woensdag 8 maart 2017

Oracle Procurement Cloud Blog Part VII: Reporting, reporting, reporting!

In continuation of our blog series on Oracle Procurement Cloud, this week I will share my experience on Business Intelligence in Cloud ERP. For more information you can read our earlier blogs on the go-live, implementation speed, structural flexibility, Setupsupport and user experience.

“I quickly need that report, can you provide it as soon as possible?”, is something almost every consultant must have heard at least once in their lives. I know I did. Business Intelligence (BI) is becoming a more and more vital part of every ERP system, as many major management decisions are based on BI reports. In the past, most ERP systems were very  capable of storing data, but pulling data out of the system in a proper manner -  that was a  different ballgame! Nowadays, in Oracle Cloud ERP a report is created just by a few clicks.

A lot of people are interested in how their company is doing on various topics: from ordering to invoicing and from revenue to costs. They do not need outdated reports based on data from yesterday; they need the information updated real time and they need it now. Oracle Cloud ERP makes it easy for everyone to get a clear and structured overview of all data stored in the system, even for those people who do not ever log into the system or do not even own an account .

Embedded BI

With the later versions of Oracle e-Business suite, BI is becoming more and more part of the system, but in Oracle Cloud ERP BI is more integrated with ERP than ever before. Every Oracle ERP license includes embedded BI at no extra costs. Next to embedded BI,  the BI Cloud is also available and is the successor of OBIEE used together with e-Business suite (BI apps). The difference is that embedded BI only shows data stored in cloud ERP and BI cloud is able to connect and integrate more easily  with external systems (similar to OBIEE).

Embedded BI consists out of subject areas that contain out-of-the-box objects around a particular business area, such as invoicing, contracts and suppliers. In each subject area the most important fields applicable to that area are made available for you to use in your analysis or report.
If you need any customizations done on subject areas, that is also possible, but for our project the standard provided options are very rich and gave us  all the information we needed.

Drag and drop

Throughout our project, we found out that a very good thing about embedded BI in Oracle Cloud ERP is the simplicity and how fast we are able to build a report. It is really just drag and drop. In under 30 minutes we were able to create a report including a table  with different figures (pie charts, diagrams, etc.).

Furthermore, it is very easy to schedule any report you create to be sent to users outside or inside of the system. This way it is easy to send daily/weekly reports to managers who do not have an actual account.

This did not only help us throughout our own project, but will also help us in the future when we are doing demos or proof of concepts. Reports and dashboards are always good to show to any management team, as it really appeals to their interests. It definitely adds value that we are able to create a report in such a fast manner.

Look & feel

The options for graphical representations of any analysis is a big plus in Cloud ERP compared to on premise ERP systems. Especially Infolets are worth mentioning. Infolets are easily configurable figures giving you direct real time insight into specific areas of interest.

                                  Example of financial Infolets in Oracle ERP

These Infolets are shown on the homepage of users, depending on the access they have. A great advantage is the option to drill down to the transactional level through all Infolets. This makes Infolets  the ‘go to’ place for many users.

To conclude, with Oracle Cloud ERP you are easily able to  show all information available in the system in many ways possible.

Our next blog will be on how you can work more efficiently with your suppliers.

vrijdag 17 februari 2017

Oracle Procurement Cloud Blog Part V: leaving support in the hands of Oracle

In continuation of our blog series on Oracle Procurement Cloud, this week I will share my experience on the support model for Cloud ERP. For more information you can read our earlier blogs on the go-live, implementation speed, structural flexibility and Setup.

One of the key characteristics of Cloud is that the application is hosted off premise (either public or private). The client is no longer burdened with managing the infrastructure of its ERP system. This new way of working has a great deal of consequences for implementing and supporting the system.

The most important outcomes are listed:

1 How to monitor my environments?
The first thing you see when you gain access to Oracle Cloud ERP is the service dashboard. In this useful overview you see all the technical details of your instances, including any planned maintenance that causes downtime of the system.

From this dashboard you can also gain an overview of all the different applications that are hosted (for example both test and production). The dashboard functions like a web landing page, but it is also possible to go straight to the ERP application without accessing the dashboard. It is mainly used by administrators to get a quick overview of the status of the system.

A few examples of information shown on the dashboard:

- Data center: which center is your application hosted?
- Version number: which version is your system currently on?
- User logins: how many (unique) users have logged into the system?

