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Product Update Highlights: Oracle Enterprise EPM – August 2020

This will change from month-to-month, and attempt to provide a picture of what is going on with EPM from an operational sense and Planning/Freeform as relevant. This blog post will also include notable updates for Narrative Reporting.

Documentation

Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud Operations Guide - This is a new document which has only been available a short while and tends to focus on generic EPM operational issues. 

Link: https://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/saas/enterprise-performance-management-common/tsepm/ops_app-specific_issues_epm_cloud_heading.html

This is a continually evolving document that has received several new updates which reflect new functionality, as well as enhancements. 

Oracle is providing more and more tools for managing the environment. A primary focus is Business Continuity; when environments are down, or not performing, or there is a loss of data, for example. This is not designed to be app-specific, but generic for EPM.

 

Notable New Features

I have cherry-picked a few of the features for this month's update blog. Narrative Reporting seems to have been really busy for this update, both in its own right, and also in the additional features provided in EPM Automate.

In the “common to all”... we have EPM Automate updates with support for Narrative Reporting, improved Rest functionality to all reviewing of rejected records, and the removal of the need of the Identity Domain as a required parameter.

 

EPM Automate

A new version of EPM Automate with support for Narrative Reporting is available. Other changes in this version include support for encrypting the passwords used in the replay command and the removal of XLS as a report output format for report generation commands affecting Consolidation and Close, Tax Reporting, and Account Reconciliation business processes.

The XLS report output option has been removed for these commands:

  • runComplianceReport
  • runMatchingReport
  • runSupplementalDataReport 
  • runTaskMangerReport

Additionally, Working with EPM Automate for Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud has been enhanced with Windows and Linux/UNIX scripts to replicate users and predefined role assignments across identity domains.

Key Resources:

IDENTITY_DOMAIN AS A REQUIRED PARAMETER NO LONGER NEEDED FOR THE EPM AUTOMATE LOGIN COMMAND

EPM Automate login command no longer requires the use of IDENTITY_DOMAIN as a required parameter. Instead of obtaining the identity domain name from the IDENTITY_DOMAIN parameter, EPM Automate calculates it automatically from the URL parameter. Any value you set for this optional parameter is ignored. Existing scripts that contain this value are not affected.

 

REST API TO REVIEW REJECTED DATA AFTER IMPORT

When using a REST API to import data, you can now review rejected data after import. To do this, specify an error file that captures the data records that are not imported. If an error file is specified, the zip file is stored in the Outbox where you can download the file using Inbox/Outbox Explorer or tools like EPM Automate or REST APIs.

NOTE: This applies to Planning, Financial Consolidation and Close, and Tax Reporting.

 

DATA INTEGRATION: NEW REPLACE METHODS AVAILABLE FOR NON-ADMINISTRATOR USERS

A new Replace for Non Admin Load Method setting in Application Details enables you to select how non-administrators can load data to Planning in Replace mode.

Available methods now include:

  • None—Perform no replace.
  • Numeric Data Only—Perform replace when the load method is numeric data only.
  • All Load Methods—Perform replace for all load methods.

See image below:

Application Details Page

The Replace for Non Admin Load Method setting extends the options for non-administrators when the load method is all data types with security.  Prior to this update, non-administrators could only load numeric data with the Replace mode.

Key Resources:

  • Defining Target Options in Oracle® Cloud Administering Data Integration for Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud.

 

SUPPORT FOR ADDING LINKS TO WEB PAGES IN NAVIGATION FLOW CARDS AND TABS IN EPM CLOUD

Business process designers can now customize navigation flows to link cards and tabs to a web page; for example, you can add a URL to embed an Oracle Analytics Cloud dashboard in a card or tab. This feature applies only to Planning, Financial Consolidation and Close, and Tax Reporting.

You can edit navigation flow cards, tabs, and sub tabs, to provide the URL for a web page. The URL can then be validated in a popup window before the update is saved.

The new URL option is visible when specifying content for navigation flow cards, tabs, and sub tabs on the Add Card, Add New Tab, and Add New Sub Tab pages. To view the navigation flows for your business process, click Tools, and then click Navigation Flows.

Key Resources:

In your EPM Cloud Administration guide:

 

ACTIVITY REPORT HIGHLIGHTS SLOW USER INTERFACE REQUEST CHARACTERISTICS

The Activity Report has been enhanced to provide better information on the user interface requests that may be performing slow in an environment. Oracle has replaced the Average Duration, Min Duration, and Max Duration columns in the Percentage of UI Requests over 2 Seconds table with columns that identify the percentage of requests that ran for a ranges of time periods (0-2 Sec %, 2-10 Sec %, 11-30 Sec %, and 31+ Sec %).

