Goodbye Oracle Discoverer, Hello Next-Generation Reporting
User interfaces for ERP reporting tools are most often built with IT staff in mind – not the end user. In a recent survey of ERP user satisfaction, almost half of the approximately 1,500 respondents said they needed easier access to information, with 35% indicating that access to information takes too long. For users of Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), data access is about to get a bit more difficult now that the company has phased out the Oracle Discoverer product, which many customers had used for reporting.
As of June 2015, Oracle discontinued premium support for Discoverer, and as of June 2017, extended support will end. What this means is that Oracle plans no new releases and new bugs won’t be addressed by Oracle Development. Also, Oracle Discoverer won’t be certified to work with newly released products, including (but not limited to) Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer and Oracle database updates.
Companies who rely on Discoverer are now scrambling to decide how they can effectively fulfil reporting needs. In actuality, three options exist: 1) staying with unsupported Discoverer, 2) migrating to the more complex and expensive Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE), or 3) exploring user- and cost-friendly next-generation reporting alternatives.
Option 1: Stick with Oracle Discoverer
For organizations with hundreds or thousands of Discoverer reports, it’s overwhelming to think of switching to another ERP reporting tool. How can you re-develop the reports created over the years? Will the transition deliver as promised? What if there’s a steep user learning curve? How much IT effort and implementation time will a new tool require?
Fear of the unknown has left many companies afraid to implement a new reporting tool, yet the risk of staying with Discoverer is becoming increasingly high. Although doing so would require the least amount of cost and effort, Oracle won’t be there to assist if you encounter a problem. This might cause your organization to avoid upgrading its ERP for fear of Discoverer breaking without a replacement in hand.
IT skills are another concern. Because Discoverer has been non-strategic since 2006, it’s a challenge for IT to successfully write reports. Even finding the resources with the right technical knowledge to do so is difficult and sometimes results in an unhealthy dependency on a single expert.
Option 2: Migrate to OBIEE
Oracle recommends that Oracle Discoverer users migrate to Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite, which includes OBIEE. OBIEE is a strategic BI tool that provides a web platform with attractive dashboards suitable for C-level needs. While it has many advantages, it’s not built to be a transactional reporting tool for day-to-day ad hoc analysis or easy drilling into data details.
Also, OBIEE requires a data warehouse and businesses must typically plan 6-12 months ahead to develop the structure of the reports they anticipate, which is difficult for dynamic businesses where reporting needs change daily. Also, implementation is costly and lengthy, often requiring consultants to build new reports or convert Discoverer reports to OBIEE, which takes as many as eight steps.
Another expense is for the ongoing expertise needed to create OBIEE reports once the application is installed, as it requires a specific skill set. Some companies who have purchased OBIEE abandon it for less costly alternatives that provide autonomy for the average users in creating reports.
Option 3: Look for a Next-Generation Reporting Solution
When users in the ERP survey were asked about the most important considerations for future ERP implementations, “fast time to value” and “simplicity for all users” topped the list. This indicates that a better alternative for ERP reporting needs could be cost-effective software that builds on user familiarity with tools like Microsoft Excel, where ERP data often ends up anyway for formatting and manipulation.
Next-generation reporting solutions for Oracle EBS provide immediate access and data drill down from reports via Excel, making it easy for average users to create their own reports. Also, instead of taking months to implement, these tools install in a few hours and don’t require a data warehouse with its expense and extra complexity.
Reports Wand is a next-generation reporting alternative for Oracle EBS 11i to R12 users that comes with pre-built reports for Financials, Supply Chain, HR, Manufacturing, Service and other modules. In keeping with user needs for “fast time to value,” conversion of Discoverer reports is accomplished in two easy steps.
Before deciding on your Oracle Discoverer replacement, first analyze the existing Discoverer reports and ask the right questions of business users to reduce the amount of reports requiring conversion. The end of Discoverer offers a perfect opportunity to consolidate existing reports to a more manageable number, as many reports have been duplicated over the years with just a single parameter change or were used only once years ago. We’re confident that you may find the vast majority of existing Discoverer reports obsolete or a duplicate. Spending time on this upfront allows the migration to proceed more smoothly, and users will thank you as they find it easier to locate the correct reports.
Author: Dean Jones
Global VP Oracle EBS Solutions, Excel4apps