Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

January 16, 2017

Why Hyperion Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Service (FCCS) may have tough road to success

Anyone who has attended Oracle's sales session on planning and budgeting cloud service (PBCS) in last two years would have heard the statement, "PBCS is selling like hot cakes" from the sales representative. Well... yes, it was and has continued to have a successful journey. Its higher adoption has sown the seeds for new hyperion cloud offerings in 2016, one of which is financial close and consolidation service (FCCS).

 

FCCS is not HFM on cloud

Initially, many people thought that the offering was hyperion financial management (HFM) on cloud. Let's put a setting stone and clear the air that FCCS is not HFM on cloud. It is an Oracle cloud offering to support financial consolidation and close process with a completely different database strategy as compared to HFM. Yes, you guessed it right, FCCS is not on relational database but on the same database platform as PBCS. It has 11 preconfigured dimensions and two custom dimensions. It provides a cloud-based offering for consolidation and close reporting with highly standardized out-of-the-box features built on years of experience and best practices that Oracle has learnt with its premier tool, HFM. Above all, it requires less or minimal administration and is very cost-effective as compared to on premise HFM, but still it may have to be prepared for a bumpy ride and user adoption as compared to PBCS. Let's see why!!

 

Constraints to adopt FCCS: Look and feel is different

In interactions with few of our clients who already use HFM and are planning to upgrade or use other Hyperion modules but exploring a specialized consolidation tool, we observed hesitancy to adopt FCCS. One of the key reasons was that CFO office was still reluctant to move actuals to cloud. Some of the clients who were inclined to FCCS moved away when they spoke to or sought opinion from Hyperion managers / directors of other clients. The fact that the look and feel is different as compared to HFM and database is not relational, Essbase could be another factor though to be fair to Oracle, they are trying to have same database strategy for both FCCS and PBCS offerings. But, we all know that usually the close and consolidation group and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) group have a different point of view.

 

Less flexibility with chart of accounts also may be a deterrent. Users need to be aware that having standard hierarchies or high level account members in key dimensions like entities and accounts allow for standardized reporting, calculations, and inbuilt financial intelligence which ultimately help in faster implementations. Oracle understands that PBCS was a different ball game when compared to FCCS as it was primarily for plan data. Clients can try PBCS for different lines of business or design in a way not to have actuals data in PBCS and hence, they are ready to play the waiting game.

 

Leverage Infosys Hyperion competency

Infosys fully supports Oracle Cloud strategy and Oracle Hyperion cloud and on premise offerings. So, if your firm has any questions related to Oracle Hyperion suite or enterprise performance management (EPM) strategy, please contact us at Infosys.com.


Part 2: The Taleo- LinkedIn partnership

   

In the previous post, we established the importance of Taleo as a strong player in the applicant tracking system (ATS) space, while also narrating a few glitches from the user perspective. This post explores the story of LinkedIn, and how the partnership has the potential of ushering in a stronger Taleo while benefitting LinkedIn as well.


An announcement by LinkedIn at the Taleo World Conference that evinced much happiness amongst the fans was the integration which allowed employees to apply for jobs on Taleo ATS system using LinkedIn profile. Some of these are being described below:


  1. Access to candidate's LinkedIn profile from within the Taleo system: Recruiters may source suitable candidates based on the LinkedIn profiles by directly drawing that information by accessing the profiles while within the Taleo systems.  This means that they have access to a plethora of information from the candidate's interest and publications to recommendations and updated contacts and skills. A very useful feature, it allows the recruiter to save a lot of time in double checking and toggling between the LinkedIn profile and the candidate selection page.

     

  2. LinkedIn profile upload: This feature is a life saver for candidates and saves them a lot of exasperation they otherwise face while filling out forms which are lengthy , as it allows one to directly upload data into the Taleo form using just information from your LinkedIn profile. candidates will be able to fill forms on Taleo by importing data from linkedin on a click of a button. This also helps in improving accuracy as far as the contact information is concerned. These auto filled data can then be edited by the candidate at will, thus saving loads of time, while maintaining accuracy in data.