Current User Interface Request by Duration Metrics

New User Interface Request by Total Duration Metrics

Additionally, to maintain consistency, the Top 7 User Interface Requests by Duration table has been renamed as Top 7 User Interface Requests by Total Duration.

 

HYBRID MODE SUPPORT FOR EPM CLOUD APPLICATIONS

Hybrid Mode support can be enabled in application registration for an EPM Cloud application. This option configures additional properties for BSO cubes in the EPM Cloud application to be managed in Enterprise Data Management.

Hybrid Mode is a popular feature for EPM Cloud application cubes used to improve calculation performance and allows you to manage dimensions for Hybrid Mode applications in Enterprise Data Management.

Key Resources:

There are also a number of improvements for Narrative Reporting.

 

EPM AUTOMATE SUPPORT FOR NARRATIVE REPORTING

EPM Automate now supports remote administration of Narrative Reporting environments. The following commands are supported for Narrative Reporting environments:

Supported EPM Automate Commands for Narrative Reporting

addUsersToGroup

downloadFile

removeUserFromGroups

setManualDataAccess

addUserToGroups

getDailyMaintenanceStartTime

removeUserdFromGroup

unassignRole

addUsers

encrypt

removeUsers

upgrade

assignRole

listFiles

resetService

uploadfile

copyFileFromInstance

feedback

roleAssignmentReport

userAuditReport

CreateGroups

login

runDailyMaintenance

userGroupReport

deleteFile

logout

setDailyMaintenanceStartTime

setEncryptionKey

deleteGroups

provisionReport

recreate

 

 

Key Resources:

 

Planning

The Planning Updates are led in my opinion by the enablement of Auto Predict. 

Auto predict which was previewed just a month or so back has now made it into the August release. This is a superb way of seeding and sense chacking a Plan or Forecast.

 

RUN PREDICTIONS AUTOMATICALLY TO IMPROVE FORECASTING ACCURACY

With Auto Predict, administrators can define a prediction to predict future performance based on historical data and schedule a job to run that prediction definition, automating the prediction process.

Auto Predict uses the same forecasting and statistical methods as Predictive Planning, but unlike Predictive Planning, you aren’t limited to running a prediction on a form. You can predict values for thousands of cells at once, when needed, by scheduling a job, and automatically write prediction results to a scenario/version--in the same cube or in a different cube from the historical data. You can also include Best and Worst Case prediction results. When you run the prediction, historical data for each member in the Auto Predict definition is retrieved and then analyzed using time series forecasting techniques to predict the future performance for these members.

Use Auto Predict results in forms, dashboards, and in ad-hoc analysis. You can also use Auto Predict prediction results within Smart View.

You define a prediction to read historical data from a cube (typically an ASO cube) and write prediction results to the same cube or to a different cube, for example to a BSO cube where planning and forecasting is done.

High-level steps to create an Auto Predict definition:

  1. From the Home page, click Application, then click Overview, and then from the Actions menu, select Auto Predict.
  2. On the Auto Predict page, click Create.
  3. Select the cube that has the historical data; if you want to store prediction results in a different cube, select Cube to Cube.
  4. In the Analyze section, define the slice of data for the historical data source by selecting members for each dimension, and then specify how much historical data you have.
  5. In the Predict section, select members to define the target slice to store the prediction results, and specify how far you want prediction results to be calculated.
  6. Optionally, include Best Case and Worst Case results in the prediction.
  7. Click Save to save the Auto Predict definition.

You can run the job at any time from the Auto Predict page:

From the Actions menu next to the Auto Predict definition you want to run, select Run.

Or you can schedule a job to run the prediction at a pre-defined time.

To schedule an Auto Predict job:

  1. From the Home page, click Application and then click Jobs.
  2. Click Schedule Jobs, and then for What type of job is this?, select Auto Predict.
  3. Provide details for When do you want to run this job? and How often do you want to run this job? and then click Next.
  4. Select the Auto Predict definition to run and then click Next.
  5. Review the scheduled job description, and then click Finish.