2 Patches & upgrades: how does it work?
In the past,  the user  was responsible for keeping  the environment up to date with the latest patches and upgrades. Based on my experience, it often happens that due to  multiple reasons either the environment is not updated thoroughly and several patches are missed out or the environment is still running an old version.

Oracle Cloud has made this task simpler where several different patches are installed on a frequent basis; below are the key areas:

- First, there are monthly and quarterly updates. Both updates can either contain bug fixes but also the latest adjustments in the area of tax. This helps keeping Oracle up to date based on the impact of latest changes in the law.

- Second there are the major release upgrades. For example, the upcoming upgrade from Release 11 to Release 12. These upgrades have a big impact on the functionality of the application and thus require a more thorough impact analysis than monthly updates. In collaboration with Oracle, the upgrade is first performed on the test environment before it is installed on the production environment. It is important for the system integrator to think about the impact of these regular updates on the support model after the implementation is completed. It also impacts your test strategy; the user needs to test frequently but in less extensive manner than before.

- Lastly, the irregular bug fixes and patches. If you find a bug, a service request can be logged to fix it. In contrast to the past – when a bug was found, the fix was implemented faster, but with a time span of multiple weeks, not days. Whereas now, once the bug is fixed it will come with the first available monthly update for the testing on the test instance before it is moved to production.

3 What is the impact on the cloning procedure?
Since Oracle is now responsible for user environments, a clone is always initiated via a service request (SR) which can be logged on the Oracle support site. It is important to keep in mind that you are fully in control  and you  carefully plan out when you want to  clone and on which specific environment. You have to at least three weeks in advance when you want to perform the cloning process. Of course, there are exceptions, but Oracle requires a three weeks minimum advance notice.

After the date has been set, the next step is to discuss with Oracle on the best time for the clone (nighttime for example) and once all is confirmed you will receive a time indication depending on the amount of data that is stored in your cloned environment .

A key point to mention is that as per standard you will receive two environments: test and production. A production to test copy is possible, but not the other way around (not that that will be needed often). Traditionally, most on-premise implementations have a development and user acceptance test environment as well. Cloud ERP does not require a development environment anymore, since customizations are not used, it is more about configuration. It can be argued if a user acceptance environment is needed or not, but then additional fees have to be paid.

For more information on the cloning procedure, please refer to Oracle support doc ID 1537549.1 (only accessible if you have an Oracle support account).

To conclude, there is a big impact on the Oracle support model with Oracle Cloud ERP. My experience is that it does require another way of thinking, and once you know how it works, you will never have it any other way.

Our next blog will be on user experience.

donderdag 9 februari 2017

Oracle Procurement Cloud Blog Part IV: Key setup differences Oracle Procurement Cloud vs On-Premise

In continuation of our blog series on Oracle Procurement Cloud, this week I will share my experience on differences between Cloud ERP and conventional ERP setup. For more information you can read our earlier blogs on the go-live, implementation speed and structural flexibility.

In my opinion, one of the best improvements in the area of any ERP setup is the ‘functional setup manager’, and it is worth diving a little deeper into this vital area  of any Oracle Cloud ERP implementation.

You can easily navigate to this section of the system when you log in for the very first time, you cannot miss it. Straight away you will be able to see specific modules of the system (purchasing, finance, etc.) for which you might have bought licenses. This avoids a lot of hassle in figuring out what sections of the systems one can access and which sections are restricted.

The best thing however is that all the steps needed to setup the system are located conveniently in one area and are nicely put into a checklist. If I could compare it to other conventional ERP systems (where you sometimes have to be an expert to know where each specific setup point is located into the system), this definitely is a  change of pace.  With the aligned checklist, one cannot miss a step in the system thus avoiding errors. Every step requires data or is dependent on a decision that you have taken in the previous step.

Furthermore it is possible to assign a specific set of users to various steps and  give a different status to these steps e.g.: in process, completed, awaiting approval etc.); this ensures that no one can interfere into another’s task. All the steps needed for a specific section in the implementation can now be consolidated in the ‘Implementation Project’ which will have the flexibility to address each task separately.

The way this setup manager works really adds to the simplicity of it all. It takes away that valuable time which was spent on thinking  ‘how to set things up’, and in turn frees up time that can be applied onto thinking ‘why things should be setup – how does it assist business processes in the best way’?  In other words: the setup of the system can be done from a more business perspective than ever before.

This does not imply that the setup functionalities are only superficial and not detail oriented (looks can be deceiving). Behind the new and updated look, many options are available to configure implementations for midsized businesses as well as huge global companies.

