COLLABORATE 16: Assessing the Reporting Pain Scale for Oracle Users
Each year as we attend COLLABORATE, the annual Oracle Applications Users Group conference, we anticipate checking the reporting pain scale of this large group and advising on how to alleviate the aches. Our team also appreciates the opportunity to attend sessions and hear what’s coming from Oracle so we can respond to any new offerings that might simplify or complicate reporting or other processes like budgeting and journal loading.
At COLLABORATE 16, we heard several common reporting themes: What can we use for reporting now that Oracle no longer supports Discoverer ― and should we migrate to Financial Accounting Hub Reporting Cloud Service as Oracle suggests? These two primary concerns, which we’ll discuss here, were shared by users from a range of industries and company sizes.
Discoverer Rides into the Sunset
As of June 2015, Oracle discontinued premium support for Oracle Business Intelligence Discoverer ― a commonly used reporting tool ― and recommended that users migrate to the Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite, which includes Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Unfortunately, the implementation and ongoing support costs and expertise needed for running this tool just aren’t a possibility for all companies, despite its broad functionality.
The demise of Discoverer and complexity of OBIEE drove many attendees to look for third-party reporting alternatives at COLLABORATE 16, including Reports Wand with NoetixViews, which provides real-time Excel-based reports from a variety of Oracle modules. There was standing room only at the Discoverer Replacement Solution Spotlight Session, where a demo of Reports Wand created a buzz and booth traffic for more details on it and other reporting alternatives.
Most attendees we spoke with were using Oracle Financials, including Projects and Purchasing, and some also had Manufacturing. In addition to those looking for a Discoverer replacement, some were interested in augmenting their current installation of Hyperion/OBIEE with a third-party reporting tool. Only a few attendees were using Oracle Reports alone.
Some of the specific challenges attendees mentioned were centered on accessing transactional data in real-time and having a flexible reporting tool for users who primarily work from Microsoft Excel – both of which may be addressed by our real-time, Excel-based reporting solutions. Their perceived roadblocks for adopting Excel-based reporting were in terms of fit within their current portfolio of tools, performance against a production transactional database and accessing data from sources outside of Oracle EBS.
Financial Reporting in the Cloud
Oracle continues to add – or rename current offerings – to its Cloud portfolio, but one offering related to reporting gained specific attention at COLLABORATE 16: the Financial Accounting Hub Reporting Cloud Service (FAHRCS). During a session led by David Haimes, the benefits and perceived drawbacks of this tool were explored.
FAHRCS lets users dabble in the Oracle Cloud environment by coexisting with Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), helping to solve financial reporting challenges. It offers social collaboration and Excel-based Smartview reporting from a super-fast Essbase Cube – and it’s implemented in a few steps.
One downside of FAHRCS is that you have to schedule or run-on-demand concurrent requests to push updated general ledger balances to Cloud Financials in FAHRCS – meaning it’s not a real-time solution. Also, as security is not shared with EBS, users must be recreated and separately maintained in FAHRCS, along with a new security profile, because this isn’t shared with EBS either. After logging into FAHRCS with these credentials, users must log in again to EBS when drilling down into journal lines or subledgers.
Additionally, audience questions in the session revealed some missing features in FAHRCS, including no support for encumbrance balances or descriptive flexfields, a lack of EBS budget data integration, and no average daily balances (these must be re-calculated in FAHRCS). And, any segment hierarchies created in EBS will need to be maintained in two places going forward, which is hardly ideal.
Because of the shortcomings, our real-time GL Wand Excel-based financial reporting tool is a very viable alternative that’s four times less expensive per user license and also requires no implementation effort or ongoing maintenance. It reuses the EBS security, setup and hierarchies, and the balance refreshes and drill downs are immediate. And, when combined with the highly compatible Reports Wand, you can easily mix financial and non-financial data in reports, which FAHRCS doesn’t support out of the box.
The overarching message when considering these two reporting-related issues of interest at COLLABORATE 16 – Discoverer and Cloud Financials through FAHRCS – is that reporting pain points remain with Oracle solutions. OBIEE is expensive and complex, and FAHRCS has real-time limitations. Excel-based reporting solutions offer alternative medicine that alleviates financial pain and functionality limitations.
Author: Michele Buson