Auto Predict is useful:

  • When you have large amounts of data to predict.
  • To jumpstart the forecasting process by pre-filling a prediction scenario with predictions based on historical data. Then, planners can compare predictions to forecasts.
  • For variance analysis. Seed a prediction scenario with prediction results, and compare predictions to forecast. To incorporate variance thresholds, you can define a groovy rule that requires planners to add explanatory commentary at a defined threshold, for example if the forecast is 5% greater than the prediction.
  • To pre-populate your Forecast or Plan scenarios before starting a forecast or planning cycle. Planners can use these prediction results as a starting point for their forecasts, and make adjustments as needed.
  • To keep predictions up-to-date as actuals come in by scheduling Auto Predict jobs. When new actuals come in, the job can run automatically to populate the cube; planners can see updated predictions and compare to forecast and plan.

Tips and Considerations:

  • Auto Predict works with EPM Standard and EPM Enterprise applications for Custom and Module application types when Hybrid Essbase is enabled. For legacy applications, Auto Predict works with the Enterprise application type when the Essbase version is upgraded to the version that supports Hybrid Essbase and Hybrid Essbase is enabled.
  • Auto Predict works with custom time periods in Planning and alternate time periods in Planning modules - for example in Financials you can predict at both a weekly level and at a monthly level in the same application.
  • Prediction results are more accurate the more historical data you have. There should be at least twice the amount of historical data as the number of prediction periods.

Key Resources:

 

PREDICTIVE PLANNING NOW SUPPORTS FULL POV SELECTION FOR HISTORICAL DATA AND ALTERNATE CUBES FOR HISTORICAL DATA AND PREDICTION DATA

When working with Predictive Planning in Planning and Planning modules, you can now select members from all dimensions when defining the POV for the historical data source. Previously you could select members only for Scenario and Version. You can select the POV for each cube in the application.

Additionally, you can select different cubes for source data (where historical actuals are stored) and predictions (the cube the forms are associated with where you want to perform predictions).

  • Select Predictive Planning options in Application Settings:
  • From the Home page, click Application and then click Settings.

Predictive Planning Application Settings.

This enhancement is especially useful for performing predictions in Financials. In Financials, actuals are typically stored in the Load member of the Plan Element dimension. With this enhancement you can select the Load member for historical actuals, and select a different member for planning and predicting.

This enhancement also ensures that you can do the same predictions in Predictive Planning and in Auto Predict.

Tip and Considerations:

  • After applying the update, if you had previously selected members for Scenario and Version, those members are selected in the POV for the relevant cube.
  • If you are using different cubes for source data and predictions, they must be in the same application.
  • For each prediction cube, you can specify a source cube (which can be the same as the prediction cube or a different cube) and the POV for the source cube.You can select the POV for each cube in the application.

Key Resources:

 

NEW VALID INTERSECTION RULES PAGINATION BAR IN PLANNING

To improve the user experience for users having valid intersections with a large number of rules, a pagination bar now displays at the bottom of the valid intersection details page in Planning.

Use the pagination bar to navigate between the pages and to jump to a specific page. The page size options (number of rules per page) ) that you can select on the pagination bar are 25, 50, 100, and All. (Note that the All option isn't available if you have more than 300 rules.)

To view or edit valid intersection details, click Application, and then click Valid Intersections. If it isn't already selected, click Setup, and then select the name of the valid intersection group you want to view.

Key Resources:

 

Narrative Reporting

 

ABILITY TO EXPORT MANAGEMENT REPORTING REPORTS TO EXCEL

While in preview mode, you can now download a Management Report, as fully formatted, to Excel.

Download as Excel

Key Resources:

  • Report Designer Toolbar in Designing with Management Reporting for Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud

 

IMPORT FULLY-FORMATTED MANAGEMENT REPORTS IN NARRATIVE REPORTING IN SMART VIEW

You can now import Management Reports in to Oracle Smart View for Office as fully-formatted reports, outside of the report package.

If prompts are included in the report, you specify the prompts upon import. Once imported, you can:

  • Change the POV and refresh the report data, as needed
  • Edit the prompts
  • Distribute the report to others as Excel files
  • Generate an ad hoc grid from the report, and then perform further ad hoc operations for the purpose of data analysis

Importing a Management Report as a fully-formatted report in Smart View, using the Narrative Reporting extension, allows you to quickly and easily have a refreshable  report that you can save and distribute in an Excel file, outside of the report package.

Steps to enable:

Download and install the latest Narrative Reporting extension for Smart View.

