Patch Today! Don’t Delay! Best Reasons to Upgrade Your EPM System

Putting off that upgrade to 11.1.2.4? Cloud not whetting your appetite for patches? Patch today. Don’t delay!

“But we’re going to the Oracle EPM Cloud soon!” you say. You should maintain your patches anyway. With the recurring maintenance, updates, and patches available to the EPM Cloud products, expect the on-premise patches to contain similar updates. An upcoming conversion to Oracle EPM Cloud products may benefit from running the latest on-premise codelines.

If you have an existing on-premise installation of Oracle EPM System, be sure to maintain the latest EPM System Patch Set Updates every 3 to 6 months. Here are a few great reasons why:

New Features

Patches often contain reactive bug resolutions to known issues; however, we have also been seeing new functionality released in patches for 11.1.2.4.

You Own It

You already pay for it! As long as your Oracle Maintenance contract is current (very likely if you are reading this article), you’re already paying for access to patches. Why leave them unapplied? You are running legacy code when the latest version costs you nothing additional. Windows XP was a great OS, but we’ve got to keep up with the times.

Supportability

Maximize your success by reducing time to resolution on your issues. Should you submit a support request to the vendor, the first line of response to a ticket is often about current patch levels. Once provided, the subsequent reply frequently contains a recommendation to apply the latest Patch Set Updates (PSUs) to see if that fixes the issue. Annoying? Perhaps you’re a pessimist. Or have just been remiss with your patching. I’ve certainly changed my mind on the matter and can better side with them. The reason? Supporting the latest codeline is more efficient and effective for the vendor. Your problem may have already been addressed in a code fix. They can better and more quickly support you if they are troubleshooting the current release instead of legacy code.

Stability

In older versions, patches seem to come out on a haphazard schedule. Over the last few years, Oracle has regularly streamlined EPM System patch releases – typically releasing Patch Set Updates quarterly, which are different from Patch Set Exceptions. PSUs are a grouping of PSEs or fewer, more significant PSEs that get regression tested collectively by the vendor and are released under a singular patch. We’ve gained a much higher degree of confidence with this bulk model of PSUs. The organization of release schedule and bug fixes is more dependable and greatly appreciated. The PSU model provides less ambiguity on which patches to apply and brings greater stability to all customers.

Upgrade

Maybe it’s bigger than patching. Are you not on version 11.1.2.4 of your EPM System? Compliance with Enterprise IT requirements around browser version and operating systems is often impetus for an upgrade. But there are also plenty of compelling new software features, functions, conventions, and improvements in 11.1.2.4.

Operating System (OS) support for current platforms maximizes your investment and supportability. When 2.4 came out, many customers were forced to upgrade their older systems for compliance with the latest enterprise standards for server operating systems and/or client browser versions. Instead of being faced with an IT mandated technology upgrade, an upgrade on the business’ schedule is preferred.

What Kind of Effort is Involved?

The comprehensive effort to bring a simple deployment (3-4 servers, no High Availability) up to the latest PSUs is typically less than a day per environment. That includes an analysis of existing patches, the patching itself as well as any prerequisites, and a post-check verification to confirm all patches applied are properly indicated in the corresponding inventories.

An initial patch application may take a little bit longer because there are often common prerequisites to address that don’t have to be handled with subsequent patching. There are also considerations like bringing WebLogic up to the latest patch level, as well as one-offs like the fixes for the Equifax-discovered vulnerabilities, that don’t happen frequently. Once you’ve got a solid base of primary critical patching, additional patching events are typically shorter.

Patching can be tricky. Documentation can often be ambiguous, whether it be an unintended omission or even assumed knowledge based on an implied experience or understanding of the product. Sometimes post-install instructions get skipped or SQL statements do not get executed properly as part of the patch. Less experienced resources typically only patch the EPMSystem11R1 Oracle Home; however, did you know that Oracle’s ADF framework also has an Opatch directory under oracle_common? Possibly because those are often prereqs. But what about Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) and Oracle HTTP Server (OHS)? They also may have applicable OPatches. Who knows what you’re missing? We do! Let’s button it up.

Contact us for more details.

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.

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.

 

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

Connecting the Value of IT: A Disciplined Solution for Service Costing and Chargeback

This post corresponds to the webinar “Connecting the Value of IT: A Disciplined Solution for Service Costing and Chargeback,” the last in our “Let Your Profitability Soar” webinar series. You can access the recording here.

 

Within an organization, technology is mission-critical to most business strategies, and IT costs represent a significant portion of back office spend.

Among their many responsibilities, the CFO and the CIO must make sure that:

  • Technology spending is aligned with business strategy
  • Business applications and end-user services are delivered efficiently and cost-effectively
  • Coherent project portfolios that grow and transform the business are created and nurtured

Within this new economy, a key ongoing goal of the CIO is to make sure that IT is aligned with business strategy.

