Think of Oracle EPBCS as Excel's "EPM Edition"

Posted by Steve Berry

Jun 27, 2018 10:45:42 AM

Oracle EPBCS Is The EPM Edition to Excel

Just as Microsoft Office comes in different editions — Standard, Professional, etc. — to suit different users, here’s why an “Excel EPM Edition” would look a lot like Oracle EPBCS.

Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (Oracle PBCS) is an application within Oracle’s market-leading Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) cloud suite that enables organizations of any size to quickly adopt world-class planning and budgeting. Adoption is fast because there is no CAPEX infrastructure investment and because the learning curve and implementation timeframe are short. The learning curve is short because working in Oracle EPBCS is like working in Excel but with additional capabilities that many Excel enterprise planning and budgeting users probably wish Excel had. They can do everything Excel can do in either an Excel-based environment or a web-based Excel-like environment — modeling, planning, analysis, etc. But they can also leverage built-in capabilities that go beyond Excel, such as advanced financial intelligence and spreading logic, driver-based what/if modeling, and support for collaboration within and among business units, departments, and finance teams.

It is these additional capabilities, combined with how they are presented to users as natural extensions to the Excel application itself, that make Oracle PBCS (and Oracle EPBCS) feel like an Excel “EPM Edition.” And just as some users will have good reasons to choose between, say, a “Home and Student” edition of Microsoft Office versus a “Professional” edition — most enterprise planning and budgeting users will have good reason to choose Oracle PBCS over Excel.

Enhanced and Continuous Collaboration

Perhaps the best reason is to support continuous collaboration. In most organizations budgeting and planning is accomplished by exchanging multiple spreadsheets between users — a condition that has been called “Excel hell.” That’s when different versions of different spreadsheets are moving around the organization, typically via email. The spreadsheets are said to be “disconnected” because no one knows which versions are valid or the latest versions because updates to cells on one spreadsheet do not get reflected in corresponding cells or dependent cells of other spreadsheets, and because users inadvertently break formula links between cells. There is also no support for defined workflows or user roles, so the way spreadsheets are updated can be very haphazard.

Oracle PBCS, on the other hand, does support defined workflows and user roles so managers can easily tailor and optimize how information is handled and presented. And because Oracle PBCS is web-based there is no reason to move different spreadsheets around via email and also no confusion about whether what you’re seeing is the latest version. Plans and reports are also easily accessible via desktop web browsers or mobile devices.

An agile EPM approach reduces risk, gets to value faster, creates less waste, promotes continuous collaboration, and is more likely to make your stakeholders happy. So why build your EPM system any other way?

And, finally, Oracle EPBCS provides inline commentary and annotation capabilities so users can explain updates, ask questions, and carry on discussions with colleagues, with this commentary captured for purposes of historical reference and context.

A Closed Loop

Collaboration is also enhanced through integration with Microsoft Office and Oracle Cloud ERP solutions — so, for example, users can create richly formatted customized reports in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and automatically refresh them when the underlying data changes. They can also create data grids using Microsoft Excel functionality like Excel formulas and formats. Common planning actions, such as spreading and allocation, are available within planning data grids rendered within Microsoft Excel.

Out-of-the-box integration with Oracle ERP Cloud Service enforces closed-loop processes for planning, budgeting, transacting, and measuring results. “Closed loop” means, for example, that reports and dashboards created in Oracle EPBCS can immediately reflect operational data. In addition, the service also provides open REST-based web interfaces that can be used to customize connections with any third party source or target system.

Power Planning and Budgeting Features

Excel users would also like capabilities more specifically tailored to enterprise planning and budgeting, including:

  • Multi-currency translations and time series spreading based on calendar definition
  • A powerful calculation engine that can express a range of business logic with fast in-memory aggregation and instant analysis and reporting
  • Support for bottom-up or top-down planning using driver-based or conventional methods
  • Sophisticated modeling and predictive analytical capabilities that allow users to slice and dice data based on various what/if assumptions
  • A rolling forecast wizard that makes it simple to implement a driver-based rolling forecast in which the forecasting time horizon rolls forward as years pass
  • Robust dashboard and report creation that enable complete planning, analysis, and reporting all within the same scalable solution
  • Built-in diagnostics and governors that assist with monitoring and troubleshooting

A Bridge to Enterprise Performance Management (EPM)

But what really makes Oracle EPBCS a preferred choice over Excel is that, by implementing Oracle EPBCS, organizations are already well on their way to implementing a full-blown EPM artictecture — so that much of the functionality, workflows, and processes will already be in place when that time comes. It thus greatly accelerates today’s workflows and processes as well as adoption of tomorrow’s EPM applications.

Is your business strategy aligned with your technology? Too often, the answer to this question is, “We don’t know.” Technology decisions are often made with little understanding of how, if at all, an investment in your finance ecosystem will drive the business forward. We work closely with our clients to converge business strategy with technology. Some of our clients are hesitant to abandon legacy systems but our team of finance-forward consultants help them see the value of EPM solutions, including Oracle EPBCS

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Topics: Budgeting and Forecasting, Oracle PBCS, Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Oracle Products