Welcome to the first post in the EPRCS blog series! Although Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud (EPRCS) is not the new Cloud kid on the block, there still seems to be much confusion about what this product is and how it fits into the EPM/BI reporting spectrum. I thought I’d start this blog series by sharing a FAQ that I recently created, MythBusters style, to address some of the most common questions I’ve received.
In addition, earlier this year I wrote a blog post to explain the new EPM reporting landscape, which touches on the roadmap of the current Oracle EPM reporting technologies. You might want to check it out.
What is EPRCS (Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud)?
Myth #1: EPRCS is Financial Reporting (FR) on the web.
Fact: Nope, it’s a completely standalone Cloud product. It’s a living, breathing, reporting machine. And it is Oracle’s strategic direction. There is no sister on-prem product. The base EPRCS solution currently costs (full retail price) $120/user/month, minimum 10 users. Frankly, it’s a cheap reporting tool on steroids.
Myth #2: EPRCS only does narrative reporting.
Fact: Nope. EPRCS did start gaining market share by offering a narrative reporting solution. However, there are actually 4 distinct tools within EPRCS (at the time that this post was written in October 2017):
- Narrative reporting. This is a process and feature rich component of EPRCS that allows users to mix narrative context with data using Smart View.
- Custom applications. One per EPRCS instance is allowed, with up to 5 models each. You can think of these as super lite versions of rack and stack Essbase. (No fancy Essbase features – no calc scripts, member formulas, etc. at this point in time.)
- Management Reporting (“MR”). This is an FR competitor (but to be clear, not FR). EPRCS is built on a different, more flexible, more forward-looking platform. Oracle hopes to have full parity between MR and FR very soon. In this month’s EPM Cloud update, Oracle released a migration tool to migrate FR reports to EPRCS MR.
- Disclosure Management (“DM” or “DiscMan”). This is very similar to the on-prem product. DM requires an additional license.
Here’s a diagram on EPRCS’ 4 tools to help you out:
Wait, what? When did EPRCS expand beyond Narrative Reporting?
So the first rule of fight club is…whoops…the first rule of EPM Cloud is…EPM Cloud is always changing. EPRCS has always supported narrative reporting and custom applications. Oracle added in MR last winter. They added in DM this past summer. Cloud = change. Oracle has the ability to add in new features every month if they want to. They will continue to add new features into each of the EPM (and now BI) Cloud technologies so that customers stay on the leading edge.
Some references to help you keep up with Oracle EPM and BI product changes in general:
You can find the latest EPM Cloud monthly update documentation here (note that all of the product docs are here – switch the technology you’re looking at in the left pane): https://cloud.oracle.com/en_US/saas/readiness?offering=enterprise-performance-rptg
You can find the latest Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) patch update documentation here: http://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/paas/analytics-cloud/acswn/index.html
I still don’t get it.
There is some confusion about what EPRCS is and how it fits into the current Oracle EPM/BI Swiss army knife of reporting tools. Read the post mentioned at the beginning. My impression is that it comes down to this…those of us long-timers in EPM understand 2 basic types of reporting: ad hoc and static. Therefore, let me break this down – some of this functionality wasn’t previously conceived of in the EPM world.
What EPRCS is good at:
- Narrative reporting (via Narrative Reporting)
- Creating static, highly formatted reports (via Narrative Reporting and MR)
- Collaboration, workflow, and status tracking (“herding cats” via Narrative Reporting)
- Statutory reporting with XBRL support (via DM)
- Integration with any data source that can integrate with Office (via Narrative Reporting)
- Integration with Oracle EPM & BI cloud solutions (via both Narrative Reporting and MR)
What EPRCS is not good at:
- Ad hoc reporting
- Rich and interactive data visualizations
- Rich and interactive dashboards
- Guided data explorations
What sources does EPRCS support?
Myth: EPRCS only supports Cloud. Or, EPRCS only supports on-prem. Or, I don’t know what EPRCS supports, but it’s not Oracle EPM or BI.
Fact: EPRCS supports all of the above in some capacity. (Yes, some of this is new news. Keep reading.) Note that EPRCS has always supported EPM Cloud. Then when OAC came out, EPRCS supported that, too. Aside: it’s important to note here that OAC does not support FR.
However, it’s important to be specific, as each tool within EPRCS has a primary purpose and they don’t all support the same data sources.
Narrative Reporting supports pretty much everything – if you can get it into Excel, Narrative Reporting supports it. I haven’t worked with DM in detail yet, but I believe it follows the same philosophy.
MR supports pretty much all of EPM Cloud, ERP Cloud, and some on-prem Hyperion, but don’t get too excited – on-prem Hyperion support is in a super limited capacity right now. With the right configuration, MR supports on-prem Essbase today (although I haven’t tried to configure this myself yet). I.T. will have to open a port on the Essbase side to allow this to happen. There has been some discussion that MR may support additional on-prem Hyperion products in the future, but there are a lot of competing priorities so don’t hold Oracle to that.
Here’s an updated diagram (courtesy of Oracle) to help your understanding of which Oracle Cloud data sources MR supports:
How difficult is EPRCS to learn?
Myth: Um, 4 reporting tools in one? That sounds really complicated and consulting is too expensive for us.
Fact: EPRCS is a simple tool for the most part. Most people will use narrative reporting, which mostly requires Smart View knowledge. MR is very similar to FR. DM is more complex, but there is good online documentation out there and the Product Management guys and EPRCS Oracle Support are super helpful.
Don’t believe me? When I wrote the first version of the Look Smarter Than You Are EPRCS book, it took only 11 days to write it. The tool has progressed quite a bit since then, but I have no doubt that it can be picked up easily. When I present webcasts on EPRCS I constantly harp on the fact that it does not require consulting. You can learn it on your own.
How do I know if EPRCS is a good fit for me?
Myth: I want something like FR so EPRCS isn’t going to work for me. Or, I don’t need narrative reporting so EPRCS isn’t going to work for me.
Fact: This is going to sound totally salesy, but the truth is that EPRCS is a good fit for every EPM and BI Cloud customer. Do you want formal reports like FR? EPRCS has it. Do you want narrative reporting? EPRCS has it. Do you want statutory reporting? EPRCS has it. EPRCS creates highly formatted, static reporting (with or without narrative and/or statutory reporting options). Every Oracle EPM and BI Cloud customer I know has a need for this.
And if you’re an Essbase Cloud customer, you definitely need to think about EPRCS. The Essbase Cloud Smart View tool fulfills the ad hoc need. It also provides an option for formatted reports, but is limited in that these reports aren’t static enough for some types of reporting (books, financial statements, etc.). Smart View also doesn’t have a report distribution method like MR. The rest of the OAC suite does handle data visualization and dashboards, but not static reporting since BI Publisher isn’t supported yet. Therefore, MR fits right in here. EPRCS can also provide narrative reporting options against Essbase Cloud.
I hope this FAQ has cleared up some of the confusion around EPRCS. The rest of this series will do deeper dives and demos of the specific features of this tool. Join me to learn EPRCS!