Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service (EDMCS) – First Impressions

Continuing its momentum with Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud initiatives, Oracle recently released Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service (EDMCS). Here are some initial impressions of the application to provide fundamental information and spark discussion.

First, some background: these observations are based on an actual project from working with a client who was 1 of 3 selected for the EDMCS Early Adopter Program. This client is essentially going all-in on Oracle EPM Cloud, with Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS), Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Service (FCCS), and Account Reconciliation Cloud Service (ARCS). One on-premise component, Financial Data Quality Management Enterprise Edition (FDMEE), is also in the mix. This client quickly realized its reporting structures between the Planning/Budgeting and Financial Close/Consolidation worlds, while not identical, were similar and contained a high degree of shared structures. The idea of maintaining these reporting structures in multiple tools did not make sense, leading the client to inquire about EDMCS. After an evaluation, Oracle selected them to participate in the early adopter program for EDMCS with Edgewater Ranzal as the implementation partner.

EDMCS = DRM in the Cloud, Right?

Well, not exactly, but that’s not necessarily the right question to ask. EDMCS is NOT a lift-and-shift of Data Relationship Management (DRM) to the Cloud. Yes, there are similar concepts and constructs in EDMCS that a DRM administrator will quickly grasp (Add/Insert/Delete/Remove of members, Shared members, properties, and node types to name a few). But EDMCS utilizes a different philosophy to manage your enterprise master data along with a different data model, all geared around effective master data management for EPM Cloud products. It’s crucial to adopt a new mindset as you embrace EDMCS and not be constrained by “this is how DRM did it.”

With EDMCS, you will immediately notice new functionality such as the capability to create an Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (EPBCS) or PBCS application in EDMCS, which provides the built-in connectors, properties, and validations for those target applications. Simply step through the Register Application wizard, specify your dimensions and plan types, and EDMCS will automatically build the rest for you. The built-in properties and validations enforce constraints and business rules to ensure no changes can be made that could break EPBCS/PBCS.

For other use cases, EDMCS provides the ability to create a custom application along with custom properties. As EDMCS matures, the number of packaged connectors, applications, and validations will surely increase.

So, the Data Model is Different?

The EDMCS data model is quite different from DRM. Understanding the EDMCS data chain is crucial to effective administration, especially given new concepts such as Viewpoints, Hierarchy Sets, and Node Sets.

Key data objects include:

  • Node Type – a collection of nodes and associated properties for your application
  • Hierarchy Set – defines the parent-child relationships of nodes
  • Node Set – defines a group of nodes available for a viewpoint. This may include all nodes in a hierarchy set or a subset of nodes
  • Viewpoint – the other data objects come together to provide the viewpoint, which is essentially the “hierarchy” you interact with to modify nodes, parent-child relationships, and properties

The diagram below, taken from the Oracle EDMCS Administration Guide, is a useful reference as you start to build out your EDMCS applications. Future blog posts will explore these key constructs in more detail.

EDMCS Figure 1

Does EDMCS include Data Relationship Governance (DRG)?

Not yet, but workflows, approvals, separation of duties, and other data governance goodness is on the roadmap for EDMCS. But fear not! EDMCS already provides a “request” mechanism. Modifications to master data can only be performed within the context of a request. Requests can include interactive changes through the UI or batch loading of changes through an Excel request file (think of request files like automator or action scripts, but easier to use and yes, in Excel!). Comments can be included with a request and, continuing with one of the strongest features of DRM, requests provide auditability by capturing the who/what/when/where of every change performed in EDMCS.

How is the User Interface?

One of my favorite features is the visual feedback EDMCS provides as you make changes within a request. As you add, insert, remove, delete, reorder, or modify a member, visual icons and highlights are displayed for that member in real-time to capture the action being performed on that member. You basically get a preview of the change before it’s committed. Changes to properties are visually highlighted and easy to spot. Validations are performed as the request is in Draft status and instantly flag any violations with error messages highlighting the problem node and issue.