3. Referral service: LinkedIn announced a new feature called Referrals during their TalentConnect 2015. It allows recruiters to solicit referrals from company employees.The tool intelligentlycaptures connections from employees network and allows them to forward jobs within their network seemlessly. This feature allows all recruiters like Taleo, Kenexa, Workday, and Lumesse to turn on this feature and use it from their respective job sites.


Although it is a feature that might not be requested for by the client upfront, This certainly looks like a place where some empathy can be shown to the recruiter's tough jobs, and employ design thinking and suggest these features and deliver them as required.


 


 


 


 





Continue reading " Part 2: The Taleo- LinkedIn partnership " »

January 13, 2017

Service Modernization for Utilities Enterprise's

With the advent of the smart era, a new chapter in the customer service leaflet begun wherein the customer wanted to 'always search' and 'always share' actively. Furthermore, this wish list exploded to include simplified and personalized mobile services which made him neither repeat the problem statement nor wait unknowingly.

Continue reading " Service Modernization for Utilities Enterprise's " »

Oracle CPQ Cloud for Telecom Industry Vertical

In saturated western markets, upselling or cross-selling generates more revenue than simply selling for telecom companies. So, it is no surprise that telecom companies are heavily hooked on asset-based ordering. Companies, not only in retail business but also in wholesale business, need to know the current subscriptions of customers to upsell or cross-sell new products to their existing customers. Hence, the new configure price quote software (CPQ) features will surely interest the telecom companies which are looking for cloud solutions. 

CPQ has come up with subscription ordering which has features like create, update, terminate, and delete the asset i.e. asset-based ordering (ABO) with moving average convergence divergence (MACD) capability. CPQ is also offering projected asset and follow-on order features. As CPQ will hold the asset details, there won't be any need to query other systems to get them. Sales user can see the current active assets of the customer on a new page called 'Customer Asset'. This page will show only those assets which are active in the given window. For Example, if a customer has subscribed for 'Friends & Family Calling Pack' from the month of December, then that pack will not be visible in customer assets in April.

Like any other customer experience (CX) system, CPQ will create a new asset when order fulfillment system sends the success response on the quote transaction line. If customer wants to modify their services, then sales user will select the required asset on the 'Customer Asset' page and modify. Modify action opens up a configuration window, which gives sales user an option to do some upselling or cross-selling while doing the modifications requested by the customer. If the customer changes his mind before the new modify order is fulfilled and calls back to change the order, then sales user can reconfigure the existing inflight quote. This will create a follow-on order in which CPQ compares the projected asset with a reconfigure order line to reflect the user-intended net changes in a subscription or asset. Sales user can terminate the asset from 'Customer Asset' page if requested by the customer, or requested by billing system if customer is not paying bills.

Let's say, for instance, John has moved to a new town and calls TownBest Telecom to avail phone, broadband, and television services. TownBest agent will configure the quote as per John's requirements and send it to the fulfillment system. John's service assets will be visible on 'Customer Asset' page in CPQ when the fulfillment system activates all the services. In the summer, John wants to see his favorite football league, so he calls up the TownBest call center to add Sports pack in his subscription. TownBest agent modifies John's subscription plan from the 'Customer Asset' page in CPQ and submits the quote for fulfillment. While doing so, the agent has successfully cross-sold 'Music Pack'. Before the new packs get activated, John calls back the TownBest agent to add Movie pack. The TownBest agent reconfigures the current inflight quote. As per the projected assets, CPQ will show Sports pack and Music pack in the new quote as getting fulfilled. In the future, John can terminate his subscriptions if he is moving out of town, or TownBest can terminate John's subscriptions if he is not paying his bills. In both the scenarios, TownBest agent just needs to go to the 'Customer Asset' page in CPQ and initiate terminate action.

CPQ subscription order feature is satisfying most of the things which telecom companies look for in a quoting tool. This feature will be a good selling point for CPQ in the telecom domain.

