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On Enterprise Planning & Budgeting
Febraury 23, 2005
Mark Rittman

Lucas Jellema has put together an informative Amis Blog article on a private session he'd recently on Enterprise Planning & Budgeting. A lot of what's in it I covered in my previous "Under The Covers With Enterprise Planning & Budgeting" article but there's some interesting new points that Lucas comes up with:

"The benefits an organisation will get from using EPB will be larger as the organsation is bigger and more complex. One could almost say: only for real enterprises with complex business models and distributed workflows around planning and budgetting will EPB really pay off

It is very much to be seen whether EPB will be used by organisation that do not make use of Oracle Apps (the Oracle EBusiness Suite). If these organisations go through the trouble of extracting data from their own data warehouse to provide to the data loader APIs of the CPM (the foundation for all Analytical Applications offered by Oracle) they can benefit from the EPB capabilities for Planning and Budgetting. Oracle Apps has standard out-of-the-box processes to upload relevant data to CPM.

Technology: EPB is a browser based application, built with Oracle UIX frontend technology (rendering pretty rich HTML interfaces). I like web-architectures in general: distributing EPB is no more difficult than emailing a url, which is great. However, HTML - even UIX based – lacks the direct interactivity and seemingly smart interfaces that can be developed using real rich GUIs (such as Java Applets). I am not sure whether HTML currently offers the best user experience for EPB. I was confused by many of the screens and relatively simple tasks seemed to take many user actions as well as (partial) server roundtrips. EPB uses the OLAP engine in the Oracle 9iR2 Enterprise Edition RDBMS (which is shipped with EPB). It creates Analytic Workspaces – based on a single “Shared” Analytical Workspace created from the relational data in the CPM - for various processes in EPB. Once a user starts working on a scenario or creating her or his own budget, EPB will create a Personal Analytical Workspace – behind the scenes. Once the user is done and the results can be merged into the general budget, this Personal AW is removed after having been merged into the Process AW. The workflow is implemented using Oracle Workflow – the PL/SQL based engine that is heavily used by Oracle Apps.

EPB can be installed stand-alone as well as integrated with the Oracle E-Business Suite (release 11.5.10 or later). If you install EPB stand-alone (also for Oracle Apps users with an older version than 11.5.10), you have to also install a substantial part of the Oracle Apps 11.5.10 Foundation – which amounts to some 4 Gb in supporting framework.

Getting a Proof of Concept going using actual Customer Data will take no more than a couple of days (assuming the customer has Oracle Apps). That is to say: after two days, the customer will see his own data in EPB. Typically a full Proof of Concept – configuring a real Business Process and talking through the details – will take something like two weeks. The EPB training – that will allow students to configure business processes in EPB, do some administration and simply use the product – will probably take four days. The training should be available this Spring (beta-runs have already taken place).

release of Oracle Discoverer OLAP (the Drake release) is expected two weeks after OOW - that means just before Christmas."

The point about the time required to do a proof of concept is particularly interesting, and I'll be keeping a look out for the user training which should be out early next year. A good posting by Lucas.



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