Summary

Overall, EDMCS is an exciting entry into the EPM Cloud market and a foundational tool critical to maximizing your EPM Cloud investment. While DRM administrators will experience an adjustment period as they learn EDMCS due to the data chain and new terminology, they will be pleasantly surprised with the available functionality such as pre-packaged connectors and properties for PBCS/EPBCS, the use of requests (and did I mention you can load Excel files?!), and the real-time visual feedback as you modify and validate your master data.

Oracle Data Visualization for Strategic Analytics

The world of analytics and data visualization continues to change at a rapid pace. New tools, processes, buzz words (Cloud anyone?) have penetrated our industry and can become overwhelming.  Most of these changes, though, are for the better – one of them being self-service data visualization. Solutions like Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik have been around for several years, earning reputations as leaders in the self-service, easy, and sexy exploration of data.

Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), although a great tool and long-time market leader, lacks ease of deployment, maintenance, and connectivity, and the freedom from “IT tyranny” access to data craved by business users – attributes already addressed by Tableau and others. For many years, I’ve listened to IT describe OBIEE as its enterprise Business Intelligence (BI) solution while business users use Tableau to connect to their own databases and spreadsheets because Tableau doesn’t require them to enter a ticket and potentially wait weeks for that new column to be added to their report.

Today, there is an Oracle tool – Oracle Data Visualization (DV), an Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) component,  that exceptionally meets the needs of business users.  Because it is part of a suite of products, Data Visualization also provides enterprise and financial reporting capabilities, advanced analytics and big data, mobile access, what-if scenario modeling, ingestion, preparation and transformation of data, and yes – you guessed it – Cloud.  Some highlights include:

  • Dynamic visualizations that can be organized into stories to be shared across the organization
  • Consumer (drag and drop) style with easy uploads, mashups, and exploration
  • Mobile authoring and consumption, device agnostic, and with dynamic design optimization
  • Connections to dozens of different sources, including SaaS, relational databases, big data tools, NoSQL, and others through JDBC/ODBC
  • Cloud and desktop versions with identical features

The full Oracle Analytics Cloud suite is a comprehensive solution that offers analytics and reporting tools to effectively address business requirements as well as accommodate different users within an organization (analysts, consumers, admins, etc.). Also included with OAC is Business Intelligence Cloud Service (BICS), a tool that is essentially “OBIEE in the Cloud.”  Data Visualization and BICS complement each other and address different needs, summarized in the following:

BICS vs DV

With continued rapid changes inevitable in technology, the future of Oracle Analytics Cloud will likely be promising as additional components are added. After seeing and supporting clients as they “take the plunge” into Cloud analytics, it becomes clearer that Data Visualization is Oracle’s strategic future of analytics.

See an overview of the history of Oracle DV and OAC as well as a demonstration of the products’ main features and wide array of possible sources in this webinar: The Strategic Future of Analytics…Starring Oracle Data Visualization

An IT Financial Management (ITFM) Solution Will Boost Your Bottom Line Impact

An IT Financial Management (ITFM) Solution Will Boost Your Bottom Line Impact

Wherever they sit in the organization, CIOs are responsible for making sure that IT is agile, cost effective, and delivers services that are responsive to business changes.  To deliver this, IT needs to provide a unified view of its value to the business determined through a rigorous, disciplined, and transparent process – ITFM – governed through the offices of the CFO and CIO.  IT executives frequently have difficulty explaining IT budget variances, exacerbated by heavy reliance on Excel for financial accountability and an inability to perform quality TCO analysis more than once a year.

For the good of your organization, it’s imperative that the CIO and the CFO speak the same shared language of value and move forward, aligned and focused on maximizing returns on technology investment strategies.  Speaking a shared language — one based on a unified financial model view and founded on a shared definition of value — is key to finding a solution. The discipline of ITFM is about equipping both of these executive-level offices and their teams with this better language.

