#C14LV Collaborate 14 is right around the corner!

•February 27, 2014 • Leave a Comment

collaborate logo

Vegas Baby.  April 7-11.

Highlights of interest:

What’s cool this year: The updated Schedule Builder and Mobile web app.  Located here

Of course, don’t miss my popular session this year:

Collaborate session

Session:  13744

Room:  Level 1, Casanova – 603

The new 11.1.2 Fusion edition of Oracle EPM brings many new features and functionally and options for deployment. Whether it is Oracle Planning on the Cloud, SaaS, Exalytics, or in-house systems, Oracle ACE director Eric Helmer walks though best practices and considerations to make your journey to Fusion painless by choosing the right deployment scenario for you.

Please let me know if you will be attending! Or make an appointment!  

Hot Trends in EPM for 2014

•February 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

Oracle Released a white paper recently on their take on the hottest EPM trends for 2014.

Their trends concentrate on the following:

  1. EPM in the Cloud
  2. Mobile
  3. Big Data Integration
  4. Detailed Costing
  5. Accelerated close process through better visibility
  6. Dealing with financial disclosure regulations
  7. Data Governance
  8. Sustainability Reporting

It’s no surprise these trends seem to exactly line up with Oracle products such as the new Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud Service, Profitability and Cost Management, Hyperion Financial Close Management, Hyperion Disclosure Management, Data Relationship Management, and Hyperion Financial Management.

But this is a good list.  It shows the evolution of EPM through easier adoption, deeper accuracy, etc.  We see EPM becoming more and more of a tool organizations can use for cost savings that justify it’s ROI.

What I think is missing here is what we can expect in 2014 on the  integration and marriage into BI and Analytics, but I guess that could be a whitepaper in it’s own right.

Of course, from an IT perspective there certainly are corresponding technical trends that needs to be considered in order to facilitate these functional needs.  In yesterday’s Oracle conference in Dallas, Oracle claimed that almost half of CFO claim their biggest barrier to achieving world class EPM and BI is the capabilities of their IT department. 

 

This is what this blog is dedicated to.  Stay tuned throughout 2014 as I uncover the corresponding technologies that keep IT on pace with these software technologies.

You can find Oracle’s White Paper on the top trends of 2014 here.  

Oracle Planning and Budgeting released

•February 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Oracle finally released the public availability of their Planning and Budgeting on the Cloud service.

See the official press release here:

http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/2143738?rssid=rss_ocom_pr

As expected, the initial published price is $120/user with a 10 user minimum, however be sure to ask for any pricing breaks for early adopters.

And no, before you ask, there is not a free trail like there is for alot of Oracle’s other cloud offerings.

According to the published FAQ, the upgrade path policy is:

“The first release of PBCS supports upgrade from R11.1.2.1 directly into the Cloud based application. So existing customers can upgrade to this release of their on-premises application and then import their application to PBCS. The immediate roadmap includes supporting R11.1.2.2 and then R11.1.2.3 for import into PBCS.”

Eric has been heavily involved with beta previews and is very well versed in the cloud.   Rapid Deployment Cloud services are available now to help you get up and running using this service in no time.  To take your next step away from your spreadsheet nightmare, contact me for more information.

 

Feb 5-7 Denver. Eric to Present at the Rocky Mountian Training Day

•January 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

RMOUG logo

Eric is presenting at the yearly Training Days hosted by the Rocky Mountain Oracle User Group – one of the largest Oracle User Group in the nation.

February 5-7 at the Denver Convention Center

Register today so you don’t miss out on these highlights:

  • Two full days of training with a bonus half-day of two-hour Deep Dive Sessions
  • More than 100 technical sessions
  • Full exhibition
  • Networking opportunities to meet and talk with Oracle ACE Directors and ACEs, Product Managers from Oracle, and other Oracle professionals
  • Encore Women in Technology (WIT) panel

 

11.1.2.3.500 The rumor mill

•January 9, 2014 • 2 Comments

Rumor has it that Patch Set 11.1.2.3.500 should be released this quarter.

For all of those that keep asking for the capability, we are getting indication that indeed IE10 and Office 2013 will be supported in this release.

They are also calling this version the mobile version.  As I have alluded to before in past posts, we can expect the much anticipated mobile apps around workflow and other mobile capabilities especially around Planning and reporting.

