templates and reports that are commonly used or perform poorly and not bother with others that are rarely used such as maintenance templates.
#2 – Clarity 7 Studio will convert Clarity 6.2 documents automatically. If you open a Clarity 6.2 template / report in Clarity 7 Studio, it will automatically convert the document to the new format! It’s not perfect, but it does a pretty good job with OLAP templates and reports.
At OLAP Solutions we have developed our own Clarity 7 Easy Upgrade methodology which we follow during an upgrade. It allows us to quickly convert both the software and the documents in an efficient and cost effective manner.
5. You should upgrade to Cognos / TM1
Maybe you should – I can’t say. What I do know is that if you have made an investment in Clarity, you should not simply throw that away because of pressure from sales people or other companies who make their money selling Cognos. In my opinion, Clarity provides the best input capability of any product in it’s class and it would be difficult to find any competitor that provides even close to the functionality and flexibility that Clarity CPM offers. Other negative issues to consider when migrating to other tools are the loss and/or rebuilding of the entire back-end database and ETL infrastructure. What other product is going to sit on top of your existing infrastructure without any modifications?
With that out of the way I can now talk to what really excites me about Clarity 7 – enhancements and new features!
The one thing that everyone says about Clarity 7 is that it’s fast! I’m not just saying that – it’s really, really fast – don’t take my word, ask any clients who have already upgraded. By removing the rendering of the template / report from the client machine to the server, Clarity was able to significantly improve the overall performance of the client experience.
2. Report Books
If there was an award for most improved feature in Clarity 7 it would be Report Books. Most clients had a love / hate relationship with it in earlier versions, but with the latest enhancements just added in C7.2.1, along with the overall improved performance of C7, this is now a feature that everyone loves!
3. Support for Clarity 6.2 Templates and Reports
I mentioned this above, but it’s worth mentioning again. Allowing clients to run a hybrid of C6 and C7 templates in the same environment is just fantastic for those looking to upgrade, but don’t necessary want to spend a lot of money. By upgrading only those documents that are commonly used or perform poorly and leaving the rest in C6, Clarity clients can have their cake and eat it to – an upgraded environment with minimal effort.
4. Enhanced User Interaction
As someone who works in Clarity daily, it’s often the small things that irk me over time. Little features that if added would make a world of difference. Many of these have been addressed in Clarity 7 – here a few examples:
- Full support of Excel print settings
- Multitasking tabs for enhanced interaction
- Line Item Detail now inline on the documentAbility to zoom on members in columns
- Tree view displays multi-node trees with the ability to add additional selection constraints
- Selectable members in tree view can be controlled by properties, UDAs, and levels
With all that being said I would provide the following recommendations:
• Don’t rush into purchasing a new product because you feel you must or are being pressed to meet an imaginary deadline
• Install C7 on a development machine to see how easy the process is and convert a report or two to see how they perform
• Have some pain points with your implementation and have been told that it can’t be fixed? Get a second opinion! Make your existing Clarity implementation the best it can be by having an assessment done by a Clarity CPM Expert!