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 2nd. More 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:
- Custom Calculations Bug fixed
- New Model Menu
- Designer menu – 2 in 1!
- Increased transparency during rule build
- Integrated POV Manager
- Increased flexibility with Model and Data POV
- Launch multiple POV allocations with one click
- Embedded search capability in the Execution Control menu
- Easy access to Job Library
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The […] button on the right side of each row/ dimension selection has 3 menu options:
- 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.
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:
In the 19.08 version, the Target and Formula are now collapsed into one menu.
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.
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”
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.
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.
5. Integrated POV Manager
The POV Manager has been collapsed under the Execution Control menu which ensures a more streamlined management and maintenance.
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.
Users 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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