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Bring the power of Excel to Oracle EBS with Web ADI

Very often we come across business users keeping an Excel sheet beside them and keying in the data into Oracle EBS. If you ask them about automating the process, most often the alternate option that they are  aware of is sharing the file in a predefined csv format to IT support and having them upload it. But what they don't like here is that, any errors will have to be shared with them by IT support and the time and effort involved in the initial upload and the error correction is significant. They feel the effort involved is not really worth it, and they are better off keying this data manually! It is very surprising to see how technology such as Web ADI (Oracle Web Applications Desktop Integrator) is not more commonly used to automate such manual data entry when you already have the data in an Excel or other documents. Most of the time customers hire temps or interns to key in this high volume data into the application.

Without going deep into the architecture of Web ADI, I will put Web ADI as an EBS capability that enables us to create Excel sheets that will automatically connect to EBS and perform the function that it is configured to do. When Web ADI is implemented, the Excel downloaded from EBS will have a new menu for Oracle.

Oracle_Web_ADI_Excel_Menu.jpg

In my experience so far, whenever we have demonstrated the capabilities of Web ADI, the customer response has been enthusiastic . The features that excite them the most -

  • You don't have to login to EBS or navigate/download the Excel every time. You download the Excel once; you can access it by just opening it from desktop. If EBS SSO (Single Sign On) is enabled it automatically understands who you are, if not, a pop from Excel, requests you to login.
  •  You have got all the features of Excel at your disposal - You can drag a cell, copy-paste data, use formulas to derive data, filter for certain values, have your own macros.
  •  You have the option to selectively upload only certain rows from the Excel.
  •  If the solution involves launching a concurrent program in the background, you can monitor the status from the excel itself, without having to login to EBS.
  • Business validations can be built into the Excel to show any issues to the user in the Excel itself. The user can chose to correct it or not upload the error record and proceed with others.
Validation_Error_In_Excel.jpg
  • Can work with the Excel offline. Of course, the user needs to be connected to validate or upload the data
  • The Excel can be configured for List of Values (LoV), double clicking on the Excel cell will open a HTML page that will give the capability  search for valid values and select it.
List_Of_Values.jpg
  • The excel sheet can also be configured to have drop down values.
Drop_Down.jpg
  • When a user wants a report in an Excel periodically, we can have the Web ADI configured for reporting only. The user just needs to open the Excel from desktop and refresh

Web ADI being a module within Oracle EBS, it inherits all the security framework of EBS. When the user is downloading or uploading data from Excel, they are doing it as an EBS user from a valid responsibility. User and responsibility specific restrictions can be implemented. For example, data can only be validated by a user/responsibility and uploaded by a different user/responsibility.

There are of course some areas where Web ADI is not a good option. Web ADI is only for user interface (UI) with one master-child relationship, with one header and optionally multiple child records. If we are looking for data upload with the UI having more than one master-child, it may not be fit for purpose. For example, Web ADI is good to mass update lines for a specific Purchasing Contract, but not fit for a requirement where we need to update the lines, shipments and distributions of a Purchase Order. While these features can be technically implemented, the solution may not be essentially user friendly. Moreover, Web ADI should not be seen as an alternate UI or technology for a Forms or OAF based UI, since it is not possible to dynamically enable/disable columns, show additional info/warning/error message at user key strokes at field level or move control dynamically to different fields in the Excel.

That said, here are the best opportunities where we can use Web ADI effectively

  • Where data needs to created/updated in bulk, where the data may already be there in Excel, etc.
  • Where we need the capability to work with the data offline and sync it up with server when online.
  • Where we may have to review a set of data and correct it - Web ADI can download the data that qualifies the condition into Excel. The user can make the changes and upload back.
  • Existing concurrent programs based solutions where a flat file is shared with the IT support team and the support team uploads it and shares the error records back, on which corrections are made and shared again to the support team for upload.
  • Reports that you want to refresh frequently.

Excel being Excel, most users will be comfortable with it and will not need any special training to use it. Web ADI being a technology module within EBS does not need any additional license. If you already have EBS, you can apply the required patches and start using it. If you look at it the other way, it is a module that the customer has already paid for, and not using it! Identifying the opportunities to implement the Web ADI based Excel solution can be a very good idea, that everyone on Oracle EBS should consider exploring for a better Return on Investment.

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