The Seven Challenges of Capital Programming and Overcoming Them

At Alithya, our Higher Education, Healthcare, and Transportation clients often ask for help streamlining their capital request, prioritization, and approval systems.   As capital projects become more expensive with investments in modern facilities and equipment, many teams are looking to optimize their capital investment processes and making sure their high-profile, high-spend, high-impact investments are well managed with good stewardship.

The numbers are LARGE!  Below are some 2017 capital spending statistics according to the US Census:

  • Higher Ed – $36.7B a year
  • Healthcare – $104.9B a year
  • Transportation – $110.1B a year

With capital spend growing, organizations ask for help to revamp capital programming when they see their annual capital portfolio reach a 100+ capital requests per year, culminating in $100M+ of capital spend per year.  When capital programs get to this scale, organizations can no longer effectively manage portfolios merely utilizing Excel and Email.  If your capital program is locked in Excel, it’s too easy for the organization to make the wrong investment or overspend on in-flight projects.

When capital spend hits this level, we see the following recurring themes:

  • An opaque capital investment pipeline
  • Cross-functional teams are not involved early enough in the capital request process
  • Capital requisition process is annual (not real-time)
  • There is little linkage between capital requests and the organization’s capital constraint
  • Capital spending not linked to the organization’s strategic plan
  • Incomplete capital requests and surprise project overruns
  • The process is too manual – utilizing Excel, Word, and Email

Challenge #1:  An Opaque Capital Investment Pipeline

Treasury and Finance have limited visibility into the longer-term needs of departments and business units.  Finance only gets an annual glimpse during the capital request cycle when hundreds of requests surface and need to be quickly prioritized.  It’s hard to really understand, prioritize, and guide in a time-compressed period.

Ideal State: Departments continuously enter their capital needs into a sandbox, so departments can begin thinking strategically and build their own “mini investment roadmaps.”   During the capital cycle, a department can cherry pick select requests and submit them for approval.    If they’ve been working on their capital needs throughout the year, the capital prioritization process will be much smoother.  At the same time, Treasury and Finance can aggregate sandbox information to look for themes, trends, and emerging needs.

Challenge #2:  Cross-Functional Teams Find Out About Proposed Investments Too Late

Without a system helping to drive the capital program process, departments don’t always know who to involve in various capital requests and when to involve them.  Often, support functions like IT, Facilities, or Purchasing get notified to ‘start work’ on a project into which they had no input or visibility.

Alithya has recognized a few real-world examples:

  • A department receives approval to purchase a piece of equipment, but no one realized the Facilities Department needs to build out a room.
  • Two departments are soliciting approval to purchase the same item, but the Purchasing Department finds out too late – missing an opportunity to take advantage of better purchasing terms.

Ideal State:  As capital requests are promoted out of a department’s sandbox, cross-functional teams get visibility to new requests via dashboards that highlight new, relevant requests.  If there is a question about something new on the list, they can raise concerns, or acknowledge that they have seen the request.

Challenge #3:  Capital Request Process is Not Real-Time

Too often, the capital request process runs annually, a capital program with a list of projects gets approved, and the fiscal year starts a few months later.   Often, business units, functions, and VPs are left to self-administer within their capital allotment contingencies.  However, much like the previous two challenges, the rest of the organization is not getting a real-time view of the current capital need.

Ideal State:  An annual request process establishes each function’s routine capital contingency.    A system should administer a standard request workflow for ‘routine requests.’   As the fiscal year progresses, routine investments should be requested and adjudicated, and then communicated to cross-functional teams so they are afforded the opportunity to review items that may impact them.

Challenge #4:  Little Linkage Between Capital Pipeline and Organization’s Funding Capacity

As organizations think about capital improvements several years out, most do not have a formal methodology to look at the various capital structure and funding scenarios that drive their capital capacity.

Ideal State:  Implement a capital funding capacity model to evaluate various scenarios in order to set the capital program budget. The typical scenario modeling includes analyzing options such as adjusting fees, fund raising, issuing debt, or drawing from endowments.   This scenario model will drive the capital budget limits within the annual request process and allow the treasury function to drive its capital raising plan.

