EPRCS Series: MR – the FR Killer?

FR Killer

(Background image courtesy of shutterstock)

One of the main reasons why EPM and BI folks are starting to notice EPRCS is because of the Management Reporting (“MR”) tool. One of 4 current tools within the EPRCS umbrella, MR is a Financial Reporting (“FR”) direct competitor and Oracle customers are being told that MR will be moving ahead of FR in capability. (This is true, by the way, and at this point in time there are a few features in MR that FR doesn’t have.)

What is MR?

So what is MR? It is a static reporting tool that allows customers to create highly formatted reports and distribute them online. It’s completely web-based, which means that no client download is required to develop within it. It handles data grids, images, charts, and text images much like FR. At this point in time, MR primarily supports Oracle EPM and BI Cloud. It also supports on-prem Essbase when Essbase is properly configured.

Should FR customers move to MR?

What does MR mean for current FR customers? Should customers give up on FR and move to MR? Oracle EPM/BI Cloud customers only? What about on-prem Oracle EPM customers?

When pondering if (or better yet, when) MR should be on a customer’s roadmap, I walk through the following high level differences:

  • MR and FR don’t have full parity just yet, but will “very soon” (as indicated at OOW17). Notable features in FR that are not in MR as of this blog post date are listed in a later section of this post. I have been told by the EPRCS Product Management team that most of these features will be making their way into MR in some form or fashion and within the next 3-12 months.
  • In this month’s Oracle EPM Cloud update, Oracle released the ability to migrate FR reports directly to MR (those FR reports created in 11.1.2.4.x+ on-prem or the 17.10 EPM Cloud release or later). Please see the first point, however, which indicates that not all features will be migrated over since there isn’t full parity between FR and MR yet.
  • FR is “free” (it comes out of the box with most other licensed Cloud and on-prem application technologies). MR, being part of EPRCS, requires a separate license.
  • Earlier this year, Oracle told customers that FR will be around for “a long time”. I do believe Oracle means this, as there are too many customers dependent on FR and FR was initially rolled out with Oracle EPM Cloud applications. But I don’t know what the definition of “a long time” is.
  • FR and MR have different developer tools. If you are on FR, you are either using the web FR Studio or the desktop FR Studio to develop those reports. The desktop Studio requires an install. In addition, it’s not fully backwards compatible – there are customers using multiple desktop Studio versions to support their on-prem, EPM Cloud, and ERP Cloud deployments. If you are a customer who has moved to web FR Studio (in the feature set for on-prem 11.1.2.4.x and EPM Cloud), unfortunately this won’t help because there are different repositories for EPM Cloud, ERP Cloud, and on-prem (read further for a more thorough explanation of this). MR has one developer interface, one repository, and one version – and it’s all on the web.
  • FR and MR don’t support the same data sources. On-prem FR was primarily developed to handle on-prem EPM (Essbase, Planning, HFM, etc.). The version of FR that comes with Oracle EPM Cloud only supports Oracle EPM Cloud (PBCS, EPBCS, FCCS, etc.). MR has been developed to handle both EPM and BI Cloud (PBCS, EPBCS, FCCS, OAC, etc.) and just a tad bit of on-prem: Essbase (if properly configured). MR may be expanded to support more on-prem in the future, but I’ve been told that this is not a guaranteed roadmap direction at this time.
  • Both FR and MR can have centralized reporting repositories. A single instance of on-prem FR can have a centralized repository with reports from multiple on-prem technologies. This means that a single on-prem FR repository can have a report sourced from Essbase, a report sourced from Hyperion Planning, and a report sourced from HFM. A single instance of MR can also have a centralized repository with reports from multiple technologies. However, MR mainly supports Cloud and one on-prem technology (Essbase). This is an important point when customers think about where their reports will reside and what the user experience will be like to access them. More on this later in this post.

 

Customers who have started their Cloud journey often ask me: “given what you know about EPRCS and FR, what strategy would you take?” The truth is that there is no definitive answer here. Some of the variables that need be considered include, at a minimum:

  1. Feature/functionality parity between FR and MR
  2. Deployment type of data sources
  3. The other value that EPRCS brings to the table
  4. Cost

Let’s take these points one by one.

Consideration 1: Feature/Functionality Parity between FR and MR

Oracle has done a really good job of documenting the notable differences between FR and MR in their online documentation here. This documentation also gives a heads up on how unsupported features will be treated during an FR to MR migration.