A unified financial model is only as useful as the conversations it enables and the problems it allows decision makers to solve.   Applying over 21 years of experience with leading costing and planning implementations, Edgewater Ranzal designed a custom ITFM framework, constructed through Oracle application templates now owned by Oracle. This Oracle ITFM solution leverages the lessons learned from the wisdom of numerous customers and serves as a guide for future clients to build their ITFM solutions.  As templates deployed on widely embraced enterprise financial applications – Oracle Profitability and Cost Management (PCMCS) and Enterprise Planning and Budgeting (EPBCS) – Oracle ITFM is prescriptive, pre-configured, and fine-tuned to handle both financial performance management and IT-specific logic. Inherently, your organization gets a jumpstart to a modern defined service catalogue, data management approaches, and a cost and planning model framework that follows leading practices for IT finance and corporate finance.

Recognizing that every business is unique in some ways, the base solution is easily adapted to meet any organization’s IT financial management needs. With a set of 15 pre-built reporting and analytics capabilities, the Oracle ITFM solution empowers companies to bring innovation to the business without disrupting business flow.  The templates are free, providing an estimated savings of 650 consulting hours for design, build, and testing, and a cost savings of $125k to $150k. We have fixed scope offerings to implement our ITFM solution in about 7 weeks.

An ITFM solution can:boost

  • Provide transparency to IT service charges
  • Align IT projects with strategic priorities
  • Allow IT spend analysis: run vs. grow vs. transform
  • Help IT build credibility with the business proactively

Leveraging the included set of allocation rules and data source dimensions not only diminishes the effort needed to implement, but also creates alignment with the industry for internal and external benchmarking activities. This alignment promotes a culture of accountability and collaboration with the business, resulting in better IT investment decisions.

So why continue struggling in the dark or spending hours in Excel? Let us shed some light on your opportunities.

Contact us today for a Complimentary “30 Minute ITFM Health Check”

Edgewater Ranzal’s ITFM Solution

This blog post was written in collaboration with our trusted CIO advisor, Thavron Solutions.

The True Power of Oracle’s Enterprise Planning Suite Unleashed at POET: A Case Study

Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service“If you are going to change the world, you need a system to help get you there. For us, it was… about strategic opportunities. POET was at a crossroads. We needed a system that we could grow with and that could grow with us.”
Lezlee Herdina, Director of FP&A, POET

A privately held corporation headquartered Sioux Falls, South Dakota, POET LLC is a U.S. biofuel company that specializes in the creation of bioethanol. The 1,900-employee company produces 1.8 billion gallons of ethanol annually and has been granted 90 patents in the U.S. and abroad.

In this webinar, Edgewater Ranzal’s Managing Director and HSF Practice Director Ryan Meester speaks with Lezlee Herdina, POET’s Director of FP&A, to give us a behind-the-scenes look into POET’s Enterprise Planning Solution journey, from realizing that significant change was needed to an extensive evaluation process to the ultimate solution and, finally, to the company’s enduring vision going forward.

The Right Tool for the Right Job (RTRJ)

While Lezlee and the POET team were open to the insights and recommendations generated by their Ranzal analysts, they also had some specific goals in mind from the outset:

  • Provide seamless integration of financial and operational data
  • Create a platform for process improvement, including implementing greater automation in monthly processes improving efficiency and increasing time for value-add analysis
  • Achieve better communication, including ease of reporting
  • Reduce reliance on Excel models and associated version control issues
  • Improve data governance, with clarity of data model with common definitions to facilitate planning and reporting processes
  • Integrate operational and financial dashboards for performance measurement
  • Use of scenario analysis to drive M&A and strategic business decisions
  • Increase emphasis on cash perspective
  • Understanding when to use SmartView, Financial Reports, and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), as well as take full advantage of the strengths of each of the Reporting Tools
  • Keep it simple, and trust in the higher level nature of HSF
  • Recognize the important nature of the user experience
  • Ensure that data integrations are seamless for the end-user

To learn more about the POET team’s initial ongoing business challenges, the lessons learned, and the ultimate results, view a recording of True Power of Oracle’s Enterprise Planning Suite Unleashed at POETwebinar.

To learn more about our Enterprise Planning solutions, visit www.ranz.al/epbcs-webinars

Missed the webinar? View Recording Here.