Challenge #5:  Capital Spending Not Linked to the Organization’s Strategic Plan

Organizations need to make important decisions around large capital projects that will impact their finances for many years into the future.  However, many organizations do not integrate their capital plan into their strategic plan. This prevents them from forming a holistic understanding of the crucial impact these decisions have on their future financial statements and key metrics.

Ideal State:  It is important to provide a linkage into the strategic plan so that senior management can gain insight into how capital allocation decisions impact future cash flows and requirements for additional debt or bond issuances.  Incorporating debt covenant calculations and credit rating metrics into the strategic plan can provide further understanding into the organization’s future debt and capital capacity.  Integrating scenario analysis into the strategic plan around the inclusion/exclusion of unapproved capital projects and the timing of the cash outlays associated with these projects can help organizations optimize their mix of capital projects given their financial projections and associated constraints.

Challenge #6:  Incomplete Capital Requests and Surprise Budget Overruns

Often, capital spend is not prioritized and managed consistently leading to the wrong projects being approved, projects going overbudget, and not all capital costs for a project being estimated.

Ideal State:   Define a consistent capital request, prioritization, and approval process that can be universally applied to the organization.   Establish rules around how ‘routine capital’ and ‘strategic investments’ should be facilitated by a formal request process, an opportunity to prioritize, and an approval workstream within the organization. Determine when in the prioritization process, cross-functional teams such as IT, Facilities, and Purchasing should receive visibility into a potential investment.

Challenge #7:  The Process is too Manual – All in Excel, Word, and Email

Even the largest organizations are managing the capital request process via Excel, Word, and Email, with Finance building up spreadsheets of requests.  Once the capital program gets prioritized, approved, and project budgets issued, ongoing projects are often managed in Excel with finance managing budget transfers between projects, actuals vs. budget reporting, and placing an asset in service.

Ideal State:   A capital program system should download cash commitments and cash disbursements from the ERP nightly, and at a level comparable to approved project budgets.   If a project is going overbudget, a department should submit a new incremental funding request so the organization can formally decide to continue to fund or terminate the project.  Similarly, as projects near completion, a system should automatically flag projects to close.

Alithya’s Solution

We are focused on helping clients with this key business process and have established Alithya’s Capital Portfolio Planning, a repeatable implementation that shortens the time it takes to address the challenges outlined in this post. By using the flexibility of Oracle’s EPM Planning tool, we can quickly implement a robust capital programming process.

David Pabst - The Seven Challenges of Capital Programming and Overcoming Them - 8-27-19 - Image 1

To learn more about streamlining your capital programming process, please read our solution brief or contact Alithya to request our capital programing assessment.

Contributing to this post are David Pabst, Practice Manager, Capital Planning Product Manager, and Andy Starks, Practice Director, Strategic Modeling Architect

For comments, questions or suggestions for future topics, please reach out to us at infosolutions@alithya.comSubscribe to receive notifications about new posts about Cloud updates and other Oracle Cloud Services such as Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation, and Enterprise Data Management.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.

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Alithya’s PowerShell Accelerator for Ground-to-Cloud EPM

Oracle provides a powerful toolset for interaction with the EPM Suite through a set of REST APIs and a downloadable product called EPM Automate that provides for command line access to a significant portion of the REST APIs.  At many of our customers, we implement scripts to orchestrate and schedule processes.  These processes execute EPM jobs, transfer metadata and data to the EPM Suite, and download data from the EPM Suite.

We believe in standards to facilitate common implementations across our large customer base and to manage the evolving nature of Oracle’s EPM Suite.  Standardization improves our ability to support our customers, and we have taken steps to consolidate our scripting into a single preferred service accelerator that provides high-quality, implementation-proven script utilities in a packaged delivery.

When we started this effort, we established a set of criteria for what we wanted to accomplish:

  1. Provide scripts that work in either Windows or Linux environments.
  2. Apply scripting best practices in a packaged delivery.
  3. Improve quality, delivery performance, and supportability by having a set of scripted functions that are unit tested prior to first use at a customer.
  4. Provide a standard approach to setup of jobs including signing into EPM Automate.
  5. Provide a standard logging framework.
  6. Provide exception handling including emailing.
  7. Provide a standard approach to archival of transferred files.
  8. Provide a standard approach to post procedure clean-up of temporary files.
  9. Provide ability to run scripts individually and together.
  10. Allow the calling scripts to be easily readable.

