EPBCS: A product that lives up to a developer's expectations
Every vendor touts the benefits and ease of use of their product. In reality, though, many are challenging to implement correctly. This is certainly not the case with Oracle's Enterprise Planning and Budgeting in the Cloud (EPBCS), says Elize Holl, senior planning and budgeting consultant at Futuresense, who found the solution surprisingly easy to use. She talks to us about her experience.
Q: What are the benefits of EPBCS?
Holl: EPBCS offers out-of-the-box frameworks that are simple to use and to customise to a client's needs. These include Financials, Workforce (Payroll), Capex and Projects.
The pre-built dashboards and reports are a real time-saver, leaving more time to work with the logic rather than the layout, which can still be accessed via smartphone or tablet for the on-the-spot queries. This enables the client to make the right decision for their business.
Auditing is a click away, and can be exported to Excel for further investigation on which user did what, where and when, and also allows data changes to be traced. An activity log is generated every day, with detail that goes down to which users use a specific browser, how long they were using the system, the functions that were performed, and so on.
EPBCS performs a daily backup of the system, which can be downloaded and stored for later use if required. Data imports can be enabled to extract data automatically, and EPBCS is accessible through Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint) with the SmartView add-in for end-users. The multi-currency and rolling forecast features are available through just a single click.
Overall EPBCS has all of the features and capabilities of PBCS and Hyperion Planning, but it has so much more, including systems and product updates.
Q: What do the built-in frameworks include?
Holl: Financials contains pre-built revenue, expenses, income statement and balance sheet structures. Workforce includes pre-built drivers and calculations. All a company needs to do is add the employees. Capex also contains pre-built drivers and calculations. Users can add all of the details required with a 'right click'. Projects is much the same, using pre-built drivers and calculations to allow project details to be added with just a single click. It really is that simple!
These out-of-the-box solutions have already been set up to share consolidated data from the Workforce, Capex and Projects modules to the main financial cube. All we need to do is import the clients' metadata and run the pre-built calculations - a developer's dream! There are also three custom cubes that can be used for advanced in-depth calculations, if required.
Q: Are there any challenges or limitations to the product?
Holl: Security is a concern for many organisations, but this is to be expected as data confidentiality is key. As far as limitations go, we are reduced to creating a maximum of 650 stored accounts before performance is affected. This is because we can't change the dense and sparse dimension settings on the pre-built modules.
Some clients require more customisation than the pre-built modules cater for. For example, a detailed travel module or a detailed expense module aren't standard. However, these can be created in the available custom BSO cubes and pushed to a single line in the pre-built modules. This means customers can get everything they need, but it will require a bit more development time, as a custom solution needs to be built.
Once a module has been configured, it cannot be removed or unselected. Custom dimensions can only be added in configuration and not after the fact, so restarting or reselecting a configuration requires the application to be recreated. The only drawback to this is that it will take a little more time, which I believe is a good trade-off for a highly customised solution.
Q: Overall, what was your impression of the solution?
Holl: The EPBCS interface is something I have noticed that catches the client's attention, especially the pre-built navigation flows as we configure a module. I have developed and implemented many onsite and cloud products, and I found EPBCS surprisingly easy to use. I must admit I was sceptical about this product in the beginning, but after using and developing on EPBCS, I was impressed. Oracle really hit a massive six with this product!