April 29, 2013

All the Cool New Features in Oracle EPM 11.1.2.3

Oracle EPM 11.1.2.3 is out and there are some great features in it (Planning and Financial Reporting have my favorites which you'll see in a second).  11.1.2.3 is not as impressive as 11.1.2.1 or 11.1.2.2, though.  A lot of the products got new features in between releases like Smart View (which adds new features with every patch set), Strategic Finance, HFM (which got Tax Provisioning in February), and Financial Close Management instead of making those products wait until 11.1.2.3 was officially released.

Below are the features I think are most interesting in 11.1.2.3.  This is by no means an exhaustive list and I didn't include every product though I did hit all the ones with significant market share (and a few others including a shout-out to the long-forgotten "EPM Workspace").  All the new feature documents are on Oracle.com.  If you see anything major I missed, let me know in the comments.


Oracle Essbase

  • Essbase didn't change much in 11.1.2.3 and users are never going to see any of the changes.
  • There are several new BSO functions and calc script commands like @INTERSECT, @ISMBRUDA, @ISRANGENONEMPTY, @MEMBERAT, @RANGEFIRSTVAL, and @RANGELASTVAL.  My favorite is @CREATEBLOCK which, wait for it, creates a sparse block with all the dense combinations in it set to missing.  Yes, we finally have a specific command to create specific blocks after 20+ years of silly block creation workarounds.
  • There's a new calc script SET command called RUNTIMESUBVARS that let's you create substitution variables in the script that are passed to the script at run-time.  You can then pass values to these variables when you call the calc scripts from MaxL or the API.  There's a new optional argument (with runtimesubvars) to MaxL's "execute calculation" command that sends the run-time variables to the calc script as you call it.
  • There's a new Essbase.CFG setting called ESTIMATEDHASHSIZE that lets you specify (in millions) how many members should be loaded into memory from the outline.  It's meant to speed up massive dimension builds and outline edits.  There are two other new CFG settings as well: ENABLERTSVLOGGING (which logs the new run-time substitution variables) and UNICODEENABLE (which sets the server to unicode mode, basically).
  • Performance has been improved on ASO dimension builds (specifically with duplicate members), the JAPI, and most helpful for many people including Hyperion Planning users, @XREF has been improved in some cases as much as 40-times.
  • Data Mining is gone.  Many people didn't even know it was there, but it's been removed.
  • Speaking of gone, there is no Essbase Excel Add-In 11.1.2.3.  Further, earlier versions of the Add-In that you may have (like 11.1.2.2) are not supported against Essbase 11.1.2.3.  It probably will work (the Add-In is wonderfully backwards and forwards compatible) but it's not supported.

Smart View

  • There were a lot of improvements to Smart View in 11.1.2.2.3xx which came out about a month ago, so there isn't much new in Smart View 11.1.2.3.  Smart View is the new strategic Microsoft Office add-in for all the Business Analytics (BI and EPM) products, though, so that's why the newest release supported direct access to OBIEE 11.1.1.7.  Hyperion Strategic Finance is also now fully supported in Smart View.
  • The only major improvement is actually in Hyperion Planning just exposed through Smart View.  There is a new "Planning Admin" extension that lets administrators update Planning metadata (and a few other things) from Smart View.  I'll say more about this under Planning.

Hyperion Planning

  • Essbase ASO databases can now be created as Planning Plan Types.  These databases will allow writeback provided it's at level-0.  This is stunning.  These ASO cubes can be displayed on Planning composite forms with Essbase BSO cubes just like current BSO cubes in multiple plan types can be combined on a single composite form.  For some reason, this release doesn't put security filters on the ASO cubes, so you have to access these cubes through Planning or through the Planning ADM driver in Hyperion Financial Reporting.  Still, ASO in Planning is a step in the right direction.  Oh, and you have to own full-use Essbase to create these ASO cubes; just a Planning license doesn't cut it.
  • You can create members on the fly (kinda) if they don't exist when business rules need them.  This may only work in modules and not custom plan types.  The documentation says only modules, but I admittedly haven't tried it on custom plan types yet.
  • Custom dimension hierarchies can now vary by plan type.
  • Task lists can now include "Copy Version" and "Job Console" as tasks.
  • There is a new Task List Dashboard (gives you an overview of tasks by user, due date, etc.) and a Task List Report Page (that exports to XLS and PDF).
  • Grid Scroll Preferences lets you control if all rows/columns in a form are retrieved at once or only when you scroll down.  This should improve performance for large forms (and not slow down the internet when we want to watch cat videos on YouTube).
  • Users can now control through user preferences if they want member names, aliases, or both.  This can be set to override the form settings.
  • Outline Load Utility has been enhanced to do fun things like export metadata to a relational database or export data to a text file.  There's a new user interface for loading dimensions and data from flat files (and exporting them too).  This was previously only doable through the command line.
  • There's a new "Plan Type Editor" that lets admins add and delete plan types to already existing applications. Previously, this required going back to the initial creation step or hacking the underlying tables.  The Plan Type Editor can be used to add ASO to an existing Planning application.
  • Admins can now do some administration of Planning from within Smart View like editing dimensions, creating cubes, and refreshing cubes.
  • Workforce and CapEx have been enhanced to get them up to speed with Project Financial Planning's improvements to these modules in 11.1.2.2.  You won't get these improvements with a straight migration: you have to create a new "shell" application and manually migrate your old dimensions into the new application.
  • You can create, assign, and delete substitution variables directly from the Planning web interface.