Why PowerShell?

Establishing the programming language was foundational and involved conversations about batch, Bash and PowerShell.  Although each language has advantages and weaknesses, the Product team selected PowerShell for the following reasons:

  • Robust interpreted programming language that includes standard capabilities such as variable, functions, loops, exception handling, etc.
  • Native on Windows environments with a nice development environment, PowerShell-ISE.
  • Can invoke commands and batch scripts easily.
  • Intended future direction for Microsoft with strong on-line support.
  • Open-sourced and available on Linux, testing showed that little or no modification to scripts is required for use in Linux environments.

What are we Providing?  A Working Example

We provide a packaged set of utilities called EPMAutomatePowerShellUtilities as an accelerator to development of ground-to-cloud scripts.  EPM Automate is in the name because we primarily use EPM Automate to accomplish an action, but also use the REST APIs when EPM Automate does not provide the required action.

To highlight the accelerator, lets document a working example with a customer implementing a Profitability and Cost Modeling Cloud Service (PCMCS) solution.

Customer is providing dimensional data and content data files and needs the following actions:

  • Upload Dimensional Data and integrate into PCMCS
  • Upload Content Data and Run Allocations
  • Download Post Allocated Results
  • Run all the above as a Single Script

First, the Boiler Plate

All customer scripts have the following boiler plate to provide common behavior

try

{

  • $PSScriptRoot/config/properties.ps1
  • $epmautomatepowershellutilities/Utilities.ps1

    Pre-Job-Run $Profile

    #Place your actions here!

}

catch

{

    Email-Exception

}

finally

{

    Post-Job-Run

}

What is going on?

  • try … catch … finally – allows for exception handling and script resolution in a common pattern. Standardized exception handling improves the quality of the ETL process by ensuring that support personnel are notified via email for any process execution stoppage.
  • – $PSScriptRoot/config/properties.ps1 – loads the variables required to run the scripts. For example, we load $ApplicationName which is the PCMCS application with which we are working.  The properties.ps1 is a text file that requires very little maintenance after initial setup.
  • – $epmautomatepowershellutilities/Utilities.ps1 – loads all the custom functions we provide.
  • Pre-Job-Run $profile – sets up job and makes it ready to run including signing into EPM Automate.
  • #Place your actions here! – this is where the custom actions are placed. See Scripts 1, 2, 3, and 4 below for examples of custom actions.
  • Email-Exception – when an exception occurs, then email an error message including a zip of the temporary folder that contains process log and any other files that were created by custom actions.
  • Post-Job-Run – clean up after custom actions are complete by signing out of EPM Automate and optionally removing temporary folder (configurable).

Script 1: UploadDimensionData.ps1 – Upload Dimensional Data and Integrate into PCMCS

We won’t repeat the boiler plate and focus on the custom actions:

Upload-DimData-And-Load $ApplicationName “$inboxFolder\Dimensional Data”

Enable-App $ApplicationName

Deploy-Cube $ApplicationName -KeepData -RunNow

Readability is a huge factor here.  We really don’t need to explain what these custom actions are doing, but let’s highlight a couple of things.  First, the called function often looks a lot like a corresponding EPM Automate command; for example, “Enable-App” corresponds to the EPM Automate command “enableApp.”  Second, we provide more complex calling functions such as “Upload-DimData-And-Load” to perform a set of common actions that run multiple commands – in this case the upload of multiple files – and then run the loadDimData command for all the uploaded files.  Behind the scenes, an archive copy with a timestamp is placed in an archive folder for each of the uploaded files.

Script 2: UploadData.ps1 – Upload Content Data and Run Allocations

Again, without boiler plate:

Clear-POV $ApplicationName “VR_Working;SC_Forecast” -InputData -AllocatedValues -POVDelimiter “;”

Copy-POV $ApplicationName “NoVersion,SC_Forecast” “VR_Working,SC_Forecast” -isManageRule

Upload-Data-And-Load -ApplicationName $ApplicationName -Path “$inboxFolder\data” -DataLoadValue “OVERWRITE_EXISTING_VALUES”

Run-Calc -ApplicationName $ApplicationName -ModelPOV “VR_Working;SC_Forecast” -ExeType “ALL_RULES” -ClearCalculated -ExecuteCalculations -RunNow -isOptimizeReporting -POVDelimiter “;”

You’ll see a mix of EPM Automate analogs and a complex function that uploads all the content data and loads them into PCMCS.  Again, the archival of uploaded files occurs during the Upload-Data-And-Load function.

