Improvised dimensions and hierarchy in OFSAA 5.1
Guest post by
Suthersan Jayaprakash, Technology Analyst- Banking and Capital Markets, Oracle Practice, Enterprise Solutions, Infosys Technologies Ltd.
The dimensions and hierarchies form the base for operations in OFSA suite of products. Any business assumptions or processing parameters are built based on the dimensions. The dimensions in OFSA are nothing but various attributes of the business. Something like organizational structure, or the business offered by the organization, or the products and services that it offers.
So now what makes the handling of dimensions and hierarchies better in OFSAA 5.1. We recall that hierarchies in OFSA 4.5 allowed the addition of leaf members only at the deepest level. Say if you have a 4 level hierarchy the leaf member can be attached only in the fourth level. This is termed as "Balanced Hierarchy". But in OFSAA 5.1 the leaf member can be added in any level irrespective of which is the deepest level. This is termed as "Unbalanced hierarchy". To see on a topical view it may look like balanced hierarchy is more organized and easy to maintain than unbalanced one.
Let's take an example of organization structure of a bank. The hierarchy may be designed like this. The branches in an area report to area HQ(town/city HQ), the area HQ report to Zonal offices and all the zonal offices report back to National HQ. In case of this typical structure we can see no advantage or utilization of unbalanced hierarchy. But consider that the bank starts a new branch in south zone in a town and it's a whole new venture for them. Meaning, there are no area HQ available in that locality where this branch can report to. So the management decides to control the branch directly through the zonal HQ due to various factors like geography & cost involved etc. In a case like this, the unbalanced hierarchy allows us to add this new branch to the zonal HQ. But whereas in a balanced hierarchy we have to insert a "Dummy node" in place of area HQ and place the new branch under this node. We save the addition of "dummy nodes" in this approach, meaning the dimension members and in turn hierarchies are easily manageable and less compounded in nature to use.
How OFSAA 5.1 does support this while OFSA 4.5 is unable to? The trick lies in the way 5.1 treats the "NODES". While in OFSA 4.5 the nodes are nothing but empty blocks under which nodes and leaf can be grouped, the OFSAA 5.1 treats the nodes as dimension member themselves. As a result the entire dimension attributes that designs the nature of a Leaf can also be defined for the Nodes. The nodes can be operational part of the hierarchy just like the leafs, but in addition can act as grouping blocks also. This approach also helps us to attain some discipline in the hierarchy creation. The disciplines like a node cannot be a member of itself at any level of hierarchy can be implemented by this approach. Since in OFSA 4.5 the nodes are just grouping blocks, these kinds of rules cannot be "strictly" implemented but can just be suggested as "optimal usage guidelines". Whereas in OFSAA 5.1, the nodes are dimension members themselves whose property indirectly implies the above suggestion as a hard bound rule. This is because; a member cannot be grouped under itself. When this new concept of treating a node as member is utilized ideally the use of dimensions and hierarchy becomes less complex and more efficient.