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Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM): Goodbye Black Box!
Posted on December 3, 2014
Author: Joseph Francis, Performance Architects

Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM) is an Oracle enterprise performance management (EPM or Hyperion) application that allows users to understand the true cost and profitability drivers within their business.  HPCM offers many interesting capabilities, chief among them the tool’s functionality that provides visibility into allocation models.  I’d like to highlight three features in particular that help facilitate this visibility do: “Stages,” “Stage Balancing,” and “Trace Allocations.” Each of these components helps users to easily visualize and comprehend the allocation process while ensuring completeness and confidence in the allocation model.  Say goodbye to the “black box” of old cost and profitability solutions!

1.    Stages

Within HPCM, stage structures represent the allocation steps within an organization.  With a limit of nine stages per model (all having the ability to leverage multiple dimensions within each stage), allocation designers have a decent amount of wiggle room with which to operate.  Most any account, activity, process, or grouping can be defined in a stage.  Data in the stages will move sequentially per the model.  The calculated results of one stage become the source of the next stage.  While users cannot see driver detail and assignments in this panel, this is a great way to view an application model at a high level to understand the sequential flow of data.

2.    Stage Balancing

The “Stage Balancing” feature allows users to validate their allocation model results after a calculation has been run.  This is the data level validation step that shows not only that the money is flowing, but that it is flowing as expected.  In this manner, Stage Balancing is akin to doing a checkbook ledger-like reconciliation of the data as it moves through each stage.  Input values, assigned values, and unassigned values can be viewed at both the cost and revenue layer.

If the numbers don’t add up in this validation, one great highlight of the Stage Balancing panel is direct links via Oracle Smart View for Office (Smart View) into the Oracle Essbase database (the database underlying HPCM that comes bundled with the solution).  Smart View interfaces with Microsoft Office products and allows users to access data.  When a business user clicks on a link, this gives them a view of their model data at the correct point of view.  This is a great benefit, as it gets business users to the value without having to worry about the specific dimension combinations needed to arrive there.  This integration allows the user to avoid having to build expertise in both Smart View and in HPCM’s outline and dimensionality.

3.    Trace Allocations

The Trace Allocations feature allows users to visually follow the flow of funds through an allocation model from start to finish.  This screen brings the idea of “linked data” to life.  Users can drill forwards and backwards to visually follow money from source to destination, as well as the intermediate steps it took along its way.  The ability to audit where the money came from and where it went to differentiates HPCM from your general ledger, an Excel worksheet, or even Essbase.  While HPCM keeps much of its complicated outline hidden from the user, it provides full transparency in the area needed most – the flow of data.

The Trace Allocation feature also offers an “Accompanying Properties” section (pictured in the screenshot below in red).   Highlighting a link in the visual aid will display source, allocation, and destination detail.  Business users can see the total received and moved by a particular data source/destination from all points.  This also includes the name of the driver and driver value used to move the data.  Business users can examine how much money was moved from point to point, and perhaps most importantly, be able to show how.   Such an open process within HPCM changes the conversation to analyzing drivers and allocation methods, as opposed to questioning the validity of the numbers and process.

Author: Joseph Francis, Performance Architects


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