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OFA - Better Reporting

Oracle Financial Analyzer (OFA) is a powerful multidimensional reporting and planning tool based on the high performance Oracle Express database engine. OFA takes detailed information from a source system, often but not exclusively Oracle GL, and calculates (aggregates) summary data and extra analysis which users can interactively report upon.

OFA can be used to replace FSG reports from the GL, which brings several advantages:-

We have delivered significant Oracle Financial Analyzer OLAP systems for major companies, both as a complement to the Oracle General Ledger (GL) or as a stand alone budgeting and reporting system.

oracle express

Oracle Express is a multi dimensional On-Line Analytical Processing (Multidimensional OLAP or MOLAP) database server. Express was purchased by Oracle several years ago and has been developed into the leading OLAP server.

Express has a programming language (SPL - Stored Procedure Language) which includes many modeling functions. Express can be used as a stand alone database environment to support the delivery of bespoke analytical applications.

In Oracle 9i, Oracle have moved the OLAP functionality into their core DBMS. This development continues with their 10g database version released in early 2004. Express as a separate product will eventually be discontinued (desupport in 2008), all of the functionality will be available from the DBMS with significant enhancements to reporting, scalability, resilience, data integration and advanced backup.

oracle financial analyzer (ofa)

OFA is an application built on the Express Database. It provides significant modeling and reporting functionality of multidimensional data. Since Oracle developed OFA it comes with free hooks and interfaces to Oracle Financials, the system can however be used without an Oracle Applications install. For people familiar with Oracle Applications, Oracle Express is to OFA what the DBMS is to Oracle Applications.

There are some issues which need to be addressed when implementing large EIS, planning and budgeting systems. Good performance in large systems needs proper cube design and sparsity control. Batch management is weak and work will be required to minimise manual intervention. Maintenance of Oracle GL budgets poses a couple of problems such as a lack of cross validation rules, building budgets for new cost centres and keeping budgets synchronised between OFA and GL.

Recent releases of OFA (6.3.4 and 6.4.0) have exploited new features of the Express database such as composites and the new AGGREGATE command to deliver increased performance. With cubes of several tens of gigabytes and composites of over 20 million values performance can still suffer. OFA 6.4 is certified to run against Oracle General Ledger (GL) 11i but can be made to work with 10.7 if there is a real need to exploit the new features without upgrading the GL.

OFA 11i (version 6.4.0) has finally delivered a web client with powerful reporting that in some cases exceeds the features of the full SNAPI client. Unfortunately there are still a few areas in which the web version falls short of the full client (such as only opening a single report, no ability to build asymmetric reports (these can be read opened if built in the SNAPI client though) and no inserting of calculations). This means you may well need to consider delivery of a true SNAPI desktop client for power users in addition to the web client for the majority the user base. The SNAPI client is mandatory for administration use.

enterprise planning and budgeting (epb)

In the next release of OFA, currently called Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting (or Oracle EPB) a significant architectural change occurs. Oracle EPB will be built on the new Oracle 9i (or possibly Oracle 10i/10g but this appears increasingly less likely) OLAP engine rather than the separate Express database. Oracle have finally integrated the OLAP features of express into their DBMS as they did with object technology several years ago. This promises improvements in flexibility, performance, resilience, availability and backup. EPB should also be more tightly integrated with the General Ledger due to the new engines ability to store summary aggregate data based on detailed records held in relational tables, reducing or eliminating the time required to load data. Parallel aggregation of data may also finally be delivered, allowing the system to fully exploit multi-processor systems.

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