Planning and scheduling challenges
Developing a realistic plan or schedule that provides the best possible balance between customer service and revenue goals is hard work. While optimization technology has long been used to find the best solutions to complex planning and scheduling problems, an application platform that supports the flexible exploration of all the trade-offs and sensitivities is often missing.
What business people need
A decision-support environment is essential for business people to review their options and make confident decisions. But few decision-support applications have given business users what they need:
Features of IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise
Empowering business users
IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise makes optimization easy to use and deploy. An important breakthrough in custom decision-support application development, IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise-based applications provide all the features business people need to take full advantage of optimization technology. Applications built with IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise help users to create, compare and understand planning or scheduling scenarios, adjusting any of the model inputs or goals and fully understanding the binding constraints, trade-offs, sensitivities and business options.
Multiple objectives and goal programming
In the real world, business objectives (such as minimizing various costs, increasing customer service, revenue and profitability) often conflict. IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise-based applications help balance these conflicting goals, helping users to change the weights associated with each goal or set individual goals. In practice, working with goals is as important as working with costs and constraints.
Controlled relaxation of constraints
In an IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise-based application, over-constrained problems are automatically relaxed during runtime by IBM ILOG CPLEX, which is careful to relax the fewest and least important constraints. This ensures that a solution is always found and presented along with information about relaxed preferences or constraints. The optimized solution, with its recommended plan or schedule and attendant metrics, can be easily explored, helping users to understand the optimization model’s dynamics and identify solution scenarios.
To support scenario comparison and reporting, IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise-based applications provide complete storage of each scenario, including the input data, scenario parameters, goals, decision variable values and solution metrics. Data tables provide local storage for external data, so they can be modified without changing data sources. Scenarios can be created, copied, modified and compared right away. Furthermore, scenario metrics stored in a database can be invaluable in tracking operational and financial performance over time.
IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise supports large-scale applications with remote planners and distributed planning processes. Planners can share candidate plans with reviewers through the shared scenario repository, get feedback on a schedule through Excel or emails or facilitate joint date entry and validation. The Scenario Repository of IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise ensures data safety during scenario editing through locking.
Slashing development costs
Making a good optimization-based decision-support application takes time and experience. It takes building the sophisticated behavior associated with scenario creation and comparison, controlled relaxation of constraints and goal balancing. There are the screens needed to review data inputs, operating constraints, preferences, costs, yield assumptions, goals and solution metrics. Also, usability features like Microsoft® Excel integration, cut and paste editing and online help need to be added to meet minimum ease-of-use standards. IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise saves time by automatically generating a complete decision-support application with all of these features.
Refining optimization models
IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise also helps business users take part in the iterative development needed to perfect an optimization model. Only a cross-functional team can get a sophisticated, decision-support application to fit an organization perfectly. With the IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise Developer, the actual mathematical models can be developed in step with data access, GUI configuration, server setup and application integration. IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise Developer makes it happen with the full participation of every important stakeholder, from IT and Business.
Scalable enterprise deployment
IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise provides client-server based deployment where planners can interactively perform what-if analysis through a rich client (ODM Studio), and trigger potentially large and complex optimization solving on a remote server. This server, IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise Optimization Server, supports concurrent and multi-user invocations from ODM Studio, as well as programmatically scheduled (batch) jobs. In both scenarios, it manages and monitors the optimization engine(s) that produce decision recommendations to planners.
Separation of corporate and planned data and processing
The client-server architecture of IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise enables an efficient division of both data and processing. Data is imported from corporate databases into the ODM Enterprise application, and planners then work with the data to create scenarios and perform "what if" operations to determine the optimal solution. All of this occurs without affecting the corporate data or impacting existing systems with processing overhead. When optimal solutions have been found, they can be easily exported to update the corporate data.
The modularity of IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise enables use of some modules alone. Java API allows, for example, using the developed application from a custom user interface or integrating into an existing application. Both the central scenario repository and the optimization server features still available.
Learn more about important concepts and features of IBM ILOG ODM Enterprise that enable you to work with it effectively and efficiently.