HFM

First look at HFM 11.1.2.4

HFM Exalytics imageHyperion Financial Management

Lighter, Faster, Simpler & Portable

 

 

 

 

There has been much anticipation and speculation about this delayed platform release v11.1.2.4. Particularly so from the HFM community as Oracle had indicated major revisions to the HFM ‘engine’, and to set HFM free from it’s Windows shackle’s to be platform independent.

Which surely means that this release would be the most significant update to HFM delivered by Oracle since the ‘unlimited’ (won’t get into the theoretical design debate here) custom dimensions feature released in 11.1.2.2.

Since the release a couple of weeks ago there has been some good technical blogs (John G covered the first look at installing the new release and the intricacies of installing on Windows 2012 Server, see: More to life than this…).
However there is no real detail out there on what has happened ‘under the bonnet’ for HFM.

So let’s start with the highlights and take a look at the new engine and some stat’s.

Firstly, there is HFM’s new simplified architecture (freshly ported to Java). The objective of reworking the HFM application server components in Java, means there is no longer reliance on Windows technologies like IIS and DCOM.

Which for the first time in its existence means HFM is now “platform independent”. Although for customers the choice for the moment is only between Windows servers or Oracle’s own super hardware – Exalytics. Commodity Linux is not yet supported…

While the developers were tinkering around with the ‘HFM engine’ they did the following:

  • fitted an optimised central data query engine – improving data retrieval used by the web UI, SmartView and Financial Reporting;
  • replaced the database ADO driver with an ODBC driver to improve database interaction, claimed better performance with Oracle RDBMS;
  • fitted new ‘multi-core scaling’ wizardly that ensures during consolidation up the entity hierarchy the system will use all of the hardware cores available;
  • fitted ‘SmartHeap’ technology to improve memory allocation and reduce thrashing of heap;
  • redesigned the ‘CalcStatus’ code, to store only used currencies, thereby reducing unnecessary storage of data and improving metadata / data loads;
  • replaced ‘Web-services’ with ‘Thrift’, claimed to optimise the transfer of objects between C++ server and Java based web tier.

Some interesting statistics from Oracle product development is the following optimisations the developers managed to do compared to v11.1.2.1 code line:

  • reduced number of file in HFM by 45%
  • reduced libraries by 88%
  • reduced total installed files by 94%

Diagram of HFM’s technology stack transition:

HFM Architecture 11.1.2.4

 

Much like a Moto GP race machine, the developers have managed to make the ‘engine’ lighter, simpler, and more efficient. The result in testing by Oracle in the lab’s using real client applications is claimed performance improvements of 2-5x times faster on the same hardware.

The performance claims alone are quite impressive for just an upgrade (no application optimisation), and exciting what can be achieved by moving HFM to an Exalytics box for the larger HFM clients.

The consolidation times comparison provided by Oracle is:

11.1.2.3 (Windows) 11.1.2.4 (Windows) 11.1.2.4 (Exalytics X4)
60 min 23 min 13 min

 

What is supported by what version is in Oracle’s Compatibility Matrix, which is usually not the easiest to navigate if you just need to know if SmartView works with the latest MS Office.

So it’s useful to know that the 11.1.2.4 release now supports:

  • Browsers: Internet Explorer 9, 10, 11 and Firefox 31 ESR
  • Office 2013
  • Desktop: Windows 7, 8 & 8.1

 

Like any other dot zero release, there is going to be some quirks, and some undocumented features when we get into implementing. However in this kind of scenario, skilled HFM consultants thrive, pushing design to make the best use of the new features, but at the same time also understanding the limitations.

In the next blog I will take a look at some the new usability features in this release, and new utilities provided. Some of the new features are stated to only be included in certain patch releases (PSU’s), so will examine the roadmap provided by Oracle to understand what will be available when.

Watch this space…

 

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HFM Redeploy from EPMA – Unspecified Error

When redeploying an Oracle Hyperion Financial Managemenent (HFM) application from Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Architect (EPMA), the deploy operation can fail and return a very unhelpful error message “Unexpected Error”. Although not immediately obvious, this error usually indicates there is an issue within the outline however, if the application has data, it may simply be that the data is being reorganized.

The screen shot below shows the EPMA summary:

130726_Seismi_HFM Redeploy from EPMA_1

The EPMA error log only is not much help either.  It returns the following information:

Error Reference Number: {5AD32CB5-7E26-4A48-A98C-5DC4870698E7}

Num: 0x80004005;Type: 0;DTime: 05/07/2013 13:54:20;Svr: UK1WHYPAPP11Q;File: CHsvMetadata.cpp;Line: 1056;Ver: 11.1.2.1.600.3779;

Num: 0x80004005;Type: 0;DTime: 05/07/2013 13:54:20;Svr: UK1WHYPAPP11Q;File: AgentHelper.cpp;Line: 1237;Ver: 11.1.2.1.600.3779;

Num: 0x80004005;Type: 0;DTime: 05/07/2013 13:54:21;Svr: UK1WHYPAPP11Q;File: CHfmAwbAgent.cpp;Line: 665;Ver: 11.1.2.1.600.3779;

To solve this, in the deploy screen uncheck the “Check Referential Integrity” option and check the “Full Deploy”.

130726_Seismi_HFM Redeploy from EPMA_2

Changing these options should allow you to deploy the HFM Application.