Oracle BigMachine CPQ - One Solution for many problems

Cloud products have entered into the market quite recently and spreading their reach in different sectors / domains. Oracle BigMachine Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) is recommended as quoting solution in many sectors. Here is a point of view on the CPQ capabilities for some sectors.

Professional services

Even today, many professional service sector companies rely on Microsoft Excel (XLS) files to create a quote. As in other sectors, using XLS file for quoting has many limitations like manual errors, discrepancies in different quotes as no version control on XLS, no single system to show all the quotes, etc. Other problem could be when quote is accepted by the customer, sales user has to create project and other details manually in resourcing system like e-business suite (EBS).

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CPQ can play a big role in streamlining the quoting process. In usual professional service quotes, we see job titles, their rate cards, project planning information, and others. Depending on this information, final quote value is calculated. CPQ can hold these job titles and their rates in its data tables. While configuring the quote, sales agent needs to select only the required job title and number of employees of that title. CPQ will calculate the price according to the rate card. Different variations like onsite / offshore billing rates, hourly / weekly billing rates can be configured in data tables.

Similarly, project information can be captured on configuration page by introducing few new attributes. This information may or may not have pricing impact. For example, introduce an attribute which captures the number of weeks each role / employee working on a project, or whether an employee works full time or part time. If required, specific information like which role will work on the project from which date / week can be captured. For instance, a business consultant will be on project only for first 2 weeks, senior developer will start from second week and will be on project till fifth week, etc. Simple formulas can use this information and give final cost of the quote.

If the quote is accepted by the customer, the sales agent can pass on this information to resourcing system like EBS to create project and corresponding opportunities / employee requirements. It is a direct integration between CPQ and EBS with no manual intervention requirement and reduces sales agents' work considerably in EBS as they have ready project created in EBS. Resource manager can directly start assigning employees to the newly created opportunities.

This will be beneficial to many service companies some of which got employee straight more than 100K and work on multiple proposals at same time.

Manufacturing

The CPQ has strong presence in manufacturing sector. With its new bill of material (BoM) feature, it has become quite easy for companies to integrate their CPQ system with fulfillment systems like EBS. As CPQ can create sales BoM similar to manufacturing BoM required in EBS for fulfillment, manual order creation in EBS is now a thing of past.

While configuring the CPQ product, BoM details can be imported and saved in CPQ data tables. According to the functional requirements, BoM can be added depending on values selected on configuration attributes. CPQ also offers functionality where user can select attributes for BoM item.

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For instance, a Japanese robotic company wants to configure its CPQ system where customer can configure robotic hands depending on its requirements. Robotic hands come in different shapes and sizes with different requirements for power ports, motors, and other spare parts. Company can create BoM for each of the robotic hand style and add entire BoM structure to quote when customer selects a hand. Customer also has option to select the BoM item attributes. For example, customer wants all its power sockets in two pin instead of three pin, customer can select so on Power Socket BoM item. If this selection needs adding new transaction line in quote for two pin socket, then CPQ can do it automatically.

Above example shows how the complex products in manufacturing sector can be easily configured by CPQ with no manual errors. Once quote is accepted by the customer, sales agent can trigger the order creation in EBS from CPQ action. CPQ to EBS integration has significantly simplified as CPQ sales BoM are similar to EBS. BoM in CPQ can also eliminate 'need to configure BoM mapping' rules in EBS.

Insurance and finance

CPQ and insurance sector are not new for each other. Insurance plans can be configured in CPQ quite easily employing current product models and parts or with new feature like BoM.

To understand it better, let us take an example where a finance company 'WealthGuru' is setting up its insurance plan on CPQ. To start with, company can have multiple product lines like tax saving plans and high yield plans. For each plan, there could be fixed set of holdings options. Either customers can select which holding / shares they want to invest in or WealthGuru can suggest how the investors should split their money. In tax saving plan, WealthGuru gives the fixed split. Simple recommendation rules and data tables can be used to configure plans and their corresponding holdings. Depending on plan selected, fund information section will be editable for user. User can capture the amount that customer wants to invest and on selecting the plan, CPQ can show how that amount can be invested in different holdings.

