KScope 13 - Wednesday
- 27 Jun 13
I just made it back from the Mardi Gras celebration and my decision to blog at this point may not be my smartest decision ever but I feel like it’s now or never so here it goes.
Tom's Top Twelve Things About the Latest Generation of Database Technology
Started the morning with Tom Kyte and his session on Oracle 12C. Say what you want about Oracle, but they keep innovating and improving their database platform. There are a lot of features that we’ve been waiting for a long time (like defaulting to a sequence, default if null, etc) and being able to embed PL/SQL inline in an SQL is way cool. But I was blown away with the new Row Pattern Matching functionality, and the Pluggable Database options will be very valuable to cloud providers and other companies who like to consolidate databases onto shared hardware and offer database as a service to the company. Download the deck and get familiar with the new features.
OBIEE and Essbase Integration with BI Foundation Suite 22.214.171.124
Who knew Mark Rittman was from the UK?! Anyway he had a great presentation about how to integrate Essbase with OBI, what kinds of problems you might run into, and what works well as well as what doesn’t. Most of this stuff has been blogged about on the Rittman Mead blog so if you missed the session don’t worry.
What I heard was that BI Foundation 126.96.36.199 was just released back in April, but it has a lot of features that may make it work upgrading to. Smartview can now report from the OBI logical model. A lot of the Essbase integration wasn’t all that new (we’ve been able to plug Essbase into OBI’s semantic layer for some time), but with 188.8.131.52 Oracle has aligned the security managers. This allowed Oracle to get past some technical challenges around the integration and now the Essbase workspace can run inside of OBI. It’s cool that Financial Reports can also run within this workspace so we’re getting closer to an integrated reporting view.
There’s also a developer preview where you can spin an Essbase cube off of OBI content. It doesn’t have a lot of options, but it works and automates most of the steps that previously would have been manual. Good stuff.
Beyond the Import Metadata Wizard
John continued with the Essbase/OBI integration theme, but he was coming from the OBI side and had some great slides about how the Essbase and OBI disciplines were different. I’m not an expert in either one, but what I heard that the data warehouse (OBI) discipline is all about star schemas and the Kimball methodology. Essbase is all about how accountants think about their financial data and data is stored in hierarchies at the intersection of dimensions. I might have heard him say that OBI can outperform Essbase. Unfortunately I had to duck out for a conference call and to avoid a fistfight that had broken out but I do plan to download the slides just to see what I may have missed.
Streamline your Financial Close with an Integrated Tax Provision
New Orleans can be a crazy place, and after a night on Bourbon Street I thought I had seen it all. Then I went to the HFM Integrated Tax Provision session. Wow.
Ok, I shouldn’t give the tax accountants a hard time. Heck, I doubt if any are actually at this conference since most of the audience (the ones wearing clothes anyway) were Hyperion admins. But something about the topic had everybody in a party mood.
What happens in the Integrated Tax Provision session stays in the Integrated Tax Provision session, but I’m going to bend the code a bit to tell you something about this new application from Oracle. First, it’s all built on top of HFM. And why not? HFM is the perfect platform to leverage the dimensionality, complex business rules and robust reporting needed to deliver nice tax provision functionality.
So it’s deployed as a separate HFM-on-steroids application. It has to be kept in sync with HFM which can be done through EPMA, which is more than you can say for CorpTax or your spreadsheets. This is an initial release, but the speaker seemed confident that all of the bells and whistles needed were there and the system is rock solid. There’s even a Financial Management Analytics Module that will let you do some awesome tax reports and dashboards.
On the down side, you have to buy a new license and pay maintenance on it (buzz kill), and the analytics module would be yet another license and maintenance (major buzz kill).
This is part of Oracle’s close manager, which automates your end-to-end close process and helps you build a world-class close process. And that's enough to make accountants want to P A R T Y!!!
KScope 13 - Monday
- 25 Jun 13
This week I'm in the Big Easy hanging out at ODTUG’s Kscope 13 conference. I have heard this is the best conference for Hyperion and Oracle Business Intelligence so my expectations are high. I’m not as strong in either topic as I am with PeopleSoft but there’s nothing like a good conference to get up to speed.
So here's a quick run down of the sessions I was able to attend today along with a quick synopsis:
Balance Sheet Reporting in HFM 6/24/13
Balance sheet analysis is often done outside of HFM in Excel. CTA is often done in the same way. This is a problem because of tight timelines and accuracy concerns.
OK You can’t automate everything. There will always be entries that have to be manually made in the financial statements. But this doesn’t necessarily mean Excel. Alexandre presented a methodology to capture the manual adjustments (and supporting documentation) in Webforms and/or Smartview and create proof of CTA, cash flow statements for each entity, and a detailed balance sheet movement report all within the boundaries of HFM.
This session went pretty deep into the business requirements of balance sheet analysis and reporting which was mostly over my head (I admit), but I left with an understanding that a good HFM architecture and design lays the foundation for streamlined automated reporting at month end, and without that foundation you may find yourself with a highly manual reporting process at month end.
Using OBIEE to Retrieve Essbase Data
Edward Roske and Tracy McMullen
Oracle has done a lot of work to integrate Essbase into everything. OBI is no exception. But integrating a relational tool like OBI with an OLAP tool like Essbase requires some planning and effort. This session did a great job laying out what’s required to make this integration happen and boiling it down into 7 steps. Ok the 7 steps shouldn’t be taken TOO literally but definitely download this presentation or check out my favorite Hyperion Planning authors’ blog(s) if this is something you’re interested in.
Introduction to the Essbase Java API
Tim is an admitted Essbase geek and self-taught Java programmer. Not too shabby for someone with an accounting background. This session focused on the Essbase Java API and what you can do with it. It included specific programming examples and use cases. While I personally think he spent way too much time on the ins and outs of Java programming (what is a class, what makes a good IDE, etc), the session provided a detailed view of what you can do with the Java API. It’s good to know we’re not limited to .NET and Visual Basic to working programmatically with Essbase anymore.
Automating Hyperion Reporting for the Rest of Your Organization
This session turned out to be a session about how to use delivered Smartview VBA functions to do generate advanced Smartview reports. Topics included how to add prompts to the report, how to refresh specific sections of the report based on those prompts, etc. And if you have a lot of reports to run, Jim showed how that could be automated as well.
VBA in Excel always demos well (especially to accountants!) and there’s nothing like creating custom automation for a specific task to improve efficiencies. But the functionality in this presentation could also be met with Hyperion Financial Reporting as far as I could tell. Jim did point out that there are disadvantages to a high dependence on VBA to generating your monthly reporting package. Having to maintain a set of reference values in Excel and having to keep advanced VBA skills on your team were a couple he called out. From experience I know what a headache it can be to upgrade when you have a lot of custom VBA code to re-test so I would add that to the list.
All in all it was a good day and I definitely left with a lot to think about. Looking forward to day 2 tomorrow!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 13:04.
Don't Pave the Cow Path
- 18 Apr 13
Lately at work I've been having to remind myself lately not to pave the cow path -- not to bring existing business processes and technology forward just because that's how we've always done it. Here's the poem that the expression comes from.
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)
One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.
The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.
A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.