From both the Oracle website as well as Mark Rittman’s weblog the release of Oracle’s new enterprise level Business Intelligence product Enterprise Planning and Budgetting was announced. This tool deserves a lot of interest, for a variety of reasons:
- It has been promised as the advanced successor of OFA and OSA (Oracle Financials Analyzer and Oracle Sales Analyzer), based on the current stack of Oracle technology for BI and OLAP – such as the OLAP engine in the RDBMS and BI Beans for the User Interface
- It adds powerful forecasting, planning, distributing and budgeting capabilities to what already is available with BI Beans.
- It is a major proof of concept of the entire technology stack for BI and OLAP from Oracle
- It provides a much needed answer to some of Cognos’ and Business Objects’ capabilities
- One of our customers has been advised by Oracle to go and start using EPB
See the following resources for more information on Enterprise Planning and Budgeting:
To EBP or not to EPB, Powerpoint presentation (October 2004) by SolStonePlus, who also published this article: Oracle Enterprise Planning & Budgeting 11i (EPB) From that article:
“Discoverer Plus OLAP For OSA Customers – As an alternative to a full Enterprise Planning & Budgeting implementation, existing customers using Oracle Sales Analyzer might wish to evaluate the forthcoming Oracle Discoverer Plus OLAP, which works off of the same multidimensional OLAP database as EPB and provides an â€˜Oracle Sales Analyzer-likeâ€™ reporting and analysis environment.”
Important questions that I have around EPB
It is stated by Oracle that EPB – although it is an integrated component of the Oracle EBusiness Suite – can be used as stand-alone product. You can load data into interface tables. Questions:
Does EPB work on its own Data Warehouse and if so, is this DWH also available to other OLAP tools for Analysis? Or should organizations doing Analysis and Reporting apart from EPB have a separate DWH for those OLAP queries?
Does Oracle recommend loading data directly from operational sources into the FEM Interface Tables or does Oracle think it best for non-EBusiness Suite customers to set up a Data Warehouse independently of EPB and in a later stage implement processes to extract data from that DWH into the FEM Interface. Are the FEM Interfaces tables at the operational (fact) level or do they already have some sort of consolidation in them?
Can Oracle somehow convince us that while EPB does not provide hooks for customization it will offer reports desired by non-EBusiness Suite customers with potentially very varied businesses? How much of EPB benefits are you missing out on if you do not have the E-Business Suite? What is EPB then giving you that with OWB and BI Beans/Discoverer you can not easily build yourself?
The specific case of my customer: they have clear requirements for Management Information. Most of these are about analyzing histrical data (the classic slicing and dicing); forecasting and budgeting would be a nice to have in the longer run. They currently do not have a proper Data Warehouse. They have a consolidation point for some operational data. No dimensions have been defined, no data cleansing is performed and some data is not available at all. I am wondering whether EPB would be the proper tool for them to start with. Given their requirements as well as their lack of current experience with BI as well as the relative uncertain situation with regard to the data sources, I would feel more comfortable with a more down-to-earth approach: start designing a DWH and the processes to populate it as well as developing the most urgently needed reports. In that case, EPB would be brought in at a later stage – when the organization as well as the data management is ready for more advanced stuff.
Is there anyone, especially from Oracle, who would care to comment? Also on my feeling that Oracle’s recommendation to use EPB is perhaps somewhat influenced by Oracle’s desire to build up references and experience with this brand new tool – that, as I understand it, is not even generally available – only a “controller release” is available right now.
From the EPB Faq
What is Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting (EPB)?
Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting is a new application that delivers scalable planning and analysis, offering sophisticated data modeling and multidimensional analysis in a web environment, tailored for each customerâ€™s own business processes.
What are the primary business benefits from implementing EPB?
Enterprise Planning and Budgeting enables you to understand the businessbetter by providing analysis tools to increase visibility into your organization. A framework to manage the critical business processes of budgeting and forecasting allows you to define the rules, tasks, and schedules, ensuring that you control these planning processes and achieve consensus when looking forward. The application enforces consistency while supporting decentralized flexibility. With ongoing monitoring of the business included, you tune plans to improve results and hold individuals accountable. Enterprise Planning and Budgeting is part of the Oracle E-Business Suite, an integrated set of applications that are engineered to work together.
What are some of the key features included in EPB?
- Sohisticated multidimensional reporting and analysis.
- Configuration of planning, budgeting, forecasting and monitoring processes.
- Powerful data processing including an allocation engine.
- Business calculation templates such as time analysis, share calculations, and analysis of variances.
- Budget entry distribution and approval process.
- Data-based exception alert notifications using responsibility hierarchies.
Does EPB require running any of the Oracle ERP applications?
No. EPB can be implemented by Oracle e-Business Suite customers but it can also be implemented by organizations who are running other vendorsâ€™ ERP applications. The latter can deploy EPB by extracting and loading required data into the open FEM interface tables. Non Oracle ERP customers will derive all the business value from EPB as a specialized standalone product. FEM schema is a database schema designed as a foundation for EPB and, in future, other Oracle planning and analytical applications. It provides a set of predefined and user defined dimensions. There are open interface tables available to load metadata and data into the FEM schema from multiple sources.
Does EPB support report publishing requirements?
EPB provides extensive document authoring, formatting and sharing functionality directly to the end user. Documents include crosstab and large collection of graph types. EPB also provides ability to export a document in the Oracle Reports 9i XML data source format. This export file can be used to develop or update high quality production reports in Oracle Reports 9i Developer to be published as briefing books.
Does EPB provide integration with Microsoft Excel? EPB documents can be exported to an Excel readable HTML file format. Document layout and formatting is preserved in the exported file. The ability to upload budgets from Excel workbooks into EPB worksheets is planned for a future release. An OLAP Excel Add-that will allow secure access to the EPB data stored within Analytic Workspaces is also under development. This is planned for a future release of EPB.
Does EPB provide hooks to add customization code?
The initial release of EPB focuses on a comprehensive set of standard functionality rather than extension hooks. The configuration options and rich functionality included is expected to eliminate or minimize the need for customizations in your implementations. There are published hooks available in Oracle Workflow, one of the underlying components.
I have posted a question on the Oracle OLAP Forum on OTN (I could not find a more suitable place) with my questions.