Holdings can be large cap shares, mid cap shares, emerging markets, and more. If WealthGuru wants to go beyond just holding names and give specific stock details under holding, then multi-level BoM can be employed. As BoM can have parent-child relation, CPQ can show under which holding which companies' shares are considered. So when customer selects emerging market, WealthGuru can show on quote the exact markets in which investment will happen. This will be a real customer delight as they will come to know where exactly their money is getting invested.  

Similarly, WealthGuru can explore option of 'Customer Asset' page to show customer's holdings from previous financial transactions. This will be useful to show customers how their investments are performing and they can take informed decision on their next investments. CPQ can estimate the returns on investments if financial advisors configure the formulas in the system.

So all in all, investment products can be configured in CPQ with all its variants. 





December 25, 2016

Centralized planning: From cloud to reality

 

Introduction

The recently published point of view (POV) on 'Oracle Planning Central Cloud' takes a new look at the deterministic planning approach and schedules for a centralized planning architecture. The document, which can be accessed here, states that Oracle planning system - Material Requirements Planning (MRP) - started with a decentralized planning method. Gradually, Oracle shifted toward a centralized approach with Advanced Supply Chain Planning. Thanks to the Internet and cloud, Oracle has moved towards that paradigm shift and can now perform centralized planning and control operations on cloud using planning central cloud. The latest release (Rel 11) of Planning Central Cloud is a powerful tool ready to unleash the potential of cloud to supply planning, bring a long term aspiration - into reality.The cloud is a place where all relevant data, information and applications are stored and made available for all -- locally and centrally -- while individual local facilities have their own configuration and policies that provide the required flexibility. 

Oracle Planning Central Cloud

Oracle released its first, cloud-based, planning system in Oracle Supply Chain Cloud Release 11 that offered the capability to create one plan that can execute demand, inventory, and manufacturing / supply plans at one go. This improves the deterministic approach of the supply planning system. The idea is to host the Supply and Demand planning solutions in cloud servers with Software as a Service offereing. This SaaS planning system will collect data from other Oracle cloud systems like Order Management Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud, Procurement Cloud etc driving a centralized standard ownership and processes. In a globally spread setup (manufacturing or distribution) having geographically spread locations (many facilities), the cloud based planning system enables to define a central plan available to all facilities. This system also enables the individual local facilities to have its own arrangements, constitution, and composition of material policies bringing in the required flexibilities with seamless access to data and security.  

Today, Oracle Planning Central Cloud is getting established in the market, and we take a brief look at how it is enabling deterministic and centralized planning.

Demand planning

Planning Central's demand solution automatically determines the best forecasting model according to data and has built-in features to incorporate seasonality and outliers. It generates forecasts based on shipment or booking and selects the most suited statistical engine to reduce forecast errors. Forecast can be managed at different hierarchies like product family and it has new product forecasting functionality also. It also provides the ability to load forecasts from an external system like sales or customer forecasts. This enables a capable deterministic planning system.

Inventory planning

From an inventory perspective, Oracle Planning Central Cloud automatically calculates buffer stock (safety stock) while minimizing inventory in order to increase service levels. Planning Central considers demand variability along with metrics such as mean absolute devices (MAD) and mean and absolute percentage error (MAPE -- which is a forecast error), when it calculates safety stock levels. It can also use the 'days of cover' paradigm to calculate a safety stock level that varies according to time. Safety stock can also be imported from external system if required so.

Supply planning

Planning Central offers an in-memory, unconstrained planning capability. It balances demand with supply to reduce inventory and prevent stock-outs. It uses the functionality of sourcing rules and forecast consumption. It recommends new supplies and reschedules or cancels existing supplies. It also applies business rules like effectivity dates on components, expiration dates on inventory lots, and reservations of on-hand inventory. Planning Central's supply plans can model outsourced manufacturing and delivery scenarios, including drop shipments and back-to-back orders. Hub and spoke configurations are supported as well.

