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December 2013

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Port of Los Angeles Achieves Real-Time Reporting for Better Budget Control

The Port of Los Angeles ranks as one of the busiest in the world. More than 8 million twenty-foot equivalents (or TEUs, a unit of cargo capacity) in container volume moved in and out of the facility in 2012, representing approximately US$284 billion in cargo value. In alignment with the port's strategic plan to improve financial reporting, the port implemented Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Workspace. To understand how the new system streamlines processes and enables real-time access to financial information, we spoke to Senior Management Analyst Jeffrey Strafford of the port's Financial Management division.

Q: What led your group to install the new enterprise resource planning and reporting systems?
A: From a strategic standpoint the main goal was timelier financial reporting. We had been running a legacy mainframe accounting system that produced financial reports on a batch basis. So if someone paid an invoice, I would not see it in real time. Now, as soon as someone makes a payment, I can run a report and see an updated result, which allows us to reconcile data more quickly. We also immediately see where and at what rate money is being spent.

Q: Are you seeing any other impact in day-to-day activities?
A: Another improvement came in the budget transfer process, which used to be paper based. When a division needed to move funds from its budget to another division's, a paper form was submitted with a supervisor's signature, and then budget staff would log the request in a database, enter the transfer in the accounting system, and notify the division after completion. Now this process has been automated with entry, approval, and notification completed entirely online. Each division enters its own transfers directly into the system while divisional supervisors and budget staff receive e-mail notifications as approvals are required. Having the divisions enter information directly speeds up the process and reduces errors.

Q: What's the advantage of using two solutions from a single vendor?
A: We wanted one system where the general ledger and the budget program were closely integrated. Solutions from a single provider use the same dimensional hierarchies to smoothly send data back and forth to each other. So staff can pull current payment data and hierarchal changes from the general ledger directly into Oracle's Hyperion applications to easily run reports and update the system. Previously, data transfer between modules was a time-consuming process.

In addition, we now have one database for all budget information. For example, in the past, each division had to enter appropriation line details into an Excel spreadsheet that was uploaded into SharePoint, and then re-enter the aggregated totals into a separate budget system. Now all the data goes directly into Oracle's Hyperion, which means I can easily and quickly see appropriation details for any division. We can also push data forward from the previous year to the current year during the budget planning process. In the past, divisions had to retype all their information, which was tedious and laborious.

Learn more about the complementary capabilities of Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Enterprise Performance Management applications.

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