Allocations, statistical forecasting and predefined calculations will extend the modeling facilities. The product will be capable of producing exception alerts.
A planning framework will be used to define a business process flow (Workflow) which effectively tailors EPB to your business. A responsibility hierarchy imposes control on the reporting or budget process, recording who is responsible for what data in addition to the actions they are required to perform. A calendar controls deadlines around the planning and reporting cycles. Actions, such as re-forecasts and notifications can be triggered by the calendar.
Whilst Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting will still be usable by sites who do not use Oracle e-Business suite, there will be tighter integration of these two applications for those who can take advantage of it. there will also be the ability to create planned structure changes, for example reflecting acquisitions or restructuring which will take place in the next financial year for which budgets are being prepared. these planned structure changes will be capable of being written back to the GL once confirmed.
Oracle EPB will use a KPI library to enable planning and budgeting changes. Advanced modeling will be performed in the Analytical Workspace of Oracle OLAP. Many sophisticated models are promised 'out of the box'. EPB will be able to dynamically optimise data performance, monitoring report usage to determine what data needs to be pre-calculated and what can be performed on the fly.
EPB promises much improved 'presentation' quality reports. Many reports will be available as standard from a business report library and will be able to use the KPI library. calculations, annotations and composite reports will extend the reporting features such as exceptions, colour coding, ranking reports and graphs or tabular reports. integration with the KPI library and the responsibility hierarchy will allow for example exception reports to be pushed to users responsible for data rather than relying on them running the reports themselves. since all data is stored in an Oracle OLAP database SQL query tools will be capable of querying the data (this includes Oracle Reports and Oracle Discover and presumably third party tools such as Business Objects). reports will also be capable of being data entry enabled, allowing users to modify values and use grow and spread functionality. Excel and text file upload to reports is promised.
It appears there is no writeback facility for GL budgets in the first release of the product. Whilst this is not an insurmountable problem, it does appear to be a major ommission from an integrated budgeting and planning tool.
there will be no Public Sector Budgeting migration path in the initial release although this is on the roadmap. OSA migration is also likely to be a little involved at first, a decision also needs to be made about whether the appropriate migration path is to Oracle Discoverer.
after many evolutionary revisions in OFA, EPB beings a massive change in the technology stack. for the most part these changes will simplify things from a support perspective, using common technology with Oracle Applications and utilising web technology to minimise desktop installation issues.
Oracle EPB will be based on Oracle 9i, using the OLAP features integrated into the DBMS, and the Java API. There had been indications that Oracle may have been going to release on Oracle 10i or Oracle 10g, but it appears the code will be released to run against Applications 11.5.9 running on DBMS 188.8.131.52. for most Oracle shops this will do away with the requirement for separate Express administration skills. using the Oracle DBMS will also provide more sophisticated performance tuning, backup and resilience features for EPB. there is also the possibility of increased performance by exploiting the ability of 9i to provide OLAP analysis of relational data, removing the requirement for a GL extract.
Oracle BI Beans will be used for much of the presentation, the user interface will be pure HTML which is claimed to improve performance. This will do away with the need for SNAPI client installs on PCs.
The software will integrate much more tightly with the Oracle e-Business Suite, using features such as workflow to improve the end to end business support provided by the tool.
the release date
the release of epb is certainly a moving target, with dates quoted through 2003 and 2004. the latest information we have is that an end of September 2004 GA release is most likely. Oracle are stepping up their beta program in the UK prior to the release.
historically there was talk of a three phase release, with a reporting release, followed by data entry facilities with a final release of migration tools for current ofa users. this now appears unlikely with a full initial release of all of these tools now expected, although it is unclear how complete these migration tools will be.
The current statement of direction for epb states that OFA/OSA licenses will convert to EPB licenses.
ofa support dates
The latest Oracle statement of direction available indicates that OFA and OSA will continue to be fully supported through to the end of 2006,with extended support through to 2008.