Data Relationship Management

  • There's an entirely new module within DRM (no word yet on if it costs money, but my gut feeling is that it's included with DRM) called "Data Relationship Governance."  To oversimplify what is actually quite cool, it adds workflow to DRM.  It lets data stewards coordinate entry, validation, and approval of hierarchies but it does a lot more too.  Users can request hierarchy changes and they go into a worklist so nothing gets lost.  It has built-in alerts for when users have requested changes and it also sends e-mails when something has been sent to you or it's something you should be informed of.  In my humble opinion, this is the greatest improvement to DRM since it was created.
  • Dynamic scripting lets you use JavaScript instead of formulas to create derived properties and validations.  This is a welcome improvement over formulas since we now have access to a real programming language.
  • You can now connect directly to external relational database tables to import hierarchies.

Hyperion Financial Management (HFM)

  • There's a new module (that technically was released in February) called Hyperion Tax Provision.  It handles tax automation, data collection, tax calculations, reporting and it does it all within HFM.  Now when you create an application in HFM, you tell it if you want a Consolidation (traditional) application type or Tax Provision.
  • Data forms let you show/hide the POV members, access the dynamic POV member lists, and run "on-demand rules" to essentially calculate the data form (by running the on-demand rule on a subset of data).
  • Data grids also let you control which POV dimensions you're showing and gives you access to dynamic POV member lists.
  • Admins can turn off modules for all users if they aren't applicable (for instance, if you don't allow intercompanies in HFM).

Financial Data Quality Management (FDM)

  • FDM and ERPi (ERP Integrator) combine in 11.1.2.3 into a single product: FDMEE (Financial Data Quality Management Enterprise Edition).  It's more than just ERPi renamed which is what some are claiming.  Below are some of the improvements.
  • The UI (user interface) is now consistent with the other Hyperion products like Planning and HFM.
  • FDM is fully supported in Shared Services and Lifecycle Management.
  • Data loads are sped up.  Scaling and load balancing are fully supported.
  • ERPi users will now see full FDM functionality that they couldn't access before.
  • SAP BW is now supported directly as a data source.
  • FDM and ERPi owners have access (at no charge) to all the new FDMEE capabilities.

Financial Reporting

  • I know what you're thinking and yes, Financial Reporting actually got improved in 11.1.2.3 (it is a strategic product for Oracle). So for the coolest thing you'll see since ASO in Hyperion Planning...
  • Financial Reporting is now mobile.  That's right: it runs on Apple iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Android tablets.  Users can browse the repository, launch reports (HTML or PDF), run books (HTML or PDF), change POVs, change page members, expand rows and columns, and even launch related content.  Pick your jaw off the floor.
  • Books have been enhanced to allow cover pages before the table of contents, embedding (and launching) Word DOCs from an HTML book, and changing the starting page number of books.
  • The designer has new authoring features including a row property to show dots after the member name (to fill the column) in PDF output, custom text colors, and auto-sizing text boxes in PDF output.
  • Annotations have a new auditing capability that puts annotation info (like creation date or modified date) in a log file on the server.

EPM Workspace

  • OBIEE 11.1.1.7 is back in Workspace (it used to be there back in OBIEE 10).  You can both create and launch OBIEE from Workspace.
  • OBIEE uses single-sign on if you're logged into Workspace (OBIEE now can also share a security model with Essbase).

Web Analysis, Interactive Reporting, SQR Production Reporting...

  • Seriously?  People, move to OBIEE.  These are dead products.

General Comments

  • You can upgrade to 11.1.2.3 directly only from 11.1.1.4 and 11.1.2.x.  Earlier versions require going to either 11.1.1.4 or 11.1.2.2 first.
  • 11.1.2.3 still doesn't officially support Chrome or Safari.  The documentation says that Oracle recommends IE (Internet Explorer) 9 or Firefox 10 because older versions are slower.
  • The EPM documentation is now fully supported on Apple mobile devices (in ePub format).  It already worked on Amazon Kindles (in Mobi format).
That's all folks.  You can thank me at Kscope13 for making it so you don't have to scour all the readme files yourself.

Oh, that reminds me. Since you read this entire essay of bullets, I owe you a reward.  When you register for Kscope13 (the best Oracle BI, EPM, and Hyperion conference in the world bar none), mention promo code IRC.  It'll save you $100 off whatever the prevailing rate is.  You can tell your friends or make them read this blog to find that out themselves.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great piece of information there.

I think we also have an option to launch FR studio using workspace?

Thanks,
hyperionEPM

Anonymous said...

@CREATEBLOCK actually allows you to select the value that you want to set (not just #Missing). While it can become a fairly deadly tool in some hands, it is a major addition for Essbase experts.

Edward Roske said...

@CREATEBLOCK: there's no argument to the command to set a new block to anything but #Missing. That said, you can then go into the newly created blocks and set them to a value.

Edward Roske said...

Launch FR Studio from Workspace: that feature has been in there since pre-11.1.2.3 (it just didn't usually work). I think you're correct that it works now, but I admittedly haven't tried it.

azmatb said...

Hi Edward,

As always, you made my day. This is an excellent read in 5 minutes about 11.1.2.3, rather than going over readmes for days !!!

See you at the Conference.

Thanks,

Azmat Bhatti

Mike Henderson said...

But wait, there's more! (RIP Billy Mays) Updates to Calc Manager. Calc Manager now analyzes scripts for performance issues. Summary lists such statistics as the number of data cells in the calculation, the
number of passes through the data. Warnings reports whether all sparse dimensions are specified for
cell references, whether a cell references sparse members, and whether an assignment
references sparse dimension members in different data blocks.

A personal endorsement: we are using the new CDF @CalcMgrExecuteMaxLEnScript to call MaxL from business rules and Essbase calc scripts. Good to have this powerful capability officially supported.