To conclude, the way Oracle Procurement Cloud is setup is more user friendly and logical than it was ever before. The time it takes to setup the system is significantly decreased, which leaves more time for business process optimization. Quick, simple and convenient ERP is the way to go, and the business is in charge.

Our next blog will be on the impact of hosting ERP in the cloud vs on-premise. What changes in how you are dependent on Oracle?

For more information, please refer to jasper.oskam@capgemini.com or Jeroen.sprangers@capgemini.com

maandag 16 januari 2017

Oracle Procurement Cloud Go-live

The last couple of months I was part of a team that implemented Oracle Procurement Cloud at Capgemini. This was an amazing project and an opportunity to be a part of one of the first Procurement Cloud implementations globally. I would like to share my experiences with you where  I have learned a lot through this exciting work with this latest Cloud technology.

Oracle Procurement Cloud implemented at Capgemini
In December 2016, the Oracle Sourcing and Supplier Portal in the Cloud was implemented within Capgemini.

Sourcing Portal Cloud has been implemented in the  Capgemini Latin America region, which helps the procurement team to facilitate end-to-end negotiation processes with suppliers entirely in the Cloud.

The CPO of Capgemini Latin America was happy with the results:

“When we started using Sourcing in Procurement Cloud it was like plug and play. After only a few training sessions the entire team was able to facilitate the complete sourcing process in the cloud. Setup is easy and the solution has already demonstrated to cut costs for our company.”

For new suppliers seeking to do business with Capgemini North America, the successfully implemented Supplier Cloud Portal helps these suppliers to register completely in the Cloud.

Implementing Cloud ERP requires a very different approach compared to conventional on-premise ERP implementations such as eBusiness Suite. Below are a few examples that we wanted to share:

Shorter implementation timelines
One of the benefits of Cloud is that implementation timelines are shorter, which was really demonstrated through this project. Both Sourcing and Supplier Portals were implemented in a three months time frame. The testing phase was completed in two weeks and we moved to production in one day.

Much smaller implementation team
This project went live with our team of  four people; there was no need for huge teams with 50+ consultants to implement Procurement Cloud.

More agile project approach
We didn’t  need to create major process designs or facilitate long lasting workshops to make a good start. By using the standard functional capabilities of Cloud ERP and a more agile approach we were able to quickly have a system up and running. Hosting was done by Oracle, so it is a matter of setting up the system.

Different consultancy skills required – more business, less IT
A smaller team and shorter timeliness mean that we had to fucntion as more all round consultants. Every team member needed to be business focussed, a tester, an implementer and a change consultant. The focus was less on IT and more on business.

In the upcoming weeks we will continue sharing our experiences, based on the following topics:

If you you need any further information, please contact jeroen.sprangers@capgemini.com or jasper.oskam@capgemini.com

donderdag 22 september 2016

Why implementing Oracle Cloud ERP REALLY is faster

Remember the days when setting up an ERP system was a long and tedious process? I do. Luckily, with Oracle Cloud ERP, it is time to cut the time spend on setup and complex designs in half.

Oracle has been strong in stressing the significant decrease in implementation project timelines and has been emphasizing the ease in which a system can be setup. But of course, seeing is believing.

After I have done the seeing, I can safely say that these statements are not mere hollow outlets of a corporate marketing machine. Below some of the best improvements:
Easy step by step guide for doing setup
Simple solutions are often the best. With the functional setup manager (FSM), all of the necessary -and optional- setup steps needed per business area (procurement, projects, accounts payable, etc.) are shown in an simple overview. Not only makes it sure that you do not skip an important step, it also has all of the required setup gathered into one place. 

No more scavenging through the system to look for that specific setup step that you overlooked somewhere. What a relieve! 
Example of the Functional Setup Manager in Cloud ERP R11

Partial implementation = Partial setup! 
The functional setup manager has another advantage; it makes clear what is required to make a certain process running and what is not. Before it was often unclear what was needed to setup to make a functional process actually work. Via trial and error eventually you would find out, but that is was optimal way of working. To give an example, if you were to use Oracle Cloud Sourcing as a standalone solution in the cloud, there is no need to do any comprehensive finance setup like setting up the accounting structure. Oracle knows that if you only use Oracle Cloud for the negotiation process, there is no need for such setup.

