EPBCS – Workforce Planning


Workforce Planning is the most well known of the out-of-the-box “modules” that have been available for years in on-premise Hyperion Planning. It is a great area for organizations to get some lift from Oracle’s development resources in and jump start planning for labor expenses, which nearly everyone has a need for and which has few meaningful variations. Although Workforce has some great capabilities there is a long-standing joke even inside Oracle about how nobody has actually delivered it in true “out-of-the-box” form due to a few sub-optimal elements of the design. Customers and partners would typically invest a significant amount of time and effort in customization work to realize the full value of the solution.

We need not dwell on the past though, as Oracle has completely re-engineered Workforce for EPBCS. It is in no way just a shift of the previous module into the cloud.

What’s New in EPBCS Workforce

The Workforce we know today is focused on planning for compensation costs, typically for a 1-2 year time horizon. This is unquestionably a very important area, as those costs are the largest expenses for many organizations. However, there are other aspects of Workforce planning that are not tied to expenses and are not exclusively geared towards a finance view.

Within the HR community there is a concept of Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) that takes an alternate view of labor planning. SWP seeks to have an understanding of what the skill demand for an organization will be in order to achieve strategic goals and in the context of factors such as the aging population that impact the supply of skills. Typically a SWP view will have a longer time horizon of 2-10 years and may take on characteristics such as diversity and geographic location planning for labor resources.

Why is this important?  EPBCS Workforce starts with an assumption that the full lifecycle of labor planning should be supported within the solution. From traditional compensation planning and other labor expense planning, to strategic workforce planning of skills, and even demographic planning – EPBCS aspires to integrate those processes in a single solution. The next few sections will cover the major new features and differences.

Flexible Configuration

Application administrators will have unprecedented ability to configure Workforce and all of the new out-of-the-box content with minimal effort. EPBCS maintains segregation between the Oracle-managed content and the customer configured content so that upgrades and system integrity are maintained while providing flexibility. The configurations (calculations, structures, etc.) developed by a customer can be exported and moved to other EPBCS pods – a nice feature for partners who invest time to create accelerators to speed up solution delivery. There is also an option to “restore to factory default” to unwind those configurations and get back to the original application state. A few of the key options include:

  • Level of Detail – plan at the employee level, the job level, or both employee and job
  • Add Custom Dimensions – up to 3 “flex” dimensions can be configured in a simple console screen and do not require updating every form, calculation, and business rule as was the case in the previous Workforce

Benefit and Tax Calculations

On-premise Workforce is highly U.S.-centric when it comes to tax and benefit calculations.  If you needed more than standard FUTA and SUTA, customization was required. With EPBCS there is a very flexible and wizard based process for defining benefits and taxes, which was specifically designed with the concerns of international organizations in mind. These calculations can be defined as a simple rate per period, a tiered rate table, or a tiered rate table with threshold logic. The timing pattern of the tax or benefit can also be prescribed along with the frequency. The product management team anecdotally has mentioned they have not found a tax or benefit that cannot be modeled with the new approach so this should provide efficiency and speed in implementing these elements.

Design Improvements

A few technical changes are on the way that make Workforce run better under the hood.

  • Currency Translation – The on-premise Workforce design forced the storage of FX rates in a manner that led to some inefficiency in the storage of application data. In EPBCS the standard currency approach reflects the cumulative feedback of several years of implementation experience and the result is something that should be widely adopted.
  • Cube Architecture – Making another comparison to on-premise, the previous design was a single Planning application with a single plan type. That design is common for many uses, but in cases where employee level detail and very specific individual person level calculations need to occur it can be inefficient or slow. EPBCS utilizes a 3-cube approach where standard calculations happen in 1 BSO plan type, detailed and custom calculations happen in a second BSO plan type, and a single ASO plan type brings all of that data together for reporting and analysis (and is shared with other out-of-the-box capabilities).

Built-In Reporting

Taking advantage of the new cloud platform, Workforce will come with some predefined dashboard views that can be tailored for customer needs. Starting with a baseline of reports to build from will certainly provide some benefit over starting from scratch.

EPBCS Workforce Wrap-Up

That is what we know right now. Looking forward to getting our hands on the product in the next few weeks and sharing impressions here. The next posting in this series will cover the remaining out-of-the-box business process content for Financials, CapEx, and Projects.

Thanks,

~KKT~

HPCM On cloud now PCMCS


Much awaited for HPCM on cloud, Oracle announced the release of Profitability & Cost Management Cloud Service (PCMCS). PCMCS is a cloud based SaaS that enables business users to gain insight into hidden profit and cost across key business dimensions—such as products, customers, sales channels, and more—and take action to improve profitability and lower costs.

We are excited about the intuitive cloud interface that makes it easy to analyze costs and profit. With PCMCS you can rapidly build, maintain, change, and analyze allocations. With useful built-in and ad hoc reporting business users can model opportunities by changing assumptions.

