Why I love TM1 and Planning Analytics from Scott Wiltshire

Profile on Scott Wiltshire, CTO at Apliqo, LinkedIn

I have known Scott for 10 years now, first as a Practice Manager for Cubewise in Melbourne, Australia and now for Apliqo in Switzerland, the Cubewise company which specialises in producing ready-made or “off the shelf” TM1 applications.

Scott has always had his finger on the pulse when it comes to TM1 and has helped set many best practices for TM1 Developers. His opinion is highly regarded among peers, so when he enrolled for the TM1 Developer Credential, I knew that the credential was going to be properly dissected to make sure that the credential encompassed a level of difficulty to identify proficient developers. If there was someone in the industry who would provide their honest feedback without holding back, Scott was it.

Before we get into what Scott’s thoughts were on the credential, let’s learn a little about him.

What was your professional background before getting into TM1?

My background is as a business and financial analyst. I started my career in the 90s in management consulting and was straight into building financial and operational models in Excel with a focus on corporate valuations using discounted cash flow analysis. My first experience with TM1 was around the year 2000 when I left consulting for a role in supply chain and my predecessor had introduced TM1 to manage sales and operational planning forecasts. It was a light bulb moment for me when I found something that was at the same time much more powerful than Excel but also embedded in Excel and made Excel itself much more powerful. With a few minor interruptions I’ve been working with TM1 ever since.

How did you become a TM1 Developer?

It was never my intention to become a TM1 Developer. Prior to my taking over the supply chain manager role there had been what can best be described as a “stealth” implementation with an old (even for the time) version of TM1. However, there was no way any other software at the time could do the same job and with my department lacking the budget for a big IT project or external consultants myself and the business analyst who reported to me had to roll up our sleeves and learn how to build cubes and rules ourselves. I remember when we purchased Turbo Integrator (which was licensed separately at the time in 2001) and replaced our processing worksheets with TI processes it was a revelation!

So in short it was a bit of an accident. But a good accident, because I found something that I really love doing which is solving business modelling problems.

Share a memorable project/technical achievement in TM1

We were asked by the customer to replicate the multi-step cost allocation process which occurred for actuals in SAP for budget data in TM1 so that the customer would be able to have a pre- and post-allocated view of budgeted costs and a better comparison to actuals. To know that we had the allocation keys and logic 100% right we had to test on actual data so that we could verify that the allocated results in TM1 were an exact match to SAP. Not only did the results match but the allocation process in TM1 took around 5 minutes versus the 2 – 4 hours in SAP which had always limited allocations being an overnight process during month end. After seeing how much quicker and transparent the allocation process was, the customer ended up doing allocations only in TM1 and switching off allocations in SAP altogether!

You had just completed the TM1 Developer Credential, what did you find valuable about the whole process?

My motivations for doing the Cubewise EDU Developer Credential are no doubt somewhat different from most people who have either taken the test or are thinking about it. I was not only doing the credential, but evaluating it and assessing the difficulty for developers with different levels of experience and different levels of exposure to various facets of TM1 development. The test is pretty thorough, and I came to the conclusion that it definitely adds value for all members of my team to do the certification. Passing the credential isn’t easy; you need very solid knowledge of Turbo Integrator, rules development including accurate and efficient feeders, developing user interfaces in Excel/TM1Web, and also some basic security and administration and SQL knowledge.

What kind of value could you see the TM1 Developer Credential be for employers?

To pass the credential the candidate must be rock solid on all of the areas mentioned above. As it is an applied hands-on exercise with defined requirements there is nowhere to hide. The test can’t be faked or googled, the developer simply has to be competent and know what they are doing. The developer must be able to apply their knowledge in the context of implementing a set of requirements.

The two most significant uses for employers are validating the developer’s competency. This can be very valuable for new external hires or when engaging freelancers or consultants on projects. If someone has passed the Cubewise EDU credential then you can be confident they have the chops to deliver. This can’t be said for a technical interview no matter how good, nor the IBM badge or certifications. The other significant value for employers is in validating a training program or an employee transitioning from a junior to senior TM1 role. Anyone passing the credential definitely knows what they are doing and is not a junior resource.

Do you have any advice on the TM1 Developer Credential for developers?

Taking the Credential is a serious exercise. A bona fide senior consultant who is familiar with all aspects of TM1 development shouldn’t need to prepare as such but it certainly won’t hurt. Any candidates lighter on experience will certainly need to prepare.

The test is time-consuming! As the task involves building a model from scratch this is unavoidable. You need to ensure you are free from other distractions for the 2 allotted days to complete the task. Most candidates will certainly need the majority of this time so make sure to manage your time well and good luck!

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