In Part One of this blog entry, I explained attributes, Smart Lists and how a planner can pick and choose various options from a drop-down list of Smart List values. In this blog entry, I explain this entire process in more detail.
When a customer has specific attribute reporting requirements, using Smart Lists can help solve this by allowing the planner and end user to pick their choice of members from a drop-down list. The basic building blocks of this solution require one BSO plan type and one ASO plan type. At a high level, all your planning will be done in the BSO plan type (let’s call this “MAIN”), and the final reporting is done in the ASO cube (let’s call this “RPT”):
How to Implement
First you create six Smart Lists that mirror the six attributes. As described in Part One of this blog entry, our customer maintained six attributes:
- Scholarship Types
- Officer Codes
So naturally our Smart Lists should include (as shown in screen shot below after the list):
- Fund List
- Function List
- ESEOR List
- FASB List
- Scholarship Type
- Officer Codes
Then, link these Smart Lists to six accounts of “Type: Smart List.”
Create a Data Form that has all the cost centers listed along with these six accounts in the columns, then assign the relevant Smart List values to the cost centers. The really cool feature here is that using Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) data load functionality, these assignments can be loaded using a file:
Create a simple business rule that circles through all the cost centers and ensures that every cost center has at least one attribute assigned to it. If there is no assignment, then set a default assignment:
Create another business rule that takes these assignments from their placeholder location in “BegBalance” and moves it to all periods, scenarios, versions and years.
Create another plan type, but this one should be ASO that contains Smart Lists as dimensions. Finally, after the rest of your regular planning process, push these Smart Lists to the ASO reporting cube using “Map Reporting” functionality.
And finally, when you log into the ASO plan type, you will now have the ability to report on these attributes.
Advantages of Using Smart Lists
While this solution seems simple enough, there are certainly some maintenance-related tasks that a system administrator will need to perform each period, or when a new cost center is added.
However these are minor items compared to the significant advantages provided by using Smart Lists. In my opinion, some of these benefits include:
- Allows a user to change an attribute assignment easily using either a data form or Oracle Smart View for Office
- Loads using a file in the PBCS built-in data import feature
- Takes up no space in the application and allows you to keep your Planning cube simple and robust
- Extremely fast for reporting ASO plan types, which permits significantly faster data retrieval times
Another major advantage of using Smart Lists is the ability to mirror “varying attributes.” While I’m not going to discuss varying attributes in detail at this time, varying attributes are another Essbase feature that allows you to track multiple characteristics of the base dimension that could change over time. Since varying attributes are not available in Planning or PBCS in general, Smart Lists can be used to mirror this feature.
One disadvantage to be considered is requirements on real-time reporting. Since we’re using map reporting to push these values from a BSO to an ASO cube, there will be a delay between planning and reporting. For this case study, this was not an issue but this could be significant to others.
The Final Word
We implemented this solution at two of our customers with great success. And even with the data transfer delay caused with the Smart Lists being moved to a reporting cube, the customer experienced very little change to their planning process.
In addition, we’re using pre-built functionality within Planning and PBCS, which makes it easier for the end user to maintain the application and also get proper customer service should he or she need it.
I hope this solution we provided is exactly what some of you might have been searching for. If so, please do leave feedback telling us about your experiences or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want help in this area.
Author: Mohan Chanila, Performance Architects