Many organizations have more than one system that can be used to run financial reports because both the enterprise performance management (EPM) and business intelligence (BI) application markets are fairly mature and “grew up” separately. This is often a point of discussion during requirements and design as there isn’t one correct answer.
Since Performance Architects maintains a strong Oracle practice in both the EPM and BI arenas, we wanted to address the questions we’ve recently received about when to use Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) versus Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS) to run financial reports.
We’ve listed the main (generic) items we ask our clients to consider when evaluating these options below. These elements also apply generally to this conversation when looking at EPM versus BI solutions in general, although there are some nuances when talking about specific vendors or solutions. If you’re going through an evaluation or architecting process right now, please contact us directly so that we can help you in more detail to address your specific situation.
Typically, data is loaded into a BI tool at regular intervals (i.e., nightly, twice daily, etc.). A BI solution almost never accesses data directly from source systems and therefore is always somewhat out-of-date. Conversely, budget systems are often constructed to accept frequent actual data feeds to support budget creation and updating which can provide an opportunity for more up-to-date reports.
Reports run during the budget process therefore are typically run out of the budgeting application (PBCS). The primary reason for this is that PBCS is an application that captures user-entered data and calculates other dependent values which make PBCS the “system of record” for planning and budgeting data, in the same way the general ledger (GL) is the “system of record” for actual data.
The dynamic nature of the budgeting process requires users to adjust their detailed line items and to immediately assess the overall budget after calculations have run. This real-time feedback requirement is the primary reason there are timing differences between reports run out of PBCS and BICS. The timing differences eventually get resolved once the budget process completes and final budget values can be passed to the BI environment.
Details used to calculate values for the budget are generally “sensitive” information, and management prefers that this information is not released to a broader audience. In these situations, reports are created in the budgeting application to provide access to the data. A good example is staff planning which often includes the sensitive salary and at times human resource data.
Level of Detail
Similar to security discussion above, there are often reasons for summarizing data in a planning application prior to exporting to the BI environment for reporting. Individual salaries or details about specific trips driving travel expenses are good examples of budget data that should be summarized for general (BI) reporting. Conversely, actual data used within a budgeting system is often summarized and would not be useful for certain types of analysis.
BI tools typically have an advantage when reporting includes information beyond budget and actual data. The data storage structures supporting BI reports are constructed to allow for a broader scope of reporting and analysis. The ability to represent complex data structures in an easily used format is a key differentiator for tools like BICS.
Reports and dashboards that are high density or have very specific format requirements tend to be a better fit for a BICS environment. BICS provides greater flexibility in formatting and presentation of data and information. There are more resources to draw on to address reporting performance challenges.