Script 3 – DownloadResults.ps1 – Download Post Allocated Results

The custom actions are:

Export-Query-Results $ApplicationName “PCMCSDataExport.txt” “Post_allocated”

Download-File “profitoutbox\PCMCSDataExport.txt”

Script 4 – JustDoIt.ps1 – Perform all Three Steps

The boiler plate is built so that the Pre-Job-Run, Email-Exception, and Post-Job-Run understand when they are inside a calling script.  This allows you to create a parent script to run multiple other scripts without modification of the called scripts.

Focusing on the custom actions:

. $PSScriptRoot\UploadDimensionData.ps1

. $PSScriptRoot\UploadData.ps1

. $PSScriptRoot\DownloadResults.ps1

In this parent script, EPM Automate is logged into a single time.  Any exception results in full stop and a single email sent with an integrated process log.

Final thoughts

The accelerator provides a high-quality framework allowing Alithya to focus on customer requirements and the actions needed to integrate with Oracle’s Cloud EPM suite.  The low level, expected behaviors, such as exception reporting, logging, emailing, and file archival are available on day 1 of the engagement.  With a focus on readability, these scripts are easily transferred to the support organization for long-term sustainability.

For long-term support, the customer can update the REST API version via the properties.ps1 file, and Oracle is providing EPM Automate updates that do not break prior scripts.  If EPM Automate has a breaking change, the customer can update the utilities themselves or request an updated set from Alithya.  Feedback from our customer base is positive with specific comments about the readability of the utilities and quality of initial deployment.

Overall, the accelerator is reducing the effort and time to deploy ground-to-cloud processes while improving the quality of deployment by reducing the time spent creating and debugging scripts.

Additionally, long-term support costs are lower through standardization of implementation patterns that allow support personnel to focus on what the script is accomplishing rather than how it is accomplishing it.

For comments, questions or suggestions for future topics, please reach out to us at infosolutions@alithya.comSubscribe to receive notifications about new posts about Cloud updates and other Oracle Cloud Services such as Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation, and Enterprise Data Management.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.

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Profitability and Cost Management v19.08: Updates, Insight, & Impact

Oracle Cloud Service subscribers are used to monthly updates being applied to their Test and Production instances on the first and, respectively, third Friday of each month 

However, not all monthly updates are created equal. 

If you own a subscription to Profitability and Cost Management Cloud, you may have noticed a brand new menu with the latest update that occurred this past Friday, August 2ndMore importantly, the updates in the latest version of PCM are not only on the surface.  

Here is a list of all the announced updates as well as some other insightful findings and their potential impact: 

  1. Custom Calculations Bug fixed
  2. New Model Menu
  3. Designer menu – 2 in 1!
  4. Increased transparency during rule build
  5. Integrated POV Manager
  6. Increased flexibility with Model and Data POV
  7. Launch multiple POV allocations with one click
  8. Embedded search capability in the Execution Control menu
  9. Easy access to Job Library
  10. Recreate instance with all file clear

1.  Custom Calculations Bug Fixed

If you were holding off on applying PCM patches because of reasons pertaining to Custom Calculations issues in prior updates, then this is the update you have been waiting for!  Early testing of the updates in PCM v19.08 indicates that bugs found in past versions in relation to complex custom scripting have been solved.

*Caution:  Each Custom Calculation is unique, and thorough testing is crucial before the scheduled v19.08 update is pushed to the Production instance. 

All software updates should be tested using a data set that can be easily compared with results from a prior version of the software.

Due to several changes to the Essbase database, users may notice differences in the reported values in Execution statistics reports, but the resulting data values should be the same as they were before the latest update was applied. When Test instance calculations results indicate that the cells updated differ compared to Production results for the same rule, users should take it one step further and validate the data values.

2.  New Model Menu

Rule build and maintenance tasks can now be performed in the new “Models” menu.

Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 1

The new Models menu is aimed at simplifying the way we manage Profitability and Cost Management applications Model data – Rulesets and Rules. All administrative tasks are grouped for a more streamlined interaction with PCM – from building rules to executing them and, finally, monitoring jobs – a simplified menu that reflects a real-life workflow. This GUI update will enhance the user experience as there is no more need to jump between different sections of the menu in order to perform end to end activities.

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3.  Designer Menu:  2 in 1!

Within the Designer tile there are two tabs covering functionality that were previously accessed via two separate menus:

  • the pre 19.08 Rules menu –called Waterfall Setup in the Designer menu
  • the pre 19.08 Calculation Express Editor menu – called Mass Edit in the Designer menu

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Combining the previous two menus is a beneficial move as it groups logical actions within one location.

Users can set up new rules in the Waterfall Setup tab and can perform mass changes such as replace or add selections in multiple rules in the Mass Edit tab.

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4.1  Increased Transparency During Rule Build

Prior to the 19.08 update, in order to check who was the author of a rule, date and time the rule was created as well as last updates, users would have to exit the Rules menu and use the information in the Calculation Rules menu instead. That is no longer the case in the new 19.08 Designer menu. Every rule now displays all this information immediately as it is selected.

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There are also updates to the GUI for the two types of rules in PCM.

4.2.  Standard Allocation Rules

The pre-19.08 Management Ledger Rule editor menu for standard allocations is straightforward and easy to use.

There is a tab for each section, indicating from left to right the proper steps for setting up your model allocations.

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Who would have thought it could get better?

Well, in v19.08 it did.

The new display combines the Source and Destination tabs into one. This adds to the ease of use as well as transparency of rule setup.  In one look users can now check the core setup of each rule.

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The […] button on the right side of each row/ dimension selection has 3 menu options:

Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 8Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 9

  • Users can type in multiple member source selections. Member name validation is not dynamic; it is performed only when saving contents. The menu does not lend itself to bulk copy and paste from a text editor – each record will have to be copied on its unique row.
  • Calculation segmentation – this was a feature that was present in prior versions of PCM. The advice here is to utilize this feature only when requested to do so by Oracle Support, when dealing with large applications. As per the Oracle Admin Guide for PCM, “it activates a way of calculating specific dimensions and levels to enhance scalability with very large models”.
  • Clear [Dimension] Selections – the previous menu’s “X” button (see below) would enable users to remove member selections, one at a time.

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The clear selections menu option with the latest PCM release enables users to remove all selections with one click.

4.3.  Custom Calculations

Custom calculations have a similar enhancement as the one in standard allocation rules. The Rule menu, available with pre 19.08 versions of PCM, had two separate tabs, one for the Target set of members and a second one for the custom formula:

Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 11

In the 19.08 version, the Target and Formula are now collapsed into one  menu.

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The new displays for both standard allocation rules as well as custom calculations add clarity and ease of use at the same time, potentially decreasing development and troubleshooting time.

4.4.  Wishlist for Future Designer Menu

If I could choose one feature from the pre 19.08 Rules menu that we could layer in on top of the 19.08 Designer menu, it would be the Text Editor.

Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 13

A simple feature that is used heavily not just during development, but also during troubleshooting and maintenance.  This feature is, unfortunately, not available in the On-Premises version and it is not part of the Designer menu screen either.

The benefit of this feature is that users can copy information from a text editor or .xls and apply mass updates to a rule for all the dimensions in the Source/Destination/Target screens in one action.

The format of the Text entry is restricted, as each dimension member selection must be typed on a separate line and must include a reference of the dimension that it belongs to.

“Dimension Name”, ”Member Name”

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The format restrictions have not impacted the amount of times users prefer Text Entry to any other type of rule editing menu, especially when they are familiar with the model and the metadata naming conventions.

One other feature that I found useful especially during development or even during initiatives involving structure reorgs, is the selection panel that displays the entire hierarchy for each dimension.

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This panel does not appear to exist in the new Designer menu, which means that the user must be familiar with member names or must know all the layers of a dimension. That type of familiarity with metadata comes with time and, as things often change, the user may be constrained to stay constantly up to date with every new modification, as it pertains to updates to the allocation model.

The member selection search box that appears in 19.08 is an improvement, as it is fast and dynamic. However, when multiple selections are required and there is not much familiarity with the hierarchy naming convention, having the entire picture available in one panel is beneficial.

