Oracle EPM Cloud Narrative Reporting case study: Migrating from on-premises Oracle Financial Reporting to Oracle Cloud Narrative Reporting – The process we took, the benefits and challenges we faced.
What is Narrative Reporting?
Narrative Reporting is a purpose-built business process available in Oracle Cloud Enterprise Performance Management for management, narrative and regulatory reporting. Narrative Reporting (NR) allows a business to ‘work with data that is always current by accessing data directly from Oracle and non-Oracle sources. By meeting internal and external reporting needs, companies can collaborate across the report creation process to define, author, review, and publish management and regulatory reports’ - Oracle.
For more information on Narrative reporting and how we can help your business, see here: https://www.qubix.com/narrative
Example requirement from the client
The client was utilising Oracle Financial Reporting (FR) to handle their financial reporting needs and schedule the reports to be sent out to the business. They also took advantage of Qubix Cloudbridge to manage their processes. The client wanted to upgrade their entire portfolio to use the latest Qubix Cloudbridge and migrate to a cloud-based financial reporting solution. The task was to migrate one hundred financial reports from the clients on-premises financial reporting system to a cloud-based management reporting solution, ‘Narrative Reporting’ (NR), and utilise Qubix Cloudbridge to create workflows that can schedule the sending out of reports to the business.
What was the process?
The process involved exporting one hundred financial reports from Oracle Financial Reporting (FR) and importing them into NR. Exporting reports from FR and then importing them into NR is a straightforward and not overly time-consuming process. We needed to make sure that the folder structure on NR was identical to their current FR system – this was easy to achieve as the UI is simple to navigate, whereby folders can be created quickly, and reports can be moved around without issue. Reports are kept within folders and sub-folders which contain their corresponding books (several different but related reports make up a book). Financial books that were present on FR needed to be recreated as Narrative Reporting does not allow for books to be migrated currently. Thankfully, the creation of books was not a challenging task.
Folder structure example:
Because the client’s architecture used Essbase as a data source, we needed to set one up on N, R, which was simple enough to achieve and reliably works. For example, to connect NR to Essbase, we would need to provide: a data source ‘Name’ for example, Gross Margin, a ‘Type’ such as Oracle Essbase Cloud, a ‘Server name’, which is the address of an Essbase instance, and then the ‘Application name’ on that instance, as well as the ‘Cube name’. Following this, you can test the connection.
Examples of different Oracle data sources NR can utilise:
Data source creation on NR:
In terms of displaying the reports and books, this can be achieved by viewing them with the built-in PDF functionality or as an Excel book through the browser. They can also be exported locally to your machine for further analysis. It is important to note that NR requires fonts to be uploaded to the fonts folder to display the reports correctly. If the fonts are not uploaded, an information message will prompt you to upload them. We found that uploading fonts that use the file extension .ttf were easy to do, and it is just essential to make sure you have the rights to use specific fonts. Also, note that individual fonts are needed for fonts that utilise bold, regular, and italicised to have the reports displayed correctly. For example, if you want column headers in your reports to appear in bold, and then the main body of the report appear in regular font, you will require two different fonts to be uploaded – one for bold and one for regular, e.g., arial.ttf and arialb.ttf.
To send out reports to the business autonomously, we needed to set up Bursting Definitions on NR for each of the ten batches. We could then create the workflows on Qubix Cloudbridge where the business could kick these off at their disclosure or schedule them for a specific time. We also needed to set up the bursting on Cloudbridge, as before this project, Cloudbridge could not burst data to a target. It was set up from the in-built EPRCSCTL routine, which enables command-line interaction with NR. We had to reverse engineer what the tool does and implement API calls that execute the same functionality without using the command line. Instead, these API calls could be built into Cloudbridge Process Builder. This is one of the many benefits of Qubix Cloudbridge; the product is continuously being upgraded with new functionality to suit the client’s needs – it is highly scalable.
Creation of Bursting Definition on NR:
An example of Narrative Reporting workflows on Qubix Cloudbridge Process Builder:
What are the Benefits?
Oracle Narrative Reporting provides numerous benefits for creating, managing, scheduling, and viewing financial reports, and with Qubix Cloudbridge integration, the process becomes even more streamlined. Because NR is a cloud-based product, it is considerably more scalable than an on-premises solution and grants users access anytime, anywhere, and providing them greater security. The user interface is also more modern and intuitive to use than the older on-premises solution, Financial Reporting.
- Creating and managing data sources in NR from Essbase
- Easy to upload fonts that are required for reports and books
- Folder structuring, moving, renaming reports is easy
- Migrating reports from Financial Reporting to Narrative Reporting is hassle-free
- Notifications in the UI and via email
- Performance improvements over the on-premises version
What are the Challenges?
One of the biggest challenges we faced came down to how different FR is to NR as a product. Upon the first import of reports from FR to NR, we had errors to resolve to view the reports. Most of the errors could be bulk edited using a script we created to alter the report .des files; this dramatically reduced the number of manual fixes we had to implement. Unfortunately, this script is not easily reusable for other deployments because it was particular to the client, but it shows that we could work around problems. This highlights a common issue when going from on-premises to a cloud-based product.
- Books could not be migrated from FR to NR. These had to be recreated in NR
- NR does not support substitution variables as FR does, so scheduling could not be achieved with the client’s current solution. The utilisation of Qubix Cloudbridge solved this problem.
- We are getting reports and books to display fonts correctly.
- Some manual changes required to replicate the functionality of FR on NR.
- Network setup requirements.
- Conditional formatting applied to scaled values rather than original values.
Overall, Narrative Reporting provides a scalable solution for your financial reports, with added security, a modern user interface, and Qubix Cloudbridge integration. The consultants at Qubix who worked on this project have had the first-hand experience moving a client from an on-premises financial reporting solution to a cloud-based solution and understanding the challenges involved. On future projects, our team is well prepared, from the knowledge they have gained, to take on all the challenges involved in a migration, such as creating a solution that works seamlessly for clients.
If your business can benefit from a cloud-based reporting solution, please get in touch here.