Simplified unit structure

With the flexible, business unit structure on of the most important parts of an ERP system has received a complete overhaul. Of course it still needed to setup the enterprise and legal entities, but the most improvements are made with the concept of business units.

Business units can support not only one, but more business functions and can be setup as shared service center. This means that a specific business unit can serve as a service provider to other business units. Examples are business units that perform requisitioning on behalf of other units or business units that service as a central for invoicing to other units in the company.

This approach can make sure that all business units that are part of the shared service model comply to the same rules and standards. 

             Example of business units

To conclude, next to the fact that Oracle Cloud ERP is now more and more up to par with process flow functionalities of on premise ERP, the way it is structured is much more flexible. This modern approach makes the implementation process much faster.

woensdag 4 mei 2016

Implementing Oracle Cloud ERP: Co-existence or complete new implementation?

Since more and more companies are thinking about Oracle Cloud ERP, it is worth looking into two of the ways for implementing this new ERP suite.
Currently, by far the most companies are using ‘Conventional’ ERP such as E-Business Suite (EBS) or PeopleSoft. More often than not, these running applications are complex and require a careful approach when moving to the cloud.
Below I distinguish two types of cloud ERP implementations: the co-existence approach and the complete new implementation approach.
Co-existence approach
A co-existence (hybrid) approach indicates that the existing ERP system will not move to the cloud in one go, but will move in several phases.
An often heard example is finance VS procurement. The CPO wants to be flexible and adapt to the quickly changing market of procurement (which can be accomplished by moving to the cloud) but the CFO is not yet ready to move. In this case, the company can make the decision to procure via the cloud and stay on premise for a while longer with the finance department.
Of course this method requires integration between cloud and on premise. This can be achieved through multiple existing connectors. Oracle knows that most companies will move towards a co-existence solution at first, and has developed ways to achieve this. 

Full new implementation

Next to a co-existence approach the option exists to do a complete new installation. This means that the complete business will move the cloud in one go.

This inevitably has a big impact on the business and requires more preparation than the co-existence solution. Things to think about are fitting the full business process to the solution, testing, migration and change management. Compared with the co-existence, a full new implementation can also bring more risks and requires to have buy in from the complete business. If the implementation causes issues, there is no basis to fall back on as is the case with the co-existence solution.

The benefits of this approach are that there is a onetime effort and investment involved. After the full implementation the project is complete and no phased approach is needed.

maandag 18 april 2016

Oracle Procurement Cloud: 3 reasons to move towards the cloud

Oracle’s cloud ERP solutions are no longer in the premature stage. Take for example the Oracle procurement Cloud, this solution has come a long way and now fully functions as a procurement solution.
Let us distinguish 3 major reasons why it is good to think about moving towards the Oracle Procurement Cloud: Analytics, Collaboration and Usability.

Real-time reporting and dashboards are becoming more and more important for procurement agents. This not only applies to people working in office, but especially for agents in the field. With real-time reports they are able to make quick decisions based on the latest information.

Analytics has been implemented across procurement in many ways. Embedded procurement dashboards are available that can easily be tweaked an customized to the clients’ wishes. On top of that, you can easily drill down from an overview to the transaction detail. An example is that you can directly open a specific PO to acquire more detailed information on the transaction level when generating an overview of all open purchase orders.
Example of a Procurement Dashboard
One other great feature is that with one dashboard, you can generate an overview that spans across multiple business units (for example certain business divisions in different countries). You are able to generate one simple overview with all necessary information. No longer you need to create all kinds of separate reports that are not easily combined.

Collaboration, both between colleagues and suppliers has taken a big leap over the last few years. With Oracle Procurement Cloud you can now communicate easily through chat with colleagues on specific transactions such as a contract or purchase requisition. All communication history is stored, so that users later can easily back track what has been discussed on a specific transaction.
Converse on a transaction based level
Furthermore, when communicating with suppliers through the supplier portal or through negotiations, similar chat functions are available. No long emails or phone calls are needed anymore. Quick transaction based conversations will make any negotiation or purchase order run more smoothly through the entire process.
Oracle procurement cloud is fully based on the latest technology and provides a simple user interface that is easily scalable to different mobile devices. The complete solution functions in a web browser and no other installations are required.
The interface is scalable to different devices
The user interface in many ways has simplified, ranging from menus that are now easier to maneuver to the ability to deep drill on a transaction level. Gone are the old, and often grey old fashioned windows.

These are just three examples of advantages of Oracle Procurement cloud. For more information, feel free to get in touch!