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Architecting EPM Solutions using EPMA
Posted on April 1, 2013
Author: Andy Tauro, Performance Architects

The traditional approach to developing an enterprise performance management (EPM) solution in Oracle EPM (Hyperion) is to create an application-based solution that leverages one, or maybe two, tools in this suite. These applications not only leverage the features of the tool best suited for the task at hand, but also involve adaptation of the tool to accomplish what it may not have been intended to do.

For example, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) is a leading software tool for corporate financial management and consolidation needs, but is sometimes also used for budgeting purposes. Oracle Hyperion Planning is well-respected for its forecasting prowess, but can also be used for inter-company eliminations. Oracle Hyperion Essbase is much loved for its multidimensionality for analysis and reporting purposes, but is also used to facilitate posting of journal entries.

These tools are often looked at as silos of capability, and have been implemented as such. The processes that are developed around them to accomplish the need are often built out of command line scripts, that are managed using third-party scheduling tools like Cron or Autosys. This necessitates a significant technical support infrastructure consisting of software, hardware, and manpower. This adds overhead to any process, and requires coordination between many departments to ensure that the solution runs as a well-oiled machine.

Oracle provides a tool with Oracle EPM (Hyperion) called the Enterprise Performance Management Architect (or EPMA). EPMA is often described as a dimension-building tool. However, dimension building is just one small part of this tool, and Oracle provides more capable tools to do that, like Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Management (DRM).

EPMA is an administrator tool or interface with many capabilities, including the ability to review all the Oracle EPM solutions available, and to build out a solution that utilizes the best of each application. This lets the business or solution administrator to orchestrate Oracle EPM’s functioning seamlessly across applications.

The starting point is usually the dimension library, the most commonly known EPMA feature, to build (or gather) hierarchical or dimensional information, e.g., chart of accounts or organizational structure.

This structure can then be used to create many different applications with Application Library, using tools such as Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), Oracle Hyperion Planning, Oracle Hyperion Essbase or Oracle Hyperion Public Sector Budgeting & Planning (PSPB), that utilize all or part of these structures.

Applications created this way can then be populated with data using Data Synchronizer from sources like GL files or ERP relational databases.

This also helps spin off multidimensional databases or cubes for reporting and business analytics, using tools like Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Furthermore, tools like Calculation Manager provide the ability to create simple to complex calculations to drive data translations using business rule logic.

With little more than a Web browser, the business administrator of an EPM environment can architect a solution that best meets the business’s needs, as well as keeping its many parts moving. Not only does this reduce the need to rely on tech-heavy IT support, but also provides the ability to adapt to changing needs by updating dimensionality and creating additional applications. The IT support team can keep doing what they do best, and the finance department gets to build the solutions the way that they need them, to analyze data and turn it into information and knowledge.

We want to hear from you! How did your organization leverage EPMA? Please comment if you have any helpful tips and tricks  – or lessons learned – you think would help others who are just starting on this journey.

Author: Andy Tauro, Performance Architects


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