 

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Like all of Oracle’s cloud offerings, Profitability & Cost Management Cloud Service offers a lower upfront cost, reduced CAP expenditure, and easier global deployment. The service is easy to use, mobile enabled and owned by the business, not IT.

PCMCS shares many of the features of on-premise Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM). Where the two products differ are cloud-only features such as mobile ready profitability dashboards, out-of-the-box profitability reports, and direct links to the Oracle Cloud marketplace for download of implementation accelerators that will reduce implementation times and maximize time to value. Oracle will continue to support and improve on-premises Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management. We recommend that companies who are interested in profitability & cost management software consider Oracle’s cloud solution over the on-premise software.

If your company uses Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management, and you have built your model using the management ledger style, it is easy to migrate to the cloud solution.

Will keep you posted on more updates.

PBCS and EPBCS Features


I’ll start by highlighting a few of the common major features between PBCS and EPBCS so that we can begin to focus on what is different.

Common Elements

In terms of functionality, PBCS and EPBCS are both built on a foundation of the established, world-class capabilities of Hyperion Planning. Planning serves as a common repository for business users to collaborate and build their plans in, and eliminates the common pain points of Excel-based planning solutions (or problems, more accurately) such as version control and data quality issues. It provides a highly interactive interface, a task-based planning process framework, scenario modeling, the ability to run calculations, and useful functions such as spreading and driver-based planning.

Subscriptions for both products are purchased as a “pod” as the unit of service, and customers buy access for a minimum of 10 users. A pod consists of 2 environments (production and pre-production) which are expected to contain the same applications. It is worth noting that the subscription includes all of the relational database licensing to support the back-end system repositories for the software and applications, which is a separate purchase for on-premise solutions.

Both products also include access to additional tools that provide significant user benefits and process efficiencies. Users have access to the Smart View add-in to enable reporting and ad-hoc analysis directly from Excel and other MS Office components. All of the web-based input forms, task lists, and other components are also available via Smart View – so build once and access either way. For production quality, formatted reporting users access the included Financial Reporting product and view reports on the web, in PDF, or in Smart View. All of the capabilities are provided in a mobile-friendly UI that provides access from tablets and smartphones.

 

These PBCS and EPBCS subscriptions also include the FDMEE data integration tool, which is called “Data Management” in the cloud. Data Management provides a high level of quality assurance for data load processes while also enabling data transformations and mappings to be applied and facilitating drill-back to sources. On-premise FDMEE can often be a significant cost to customers, so having it included presents a major benefit for both PBCS and EPBCS.

Lastly, there are some broader platform updates related to the EPBCS launch that will have benefits for both services. The most noteworthy for me is the ability to customize the interface tiles shown in the image above. With a new set of configurations called “Structures”, those tiles will be able to be renamed or nested into a sub-folder called a “card”. Additional tiles can be added with direct links to other areas of the application such as forms or reports. This is a nice capability that really enables the applications to be tailored to the workflow of the organization. Here is an example of what Structures look like in action:

Differences Between PBCS and EPBCS

The major difference between these products is the out-of-the-box content that is provided with EPBCS. A picture may be the best way to start, then I will explain.

Here is where we start to get into a bit of technical terminology. As we established in the previous posting, PBCS is a “bring your own app” solution. It provides for several application containers called plan types – the same language used for on-premise Planning. Plan types can take 2 different forms. First, a Block Storage Option (BSO) plan is used for collecting user inputs, performing calculations, and facilitating the planning process.  The other option, an Aggregate Storage Option (ASO) plan, is used for reporting. There is a bit more to each of those classifications but for now we have covered what we need to. PBCS provides 3 BSO plan types and 4 ASO plan types.

So a simple way to think of PBCS is that you can support 3 different functional planning processes with the 3 BSO plan types. Common examples are Financials, Labor, and Projects. They are different processes because they each typically have different data elements or level of detail that warrants them being separate. Reporting applications allow these data sets to be combined for reporting purposes and also provide a place to store additional years of historical data and previous plan snapshots that we do not want to clutter our active planning applications with.

With EPBCS we have a super-set of everything that is in PBCS plus predefined, configurable, incrementally enabled content provided by Oracle. Customers can still bring their own applications, but they are not required to. Oracle decides the underlying BSO/ASO configuration of those out-of-the-box capabilities, and they are likely to change as new features are developed, so there is no value in trying to relate them into quantities of additional plan types. Here is an Oracle view of what this looks like:

Like everything in life, you don’t get something for nothing so there is incremental cost above the standard PBCS per-user cost in order to have access to these out-of-the-box capabilities of EPBCS. Customers will initially have the option to purchase all 4 of these capabilities but later this year will have another option to purchase standard PBCS +1 of the above.

The next parts of the series will explore what is in each of these new out-of-the-box capabilities.

Thanks. Questions and Feedback welcome !!