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5.  Integrated POV Manager

The POV Manager has been collapsed under the Execution Control menu which ensures a more streamlined management and maintenance.

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Users can now create a new POV via the plus sign button.

All other options remain as they were prior to the 19.08 update with one exception.

Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 18Users were able to manage and update a global context in relation to a POV in the pre 19.08 Rules menu, but this information was displayed alongside the Rulesets and Rules for that POV.

Alex Mlynarzek - PCM v19.08 - 8-5-19 - Image 19

Changing the Global context Dimensions may impact the entire POV set of Rules. Therefore, the configuration of Global context alongside with the POV manager is a logical menu association, part of the 19.08 update.

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6.  Increased Flexibility with Model and Data POV

Profitability and Cost Management applications have always had features that enabled fast spin-off of new “What-If” analysis as well as testing different allocation logic rules on the same POV. Oracle has now taken this existing capability to the next level, by enabling users to leverage any Model POV against any Data POV.

Model POV vs Data POVs:

  • The Model POV represents the reference POV that contains the allocation rulesets and rules.
  • The Data POV represents the POV that contains the data values which must be allocated.

In prior versions of PCM, users had to keep Model and Data POVs aligned. If there was a need to test a new set of rules on a data slice, users had to copy the desired rules in the Data POV intersection to be able to launch allocations.

With the 19.08 update that is no longer the case.

The control over which POV is the Model POV is available in the Run Express Calculation menu.

Users can now point to any Reference POV model and run the respective rules onto any other Data POV.

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This “run-time association” is not forcing a rule copy, as it would have in prior 19.08 versions.

Because of this new capability, we could potentially have as single set of rules that could be referenced for all our POV’s, without having to copy them across each Data POV every time we would want the allocations to run.

There is one optional parameter that can be called via EPM Automate in order to leverage this Model POV/Data POV reference capability in automated jobs:

epmautomate runcalc APPLICATION_NAME POV_NAME [DATA_POV_NAME] PARAMETER=VALUE [comment=”comment”] stringDelimiter=”DELIMITER

The [Data POV Name] parameter, when specified, enables this pivoting capability between Model and Data POV. If not specified, the automation will assume that the Data POV is the same as the Model POV.

7.  Launch Multiple POV Allocations with One Click

The new 19.08 menu enables users to launch multiple allocations for different POVs at the same time, while also leveraging the functionality of a reference POV described in the previous section of this blog. Through simple check boxes users can select one or many POVs to run allocations.

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The 19.08 update Execution Control panel will indicate whether a POV already contains its own rulesets and rules (Model data), so the users can decide if they want to leverage the existing Model associated with Data POV or a distinct Model altogether.

If a reference Model POV is used instead of the Data POV corresponding rules, the Execution statistics report will record that point-in-time reference.

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If users select multiple Data POVs to run at the same time, it is important to mention that if a Model POV is selected as reference, it will be applied to all the Data POVs selected to be calculated, whether these Data POVs have Model information (Rulesets and Rules) of their own or not.

8.  Embedded Search Capability in the Execution Control Menu

When launching a single allocation rule, either during development or troubleshooting, the Calculation menu in versions prior 19.08 would have constrained users to scroll through the mass of rules until they found the rule they needed to launch. In larger models, this situation would soon become frustrating.

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With the new 19.08 update, users have the possibility of performing a fast search by simply typing portions of the rule name. A dynamic filter is applied and only the rules with that specific string will become available in the drop-down selection.

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9.  Easy Access to Job Library

The Job Library is the location of most PCM related logs (except for the Cloud Data Management and Migration logs). With the 19.08 Model menu, it is easier to access it because it shares the same area as the Run Express Calculation menu. The details on the job library will include the reference POV that was used when executing allocations.

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10.  Recreate Instance with All File Clear

The Recreate command within EPM Automate enables users to start from a fresh new environment by deleting the existing application and performing a reset on the instance. This month we have an additional parameter that can be leveraged in order to wipe out any existing artifacts, such as backups and other files, that may accumulate and take up significant space over time.

The data storage allowance from Profitability and Cost Management Cloud subscription was communicated back in 2017 to be of 150 G/instance. This is not a hard limit; going over it won’t grind a service subscription to a halt, but over time Oracle may request clients to update their subscription to reflect an increased storage requirement.

