How many people take the time to read a product manual cover-to-cover? For many, it feels like punishment, but for consultants it is a required duty.
Recently, I read about some of the latest features in the Oracle / Hyperion “Smart View” for Microsoft Office Add-In. As I read the manual, I could not help being impressed by the all new features.
“Smart View” is not a new product. It was first provided with the release of Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) 4.0.x. However, the pace of the development and enhancements has been incredible over the past four to five years, adding a laundry-list of new functions.
Soon after reading the documentation a client asked me to assist with planning a simple upgrade from HFM 3.5.1. Their initial thought was to simply take a free upgrade to version 4.x in order to have access to the latest platform.
Like most companies, their users are most comfortable accessing data through Microsoft (MS) Excel. We reviewed the list of enhancements that are found only in the latest version of “Smart View”. We touched on the availability of Data Forms, Import and Refresh of Workspace reports, Drag and Drop, and dynamic support of data within MS Word and MS PowerPoint.
Their reaction made it clear that only the most current version would suffice. I wanted to expand on other enhancements found in HFM such as the latest Calculation Editor, Minority Interest Module, Intercompany Transactions Module and Metadata Management, but they were almost sold on the Smart View enhancements alone. A good salesman knows when to clam up.
Reflecting on the discussion, I discovered that what is really happening is the software functionality has matured to the point that it truly meets the users’ needs and then some.
Not too long ago, a big part of a consultant’s time was spent managing a “work-around” to meet a client’s requirements. We don’t hear the phrase “work-around” too much anymore because the functionality is real. Today, a great deal of time is spent expanding upon the requirements with more uses of the inherent functionality and building integrations with other systems.
The embedded functionality is very user friendly in products such as “Smart View”. One of my client’s reporting requirements was to incorporate their financial data with supporting commentary in MS Word and MS Power Point. Rather than leading a demo myself, I passed my laptop across the desk to allow them to experience the ease-of-use first hand.
For example, to link financial system data into a Microsoft document or presentation with “Smart View” user would follow some basic steps:
- Create an Ad-Hoc Analysis Grid in Smart View Excel. Place the items you wish to display on the rows and/or columns. The items that may need to change over time, such as the Month, Year or Scenario can remain as part of the point-of-view.
- Format the Data. As data is moved between MS Excel, MS Word or MS PowerPoint, the data will retain its formatting. Therefore, you can edit the formatting of the data.
- Select the Area to Display. The linked data can be displayed as only the amount field or can incorporate the row/column member labels by simply highlighting those cells on the worksheet.
- Copy Data Points. The Hyperion menu enables the data to be dynamically linked into other MS products by selecting Copy Data Points.
- Open a MS Office Application. Select the area in a document or presentation that requires the linked data. Using the Hyperion menu choose, Paste Data Points. For example, MS PowerPoint.
- Refresh the Document. By choosing Refresh from the “Smart View” menu, the most current data will always be displayed as it is retrieved directly from an application such as HFM.
- Account for Changes. Depending on the design, the information can be updated for a change in the Month, Year and Period, Product or any dimension by simply changing the point-of-view setting in the “Smart View” menu item, POV Manager. Simply change a parameter such as the current month and Refresh the document.
The results in the example above are a great indication on how easy it is to now incorporate financial system data into external applications. Once applied, the data is able to be refreshed in order to display the most current data or alternate views.
Then enhancements made by Oracle / Hyperion to the entire Enterprise Performance Management suite of applications truly address the user’s need to collect and analyze data. They also address the many issues surrounding the routine tasks when developing and maintaining financial documents.
Users new to Oracle / Hyperion, or those upgrading from earlier versions, will find the latest products really do live up to their expectations. They will finally benefit from more flexible access to data and spend less time collecting and maintaining it.
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