Automating Enterprise Planning with EPBCS: A Case Study Featuring Sims Metal Management

Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud ServiceIn using Enterprise Planning & Budgeting Cloud Service (EPBCS) to support annual budgeting and forecasting processes, organizations are choosing solutions that allow them to leverage the financials, projects, capital and workforce business processes necessary to provide a driver-based solution that links expected intake to revenues and costs. In turn, they are able to more efficiently produce integrated income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.

Featuring Jim Clark of Sims Metal Management, Our Special Guest

 Our August 16, 2017 webinar, featuring Jim Clark, Group Manager of FP&A at Sims Metal Management, takes a detailed look at how one organization automated enterprise planning to streamline processes and produce better results.

Within a real-world scenario, this means that whether using EPBCS out of the box or as a “hybrid” of OOTB with customized extensions, companies like Sims are able to adjust sales forecasts—throughout the year and through sales cycles—to better match the actual costs and needs in areas such as raw materials and labor.

A Better Approach To Performance Management

Using this integrated approach to Performance Management, companies are, in effect, bringing actual performance numbers, on a monthly basis, into their models.

As a result, changes and adjustments can be fine-tuned and incorporated into the mix.  Forecasts can be based more on actual numbers and less on assumptions, thus leading to a balance sheet that matches projections. From a planning perspective, companies can be more nimble and, ultimately, create their models with greater accuracy.

Whether you are participating live or via a recording, this webinar will illustrate how organizations like Sims are leveraging EPBCS in ways that allow them to: 

  • Gain insight to increase efficiency and improve outcomes
  • Better understand how organizations like yours can make standardization and centralization a top priority
  • See how an integrated solution works not just in theory, but actually in practice
  • Follow the processes to results that include improved accuracy and increased efficiency across the enterprise

For More Information

No matter where your team or your organization is along your EPBCS journey, this webinar is certain to provide you with valuable insight and context that can help you to implement changes that lead to greater efficiency and a more streamlined forecasting process overall.

Register for our “Automating Enterprise Planning with EPBCS: A Case Study Featuring Sims Metal Management ” webinar:

Missed the webinar? View Recording Here.

 

Introducing Strategic Modeling: Oracle’s HSF Cloud Offering

It’s no secret that Oracle, along with the rest of the software industry, has been moving swiftly to the Cloud over the past few years.

Within Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management platform, this transition began in 2014 with the launch of Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS). In 2016, Oracle added out-of-the-box content to solve specific business challenges in areas like Workforce Planning and Capital Planning and bundled that with existing PBCS functionality to create Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (EPBCS).

Now in 2017, Oracle continues the impressive build-out of its Cloud offering with the introduction of Strategic Modeling, a new product that facilitates long-range planning and financial modeling in the Cloud.

As part of Oracle’s EPBCS bundle, the Strategic Modeling module is available at no additional cost to customers who already have purchased EPBCS. While Strategic Modeling is “new” in the sense that this functionality has never before existed in its Cloud offering, the module actually has its roots in Oracle’s Hyperion Strategic Finance (HSF) product and will look similar to HSF for those who are familiar with its on-premise capabilities.

Take Your Strategic 264

Robust. Flexible. Versatile.

Strategic Modeling provides customers with a multitude of out-of-the-box functionalities built to simplify and enhance financial modeling processes.

In particular, it adds robust capabilities in the area of Balance Sheet and Cash Flow forecasting that were either missing or limited in prior incarnations of the EPBCS suite. It also adds scenario-modeling capabilities that can be created and driven by end users on the fly as they are responding to questions or requests from Senior Management.

While Strategic Modeling provides significant incremental capabilities to EPBCS, it also leverages many common components of the suite to make the user experience consistent. For example, it provides both a Web and an Excel user interface allowing users to create models and report in the tools with which they are already comfortable. The user interface, navigation, data integration and reporting capabilities are the same across all components of EPBCS, which provides a seamless user experience across the platform.

Strategic Modeling Capabilities

Organizations often try to build strategic plans in Excel or by extending the time horizon of their budgeting applications. All too often, these patchwork solutions fall short primarily because they make use of tools that were not intended for strategic planning.

