By Juan Porter, president of TopDown Consulting
Oracle earlier this year released Hyperion 220.127.116.11. While a multiple dot release typically represents a minor upgrade, this new Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) release is full of new modules, features and enhancements that push it into the “significant release” category.
That said, companies using EPM software are often unsure as to when is the best time to upgrade, due to the ever-changing mix of factors involved. The decision to upgrade can be made easier for companies by looking at three main categories: infrastructure, support and functionality.
Upgrading Oracle EPM: Infrastructure
The primary reason companies upgrade their software is to match a larger corporate infrastructure update, such as a move to Microsoft’s Windows 7 or Office 2010. It is best to upgrade software ahead of an infrastructure upgrade, since newer versions of Hyperion will work on older infrastructure, but not necessarily vice versa. In the Windows 7 or Office 2010 examples, a company would have to be running Hyperion 18.104.22.168 or later.
Hyperion software is often critical to a company’s operations. By planning for and anticipating future infrastructure upgrades, companies can update their Hyperion software ahead of time, giving them time to work out any kinks and ensure a seamless transition.
Upgrading Oracle EPM: Support
As Oracle releases new versions of Hyperion, it is reducing support for older versions. Companies who stick with these older versions will find themselves with fewer bug fixes and updates over time, as well as fewer support personnel who are familiar with the older versions. When a company buys Hyperion software, they’re already paying for maintenance and support, so it behooves them to take the advantage of all enhancements, features and support Hyperion has to offer.
Upgrading Oracle EPM: Functionality
Perhaps the most enticing reason to upgrade are the new capabilities that deliver greater reliability, customization and granularity, which enable companies to plan and forecast with greater speed and accuracy, in addition to streamlining the financial close and filing process.
Here are descriptions of the most upgrade-worthy features in Hyperion 22.214.171.124:
Greater Detail with Custom Dimensions. The most significant change to Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) with the 126.96.36.199 release is the support for a number of custom or configurable dimensions, within some physical constraints based upon the database that is used. Prior to 188.8.131.52, companies had been restricted to four custom dimensions, which meant reusing them for multiple purposes. Now, the combination of accounts with custom dimensions captures a much greater level of detail in a much more usable format than previous releases. Financial Reports, Smart View, Shared Services and the point of view (POV) in the Web interface have been updated to make it easier to manage the additional dimensions.
User Interface Updates. The interface in 184.108.40.206 has been completely redesigned to offer a rich, Web 2.0 experience. The changes are intuitive and recognizable, though, so an existing user won’t have to relearn the product. The refresh lets users take advantage of Oracle Application Development Framework (Oracle ADF) and also provides for better management of the user POV. The transition promises to be much easier than some of the interface changes in the past and, as an added bonus, comes with numerous enhancements that make using the product much easier.
Automated Account Reconciliations. Another welcome addition and reason to upgrade is the new Account Reconciliation Manger (ARM), delivered as part of Oracle Hyperion Financial Close Management. ARM eliminates risk by automating account reconciliations. The reconciliation of reports and the data has mostly been a manual process by the use of spreadsheets, increasing the chance for reporting errors, omissions and fraud. Now final data is reconciled with the source data down to the transactional level. Even better, ARM eases the management of balances in larger accounts. The benefit becomes evident with larger accrual accounts or inter-company accounts in which the balances and their origins become too comingled to trace a true outstanding balance.
Cohesive and Flexible Planning. The Hyperion Planning Suite also includes a number of upgrades, including Predictive Planning and a Project Planning Module. The latter is a purpose-built project-planning module that extends capabilities beyond the Workforce Planning and Capex modules previously available. Predictive Planning — a more comprehensive way to do planning and forecasting — is another feature that will benefit companies seeking a quick way to improve forecast accuracy, allowing for confident decision making that does not rely on waiting for things to “play out.” It offers Monte Carlo simulation/modeling capabilities, allowing companies to take a historical basis and apply it to highs, mids and lows for the forecast. The result is best-, mid-, worst-case scenario and an increased level of confidence.
Packaged Dashboards. Oracle Financial Management Analytics (OFMA) — a new product in 220.127.116.11 — adds dynamic reporting capabilities, providing dashboards and on-the-go access to key information. This packaged solution is a great option for finance executives looking to quickly enable that capability.
Juan Porter is the founder and president of TopDown Consulting. He has over 20 years combined customer, vendor and consultant experience with Hyperion and is a member of the Oracle Hyperion Partner Advisory Council. Prior to founding TopDown in 2000, Porter managed all aspects of Hyperion applications, on a global basis, for ABB, Novell and SGI. He has also served chair of Hyperion’s national steering committee as well as leading many Hyperion enhancement committees.