We just completed a major Oracle E-Business Suite implementation and now my company needs a reporting solution. Where do I begin?

QUESTION: We just completed a major Oracle E-Business Suite implementation and now my company needs a reporting solution. Where do I begin?

ANSWER: It sounds like you’ve already determined the “out of the box reports” that come with Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) won’t meet your needs. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Most customers reach that conclusion.

Gaining access to your data can be a challenge. Similarly, creating meaningful reports that match the unique way you manage your business can be tough. One of the reasons it is so difficult is that it takes a combination of technical skill and functional knowledge to decipher the maze of tables in EBS. That combination of skills is uncommon. In addition, successful reporting requires planning and many companies like yours tend to leave this step until the end of their EBS implementation.

Best Practices for Reporting
For your BI initiatives to succeed, you need to meet the on-going daily needs of your users. Delaying the reporting discussion until the end of your implementation can put you in the hot seat with end users clamoring for departmental reports and with management expecting immediate ROI from Oracle.

1. Address operational reporting first.
What does that mean? Think of the “reporting needs” for your organization as spanning a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum lies operational reporting: real time access to detailed data from your transaction system. Deliver operational reporting to your end users and you’ve overcome a major hurdle.

2. Focus on strategic reporting second.
At the other end of the spectrum is strategic reporting. Typically, you need a data warehouse that has aggregated data and historical trending to provide the data for complex strategic analysis. You’ll probably find yourself pondering the “buy versus build” dilemma. Custom projects are expensive and can be extremely time consuming. It may be best instead to consider a packaged solution to address these requirements.

Most organizations find that they require solutions which span the entire reporting spectrum. Some organizations can manage indefinitely with just operational reporting—access to real-time data providing insight and the decision-making ability needed to run the business. For larger (and more complex) organizations, new requirements that involve a data warehouse will eventually arise.

Get a Quick Win
The best advice is to start by working with your users to determine their immediate reporting needs. Focus on delivering an early success, addressing key requirements in the shortest amount of time. Ideally, do that in a way that lets users manage their reporting needs on their own, without IT involvement. After addressing those initial operational issues, you will be able to focus on long-term requirements, which will probably lead you down the path of implementing a data warehouse.

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