Strategic Modeling, on the other hand, was built specifically for this purpose and provides numerous out-of-the-box capabilities to address challenges in this area. The following is a sampling of some of the key pre-built capabilities that organizations can utilize to streamline and enhance their strategic planning processes:

  • Fully Integrated Financial Statements: The standard template that ships with Strategic Modeling contains an integrated Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement. The Balance Sheet will automatically balance based on the cash position as derived on the Cash Flow Statement. The circularity inherent in Interest Income/Expense calculations (i.e. as Cash increases, Interest Income increases, which leads to more Cash) is automatically solved for by the system.
  • What-if Capabilities: Strategic Modeling greatly facilitates the process of creating on-the-fly scenarios and comparing them against the base case or other scenarios. Scenario Modeling capabilities are designed for end users to create and run and provide immediate results to key strategic questions.
  • Robust Funding Capabilities: Strategic Modeling has a Funding Routine that allows users to specify a prioritized order of how cash deficits will be funded (e.g. Sell Marketable Securities, Draw upon a Revolver or Issue Commercial Paper, Issue Long-Term Debt or Equity) and how cash surpluses will be utilized (e.g. Pay Down Debt, Share Buyback, Dividends, Buy Marketable Securities).
  • Debt Scheduler Utility: A guided user interface allows for easy input of the parameters for a new debt issuance. Strategic Modeling then will calculate and perform all of the accounting for items such as Accrued Interest, Amortization of Debt Issue Costs and Current Portion of Long-Term Debt.
  • Integrated Enterprise Planning: Strategic Modeling is part of Oracle’s EPBCS Suite and as such benefits from tight integration with the other processes (Financials, Capital, Projects, Workforce) and the reporting cubes of EPBCS. This integration allows users to quickly and easily move data from their detailed budgets and operating plans to their strategic plans within Strategic Modeling. Once the strategic plan is complete, data can be easily exported as higher-level targets to seed the budget process.

Whether you own already own EPBCS and are interested in deploying the Strategic Modeling module, you are an existing HSF customer looking to move to the Cloud or you are new to Oracle and its Cloud offerings, Strategic Modeling has a compelling use case for all organizations looking to improve their modeling and strategic planning capabilities.

Register for our “Take Your Strategic Planning to New Heights” webinar: Please join us for our webinar on July 18, 2017, to see a demo of Strategic Modeling in action and to learn more about its capabilities — register here.

Missed the webinar? View the recording here.

Data Governance in the Cloud: An Integrated Strategy; A Unified Solution

Are you tasked with making organizational decisions that have placed you in a major dilemma? As a decision-maker in today’s fast-paced economy, you must wonder how you can cut costs, improve the bottom line, and still maintain the data quality necessary to make strategic decisions.

Take heart because it IS possible to achieve a balance of on-premise and off-premise Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) software while maintaining integrity and control of your data to provide the quality and data assurance needed for success – AND benefit financially from new Cloud technologies.

Success is a combination of understanding what each data tract requires and creating an integration strategy consisting of the necessary business processes and software tools that deliver consistency and integrity of your EPM strategic data.

Past trends called for a tight on-premise coupling of all EPM software to achieve the best results. This strategy required maintenance of a large hardware and software infrastructure and related personnel to keep everything running smoothly.  The new Cloud “POD” subscriptions are geared toward reducing the high costs of infrastructure which is a financial benefit. As in all things in life, there is a consequence of moving to Cloud technology.   An unexpected consequence of Pod technology is the creation of isolated silos of information, but there is an easy resolution!  The key to overcoming this limitation is to gain an understanding of what each component offers and demands, and creating an integration strategy to bridge that gap.

If you are interested in learning how to create this strategy to bring the various pieces together as a unified solution or if your organization plans to migrate to the EPM Cloud platform in the future, this whitepaper helps to define a process to pre-build the integration strategy and make moving to the Cloud easier with reduced time to migrate.

Download our whitepaper: Data Relationship Management (DRM) for Cloud-Based Technologies:  Using DRM for Data Governance in the Cloud