Temple University upgrades seamlessly with IBM

Harnessing deep technical expertise and dedicated on-site resources

Published on 26-Mar-2012

Validated on 02 Dec 2013

"The Accelerated Value approach has been a huge success for us, and we’d thoroughly recommend the program to other organizations." - Paul Donn, Executive Director of Enterprise Reporting Services, Temple University

Temple University


Deployment country:
United States

BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, Information Integration, Optimizing IT


Founded in 1884, Temple University is a comprehensive urban public research university offering 366 academic degree programs. It is the 25th largest university in the United States, with more than 37,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Based in Philadelphia, Temple is comprised of seven campuses within Pennsylvania and worldwide and has been consistently recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the nation.

Business need:
As part of a move to a new SunGard Banner ERP system, Temple University had built a data warehouse and analytics solution based on IBM Cognos software. When it was time to upgrade to a newer version of Cognos, Temple’s in-house team was keen to learn from the experts and become more self-sufficient.

Temple University chose to utilize the IBM Software Accelerated Value Program, which provides dedicated technical resources on either a subscription or an hourly model. Temple purchased 40 hours of technical assistance, during which an IBM Accelerated Value Specialist worked on-site with the team to complete the upgrade and transfer knowledge about Cognos that would help with future upgrades.

Delivered a full implementation of the Cognos software, giving Temple confidence that its analytics environment is correctly configured for optimum performance and stability. Provided access to top IBM technical experts both on-site and remotely, eliminating delays in the implementation. As a result, the project was completed 20 percent faster than expected. Gave the in-house team the tools and knowledge to set up a new pre-production Cognos environment for themselves, without external support.

Case Study

Founded in 1884, Temple University is a comprehensive urban public research university offering 366 academic degree programs. It is the 25th largest university in the United States, with more than 37,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Based in Philadelphia, Temple is comprised of seven campuses within Pennsylvania and worldwide and has been consistently recognized as one of the most diverse universities in the nation.

The value of analytics
Recently, the university embarked on a major modernization project, which involved replacing its legacy systems with the SunGard Banner ERP solution. The new solution is capable of supporting integrated business processes around finance, human resources, institutional advancement, and student management, and also provides a much more sophisticated analytics platform, which is built on IBM Cognos Business Intelligence software.

“The ability to analyze and report on data is absolutely vital to Temple University, across almost every department,” comments Paul Donn, Executive Director of Enterprise Reporting Services. “We use the IBM Cognos solution to monitor student recruitment and enrollment, to manage our alumni outreach programs, and of course for financial analysis and strategic decision-making. Senior managers at every level up to the President’s office are constantly asking for information to help guide Temple’s future direction, and the combination of Banner and Cognos is vital in enabling my team to provide the insight they need.”

Time to upgrade
As the implementation of the Banner system continued and new modules were introduced, the university decided to upgrade its Cognos environment from version 8.3 to version 8.4.1.

“We always like to keep on top of the latest versions of the software we use, and SunGard recommended the new version of Cognos as a better fit with their latest modules,” says Paul Donn. “We also understood that Cognos 8.4.1 would help us to work around some performance issues that were caused by other parts of our infrastructure. When we decided to go ahead with the upgrade, we wanted a complete fresh start: new hardware, and a new implementation of Cognos that would be installed and certified by real experts.

“We spoke to a number of consultants and systems integrators who specialized in Cognos, but we wanted to go directly to the source and work with IBM. Knowledge transfer was also very important to us: we also wanted to be able to learn from the project and become more self-sufficient, so that we would be able to handle future Cognos installs and upgrades ourselves. Our IBM account manager recommended a service offering called the IBM Software Accelerated Value Program.”

The IBM Accelerated Value Program
The Accelerated Value Program offers organizations the opportunity to work with dedicated IBM specialists on either a subscription or hourly model. Unlike most standard support offerings, the program effectively provides full-time on-site or remote resources – the IBM Accelerated Value resource becomes a trusted advisor working with the client’s team for the duration of the engagement.

“It’s a great advantage of the Accelerated Value model that you can choose either the subscription model or just purchase a block of hours,” comments Paul Donn. “We have a strong in-house team, so we don’t need an extra resource on a full-time basis; but for this individual upgrade project, we did want the peace-of-mind that comes from working with a true expert.”

Working with the experts
Based on its experience of the original implementation of Cognos, and on advice from the IBM team, Temple University decided to purchase 40 hours of support. An Accelerated Value Specialist traveled out to the university and spent several days sitting with the Enterprise Reporting Services team, performing the upgrade to the new version of IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, and showing them how to manage future upgrades themselves.

“We remembered a number of issues that we’d had when we set up the original Cognos environment – so we were fully expecting the project to have some challenges,” comments Paul Donn. “In fact, everything went so smoothly we almost couldn’t believe it. Our Accelerated Value Specialist was very professional and easy to work with, and he really knew his stuff. His understanding of Cognos was off the scale, and he was also able to diagnose problems in other areas of our infrastructure – for example, our Apache web servers. Even better, he had a direct line to the top experts in other fields at IBM, so on the rare occasions when something was outside of his field, he was able to get immediate help to resolve the problem.”

Getting results ahead of schedule
As a result of this instant access to the expertise required, the project was able to progress smoothly, without any hold-ups or work-arounds. Even when the project scope changed to include the introduction of IBM Metric Studio, which Temple University had not initially planned to use, the Accelerated Value approach was able to take this in its stride.

“We actually finished the whole implementation with eight hours to spare, so we were 20 percent ahead of schedule,” says Paul Donn. “As a result, we would certainly be keen to work with the Accelerated Value Program team again in future. One possibility is to do some tuning for the Cognos environment – we’re sure IBM could help us add some value in that area.”

Successful knowledge transfer
The project was also a success in terms of knowledge transfer: the Temple University team is now much more confident in its Cognos skills.

“It’s worth noting that our whole five-person reporting team blocked out a week on their schedule for this project,” states Paul Donn. “We took the view that it was worth investing our time in learning as much as we could about how to implement, upgrade and maintain a Cognos environment. In retrospect, this was definitely the right approach. After we’d finished the main project with the help of the Accelerated Value Specialist, we were able to use what we’d learned to set up a new pre-production environment ourselves, without any external support.”

Looking to the future
The team is also looking forward to performing another upgrade, this time to version 10 of the Cognos software, in the coming months.

“We’ve heard from other organizations that the upgrade to version 10 is much less challenging than some of the earlier versions, so with the expertise we have built up through Accelerated Value, we should be in a good position to handle it ourselves,” concludes Paul Donn.

“To sum up, the Accelerated Value approach has been a huge success for us, and we’d thoroughly recommend the program to other organizations. Going right to the source and learning from the real experts has definitely paid off, not only in terms of delivering this project successfully and ahead of schedule, but also because it has enabled us to build up our own expertise and become more self-sufficient.”

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers actionable insights decision-makers need to achieve better business performance. IBM offers a comprehensive, unified portfolio of business intelligence, predictive and advanced analytics, financial performance and strategy management, governance, risk and compliance and analytic applications.

With IBM software, companies can spot trends, patterns and anomalies, compare “what if” scenarios, predict potential threats and opportunities, identify and manage key business risks and plan, budget and forecast resources. With these deep analytic capabilities our customers around the world can better understand, anticipate and shape business outcomes.

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos Business Intelligence, Cognos Metrics Manager

Software Accelerated Value Program - Business Analytics

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM Corporation, Software Group, Route 100, Somers, NY 10589. Produced in the United States of America. March 2012. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and Cognos are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or TM), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the United States, other countries, or both. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.