In a recent meeting I was asked whether there is a standard approach to signage in reporting. I think we can all agree this is a big question. “Reporting” covers a wide range of purposes and platforms. Did the client mean management, statutory or transactional? Were they looking at the consolidation tool, budgeting and forecasting or analytical? The implications of the decision are wide ranging for the usability of your financial applications, and therefore it needs significant thought.
However, it is a common question. There is no standard! With my consulting hat on, the solution is clear: an organisation needs to adopt a single reporting standard which addresses its management, financial and transactional reporting purposes. What that standard is, from my selfish point of view, is immaterial! I have included an example of signage standards, but this is by no means the only approach.
In my past life as a management accountant, I spent many a late night during month-end trying to reconcile reports across Oracle Hyperion Essbase, HFM (Hyperion Financial Management and Oracle E-Business suite (EBS). Were the numbers I was seeing correctly sign-flipped? As each application was using its own approach to sign-flipping, how could I be sure that the rules had not fallen out of alignment?
Then I discovered masterdata governance. I found that by centralising all our financial masterdata (including our report definitions) into a single location we could create a single definition of our core financial constructs, including a single definition of the signage rules. These rules were then published for use in all our financial reporting applications, thereby ensuring that they were using the standard definition. Once implemented, I spent less time reconciling and more time analysing, a benefit that I think all my fellow accountants and the business would see as a “positive”!
Until next week.
This week I have been working on a driven or calculated cash flow design. As is the common pattern in my experience, the requirement was initially expressed as a need for a consolidation tool, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM). When digging into the requirement, I asked whether this report definition needed to be shared with their relational reporting tool, OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition) looking at Oracle E-business Suite (EBS) and their analytical reporting tool, Essbase? Would the cash flow report not be a valuable operational and analytical tool, rather than just a retrospective month-end report? Everyone agreed it would be, but this is when I noticed the elephant in the room. Everyone agreed that the cash flow could be calculated, but had assumed that the ledger did not have sufficient detail to populate the model.
Don’t get me wrong, I have yet to encounter a client that can calculate a full cash flow without some manual analysis, however this is the 5%. The other 95% is usually available in the ledger. I think what deters us, is that we are used to mapping to HFM at an account level only. The information that drives cash flow is often only available at sub-ledger and journal type. Using a masterdata management tool allows you to easily map all kinds of information, including sub-ledgers and journal types. If in doubt about the source of data, start by analysing the support for your cash flow journals or calculation …then get ready to look for elephants!
Some more good news to share!
We have been selected by a FTSE 100 global financial services client to implement Oracle Hyperion DRM (Data Relationship Manager) as the single repository to maintain all financial masterdata. Oracle Hyperion DRM will be responsible for publishing masterdata definitions and mappings to a wide range of applications, including Oracle Hyperion Essbase, HFM (Hyperion Financial Management), FDM (Financial Data Quality Management) and Oracle ERPi (Enterprise Resource Planning Integrator).
Seismi are responsible for delivering the Oracle Hyperion DRM solution, alongside an Oracle Hyperion Essbase reporting environment, which will be built using Oracle Hyperion EPMA (Enterprise Performance Management Architect) and Oracle ERPi. As always, Oracle Hyperion DRM will provide them with a comprehensive governance solution enabling efficient maintenance of all their core financial masterdata, whilst Essbase will provide an incredibly powerful analytical tool to transform their month-end financial reporting requirements.
The project has already started we look forward to sharing more details and a case study in due course..
Off for another celebration !