Product Manager's Corner

Attending Oracle OpenWorld is always an eye-opening experience, even for Oracle staffers. All of the innovations from the broad array of Oracle development teams are gathered in one location. It’s a shopping bonanza, not only for Oracle customers but also for Oracle developers looking for new ideas and fresh takes on existing ones. As an Oracle Product Manager, I always use any free time at OpenWorld to do as much window shopping as I can.

Last year at OpenWorld 2015, I could see in every product area that there was a clear message that Oracle intended to pivot to the cloud, and to do so quickly. OpenWorld 2016 showed that we’ve moved beyond just the pivot but are now running full steam down the straightaway. Multiple new cloud services were announced in almost every major product family, and most of them now have full suite of capabilities available in the cloud.

Rounding out that theme was the announcement in the EPM product suite of Profitability and Cost Management Cloud Service. PCMCS will be available by the time this article is published, so the EPM cloud suite will now have a full complement of cloud services to make it the most complete EPM cloud suite on the market.

PCMCS is more than a simple shift of existing on premise capabilities to the cloud. It is a product of the lessons learned in seven years of on premise customer implementations of Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management. Choices made in constructing PCMCS will allow it to extend beyond HPCM’s capabilities to tackle some of the most pressing project issues faced by Profitability and Costing implementation teams.

Lesson #1: Funding Is First. Profitability and Costing project teams often find themselves in limbo between having the staff and funding to implement a built for purpose system or having to make do with whatever self-built, inexpensive, patchwork solution they can piece together on a shoestring budget. A fully featured PCM SaaS solution is a huge win for project teams everywhere. Rather than having to seek out funding for purchases of on premise licenses, hardware, middleware licenses and the manpower and skillset to install and maintain it these teams can get functionality immediately without having to justify, fund, and manage an IT project.

Lesson #2: Let the Business Analysts Run the Show. Profitability modeling is an ever-changing solution. Additions of new products, acquisitions, re-organizations and maturing modeling methods all contribute to an ever evolving allocations model. Unless the business analysts that understand the evolution of the business and the modeling methods are in complete control of defining and maintaining that business logic the data produced will rapidly lose credibility and the project risks becoming obsolete. PCMCS adopted the most successful modeling innovation of the HPCM product, the management ledger models introduced in HPCM, as the basis for the modeling system. The ML models were rapidly adopted by the HPCM community due to the ease of maintenance and the simplicity and power of the rules system that the choice was an obvious one.

Lesson #3: The Last Mile Is the Hardest. Over the years we have seen too many PCM projects produce valuable insight and decision support detail that never see the light of day. Crossing the last mile – that ability to reach a user who has an ability to use the intel produced by a PCM project to take action to actually improve the business – is the difference between success and failure for any project. Why do the hard work of producing fully costed, multi-dimensional profitability reporting or the supporting cost detail and transparency if no one will use the intelligence produced to improve performance? To conquer the last mile, PCMCS now includes a full suite of reporting and dashboard capabilities that are available to the system users immediately. No need to extract and transport data to an enterprise data warehouse, no need to engage another reporting team to develop reports. In addition PCMCS provides several domain specific data visualizations built in. Most notable are the new Profit Curves and Analysis Views which enable a dissection of a customer population by characteristics such as region or sales ownership and a performance band. This allows an end user to evaluate a population to see which customers are the poorest performers, what characteristics are attributed to those poor performers and ultimately who in the organization owns the customer relationship. That’s crossing the final mile in style!

Lesson #4: Integrate, Integrate, and Integrate. Data and metadata synchronization is at the heart of every EPM project. PCM projects typically start with financial data from the GL, often add sub ledger detail and incorporate statistical values from operational systems. In the on premises EPM suite Financial Data Management Enterprise Edition proved to be the best orchestrator for data management between ERP and the EPM suite as well as being the hub for sharing data between EPM tiers as well. PCMCS incorporates the cloud version of FDMEE, called Data Management in the Oracle EPM Cloud products. Data Management provides system connection, data mapping, load, extract and transfer between Oracle EPM Cloud systems, Oracle Fusion GL, external systems as well as on premises FDMEE. This provides a best of breed integration solution for PCMCS and all of the Oracle EPM Cloud products as standard functionality.

PCMCS represents an evolution step forward in the history of Profitability and Costing solutions. By combining best of breed profitability modeling, with best of breed integration and reporting and adding new thought and action provoking visualizations PCMCS represents an exciting leap forward for project teams everywhere.

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