Kickoff 2017: 11 Simple Steps to Convert Your Discoverer Reports
As CFOs start calling plays for the 2017 business game, they’re naming better reporting and analysis as a top improvement goal. In a recent survey of 380 finance executives, more than 70 percent say supporting decision-making is their number-one priority this year. Over 90 percent say they need to do more with existing financial and operations data to help top management make informed decisions.
If your company uses Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), there’s a looming tackle that could keep you from crossing the goal line of improved reporting and analysis: Oracle’s June 2017 suspension of extended support for its Business Intelligence Discoverer reporting tool. While converting your Discoverer reports to another reporting solution may seem daunting, following this Review-Migrate-Evolve game plan with 11 simple steps can make the process less painless and ultimately more productive for your finance and accounting team.
1. Assess Current Discoverer Report Use
A game plan to simply migrate reports like-for-like may not be the best answer. Over the years, you’ve built a library of reports, many of which are now redundant. Now you have an opportunity to flag―using an automated process―which reports are truly important and used most often by your team.
2. Identify and Eradicate Duplication
If you haven’t centrally controlled report development, you probably suffer from a proliferation of reports that are exact duplicates or vary from each other only marginally. A review of existing reports can reduce the number of duplicates, as well as their associated costs as we described in a previous blog. It also offers an opportunity to improve report design.
3. Challenge Business Requirements
Talk to your team about how they actually use Discoverer reports, how they interact with the data in them, and which reports they consider critical. However, be prepared to challenge your team’s perceived business requirements. “We’ve always done it this way” is no justification for rolling Discoverer reports forward.
Next, compare what you’ve heard from your team to the findings from Step 1 that show which reports are used most in reality. Also, look for similar or overlapping requirements so that multiple reports can be consolidated into one.
4. Migrate with Automated Functionality
Identify a subset of your prioritized Discoverer reports and migrate them to a new reporting application, preferably one with an automated migration tool. Some organizations have significantly driven efficiencies by reducing their report library down to as little as 10 percent of the original.
5. Be Wary of the “Pig(skin) with Lipstick”
While ending up with exactly the same report in your new reporting environment may be a good start, you should always look for improvement opportunities that clarify the report or provide additional information for users and management (See “Evolve’” below).
6. Target Your Friendliest Team Players as First Adopters
Identify the players on your team who are most likely to adopt and champion a new reporting tool throughout the organization. The earlier you involve your best change advocates in the process, the more points you will score for report creation and definition, user acceptance, and more.
7. Focus on One Solution and an Easy-to-Use Interface for All
Avoiding multiple user interfaces or multiple tools for different purposes will also score points with your team for the new reporting environment through an improved user experience. Will the interface allow the team to interact with EBS data as well as view it?
8. Deliver Content and Business Value Early
You can maximize adoption of a new reporting environment with agile and rapid deployment of your team’s evolving business requirements. Better yet, if this environment offers self-service reporting capability, they will be more motivated and satisfied―and your IT resources will be less stressed.
9. Communicate and Demonstrate “Art of the Possible”
It’s important not to overlook the importance of coaching a culture and method for sharing good content―like tips and tricks for reporting. Encouraging an involved, community-focused team motivates innovation and development of best practices throughout your organization.
10. Leverage the Capability of Microsoft Excel
If your analysis of business processes (Step 3) uncovers that most team members prefer to manipulate EBS data in Excel, advanced training will leverage ongoing benefits. Surprisingly, Excel’s capabilities are still substantially under-utilized in many organizations. And, while many in finance, including the CFOs in the previously mentioned study, feel Excel slows reporting, it can actually expedite it if Excel links directly to EBS data.
11. Automate Reporting with Pro-active Triggering
While your team members drive most reporting tasks, establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) with trigger points that flag data outside of the acceptable range can drive your business performance score even higher. These KPIs let your team efficiently focus on revealing exceptions rather than tediously analyzing all of the results.
Using this Report-Migrate-Evolve game plan sets you up for winning the trophy for improved reporting and analysis that CFOs most covet this year―all while you are up against the challenge of Discoverer’s demise, which we’ve described in other blogs. In addition to driving business efficiencies, improved data access and better decision-making, this game plan can also motivate your team to better accept a new reporting environment.
Author: Malcolm Hewlett
Territory Manager, Oracle, Excel4apps Europe