*Caution: if you cannot launch some of the EPM Automate commands in your version of this software, you may be running on a prior month release. Upgrade your EPMAutomate utility through the epmautomate upgrade command to align your version of the automation software with the latest PCM version and access all the latest features and parameters added to the library.

Release Calendar for PCM Updates

On the 1st Friday of the month all Test instance will be updated to the current months’ release level, and on the 3rd Friday of the month the same update activity will occur in the Production instance of either PCM or Enterprise Cloud subscriptions.

If for any reason the testing of the 19.08 patch should indicate there are issues, there is a timeframe of reaction when administrators may request to postpone the rollout of the patch to their Production Instance, until the issues uncovered are fixed.

The deadline for such a request is the Weds of the week when the upgrade is scheduled to be applied to the Production environment. In the case of the August Production instance update, that deadline would be on Weds, August 14th. Such Service Request must contain the details of the POD as well as the business reason why the patch update is requested to be delayed.

Conclusion

There are many exciting new updates in 19.08 – from new interfaces aimed at user experience enhancement to backend optimization and new functionality. The Profitability and Cost Management Cloud is being constantly refined based on client and partner feedback, which is why it is so important to become involved in the Oracle community via the Customer Cloud Connect website.

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Customer Cloud Connect has become the new space for engaging with Oracle Product Management as well as other members of the community, whether partners or clients.

Create an account today and rate existing Enhancement Ideas if you believe they are beneficial to your user base. The more positive votes, the faster that feature will make its way to your Cloud subscription, based on Oracle’s prioritization list criteria.

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Implementing Rolling Forecasts in Healthcare: A Strategic Approach

As healthcare moves to a consumer-focused market and patients become increasingly aware of costs related to services, health systems are continuously trying to find ways to cut costs and react faster to data while still delivering quality care.  This is most evident in the Planning process; the number of clients moving beyond budgets to real-time Rolling Forecasts is on the rise because it allows organizations to think more strategically and quickly, and it enables them to better plan for future changes.

Moving from a budget to a forecast is a key decision that requires leadership to be aligned.  Three tenets to accomplish this are:

  • Leadership Alignment – how will the business get there?
  • Data Alignment – driver-based
  • Technology Alignment – can your system easily adapt from budget to forecast?

Leadership Alignment

Change is not easy to for any organization and trying to force change without leadership buy-in and alignment is nearly impossible.  Moving from a budget process to a rolling forecast can be very different for those involved in the process.  Effectively communicating the advantages and goals of the change is imperative for user adoption.  A solid communication plan and transition strategy is the first consideration and should focus on the following items:

  • Budgets generally outdated by the time submitted
  • Shift focus to key drivers to react quickly and limit user touch points
  • Modifications/updates made timelier instead of waiting until annual budget process
  • Being able to see immediate feedback to the forecast based on critical decisions allow organizations to be agile

Data Alignment

The real work comes in aligning data correctly to support a rolling forecast and is affected by how well a forecast is initiated while maintaining a rolling look of the data.  Clients often struggle with this because the “wall” approach of a budget offers a clear range on which to focus a view.

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A rolling forecast is always forward-looking based on relevant drivers and decisions.

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Another key decision is to outline how to ensure that accounts have clear alignment with drivers and/or processes as a rolling forecast progresses.  This can take time and should involve “superusers” to assist with adoption and training.  Below is a snippet of the tasks involved.

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Technology Alignment

Finally, the implemented solution should have the ability to operate in both worlds (budget & forecast) or easily transition from a budget to forecast when ready.  Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (EPBCS) is just that solution.

It is critical that systems be somewhat dynamic and provide the ability to use variables to prevent the need to manually maintain horizons.

EPBCS allows easy updates to the rolling forecast variables with just a few simple clicks.  The screenshots below illustrate how quickly updates to all variables can be made to support the next quarter.

Once completed, the forms show all the appropriate column updates using the necessary variables.

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If you are interested in understanding what it takes to move your organization beyond budgeting and leverage a rolling forecast concept, the Alithya team can guide you with a phased approach to help your business to think more strategically.

If you need more information or have questions about this topic, email us at infosolutions@alithya.com.  Subscribe to receive notifications about new posts.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.

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