WARNING – Deploying without the option “Check Referential Integrity” means that data can be affected. Before doing so, be sure you have a backup of the application and a point of comparison to review any changes.

 

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Financial Intelligence | think before you jump…...

What is financial intelligence, I hear you say? Well it goes by many names and comes in many shapes…

Example 1: You have a single intercompany account in your ledger, but you need to present this in your consolidation and/or reporting solution as either an asset or a liability, depending on whether the balance this month is a debit or credit.

Example 2: You have 20 sales tax (VAT) accounts in your ledger. You need to evaluate the sum of all the accounts and present the entire amount as either an asset or liability in your consolidation and/or reporting solution, depending on whether the cumulative balance is a debit or a credit.

In my experience, there are the following three approaches to solving this challenge:

  1. use the ledger to present the information in the required format. This can be done via an automated or manual month-end journal;
  2. use the ETL (Extract Transfer Load) process via a rule based mapping to transform the data; and
  3. load the data into the consolidation and reporting tools in the format of the ledger, and use scripts within these tools to copy this data into presentation accounts.

Which of these three options are right for you, depends on your business process. I thought it would be useful to share the following considerations when you are deciding which of the three options to use:

  • In my experience clients are often cautious about putting presentation journals in their ledger, because of the concern that these will not be visible or auditable in the consolidation and reporting solutions. There are effective solutions to this requirement via the ledger setup;
  • Rule based mapping solutions should be evaluated to confirm that they a) do not jeapodise the audit trail and b) will support solutions that allow you to drill from a consolidation or reporting tool back to your ledger. For example, logic groups in Oracle Financial Data Manager (FDM) can affect the audit trail and the ability to drill through;
  • If the mapping approach is selected, the mapping must be available to all the consolidation and reporting tools: say HFM (Oracle Hyperion Financial Management), Oracle Essbase and OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition); and
  • The third option, using scripts to create the presentation data in the consolidation and reporting tool, has the obvious risk that if these multiple scripts fall out-of-alignment, the tools will not reconcile.

As a final comment, in my experience, regardless of which of the three approaches you decide to use, incorporating a masterdata governance tool can provide a robust as well as a flexible long–term solution…

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Positive or Negative | which way to turn?

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”! Smile

Until next week.

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Cash Flow design | where is the elephant?

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!

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FTSE 100 Global Financial Services Client, Seismi & Oracle DRM

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 Smile!

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UK's Favourite Retailer selects Seismi and Oracle DRM!

Some good news to share! We have started a comprehensive BI (Business Intelligence) Finance initiative for the UK’s favourite retailer. We have been asked to design a solution to use Oracle Hyperion DRM  (Data Relationship Manager) as the single repository of all the retailer’s financial masterdata.  Oracle Hyperion DRM will provide them with a comprehensive governance solution enabling efficient maintenance of all their core financial masterdata.

Oracle Hyperion DRM’s scope will encompass Oracle EBS, ERPi (Enterprise Resource Planning Integrator), FDM (Financial Data Quality Management), HFM, Essbase and OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition) applications and tools.

This represents another great opportunity to show how masterdata management (MDM)  should be a primary consideration at the start of any EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) initiative, not, an afterthought.

We look forward to sharing more over the course of the project. Off to celebrate!

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Video | Using Masterdata Governance to overcome Business Challenges (Part 4)

This week we will building on what we saw last week where we looked at using Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Manager (DRM) to govern an ERP system – Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) but it could be any ERP suite. In addition to governing Oracle EBS, Oracle Hyperion DRM will be used to govern the Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) consolidation tool and a reporting tool (Oracle Essbase).

As you will see in the video the user interface is very intuitive and we aim to build on your understanding of the true power and potential of Oracle Hyperion DRM. We will see that we can control structures in our transactions, consolidation and reporting applications. This demonstration will also show how easy it is to implement business rules and that users, of Oracle Hyperion DRM are forced to consider the impact of their changes on all other related applications.

See you next week where we will be looking at how using an integrated Oracle Hyperion DRM template allows us to extract data out of Oracle EBS, supply it with a mapping and load it into Essbase & HFM in an automated and reliable way.

 

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Video | Using Masterdata Governance to overcome Business Challenges (Part 3)

In last week’s video blog Ross Gilfillan continued on our theme of how Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Manager (DRM) can be used to solve business issues. Specifically he looked at how integrated templates can be used to both reduce implementation risks and costs as well as rapidly deploy solutions.

This week he starts to explore integrated templates in more detail and starts at looking how they can be used to govern Oracle E-Business Suite. As you will also see Oracle Hyperion DRM’s user interface is much more user friendly and intuitive than the native Oracle EBS interface.

Ross will continue to look at the flexibility, adaptability and other benefits of integrated templates in his next video where he will show that integrated templates can be used to govern multiple applications when it will be used to govern Oracle Hyperion Essbase and Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM).

As always we encourage people to get in touch if they want to explore these key benefits in more detail.

 

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Video | Using Masterdata Governance to overcome Business Challenges (Part 2)

In our last video blog Ross Gilfillan looked at how Masterdata Governance, using Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Manager (DRM) can be used to solve key business issues.

This week Ross will show how Oracle Hyperion DRM can be rapidly deployed using integrated templates and the benefits this provides. In addition he will make the distinction between integrated templates and standalone templates and specifically the additional functionality that integrated templates deliver to clients.

As always we encourage people to get in touch if they want to explore these key benefits in more detail.

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