Operational Transfer Pricing in Oracle EPM: The OTP Journey Ends - Integrating Our OTP Solution

Published December 8 2020
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It’s time to call an end to our epic journey of solutioning Operational Transfer Pricing (OTP) in Oracle EPM Cloud. Up to this point, we have discussed, in detail, the specifics of our OTP solution but, have focused on what many would consider the “functional” side of our solution, in other words, the parts of our OTP solution that are visible to the end-users.

In this blog, we are going to discuss what I affectionately refer to as the “plumbing” of our solution. I refer to these elements as the “plumbing” as they are the parts of our solution that most end-users would not be exposed to but, will become instantly noticeable if they are not configured correctly and/or stop working.

If we look back to our first OTP blog, we identified three major components that we leverage for integration purposes. Each of these deserves a dedicated blog but, because there is so much content out there on each, I will keep from diving into any technical details and instead link to any relevant blogs where additional details can be found.

  • Metadata Management
    • In this blog, Metadata Management will refer to the management of Dimensions, hierarchies, and members in our solution.
  • Data Integration 
    • Data integration refers to the development, deployment, and management of data-centric activities in our solution. In the simplest terms, how we move data to and from different applications such as the ERP, EPM Planning, and PCMCS, in our solution.
  • Automation 
    • Automation helps us to string together tedious and, sometimes, difficult activities in our solution. It can cover the automating of activities throughout our OTP process from the deployment of Metadata, import and exporting of data, execution of calculations, and even distributed reporting.

Metadata Management

The management of dimensions, hierarchies, and members in any Enterprise Performance Management application is critical, but it is especially important for several reasons within our OTP solution. For our OTP solutions, we are strong advocates of centralized metadata management for several important reasons:

  1. Consistency
    • OTP solutions are not isolated and required integration to multiple sources and target applications. OTP applications will source data from the ERP as well as various data warehouses and even planning applications. Creating consistent hierarchies, members, and naming conventions throughout the different applications is critical to ensure a consistent experience that can be easily integrated.
  2. Maintenance
    • As we leverage dimensions and hierarchies that are shared between multiple applications, it becomes important to have a central metadata management tool. No one wants to manage dimensions and hierarchies in multiple applications.
  3. Governance
    • Having a centralized Metadata Management tool facilitates data governance and provides the ability to review and approve changes and updates. This ensures that updates and changes to dimensions, hierarchies, and members are applied consistently, meaningfully, and will not negatively affect any application where they are leveraged.
  4. Enhancement and Simplification
    • Utilizing centralized metadata management allows for enhancement to be introduced into the dimensions and hierarchies that can be leveraged in our OTP solution. A great example is the introduction of attribute associations against base dimensions that can be leveraged in our OTP solution to be utilized in both rule development and reporting.
    • These metadata enhancements lead to more effective reporting but also help us to simplify our rules by applying attribute filters.
    • Additionally, we can facilitate the creation of data maps that simplify our data integration.

     

    Alithya strongly recommends utilizing Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service (EDMCS) for centralized metadata management and data governance. My colleague, Kevin Black, has an incredible amount of content that he has released on EDMCS, and I would strongly suggest browsing through his various blog posts for more information.

Data Integration:

Similar to Metadata Management, having control and visibility over transfers of data between our OTP solution’s application is a critical element in providing an efficient OTP solution. No one wants to spend hours sourcing, loading, reconciling, and auditing data movements in our OTP solution, but these are essential activities.

As the below image illustrates, we have multiple ways to load and extract data in our Oracle EPM Cloud solution, but only Cloud Data Management (CDM), utilized in combination with Oracle EPM Integration Agent, provides users the functionality, ease of use, mapping, auditing, and reporting capabilities we require within our solution.  

Utilizing CDM and Oracle EPM Integration Agent provides critical benefits to our solution:

  1. Data Integrity
    • By far, the most critical benefit provided through CDM is ensuring data integrity in our solution. Especially in PCM, we want to ensure that data is not manipulated and that we ensure that the data sourced from the various data sources is consistently applied throughout our allocation and calculations.
  2. Mapping Capabilities:
    • Being able to map data between different applications is crucial in OTP solutions due to a large number of sources but also facilitates the creation of the post-OTP Journals for feeding back into the Ledger.
  3. Data Load and Export Auditing and Reporting
    • We need to ensure that we don’t have unauthorized personal uploading and/or changing data within our solution. Through the auditing capabilities in CDM, this can be ensured.
    • Similarly, there is often a need to track who and what data has been loaded in our application. This ensures we don’t prematurely execute our OTP process before the required data has been loaded.
  4. Distributed Data Load
  • CDM can assist with distributed data loads enabling individuals from multiple locations to load data. When combined with the reporting and scheduling capabilities, this helps to ensure the required data is loaded to the solution.

Automation

When we say “automation,” most technical users tend to immediately lose focus in the discussion. However, automation is an element of our solution that can make users' life significantly easier and ensure timely execution of the solution’s activity.

For our OTP solution, we have two avenues when developing automation:

  • REST API
    • Through the REST API, we can issue commands that allow us to interact with the Oracle EPM suite. These commands need to be called through an appropriate programming language and are more suited for clients who want more advanced automation capabilities that fit into a very strict and rigid environment.
  • EPM Automate
    • EPM Automate provides a simple command-line interface for issuing commands to the Oracle EPM suite.
    • EPM Automate needs to be installed on a client machine and can be utilized in combination with common scripting languages utilized for automation such as Powershell, bash, and batch.

Within our OTP solution we typically automate the following activities:


  1. Archiving Back-Ups
    • Oracle EPM applications automatically execute a new snapshot each day. However, the snapshot is overwritten and should be downloaded on a regular cadence to ensure a catastrophic event can be recovered from.
    • The downloading and archiving of snapshots should be automated.
  2. Metadata Automation
    • The updating of metadata can be automated to ensure a simplified process for updating multiple dimensions and hierarchies from EDMCS and other sources.
  3. Data Importing and Exporting
    • It is common to schedule and even automate the importing and exporting of data to and from OTP solutions. By automating data loading and exporting, we can enable users to follow a simplified process for a potentially complicated task.
  4. Calculation Automation
  • Although PCMCS has made it incredibly easy to kick off multi-period calculations, some clients want to automate the calculation process for multi-POV calculations such as multi-year forecasts or for clients who have long-running calculations that should be executed in off-hours.

Conclusion

So here we are at the end of our OTP solution journey. In this blog series, we shared why companies need Operational Transfer Pricing implementations, how we can implement OTP solutions in the Oracle EPM Cloud architecture, and how each of the key underlying elements interact with the overall solution.

There is a lot of topics that we didn’t go very deep into the details on, some of those topics such as, Dashboard Reporting and Journal creation, which will be the topic of future, less solution-specific, blogs but I hope you enjoyed reading our OTP solution blogs. If there is any additional information that we can provide, please reach out to us!

 

 For comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics, please reach out to us at infosolutions@alithya.com.  Visit our blog regularly for new posts about Cloud updates and other Oracle Cloud Services such as Planning and Budgeting, Financial Consolidation, Account Reconciliation, and Enterprise Data Management.  Follow Alithya on social media for the latest information about EPM, ERP, and Analytics solutions to meet your business needs.