I also hope that we can truly get backwards compatibility in LCM that was published as working in the last release but does not. See my blog post on this:

http://erichelmer.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/dont-believe-the-hype-11-1-2-3-lcm-backwards-compatibility/

Other things I am hoping for in this patch:

  • Windows server 2012 support
  • Windows 8 support
  • Firefox v24

Some other things that I am expecting in the near future, but would be surprised if they  make the Q1 .500 PSU.  If I had to guess, we will have to wait until 11.1.2.4 (prob in Sep/October):

  • Significant ADF improvements.
  • HFM on unix, Exalytics
  • Much more integration with HPCM.
  • Continued integration with DRM, especially with FDMEE
  • FDM to FDMEE upgrade utility
  • More seamless data syncing between the products

As Always, we will be on the forefront of all the new capabilities in this coming release.  Stay tuned to this blog for the latest.

Yes you can afford Oracle EPM – how to get started for less.

•January 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Yes you can afford Oracle EPM – how to get started for less.

Let’s face it, implementing Oracle software can be an expensive undertaking.  After doing some quick analysis, many companies who desperately want to get out of the spreadsheet rat-race feel over burdened with the perceived high cost implementing an enterprise solution for performance management.  No company is adverse to spending money if it will yield a worthwhile return. But if you are new to EPM, getting a handle on the overall ROI with EPM and BI can be challenging.

  • What value will the EPM solution bring?
  • What cost savings will be realized as a result?
  • What quality will be improved?
  • What risks will be reduced?
  • How much time will be saved?

Of course, the flip side to this is cost.

Let’s break down the major cost factors for an EPM implementation, outline some considerations for each, and identify opportunities to reduce cost.

1.)  Software Licensing and support

Most Oracle EPM modules are priced by the number of application users and can be thousands of dollars per user.  There is also the cost of support which entitles you to software updates.

Oracle’s pricing list is here

 http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/price-lists/business-intelligence-price-list-071347.pdf

 Considerations:

Oracle EPM software pricing can be done with a suite of products that come with many popular modules and the ability to add on options. You can also purchase each individual product standalone.

The way to save:

  • Every product has a minimum number of users you must purchase.  Organizations just getting started in EPM could consider the minimum user license for now, you can also add more users later.
  • Only buy what you need.  Many times the all-in-one suites have many modules you do not need.  Perhaps looking at a standalone module would be best to start with and add on as needed.
  • Many organizations split the cost between multiple organizational divisions to help reduce the burden to the individual cost centers.
  • Implement a phased approach.  Implement one module at a time, for a core group of users, then expand.

Where we can help:

We can perform a full assessment of your overall EPM, BI, and reporting vision to assist you in software selection, capabilities, and add-ons you need, identify phases, and ascertain overall cost and ROI.   We can also help in your negotiations with Oracle, and even help you write an RFP if you want to send it out for bid.

2.)  Hardware

While software licensing costs can be somewhat straight forward, often times hardware costs can be a black box.  Understanding all the necessary servers, network equipment, disk storage, required third party software, etc. can be daunting to the point of giving up.   However, this information is simply mandatory to adequately cost out your project.

  • Operating System cost
  • Server cost – based on required CPU, Memory
  • Disk Storage
  • Required third party software such as Oracle database or SQL Server.

Considerations:

There are many factors that will influence what is required for hardware.  The number of environments, users, uptime/availability requirements, and understanding what internal technology that can be leveraged such as pre-existing Storage Area Networks. The only way to know for sure is to have a professional hardware design performed.

 The way to save:

  • Consider cheaper operating systems, such as Linux.
  • Consider virtual machines to lower the physical hardware footprint.
  • Only buy what you need.  Consider starting with only a DEV and PROD for now.

How we can help:

We perform a standard one-day hardware design session with your organization to completely understand the use case, modules, scalability, security needs, service level needs, etc. It is a very quick and inexpensive offering that can prevent a lot of budget surprises.

Still too expensive?   Have us deal with it for you.

We also offers Oracle EPM and BI server hosting.  Using our cloud hosted services, organizations save big time by eliminating the large cost of servers (That have to be replaced every few years).  Also eliminated is the infrastructure space, electricity, etc. Our hosting service provides:

  • Secure high-speed access to servers over secure VPN – the servers look like they are directly on your network, so data integration is a snap.
  • Full high-availability fault tolerance.
  • Full data center disaster recovery with geo-redundant storage.