Response and Analytics

Planning Central has built-in integrations with other Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) cloud applications to auto-release, release orders manually, and synchronize updates. It provides a configurable planner workbench allowing planners to view multiple plans and plan inputs simultaneously. Planners can create user-defined page layouts.

This planning solution also has a unified data model and data analysis hierarchies that are shared across demand and supply planning functions. It enables planners to analyze planning results at arbitrary aggregate levels (for example, at a category such as business unit level), and to view demands and supplies across products (having different base units of measure) by using a single consistent reporting unit of measure such as a currency unit of measure.

Data collection

The collection process gathers all master and transaction data. These sources give a complete picture of the supplies that are being held, moved, built, or bought.

Benefits of Oracle Planning Central Cloud

The benefits of Planning Central Cloud are more than obvious. It helps organizations gain compliance in standards, better forecasting, optimized cost, reduced hiring and training costs, higher customer satisfaction, and lower recovery costs through better quality control and more appropriate and timely responses to irregularities and disruptions. Here are five primary benefits:

  1. On-demand capacity augmentation: Planning systems traditionally require a lot of infrastructure that have to be structured and allocated in advance based on the type of plan, the volume of data, and number of users. Planning Central Cloud allows us to increase or decrease capacity in real-time; this helps customers start with a baseline configuration of resources and then increase the capacity as per the demand. This way we can avoid huge CAPEX investment at the start of the project.

  2. Enhanced security: Oracle cloud provides security best practices and measures integrated into the architecture at all levels. It is much more enhanced and precise compared to traditional infrastructure.

  3. Enhanced planner productivity: Through configurable Planner's Workbench, productivity is bound to improve by planning inputs simultaneously, viewing multiple plans, using user-defined multi-pane page layouts, and switching layouts

  4. Advanced analytics and spreadsheet integration: Oracle Planning Central Cloud provides advanced analytics feature along with excel integration through ADF desktop integrator. 

Conclusion

Planning Central Cloud release 11 is Oracle's first step towards a centralized cloud-based planning system. There are more planning features like constrained based plan, demand sensing and shaping, and sales and operations planning which are yet to be added, but the beginning looks promising and the future is full of opportunities. Oracle Planning Central Cloud is pre-configured and ready to use from the moment the account is provisioned by Oracle. Instead of spending time procuring hardware, integrating applications, and configuring the software, the system can be live in weeks. There is a lot of potential of Planning Central cloud which is definitely going to enhance user experience and improve supply planning in companies.

December 17, 2016

Contract manufacturing and subcontracting practices: A propellant for tomorrow's world-class organizations

The dynamics in retail and consumer packed goods (CPG) industries has touched many aspects of the supply chain, and contract manufacturing is no exception to the rule. Industry players world over have leveraged this arena to its full potential, as each player focuses on its core competencies. 
Contract manufacturing can be defined as 'outsourcing of a requirement to manufacture a particular product or component to a third party.' It enables organizations to reduce the investments in their own manufacturing capabilities, helps them focus on their core competencies while retaining a high-quality product with a reasonable price, and delivered on a flexible schedule.

Continue reading " Contract manufacturing and subcontracting practices: A propellant for tomorrow's world-class organizations " »

December 6, 2016

Oracle Fusion Opportunity to project integration

 

 

In most of the service organizations, internal resources are utilized while pursuing the proposal of customer (Opportunity) to get the new business from existing or new customer. However, the internal organization efforts are not tracked in detail level. If the organization tracks the indirect pre-sale effort / resources utilized for the opportunity, it can give more clarity on how to make use of these resources efficiently. It also helps to identify / track the indirect cost used for Opportunity. This could support organizations in budgeting and resource utilization.