Generally, this IT-to-Business Strategy alignment is achieved in two ways:

  1. Running the business: Providing a cost-effective level of internal services necessary for sustaining business activity.
  2. Building the business: Managing and delivering portfolio development projects that are prioritized and aligned with all key business initiatives aiming to improve efficiency and aid in gaining competitive advantages.

The Nature of the Problem

One challenging pattern we see time and again is the ongoing disconnect between the CIO and the CFO.

Some might say this disconnect is an inevitable result of the fact that technology is moving so fast and we don’t always have the time to stop and assess its value. Understandably, it can be difficult for a CFO to get away from all the checks and balances just to get the financial books closed, let alone turn attention to the books that measure performance at greater depths, like line of business.

In general, as a function of the role, the CFO does not talk servers, desktop deployments, applications or other semantics of the technology business. Conversely, with many companies establishing Technology Shared Service Centers, pressure is placed on the CIO to operate the business of IT with the same financial disciplines the CFO requires of all lines of business. The CIO must connect the value of IT services and capabilities to internal business partners. To achieve this, IT Finance teams require performance management solutions that are IT-specific, yet are connected to Finance, to ensure efficient allocation of resources and effective delivery of internal services.

Part of the CFO’s role is to look at the technology projects and initiatives and think about how all of this technology is adding value. CIOs have to fill information voids, while also having to build their own financial models and performance management book of record using their own resources.

Two seemingly differing views of value can be hard to navigate and leverage. If two divergent approaches are not connected in a common view among the key stakeholders, then—more often than not—there is ongoing value-related confusion. Ultimately, the dissonance between the line of business owners can stall or even paralyze decision-making.

A Better Language Is Needed

For the good of your organization, it’s imperative that the CIO and the CFO speak the same shared language of value and that they connect in an effort to move forward in the most aligned and productive manner possible.

Speaking a shared language—one that offers a unified financial model view and is based on shared definition of value—is a key to finding a solution. The disciplines of ITFM (IT Financial Management) is about equipping both of these executive-level offices and their teams with a better language.

With an ITFM solution, you are able to:

  • Reduce the time that IT Finance spends on managing the business processes, providing more time for value-added analytical activities
  • Give IT Managers more detailed, timely, accurate data to better understand the cost & effectiveness of the services and projects they are delivering
  • Provide Line-of-Business managers with cost transparency into IT allocations and chargebacks, allowing them to better align their consumption of services with their business goals

ITFM focuses on these finance business processes:

  • IT Planning: Budgeting & forecasting of IT Operating and Capital Spend
  • IT Costing: Linking supply side financial cost structures with demand side consumption for services and projects
  • IT Chargebacks: Equitably charging lines of business for internal services and projects performed (or Showback)

IT Finance Organizations typically manage these processes through a series of multiple systems and offline spreadsheets. These processes are not ideal, as they create pain as far as inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in terms of results.

Our preferred solution for IT Service Costing—co-developed with Oracle—is based on PCMCS (Profitability and Cost Management Cloud Service). Oracle’s PCMCS is a cloud-based, packaged performance management application. It offers, in one package, a rules engine for cost allocations, embedded analytics and data management platform.

When developing the solution with PCMCS, the following were top priorities for our team:

  • That it required no large initial investment
  • That it was accessible to all
  • That it was always updated/up-to-date
  • That limited IT involvement was needed

Oracle IT Financial Management Solution Overview

Connecting Value of IT Image 1

The ITFM solution, a joint development effort with Oracle and based on valuable feedback and results from multiple Ranzal customer implementations, offers all of the following in one package:

  • Pre-Packaged Content for Cloud or On-Premise
  • Pre-Built Data Model
  • Pre-Built Costing Model & Reporting Content
  • Pre-Built Interface Specifications

A key component of the PCMCS IT Costing & Chargeback Template is its approach to modeling IT Like a Service Business, which includes the following modules:

  • Model Financials & Projects: This first step is focused on modeling financial projects, allowing you to combine multiple data sources, perform cost center allocations and, for those customers without an existing project costing system in place, to perform basic project costing and project allocation functions.
  • Complete Costing of IT Operations: This second pillar of the solution provides a flexible framework that allows you to combine data from multiple sources, perform resource costing and perform service costing.
  • IT as a Business Service Provider: This third leg of the solution service considers catalogue & bill rates, contribution cost trace, consumer showbacks and consumer chargebacks.

 We Have Options, You Have Options

Our Flexible Maturity Model allows customers to start where they feel most comfortable, and progress in a way that is focused on maximum flexibility for maximum effectiveness. No one size fits all, and we believe in starting right where you are.

Connecting Value of IT Image 2

 

For more information or to request a demo, email us. Be sure to ask if your company qualifies for our one-day complimentary PCMCS assessment of your IT Service Costing needs.