3.)  Software development and training

The possibilities with the Oracle EPM stack are seemingly infinite. However, it has to be developed.  The installation creates a blank canvas and it needs to be developed and configured which takes time, money, and know-how.

Considerations:

Even the smallest greenfield implementation will undergo these major steps:

     1.)  Design/Assessment
     Dimensionality, reporting, data integration, etc.
 
     2.)  Implementation
     Configure the software to the design
 
     3.)  Testing
     Conference Room Pilots, User Acceptance Testing, etc.
 
     4.)  Training, documentation
     User and Admin training
 
     5.)  Roll-out
     Go-live, parallel close cycles,
 
     6.)  Expand
     Adding additional functionally, users, divisional units, detail, modules, etc.

The way to save:

  • Implement a phased approach.  Start with one module, one application, and simple reports. Go-live and get user acceptance, then expand capabilities.
  • Use an implementation partner to train your people so that they can continue with the application development, reports, etc.

How we can help:

We have dedicated rapid deployment programs specifically for midsize companies seeking to get up and running fast.  We have fast tracks for rapidly deploying Business Intelligence (OBIEE), Planning, Financial Management, and Data Relationship Management.  This program is perfect for those that want start their journey away from Excel and embrace an enterprise solution as a quick win first step. The scope is clear, implementation is quick, with detailed training and documentation throughout.

4.)  Ongoing administration, support.

Just like all enterprise system, this is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution.  Oracle EPM requires ongoing administration and support both functionally and from IT.

  • Data and metadata loading
  • Calculations, aggregations, consolidations
  • User access issues
  • Server maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Backups
  • Patching
  • Monitoring

Considerations:

This typically involves many people.  While it may not be a full time job for any one individual, it does involve many skill sets.  Functional admin users are usually the first line of support for issues.  Technical issues could easily involve server admins, database admins, network admins, etc.  Most importantly, someone needs to create, maintain, monitor, and test backups and recovery procedures.

The way to save:

Ensure you are working with a partner that takes administration and IT training seriously. Properly spending time training admins up front will significantly save time and money in the long run.

How we can help:

We offer all sorts of training including administration training and dedicated IT training covering proper maintenance, troubleshooting, logging, backup/recovery, architecture, scalability, tuning, etc.

If you are understaffed – have no fear.  No need to go out and hire full time people, we offer worry-free  Managed Services and Helpdesk services for companies of all sizes.  For midsize companies getting started in EPM, we offer a low-cost basic package for Helpdesk services; including a fully functional web based ticketing system and 15 minute service-level ticket acknowledgment from our knowledgeable on-shore Helpdesk team.  This service can save you 60-70% in overall costs associated with day to day maintenance and support costs.  For companies wanting more IT services, our fast reacting helpdesk can do ongoing proactive health monitoring, job monitoring, backups, tuning, patching, etc.

Summary

It’s obvious that there many possibilities to implement EPM.  Whether you are looking start a new EPM project, reduce costs of your current implementation, upgrade, improve support, etc…. it all starts with discovery workshop.  We will help you justify your ROI, calculate costs, and go over all your options to ensure you are not overbuying, over allocating, or inaccurately budgeting.

It is possible to start your journey to EPM on almost any budget.  Contact me for more information on how to get started.

Oracle Planning and Budgeting in the cloud update

•November 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Oracle Planning and Budgeting in the cloud update.

Last October,  I posted an article on the capabilities of the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) Cloud and asked if it was right for you.  It’s been a full year, and while Oracle has yet to still to have a public offering, there have been some changes.

They have made some improvements/themes that are worth noting.  The new official time frame for the release of the PBCS is in the first half of next year. The word is that all the coding is done; it’s just a matter of packaging it with the Oracle Public Cloud offering.

I am hearing that that the initial pricing will be $120 per user per month with a 10 user minimum, for a 1 year minimum.

Theme

The Theme of the PBCS is “Rapid Deployment”.  In essence, it is intended to be a way to get up and running quickly with the basics.

