How and Why to Enable Self-Service Operational Reporting for Oracle ERP Cloud

insightsoftware -
April 9, 2021

insightsoftware is the global provider of enterprise software solutions for the Office of the CFO to connect to & make sense of data in real time, driving financial intelligence across […]

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Oracle ERP Cloud provides a rich suite of business applications that includes financials, supply chain management, project management, human resources, marketing automation, and more. Although Oracle ERP Cloud provides very robust functionality, for the users in your organization who need to design, run, and distribute operational reports, the ERP’s complexity presents some significant challenges.

Of course, Oracle provides native reporting and analytics tools in Oracle ERP Cloud, but in many cases, those tools do not address the specific needs of finance teams. As is the case with many ERPs, Oracle’s offering is not purpose-built for financial and operational reporting.

Why Finance Teams Need the Right Tool

Why do finance teams need a purpose-built tool? There are a number of reasons.

The Need for Speed is Real

Consider just one task that falls to finance teams regularly: the month close. Discussing data from an APQC General Accounting Open Standards Benchmarking survey of 2,300 organizations, CFO.com notes the average time it takes finance teams to complete the month-close process is 6.4 calendar days, with the top 25 percent of reporting being able to close in just 4.8 days and the bottom 25 percent admitting it takes 10 or more days to complete the task.

Every day spent on month-close activities is another day that finance teams are not spending on value-added activities such as planning and forecasting, decision support with the CEO, and improving financial and operational reporting in other key strategic areas. Speeding up financial and operational reporting brings significant benefits to the organization as a whole.

Agility Confers Competitive Advantage

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, it is essential for finance teams to develop the agility to respond quickly to change. Self-service reporting capability using near-real-time data is quickly becoming, not just a nice-to-have, but a business necessity for organizations looking to maintain a competitive advantage.

Finance teams no longer have the luxury of time to manually copy and paste data from multiple systems into Excel spreadsheets for analysis. Using this manual reporting process prohibits finance teams from turning around information quickly enough to stay abreast of what is happening in the business, resulting in missed revenue opportunities and poor decision-making organization-wide

The “Need to Know” is Pressing

Self-service reporting empowers the Office of Finance to proactively unearth the insights it needs from available data without the intervention of other departments. Think of the typical custom-report building cycle in an organization that does not have self-service capabilities: Finance teams talk to IT, laying out the requirements for a customized report; IT builds the report when possible, which may or may not happen on a schedule that is convenient for finance.

Then what happens? In many cases, the resulting report has two glaring deficiencies from the start. First, it is outdated before it hits the inbox of the finance team member who requested it initially. Second, assuming the data are still somewhat useful, the data often lead to additional, unanticipated questions that must be answered by producing yet another report. The cycle continues, with each iteration becoming less and less relevant as time goes on.

Self-service reporting eliminates the middleman, enabling finance teams to build their own reports on the fly, without needing technical knowledge of Oracle ERP Cloud’s database schema, and shortening the discovery cycle in the process.

A purpose-built financial and operational reporting tool enables speed and agility and empowers finance and accounting teams to build their own customized reports as needed.

Writing A Paper

A Closer Look at Oracle Reporting Tools

In the case of finance teams using Oracle ERP Cloud, the existing reporting tools require a measure of technical expertise to use, especially when you need to modify operational reports or create them from scratch. In many organizations, that means that finance teams must rely on IT to build reports, which precludes the possibility of self-service reporting and hampers the finance team’s agility.

To illustrate the challenges finance teams face when using Oracle ERP Cloud’s current reporting tools, consider just two examples: Smart View and OTBI (BI Publisher).

Smart View

Smart View reports provide a simple way of accessing Oracle ERP Cloud data using Microsoft Excel. Smart View allows for multidimensional “pivot table” analysis and a simple refresh process to view data from different accounting periods, for example. Smart View enables users to interactively analyze balances and define reports using a familiar spreadsheet environment.

Smart View is for general ledger reporting only, so you cannot run operational reports that straddle other modules, for example, to report across your procure-to-pay or order-to-cash processes.

The tool also requires a fairly detailed understanding of Oracle’s underlying data structures. For many users in an organization, this limitation may make it difficult to get the results they need. The fact that it is based on pivot tables also limits presentation flexibility, which can be a source of frustration for finance teams looking to create a custom report layout.

Smart View also lacks complete drill-down capabilities. You are restricted to the data in the GL Balances cube. You cannot drill to subledger detail, making it difficult for finance teams to reconcile accounts, investigate variance, and create adjusting entries at month-end. Without the level of interactivity and presentation flexibility that financial reporting requires, Smart View leaves finance and accounting professionals looking for workarounds to get their jobs done efficiently.

OTBI (BI Publisher)

Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI) supports financial and operational reporting because it enables users to build analyses and reports from transactional tables in General Ledger, Payables, Receivables, Cash Management, Intercompany, and more. Although OTBI has many wonderful features, for finance teams, it has two major limitations.

First, OTBI does not provide a direct link to Microsoft Excel. Virtually everyone in the organization appreciates Excel for its power and flexibility. Unfortunately, you have to import OTBI reports into Excel before a user can manipulate and format the information within a spreadsheet environment. To run the same report again, you must execute it in OTBI, re-import it into Excel, and then add any additional formatting or formulas in again. That can add up to a lot of work, and it’s prone to introduce errors.

The second problem is that OTBI requires a substantial level of IT expertise. This tool does not make it possible to design new reports from scratch without help from an expert. Because OTBI is not built for self-service reporting, finance teams are unable to get the data they need in the format they need exactly when they need it, so they resort to manually dumping data into spreadsheets to manipulate them. This limitation is a serious one.

Powerful Self-Service Reporting in Near Real Time

Oracle ERP Cloud users can access powerful self-service reporting in near real time by choosing the right financial and operational reporting software. insightsoftware’s Excel-based reporting solution gives users flexible, powerful financial reporting that works across modules with Oracle ERP Cloud. It provides near-real-time information and offers all the reporting capabilities finance teams need in one, easy-to-use tool. With drill down to subledger transactions, finance teams get the flexible analysis capabilities they need. While its familiar, Excel-based interface helps even non-technical users build and modify their own reports and dashboards with no need to ask for IT help.

To learn more about insightsoftware’s solution for operational reporting with Oracle ERP Cloud, download The Complete Guide to Reporting and Analytics in Oracle ERP Cloud today.

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