Tuesday, October 16, 2018

FCCS - Blocks

Those who are coming to FCCS from Essbase or Planning know all about blocks. But for those coming from HFM or Enterprise or MicroControl, blocks are a new concept.

BRIEFLY, blocks are how data is stored in FCCS. A block is a combination of any stored sparse and dense member. Each combination of stored sparse dimensions is a separate block. But all members in a dense dimension is stored in one block. In FCCS, the Account dimension is the only dense dimension, so all accounts are in the block for a given combination of sparse dimensions.

Blocks get automatically created when loading data but not with calculations. You write a perfect calc, deploy, consolidate, and get no result. It looks like the calc either didn't run or didn't work. What actually happened is the calc worked but since there was no block there was no place to store the result.

So, what to do? On the rule insertion points, there is an option to enable automatic block creation.

On the bottom right of the above screenshot, you'll see an option to auto create blocks. Clicking No will change it to Yes with the following warning.

So now when you consolidate, the calc will run as before but now there will be a place to store the data.

There are other ways to create blocks, but this is the simplest (other than loading data).

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

FCCS - Housekeeping Tasks

As more and more customers migrate to or license and implement Oracle FCCS, people are asking what they need to do with regard to housekeeping or care and feeding of the application. There are several tasks that should be done to keep FCCS in good shape. Nothing is hard, some can be automated, and those not currently "automatable" will be. These are listed below in no particular order.

  1. Validate Metadata - within the metadata manager run the process to validate metadata. Issues occur when metadata settings are not correct and the validation process will tell you what is wrong.
  2. Download application snapshots - the application snapshot should be downloaded for backup purposes. This is easy to automate with EPM Automate.
  3. Download and truncate the audit logs. As the audit logs grow, they utilize space. Every now and then (the frequency will vary from customer to customer) these logs should be downloaded and then truncated.
  4. Clear Empty Blocks - run this business rule to remove empty blocks, as they are using space when they're not needed. Running monthly or weekly is about right.
  5. Dense Restructure - this is like defragmenting the application. The statistics will show you whether needed or not. If the value is close to 1, then running is not needed. If something like 0.001024, then definitely needed. Again, checking weekly is about right.
Doing these things should keep FCCS running quickly and smoothly.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

HFM - Planning for the upgrade

Everyone should have heard by now, but just in case you haven't. Oracle is planning for the release of HFM (actually, all of the on premise EPM products) version 11.2 in the spring.

As Oracle has stated this will be the last release of HFM that will require a full software installation (to their knowledge, safe harbor statement applies). Other updates after this will be via patch set updates. To do this installation, you cannot (or should not) just update the software on the existing servers. The software will need installing on a clean server, the database copied over and upgraded, interfaces tested, and then consolidation and data verified. A parallel close would be a prudent step.

To plan for this, think about budgeting for the new servers now. Most companies are in the middle of putting together their annual budget for next year, so now is the perfect time to plan this upgrade. Unless some design changes are incorporated at the same time, no consulting help should be needed unless it is to help with the infrastructure setup. If you are on an older version or you're having to do work-arounds to make things work with your current design/setup, then you should think about taking this opportunity to do an "application remodel."

The other option would be to plan a migration to FCCS, Oracle's cloud based consolidation and close solution. In this case you would be budgeting for an operating expense, not a capital expense, and not having to budget for the annual maintenance on the on-premise software. Migrating to FCCS will go much easier with some consulting help, but with the recently released HFM to FCCS migration tool, it goes more smoothly than before.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How to Travel

This summer I did something that I've thought about for a while. I wrote a (Amazon) Kindle book on traveling for business. But not about the best restaurants or hotels or best ways to maximize frequent flyer points, but more about the logistics of business travel. How to make life work and efficient and sane when you're away from home every week. That includes not only managing your life while you're getting through airports and hotels but how to get things done at home too. 

In this book I share many of my experiences along with others I've worked with. Nothing like this was available when I started traveling for work, so hopefully it helps others that are starting out.

Here's the link to the book on Amazon. Note that you don't need a Kindle to read it, as they have mobile and tablet apps or it can be read online.

Monday, July 30, 2018

HFM - Metadata Diagnostics

Metadata is the backbone of HFM. Without it, no data gets loaded and nothing gets reported. And the properties of the metadata have to be perfect. If they're not, then either data doesn't load, or (worse), it loads but the reporting is wrong. In this book available on Amazon, I show how to write the code to HFM diagnose the properties and then email or output a file with the results. I've used the results myself over the years and this technique has saved me from huge mistakes.

Here's the link - it's also available on the right hand panel with my other books.


Note you do not have to own a Kindle to read this. Amazon has free apps for any device for reading Kindle books.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

FCCS - Calculations, FIX, and Restricted Dimensions

As FCCS now has configurable calculations, many people with HFM backgrounds, like myself, are learning Essbase calc script; the language used for these calculations. I haven't written an Essbase calc script before this month since 2002, so it's been a while. I'm not going to go through all of the details in one blog post (veteran Essbase consultants describe writing calc script as an art not a science) but I do want to point out one parallel for those with HFM backgrounds.

In HFM there are five dimensions that cannot be on the left side of a HS.Exp function, which is used to calculate almost everything. These dimensions are scenario, year, period, entity, and value. So we use If/Then statements to control when rules run for these dimensions.

In FCCS, one of the main functions in Essbase calc script is FIX/ENDFIX. FIX basically limits the members of dimensions to those members on which a calculation should run. The online help (link provided below) uses an example of fixing on a product and then doing a units sold calculation for that product.

There are five dimensions that cannot be used in FIX statements, however. These are scenario, year, period, view, and entity. Note that four of these are exactly the same as HFM. When a user starts a FCCS consolidation, they are using these dimensions as parameters for the consolidation and so the software is automatically fixing on these dimensions. And when you get past the FIX statement and into the actual calculation, these same five dimensions cannot be on the left hand side of the calculation, just like HS.Exp. So, just like you would do in HFM, us a IF/ENDIF to control when calculations run for these dimensions.

Here is the link to the FCCS help to learn more.

Have fun!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

FCCS - Autonomous Consolidations

One of the newer additions to FCCS is autonomous consolidations. The typical user pattern since MicroControl days has been to input data and then run a consolidation. With this feature, the second part of that just happens. So, here's how to turn it on.

From the Navigator (hamburger) menu icon select Consolidation under the Application heading. From the vertical tabs on the left, click the second one for Autonomous Consolidation.

Above is the resulting screen. Use the POV to select the year, period, and scenario and then on the right click Turn On. When doing so, the following prompt will appear.

Click Confirm. Now the process is running, based on data input.

What to do for the next period? Come back to the screen and change the POV to the next period. After clicking Go, this prompt appears.

It would not surprise me if incrementing the period shows up as a close task or an EPM automate command in the future.