May 28, 2019 By Stephanie Solomon 4 min read

Before making any major purchase decision, most of us read reviews to learn about the experiences of other users and get an understanding of a product from the perspective of the marketplace. This is especially important for when evaluating options for a major investment like planning software.

Our team is proud to say that IBM is included in The Planning Survey 19, the annual report from the Business Application Research Center (BARC). BARC is a leading European consulting firm specializing in business software. Their annual survey is based on findings from the world‘s largest and most comprehensive survey of planning software users.

IBM Planning Analytics received high marks again this year, as it was top-ranked in 22 key performance indicators (KPIs) including performance satisfaction, user experience, and product satisfaction. In addition, IBM was named a leader in 17 more KPIs, across five different peer groups.

The BARC results reflect five key attributes that are vital to organizations choosing planning software. Here’s what those attributes mean for our customers.


When it comes to scale, IBM scores high marks—the proof is top rankings in product satisfaction, performance satisfaction and flexibility. When advanced capabilities can scale beyond individual power users or small teams, the business benefits are likewise magnified. BARC The Planning Survey 19 noted that IBM Planning Analytics is used “in thousands of implementations worldwide, from small-scale departmental scenarios with just a few users and small data volumes to installations with thousands of users.” The report finds the high “performance satisfaction” ranking especially impressive, given how large many of the IBM Planning Analytics deployments are—a testament to the product’s highly capable in-memory database.

…IBM has invested heavily in scalability and performance improvements in recent versions of the product, which is a major differentiator to rival products…”

Microsoft Excel integration

Microsoft Excel is one of most pervasive applications across the business world. IBM Planning Analytics for Microsoft Excel enables users to hit the ground running. BARC observed that “the Planning Analytics Excel front end offers easy-to-use capabilities for creating content (e.g., modeling, templates) in a familiar environment and publishing it to the web.”

In spite of Excel’s ubiquity, of course, it does have its limitations. BARC The Planning Survey 19 noted that “Planning Analytics users have far fewer complaints than Excel users. Common issues in planning projects such as missing key product features (e.g., for planning), inflexibility and handling of large numbers of users or large data volumes do not seem to be a problem for Planning Analytics users.”

Reporting and analysis

Virtually all planning and performance management processes involve some analysis and reporting. BARC The Planning Survey 19 noted that “Besides planning functionality, [IBM Planning Analytics] offers good ad-hoc reporting and OLAP [online analytical processing] analysis capabilities for end users. Reporting and analysis generally takes place in Excel using native-Excel functionality and is therefore easy to use.” IBM Planning Analytics provides out-of-the-box reporting capabilities, so there’s no need to license software from another vendor. Users can take advantage of a broad range of performance reporting, monitoring, dashboarding and scorecarding capabilities.

Data access

The Planning Survey 19 User Review Matrix – Peer group: Enterprise Software Vendors

A key complement to IBM Planning Analytics reporting capabilities is its ability to provide easy access to both the reports and the supporting data. BARC observed that “at the push of a button, results can be published in the Planning Analytics web client and are available in a browser. In this way, decentralized users can access reports or dashboards (e.g., on planning results) anywhere via the web.”

In addition, IBM Planning Analytics has a “single tenant” data tier. This is built by design and with the customer in mind. It means that a customer’s critical business data is stored separately from other customers and each customer has dedicated resources. This means that users will not be slowed down by other customers. No doubt this feature also contributes to high performance satisfaction marks for IBM Planning Analytics.


Flexibility is “a prominent reason why companies choose to buy IBM Planning Analytics.” It provides “a flexible development environment for creating individual planning applications on different aggregation levels (operational as well as strategic) across various planning topics (e.g., sales, HR or financials) and industries.”

In addition to providing the foundation for integrated planning across the organization, we understand the importance of giving customers the option to decide which deployment is best for them. And they don’t have to compromise on functionality. The same line of code is used for both on-premises and on-cloud versions. So no matter which deployment, you can get the same product and functionality.

“Outstanding piece of software, which is very flexible and agile and which has a broad variety of potential usage.” – survey respondent

Given the 22 top category rankings from this year’s BARC report, it’s not surprising that the product has received a very high recommendation rate. As in BARC reports of years past, IBM Planning Analytics has consistently been a leader in “user experience” which accounts for the fact that “87 percent of respondents are ‘somewhat satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied,” a major reason behind its recommendation rate of 81 percent.”

These are just a few of the key highlights from the Planning Survey 2019. Get more details about the survey methodology and why customers are highly satisfied with IBM Planning Analytics by reading the full IBM report. And explore how IBM Planning Analytics can advance your business here.

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