Oracle Fusion Application provides integration between Oracle Sales Cloud (OSC) and Oracle Project Portfolio Management (PPM) to track and plan the indirect pursuit pre-sale cost for Opportunity also it will help to plan, budget, track and execute the delivery of opportunity once organization won the new business.

Following project types can be considered for Opportunity.

  • Pursuit project

It is an indirect project type, which tracks the pre-sale non billable pursuit cost of Opportunity, including staffing, travel, and other expense.

Project manager / opportunity owner creates corresponding pursuit project when the Opportunity gets created. He plans the budget according to the effort / resources / expenses required for the Opportunity. Opportunity owner raise the resource requirement for pursuit project which gets fulfilled by resource manager as per availability. Project team starts working on pre-sale work of Opportunity and charges the time sheet on corresponding pursuit project. All expenses are submitted on pursuit project. Every pre-sale opportunity pursuit costs like expense, procurement, and time card are collected on pursuit project. Opportunity owner / project manager executes the budget to actual cost analysis to review the project performance according to the budget and raises any change request if required.

Once the pre-sale activity of Opportunity get completed, corresponding pursuit project will get closed. So, no more cost will be charged on the project. Opportunity's pursuit budget to actual cost details provide better clarity on organization's indirect cost spending on multiple opportunities to plan it effectively for better outcome.

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To be continued in the next blog.. Coming Soon!

December 2, 2016

Simplifying the recruitment puzzle with Taleo

Taleo, a company acquired by Oracle, is considered to be one of the top vendors in recruitment and talent management.

Taleo is consistently ranked as the favourite applicant tracking system (ATS) for recruitment by recruiters and employers. It allows them to perform a wide array of functions -- measure important metrics, create candidate selection workflows, add privacy statements with the click of a button, choose from the several pre-defined and proven workflows, activate dynamic approvals, add appropriate notifications, create pre-screening and disqualification questions, manage security,  and more.

However, when candidates were asked to fill Taleo forms while applying for jobs, they appeared frustrated. They clearly did not share the same level of excitement as recruiters and employers. Their frustration cannot be attributed to mere lethargy to fill lengthy forms. In the past, job seekers were willing to go to any lengths to apply for jobs -- standing in long queues, dropping their resumes at offices, filling applications at employment boards, completing Taleo forms, and more. Today, times have changed and talent has become paramount. A skilled candidate has several options to choose from, and recruiters scramble for his / her attention. In such a scenario, it becomes imperative to sit back, think, and sensitise organizations for the needs of the candidate.

Although Taleo is a wonderful application with tons of features, an overenthusiastic requisition creator can ruin the experience for the candidates in the quest for more information. Organisations should exhibit restraint while adding questions to candidate forms, or must deploy an extremely accurate resume parsing option, which automatically fills in the fields that the employer seeks to review.

This option of resume parsing is available through several autonomous vendors, but a badly configured system continues to elude candidates the joy they seek of being able to apply for a job without redundant and relentless typing that goes on for pages. This is because not all resumes are in the same format, and not all parsing tools are intelligent enough to identify the fields and fill in the right information. Add to it the difficulty of having to update your profile constantly and the ineptness to showcase professional recommendations, certifications while making it flow into several unbearable pages.

There was a game changer, that was released by Taleo before being acquired by Oracle. It was called Universal Profile. This allowed candidates to create a single profile on Taleo with possibilities to edit or add new information whenever required, keeping the profile up to date. It allowed the candidate to use this universal profile while applying for jobs with every employer that used Taleo. Thus, this brilliant solution seemed to have solved the problem that most job seekers dreaded. However, in 2015, this feature was discontinued citing low usage and other issues, best known to Oracle. Since then, there has been a very discernible product gap. 

This concludes the story of Taleo, and why it could do with a bit of a push. The next post will explore LinkedIn announcements, and how it helps support the offerings of Taleo.


Trim your Financial Close Cycle with Oracle EPM Solutions









Continue reading " Trim your Financial Close Cycle with Oracle EPM Solutions " »

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