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 They do not need outdated reports based on data from yesterday; they need the information updated real time and they need it now.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