Key Resources:

UPDATED NARRATIVE REPORTING EXTENSION FOR SMART VIEW

An updated Narrative Reporting Extension for Oracle Smart View for Office is now available to download and install. This update includes support for importing a fully-formatted Management Report in to Smart View, along with other general improvements and bug fixes.

Downloading and installing the latest Narrative Reporting extension for Smart View gives you access to the latest features, improvements, and bug fixes.

Key Resources:

 

Upcoming Changes

There are a number of changes coming. 

DEPRECATION OF THE  IDENTITY_DOMAIN PARAMETER FROM THE LOGIN COMMAND - This has materialized already in the August release.

In an upcoming release, Oracle will deprecate the use of IDENTITY_DOMAIN as parameter for the login EPM Automate command. Instead, the name of the identity domain will be calculated automatically from the URL. Existing scripts that contain this value have to be updated after this parameter is deprecated.

This change is expected to be implemented in the 20.10 update. If you have any concerns about this change, please contact Oracle Support.

 

REMOVAL OF .XLS FORMAT AS REPORT EXPORT OPTION

Currently, the following report export options are available: csv, xls, xlsx, pdf and html.

In an upcoming update, the option for xls will be removed for Account Reconciliation and Tax Reporting. Customers who have built custom reports must ensure that their reports will export as desired to one of the remaining formats: csv, xlsx, pdf, or html.

 

EPM MOBILE APP STATEMENT OF DIRECTION - The app goes away by September this year..

EPM Mobile App is a downloadable application for the phone that is purpose built to perform approval actions for iOS and Android based phone devices. It was purpose built to help users perform Approval and Workflow activities. It is currently only supported for Oracle EPM Cloud for the Planning business process.

The terminal release of EPM Mobile App is September 2020.  EPM Mobile App will not be available for download in the Apple and iOS App Stores effective October 2020. Oracle’s strategic direction is to have customers use the Approval and workflow capabilities using the mobile browser interface on mobile devices.

Oracle will continue to support Oracle EPM Mobile App in its current supported versions until September 2020.  Oracle recommends that users using Oracle EPM Mobile App prepare to instead use the approval functionality using supported mobile browser in tablet devices.

 

FLASH DISABLED BY DEFAULT IN CALCULATION MANAGER

Flash is now disabled by default in Calculation Manager. You can still enable Flash temporarily, if desired.

By the end of 2020, Oracle will disable Flash in Calculation Manager, and options to enable it will be removed. This change is in response to Adobe’s decision to stop updating and distributing Flash at the end of 2020. See https://theblog.adobe.com/adobe-flash-update/.

 

SIMPLIFIED SEARCH IN ACCESS CONTROL

Access Control now uses a simplified, intelligent search function across screens that supports search for artifacts such as users and groups. This search function, unlike the previous version, does not use wildcard characters with partial search strings. Instead, it searches using a partial string from one of the user (user name, first name, last name, and email ID) or group (group name) attributes to retrieve all artifacts that contains the search string. For example, using the string st to search for groups displays groups such as Test, Cast, Analysts, and so on. Similarly, using the search string Fr displays user names of Frank, Freddy, Alfred, and so on.

 

INTERNET EXPLORER BROWSER SUPPORT (I will leave this in each issue of this, until such time as IE is “de-supported”!)

For Internet Explorer browser users, Microsoft recommends using the new Microsoft Edge as your default browser. With this guidance in mind, the 20.08 update will be the last release to support Internet Explorer. EPM Cloud will no longer support Internet Explorer starting with the 20.09 update. If you have any questions regarding de-support, please create a Service Request. For additional guidance on Internet Explorer Lifecycle, please reach out to Microsoft.

Upcoming Changes

EPM are doing a number of previews currently, one after the other. We are limited in what we are allowed to share as we are assisting Oracle with the preview under a non-disclosure agreement

Some of the recent ones are:

  • We are currently reviewing a new Web Ad hoc capability
  • Earlier in July we previewed usability of Freeform Planning - which is proving very functional
  • There are enhancements being tested on enhancements to security, which will affect the 
  • granularity and method of assignation
  • Ways of being able to automate loading of Valid Intersections
  • There is currently a major update  to the Dashboarding capability for EPM being reviewed as well. This will provide many new reporting artifacts, as well as capability to create dashboards without first creating grids.

Some of this was announced and shared with the public at large at the EPM Symposium as part of the ODTUG Learn at Home Series.  I will share a few screenshots of Dashboarding 2.0. When is it actually arriving...

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