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  • Budgets generally outdated by the time submitted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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Undocumented Data Export Feature in Oracle Hyperion PBCS (Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service)

In response to companies looking for more decentralized services with less IT overhead, Oracle has launched the Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS). PBCS is a hosted version of the Oracle Hyperion Planning and Data Management/Integration (FDMEE) tools with a particular focus on a completely online-based interface. For additional information on PBCS, please click HERE.

From a functional perspective, this is an ideal situation: to have near-full capabilities of an on-premise solution without the infrastructure maintenance concerns. Practically, though, there are some holes to fill as Oracle perfects and grows the solution.

One of the main areas for concern has been the integration of data into and out of PBCS. Data Management (a version of FDMEE) is the recommended tool for loading flat file data into the system, while there is also the ability to load directly to Essbase with perfect files. Getting files out of the system, on the other hand, has not been so straightforward. Without access to the Essbase server, exporting files proves impractical. Companies often need data exports from Essbase for backups, integrations into other systems, or for review. PBCS does not seem to have a native method of being able to extract Level Zero (Lv0) data on a regular basis that could be easily copied out of the system and used elsewhere.

Despite this, the DATAEXPORT command still exists in the PBCS world. How, then, could it be used to get a needed file?

It actually begins as with a normal on-premise application by creating a Business Rule to do a data export. This can be done manually, but it is recommended to use the System Template to make sure everything is set up perfectly.

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When setting up the location to export the file to, it should be set up as:

 “/u03/lcm/[File_Name.txt]”

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When this is done, a user can then navigate over to the Inbox/Outbox Explorer and see the file in there:

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And that is really all there is to it! With a business rule in place, the entire process can be automated using EPMAutomate (EPMAutomate and recommendations for an automation engine/methodology will be discussed in a later post) and a batch scripting client to do a process that:

  • Deletes the old file
  • Runs the business rule to do the data export
  • Copy the file off of PBCS and to a local location
  • Push the file to any other needed location

The one important thing to note is that as of PBCS 11.1.2.3.606 (April 2015 patch), all files in the Inbox/Outbox Explorer — along with any files in Application Management (LCM) — that are older than two months will be automatically deleted. As such, if these files are being kept for archive purposes, they must be backed up offline in order to be preserved.