In addition, here is a high-level feature/functionality matrix that I’ve created for FR and MR. Note that this does not include everything, but the features that I use frequently. I’m referencing FR on-prem 11.1.2.4.x in this analysis:

FR vs MR

As a customer, it’s important to make a list of any show stopper features you’re currently using in FR and then review the above matrix and the online documentation to see if those features are supported in MR. In my opinion, the lack of parity is one of the biggest reasons why customers aren’t moving to MR. The EPRCS landscape is changing every month, though, and this may all be a non-issue in 2018.

Consideration 2: Deployment Type of Data Sources

As mentioned before, MR and FR support different data sources. This creates an interesting set of reporting scenarios for customers who are currently in hybrid deployments (some Oracle EPM/BI in the Cloud and some on-prem). How do users access all of their reporting? Where do they go and does it become more or less confusing with FR and/or MR?

Here are a few example situations:

  • Hybrid application deployment, FR only: this means that some applications needing FR are on-prem and some are in the Cloud. Users may possibly need to navigate to 2+ URLs to access all of their FR reports – one on-prem workspace and 1+ Cloud workspace URLs.
  • Hybrid application deployment, FR on-prem + EPRCS for Cloud: users will need to access 1 on-prem workspace URL for on-prem FR (assuming they’re using FR with Planning or HFM) and 1 Cloud URL for application interfaces/EPRCS.
  • Hybrid application deployment, FR on-prem + FR in the Cloud + EPRCS for Cloud: users will need to access 1 on-prem workspace URL for on-prem FR (assuming they’re using FR with Planning or HFM) and 1+ Cloud URLs for EPM/BI Cloud FR and EPRCS. With the right design strategy (more on this in a moment), this can be reduced down to possibly 1 on-prem workspace URL + 1 Cloud URL only.
  • Cloud only application deployment: customers who have Oracle EPM/BI applications deployed only to Cloud could theoretically cut out FR altogether and have users access MR directly from their EPM Cloud application interfaces/EPRCS.

Aside: You might be asking yourself why “1+” Cloud workspace URLs for a hybrid application deployment with only FR? EPM Cloud FR has a single repository that supports only the one technology base that it comes with. For instance, if you purchase PBCS, the FR that comes with your license supports only that instance of PBCS. You cannot configure that instance of FR to point to on-prem HFM or other EPM Cloud technologies. To illustrate this point, take a look at the below database connection manager from PBCS/EPBCS – there is no opportunity to enter a server or other instance. It is configured only to point to that instance of EPM Cloud:

EPBCS Data Source Connection

Fortunately, customers can now integrate reporting objects into their Cloud interfaces by taking advantage of the recently released Integrated Business Process Navigation Flows feature (in the Oracle EPM Sept 2017 release). This feature will help reduce the number of Cloud workspace URLs users need to access for reporting. Both FR and MR reports can be utilized and referenced by this feature.

Consideration 3: The Value of EPRCS Beyond MR

In this section I’m going to cheat. I’ve written 2 other blog posts that explain the other tools within EPRCS that customers might find valuable, some of which are included with the base subscription of EPRCS. These posts are listed below:

The main question here is, do you find the other features of EPRCS valuable? Do you have needs for narrative and/or statutory reporting? If so, then EPRCS may be a better long-term reporting solution for you.

Consideration 4: Cost

The EPRCS full price license cost can be found here. I find EPRCS in general to be a cheap reporting technology because the 10 user minimum is usually more than enough for the narrative reporting feature of EPRCS. However, when you add in MR report consumers, the licensing can seem daunting. If you are a prospective customer of MR, I’d seek the counsel of your Oracle Sales representative. It’s been whispered to me that the licensing can be worked creatively to fit a combination of developers/admins and report viewers.

Conclusion

In summary, do I think MR is the FR killer? Based on all the information I’ve gathered to date, I would say yes. Although I think it will take years to sunset FR, we’re seeing the formal beginning of this tool’s end of life. Please note that this is only my opinion, however. I did not hear this from Oracle and I do not represent Oracle.

I’ve been given some sneak peeks into future roadmap items for EPRCS and I’m excited. EPRCS is going to go in directions that we haven’t seen before in Oracle EPM. The Product Management team is completely invested and passionate about the full reporting needs of their customers and it shows.

My advice to prospective and current Cloud customers? Put EPRCS on your roadmap. 2018 is going to be an amazing year for EPRCS.

Let it out here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s