A Bridge to the Cloud: Building Your Roadmap

Although Oracle’s cloud technology represents a material leap forward, a cloud upgrade does not need to be a disruptive change to the business. Oracle recognized very early in the development of Oracle EPM Cloud that we should not just build an island oasis of new EPM capabilities without providing our customers a bridge to make their transition to the cloud as seamless as possible. The strategy has been to provide a balance between familiar capability and meaningful innovation. We recognize that each company will have a different appetite for changing business processes. Some customers do not want radical change, and will prefer the comfort of familiar end-user capability; others may be ready to embrace change at a faster pace. With Oracle EPM Cloud, Oracle has created a true next-generation EPM platform.

Oracle’s vision has been to create a completely integrated platform for financial and operational EPM. While there certainly will be effort involved in the transition to the cloud, the process will likely be far smoother than many people assume. And more importantly, the benefits of Oracle EPM Cloud extend far beyond simple TCO. Be sure to account for these benefits as you build your cloud roadmap. Let’s take a look at some process-specific considerations for a move to Oracle EPM Cloud.

Enterprise Planning

For existing users of on-premises Hyperion Planning, the Enterprise Planning capability in Oracle EPM Cloud represents a great opportunity. It shares significant DNA with on-premises Hyperion Planning. Although there have been significant architectural advances and numerous time-saving features added, most administrations continue to work under the same general principles. Your end users will find a new mobile-enabled interface that is much faster than the on-premises version (in terms of grid/form performance), but still recognize the features and functions that they value, such as Smart View. This minimizes the learning curve, makes a move to the cloud relatively straightforward, and allows you to quickly build credibility with your users. Simply put, it works similarly, but better.

Prior to embarking on an upgrade to the enterprise planning capability in EPM Cloud, there are a number of high-level considerations that you should evaluate:

Many existing on-premises customers may have large complex planning systems with many applications. It’s important to realize that you do not need to migrate all applications at once. In fact, a material percentage of current cloud customers started their journey by migrating just a portion of the on-premises planning applications to the cloud. This is made easy because some planning processes are distinct and can be easily separated (such as planning versus forecasting; business unit planning versus corporate FP&A plans, and so on).

Cloud tools like EPM Automate make it easy to keep both on-premises and cloud planning systems in sync. While a big-bang approach (migrating all planning processes to the cloud in one phase) can also be successful, it is not the only path to the cloud. Consider how you can deploy planning in a hybrid fashion, where a portion of the planning process remains on-premises, while other portions move to the cloud in a gradual fashion.

Many on-premises customers have planning processes based on the on-premises modules: Workforce Planning, Capital Asset Planning, and Project Financial Planning. Typically, these are highly customized and difficult to upgrade. Many customers may assume that they will just replicate the exact same process (lift and shift) in the cloud. However, this approach will miss out on a significant amount of innovation. It’s important to understand that new cloud-based planning frameworks operate differently than the on-premises modules. These frameworks have been designed to be used as building blocks where you only turn on the features that you need.

Once enabled, the features can easily be configured to combine out-of-box capability with custom requirements. There are significant benefits that can be achieved by leveraging the Planning frameworks, such as easier administration, more-powerful features, and a robust roadmap. You should evaluate how you can leverage these frameworks as you migrate your planning processes to the cloud. Fortunately, significant portions of your current process, such as metadata, can be reused with the new frameworks.

Using best practices when designing dimensions is always prudent with on-premises planning. However, as the technology advances, the best practices evolve as well. Be aware that there are new innovations in the cloud that allow you to meet the needs of planning processes that require many dimensions. Don’t assume that dimensions that applied in the on-premises world also apply to Oracle EPM Cloud. The cloud offers new ways to optimize your design for dimensionality.

A recent addition to the enterprise planning capability is Strategic Modeling. In short, this is Strategic Finance reimagined for the cloud. However, as with the rest of Oracle EPM Cloud, this is not just a lift and shift of on-premises technology to the cloud. By embedding Strategic Modeling in EPBCS (instead of separate software), both the administration and user experience have been significantly improved. Users can seamlessly navigate between traditional planning and Strategic Modeling. Data also flows seamlessly, providing a single solution for both traditional planning and end-user modeling. This is another great example of innovation that exists in the cloud.

Existing Strategic Finance customers will find the transition to the cloud very easy; customers who are not already using Strategic Finance should evaluate the new Strategic Modeling. It empowers users to change logic, metadata, and run through what-if scenarios—precisely what they may need to reduce their reliance on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Work with your implementation partner or Oracle product specialist to fully understand the capabilities of Strategic Modeling prior to finalizing your plans to migrate to the cloud.

Another powerful addition to Oracle EPM Cloud is the Groovy configuration language. Groovy can significantly improve existing calculations by optimizing performance, and can also make possible things that were not possible (or not practical) previously in on-premises Hyperion Planning. Although Groovy is a new configuration language, administrators who are comfortable writing Essbase calculation scripts will quickly pick up Groovy. Implementation partners can also bring this valuable skillset to the table.

In addition to the high-level considerations mentioned above, many customers have questions about how their current business processes and modules will migrate to the cloud. This includes common questions such as, “Must I configure from scratch?” or, “Can I reuse a lot of what I currently have?” The answers to these questions will vary depending on the features. These topics can be explored in more detail with your Oracle product specialist, your implementation partner, and/or Oracle Product Management.