Operational reporting is essential for helping finance to identify inefficiencies and for ensuring that business processes run smoothly in any organization. Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) is a robust ERP system for managing and operating an enterprise, but Oracle’s reporting capabilities are built around a collection of disjointed offerings that lack flexibility and require highly specialized expertise.
Without accurate, up-to-the-minute operational reports, managers are flying blind. Good reporting practices start with getting the basics in place – such as cash flow analysis, A/R collections, and inventory turns. Managers have their own unique needs, so flexibility is important. ERP systems, including Oracle EBS, sometimes make the process of producing operational reports much harder than it needs to be.
The Quest for Automation
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, automation has taken center stage, as businesses are seeking to achieve greater efficiencies. According to the recent Accenture report From Bottom Line to Front Line, executives are seeking to automate and enhance overall processes as well as dashboards and analytics. Eighty percent of CIOs expect reporting to become more automated, allowing more time for analysis, and 77% are leading efforts to improve efficiency through technology.
On the other side of the coin, business leaders have expressed concerns that existing systems simply don’t measure up. A majority (76%) decried the lack of “one version of the truth” in their organizations, and over half say they worry that finance is reactive or that data and information processes are not sufficiently streamlined.
For organizations running Oracle EBS that want to be more efficient, reporting is the proverbial “low-hanging fruit”.
Oracle EBS and Excel
Despite having a very robust back-end ERP system, the finance and accounting teams of most Oracle customers rely on Excel for most front-line data analysis tasks. Unfortunately, the process of extracting data from Oracle EBS and formatting it in Excel can be very cumbersome.
Often, finance teams use Concurrent Requests to generate an initial report. If they’re lucky, a BI Publisher template—which can be exported as a CSV—already exists for the report; otherwise, the user must deal with a text file. Then, they export the data to Excel where it can be manipulated and reformatted before distributing reports to stakeholders.
Unfortunately, the data structure of subledgers in Oracle EBS makes this process especially difficult. Each module has a different structure, tables, and metrics. This requires users to take multiple manual steps to get the information they need, load it into a more flexible tool (such as Excel), and summarize and reformat it to meet their needs.
Such processes almost inevitably introduce errors and inaccuracies into the reporting process. A simple copy/paste error can result in reports that reflect highly inaccurate information, which can, in turn, result in bad decisions.
Moreover, the process of copying and pasting data is slow and tedious. As a practical matter, the resulting reports are unlikely to be updated as often as they should be. Reports created in this way simply cannot be refreshed with live data. They are populated with stale information.
Two Questions Every C-Level Executive Should Ask
If you are among the 80% of CIOs seeking to automate reporting, there are two very important questions to consider:
- Do I have the right reporting tool to meet my organization’s needs?
- Do I have the right reports and dashboards to meet my organization’s needs?
The right reporting tool should be capable of accessing all of the data in Oracle EBS in real time, in the right format. It should be flexible enough to accommodate any customizations your organization has implemented, including support for your key flexfields, descriptive flexfields, and integrations with external applications.
It should allow you to add new data sources and create ad hoc requests, rather than forcing users to cope with information silos.
For Oracle EBS, the right reporting tool should include prebuilt content for payables, fixed assets, cash management, inventory, manufacturing, projects, and other modules, allowing you to get up and running fast and reducing the overall risk to your investment.
The right reporting tool should give you the ability to refresh report data with a live query of Oracle EBS using a single click.
With insightsoftware, users get all of these capabilities. They can avoid the common practice of running a report in one tool only to export it to Excel where they have more flexibility. With insightsoftware, users can complete all of their work in Excel, without copying and pasting from other applications.
insightsoftware products provide enhanced filtering options, drag and drop column additions, and other advanced features not available in Oracle EBS’ native reporting tools.
Just as importantly, insightsoftware empowers finance users to build and run complex reports without specialized expertise from IT or outside consultants. Users can do everything in Excel using real-time data from Oracle EBS. It allows finance to automate the distribution of reports to various stakeholders, while ensuring that access to that information is restricted to those who have a need to see it.
The Right Reports and Dashboards
As organizations strive for greater agility, business leaders need access to real-time reports and dashboards customized to fit their unique business needs. C-level executives want to focus on the KPIs that help them to see the story behind their EBS data.
By working with stakeholders to clearly define goals, finance leaders can design powerful dashboards that convey the facts in a way that’s easy for non-finance users to understand and digest.
Because insightsoftware makes it easy for end-users to modify reports and dashboards, finance leaders can revisit reporting and dashboards frequently to ensure that the most important information is available to stakeholders whenever (and however) they need it.
ERP users have struggled with analytics for years. Fortunately, there are alternatives available that bring together Excel’s flexibility and ease of use with the sophisticated requirements of large organizations.
If you are among the 80% seeking to automate and streamline your enterprise reporting, we would love to hear from you.
To learn more about how insightsoftware can enable agile, efficient, accurate, real-time EBS reporting in your organization, download the whitepaper “Oracle EBS Reporting Options: Finding the Right Solution for Finance.”