Highlights:

  • Software licensing built in
  • No need for hardware infrastructure support
  • System patches and upgrades are part of it an free – always have access to the latest features
  • Built in wizards, advisors, training to ensure best practices

They also claim “IT won’t mind.”  Hyperion Planning is sometimes considered to be a financial specific one-off system that may not perfectly fit into IT standards.  Many times it does not need a lot of day-to-day care and feeding but it can cause havoc when it needs attention.  Therefore Oracle claims that IT will be happy to allow you to place the system off premise and even have an external entity completely manage it.

Maybe, maybe not…regardless, who can argue with the quick, agile and scalable model the cloud has to offer – if the capabilities meet your needs.

Capabilities

You get ONE planning application only

  • No EPMA
  • up to 4 plan types (ASO or BSO)
  • no modules (CAPEX, WFP, etc)

Patches:  Patches can be scheduled, but they are mandatory.  Oracle will only support the last release and the release prior. You will not be able to back out patches.

Backups: Essbase data is backed up once per day.

Training: Tutorials start from the basics of Planning and multidimensionality to advanced administration.  There are also videos that are more geared for end users to get them familiar with the system. The landing page has a Cloud Documentation Center with other various documentation. Guided demo applications are available complete with task templates to get started.

Diagnostics:  There are built in application diagnostics that assist you with your applications.  It will have advice and guidance that identify design flaws such as outline structure, ordering, block sizes, etc.  There are also built in run-time governors that will warn you if you reach a frowned-upon threshold.

Scalability: built-in automatic scaling as you add users and usage

High Availability:  Built in fault Tolerance and redundancy

Other Administration:  Admin functionality added to Excel, log diagnostics.

Target Markets

So who is this cloud for?  I see this being a viable option for the following:

New Accounts

  • midmarket companies that are not able to buy full licenses and/or maintain IT infrastructure.  A great way to get midmarket companies out of  spreadsheet mode into a feature rich robust planning solution that larger companies use.

Existing Accounts

  • Business that want to expand additional business units where the current hardware or budget is restrictive.
  • Existing non-planning EPM customers that want to expand into planning where the current hardware or budget is restrictive of that expansion.
  • Customers on 11.1.1.4 with only 1 classic planning application (no modules or EPMA) that want a quicker way to upgrade or to test latest features.
  • A Sandbox. Customers that want a place to test something out in a non-prod environment or have a place for development without the need for an IT overhead. Or a temporary place to start development while on-premise hardware is acquired.

The Cloud Rapid Deployment Life cycle

PBCS 

Of course, the money maker for Oracle are net new mid-market accounts that want to start learning, using, and adopting Hyperion planning in their organizations.  The cloud offers them an inexpensive way to get started.  The hope, of course, is that these companies either continue to expand their use in the cloud or eventually purchase the licenses and move it on-prem.

What does a “Rapid Deployment” project look like for a first adopter?

The key is to do a phased approach, starting with just the basics, go-live, then expand capabilities. The K-I-S-S method for the initial phase is crucial.

1.)  Start with the basics

  • Design – identify Critical Forms, Reports, Calc
  • Build-out

2.)  Go-live

  • Training and familiarization
  • Adoption

3.)  Expand Capabilities

  • Additional features, detail, reports, forms
  • Additional users, departments, etc

The Initial Phase

Target for initial rapid deployment

  • Less than 20 users
  • Less than 8 dimensions
  • 5 calculations (ie –% sales, % salary, Rate per headcount, etc)
  • less than 10 entry forms
  • less than 10 reports
  • less than 3 task lists
  • simple profit and loss, no operational planning

The Rapid Deployment Project could be an average of 4-8 weeks depending.

  • 1-2 weeks design
  • 3-5 weeks build
  • 2-3 weeks training, deploy, roll-out

Later Phases

Expansion

  • Additional dimensions, calcs, forms, reports, task lists, etc.
  • Additional users and departments
  • Full financial statements (Balance Sheets, Cash Flow)
  • Operational Planning

 

How do you get on the Cloud?

Whether you are a new company looking to get out of the spreadsheet rat-race and take a serious look at Oracle’s Planning offering, or an existing customer that would like to get your application up on the latest version, we are ahead of the curve when it comes to the cloud.  We have assisted Oracle in their pre-view launch and have deployed applications to it.  We are developing an all-inclusive fast track package that will get your organization in the cloud inexpensively using our methodology.

Stay tuned to this blog as I will announce when the cloud is available and give you details on how we can get you up and running in no time.

 
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