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24 May 2011

The benefits and challenges of upgrading to Oracle Hyperion Release 11

By Dinesh Kotecha, Managing Director, Thought IT Ltd.

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R elease 11.x is the most significant release of the Oracle Hyperion EPM suite since Oracle acquired Hyperion. At Thought IT we are excited by the possibilities this offers, as for the first time there is a complete, integrated toolset for Enterprise Performance Management across the complete product suite.

Much of this came in with release 11.1.1.3, but with 11.1.2 the suite has been re- engineered so that all elements work seamlessly together. This has implications for which version businesses will move to in the short term, and how they will implement the change.

In this article I look at:

  • The benefits of upgrading
  • The key differences between 9.3.1 and release 11
  • Two alternative approaches Thought IT recommend for implementing system 11
  • The factors that will influence your decision on both timing and approach.

One of the key benefits of the latest release is its impact on the close cycle.  A single integrated solution with a robust reporting environment gives assurance over data quality, and specific tools simplify the reporting process. The close cycle can be reduced from a week (or weeks) to just days.


From a business perspective this enhanced toolset helps to reduce risk by centralising all master data management and improving financial control by eliminating spreadsheet-based data models.   The cost and complexity of compliance reporting is reduced with timely and accurate information available in just a few clicks.  Cost of ownership is reduced by having a consistent user experience, through simplified administration and management of applications, and by allowing IT departments to maintain a single licence structure.

A key consideration is data quality.  Auditability, drill-through to underlying data, seamless data integration and increased usability provide a high level of confidence in timely, accurate data.

Powerful reporting on this high quality data provides the user with more meaningful insights into their business - thus system 11 really does deliver true Enterprise Performance Management capability.

The end-user experience in system 11 is excellent and much improved on previous releases, with enhanced productivity in areas such as integrated workspace environment, and improvements in the Smartview interface to Office.

Application life cycle management considerably simplifies the process of managing development, UAT, and production environments.

Underlying changes to the architecture provide a robust, stable and highly scalable environment, providing not only data quality, but high system availability and performance.

In summary, Release 11.1.2 has been re-engineered to be a single platform. This provides much more than just a common look and feel - it allows all of the products in the suite to work seamlessly together so that data consumers can focus on their requirements, rather than on the tools.  Functionally, there are gains and improvements in pretty much every product in the suite.

So what are the key differences between system 9.3.1 and release 11?

In terms of new tools, Oracle Hyperion Financial Close Management streamlines the financial close process so that manual checklists are replaced with action oriented dashboards.  It provides end to end monitoring and management of all financial close tasks related to ledger and sub ledger close, including the creation and filing of reports in statutory XBRL language.

Oracle Hyperion Disclosure Management also provides a graphical and centralized platform for XBRL reporting, and is unique in its ability to control XBRL submissions by integrating with Microsoft Office,from within the EPM System itself, or within metadata at the datasource level

Financial Data Management eliminates the data risks associated with mapping, verifying and moving critical financial data. Profitability and Cost Management identifies the sources and attributes of profitability, improves decision making with its scenario modelling capabilities and accurately allocates costs and resources.

Enhancements across the product suite include:

  • Better forms functionality
  • Improvements to process management
  • Usability gains in just about every aspect of the suite
  • Enhanced Reporting capabilities
  • Improvements to deployment via the improved life cycle management tools
  • A large number of enhancements to Essbase such as attributes that change over time, and the new Essbase studio product.

EPM Architect (EPMA) offers the opportunity to centrally manage and provision metadata across applications and models, in a functionally rich and stable product.

Upgrading

With system 11.1.1.3, there are conversion utilities that allow you to extract and load your applications with relative ease from release 9.3.1.

Release 11.1.2 is designed for new installations. The architecture is different enough that there is no 'upgrade' as such - it is a new installation, and applications need to be re-built. You can migrate your applications by extracting everything (including meta-data and data), converting them to the new formats,and using this as a source for your new applications. This is more involved, but is still very achievable. For some products, such as Essbase,  migration is relatively straight forward, whereas for others, such as HFM, it can be more complex.

This means you should carefully consider the nature, timing and approach to upgrading.

In terms of approach, you can either 'migrate' your existing applications, or you can 're-build' them.

Timing-wise, if you have a new requirement on the horizon, that is probably the best time to go to 11.1.2. If however there is a specific feature that you would benefit from in 11.1.1.3, it may make sense to migrate to 11.1.1.3 in the short term, with a planned upgrade to 11.1.2 when appropriate.

The migration approach is simple and relatively quick to implement. However it means that you are not using some of the new functionality within the later release, and that any issues you have with your original application will continue.

Rebuilding your applications is more work and is usually done with the specific intention of a) taking advantage of new functionality with likely gains in performance and productivity, and b) ironing out issues in the existing set up.

Whilst no one option works for all, various factors will influence your choice. Thought IT can help you decide in your specific circumstances what would be best for you.

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Disclaimer: All comments posted in a personal capacity