Tips to Help in the Evaluation Phase of an Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) Application

Start with a Roadmap

Start with a vision and strategy when picking your next generation planning, profitability modeling, and reporting platform.  First, agree on an application roadmap.  The most critical decision will be determining which new applications will provide the most benefit to your organization, and the prioritized order that those applications should be implemented in. Make sure that your CFO is driving the conversation.  Real change can only occur if the CFO leads the way and ensures that everyone involved is aligned on what success looks like.

Bring in Your Security Information Team Early

Information security gets more executive level attention and organization priority these days than ever before.  In many organizations, important security conversations will need to take place before critical financial information can be moved to a Cloud application.  Oracle has its Service Organization Controls (Soc1 and Soc2) security reports completed and available on request. Additionally, any serious Oracle Cloud implementation partner will be ready to discuss the SSAE 16, secure data transmission protocols, port openings, and procedural best practices that will convince your security information team that your organization’s financial data will remain secure on Oracle PBCS.

Determine Whether Your Organization Could Be Better Served with a Prebuilt Solution?

Enterprise Planning is essentially Planning and Budgeting (PBCS) with prebuilt content. You should consider Planning and Budgeting if you have unique needs that require a custom solution.  Otherwise, configuring the prebuilt leading practices based Frameworks in Enterprise Planning might provide more benefit.  

Currently, the tightly Integrated Frameworks include:

  • Financials – Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Cash Flow.
  • Workforce
  • Capital
  • Projects

Content is enabled by “turning on” functionality.  The leading practices based content includes drivers, KPIs, calculations, forms, reports, and dashboards.  Customized content such as formulas, metrics, and reports can be added in as well.

The software cost is a bit higher with Enterprising Planning compared to PBCS, but the implementation costs can be lower depending on the degree of customization.  Plus, the frameworks will continue to evolve over time so the solution will get better without additional investment.  

The implementation will be less focused on technology than a custom-built solution in Planning and Budgeting and more focused on the leading practices pre-built solution frameworks.  A key focus area will be providing change management within the organization as it adapts to these new leading practices.  An important success factor will be determining what features to turn on and how to blend those functionalities, along with a few key customizations, into a solution that is a good fit for the organization.

Get a Better Understanding of How a Cloud Solution Can Fit in with Your ERP

A PBCS cloud application isn’t the modern-day equivalent of a departmental solution that sits on a server under somebody’s desk in finance.  The idea isn’t to disconnect from IT; it is to play to IT’s strengths.  A great architectural design will seamlessly connect your Company’s ERP, Master Data Management solution, data warehouse, and enterprise scheduler to the PBCS cloud application.  

In the case of Oracle Fusion, there is direct integration between PBCS and Fusion Cloud GL.  This functionality connects a source ledger from the Fusion Financials Cloud via a few simple mappings to a PBCS Cloud application. Additionally, simple mapping can be set up between a Planning application and the Fusion Ledger in order to write-back Budgets from Planning to Fusion Financials. This integration, can be run manually or scheduled for a specific time.

Starting with FDMEE release 11.1.2.3, data can be loaded and validated on premises and then exported directly to a PBCS cloud application.  This functionality can be used to integrate and automate data flows from non-Oracle Fusion ERP’s to PBCS.

Other organizations may prefer the simplicity of securely passing flat files between systems.  EPM Automate is an on premises side REST architecture application that is part of the PBCS toolkit.  EPM Automate can be scripted from either Windows command or Linux shell scripts to securely push flat files to the PBCS cloud server and execute load and transformation processes as well as business rules on the cloud server.

Start Thinking About How to Support Your Applications

Find an implementer with a methodology build around ensuring that your company will be successful after they leave.  One of the critical success factors is ensuring enough overlap between the implementation and support teams to ensure a complete knowledge transfer.

From a management perspective, here are some questions to ask prospective solution implementers:

  • What are the documentation deliverables?  Will there be enough high quality documentation to ensure that your support team will be able to quickly fix defects?
  • What are the expected tasks that the support team will need to take on?
  • Provide real world examples of Roles and Responsibility splits between the business and IT.
  • What post Go-Live support options do you offer, including managed services options?
  • What are the most cost effective and timely ways to support application changes that will invariably arise as the organization continues to evolve?  Specifically, what are the pros and cons of ongoing “in house” application development vs. taking a managed services approach?


Determine How Much Time Your Team can Devote to the Implementation

One of the biggest success factors is how much focus your team can contribute to evaluating, envisioning, testing, and learning your new system.  If time is tight and/or you don’t have a clear vision of what you want, consider bringing in an implementation team that are experts at not only implementing the application solution, but also implementing the solution for your industry.

If you work in the banking industry, do you have the time to explain to the implementers what an Asset Liability Management System is and why you need data from it as part of your budget process?

If you are in retail, do you have time to explain the complexities of Comp Stores?

or … If you are a manufacturer, do have time to explain the nuances of standard costing?  

An industry expert will understand the requirement in the first pass, architect a solution based on experience with similar problems, provide best practices advice, and be able to largely test their own work.

Determine How Many Licenses Your Organization Will Really Need

Think through your license requirements in advance of your purchase.  The minimal number of PBCS user licenses that a customer can purchase is 10.

While 10 licenses may be enough for the planning group, it probably won’t be anywhere near enough for the field.  

Here are the types of questions you will need to answer:

  • How many licenses are needed for the field to submit their plans online.
  • Is distributing offline Excel planning templates to the field a viable option for collecting Budget information from non-licensed users?
  • PBCS will allow you to email burst PDF reports to non-licensed user emails.  Will that be sufficient to provide reporting to non-licensed users?


Conclusion

Cloud computing is fueled by technology but it is much more than a technical evolution. It is a great equalizer providing even small organizations with the same enterprise solutions as Fortune 100 companies. Oracle is offering even small organizations the same world class software solutions that just weren’t that affordable to many companies as recently as 4 years ago. The question isn’t whether to move to the cloud. The question is when is the right time to move to the cloud. For many organizations, that time is now. Do your homework and be prepared because the implementation process moves quickly. From the time you sign off on the license agreement with Oracle and engage an implementation partner, you will be only 10 to 12 weeks away from rolling out PBCS in your organization.

Blog post by Paul Mack of Key Performance Ideas.

 

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