EPRCS Series: Hands-on with Notes

And the Oracle EPM Cloud May release is here for Test pods! Yay! There were a number of key EPM Cloud features released this month. If you haven’t had the chance, you will want to review the monthly updates for your Oracle EPM Cloud product to see what new features you can find in your Test pod this week.

For me, one of the new, exciting features is in EPRCS Management Reporting, called “Notes”. I and some customers have been awaiting this feature for months. I’m releasing this special post off cycle because I was super excited to test it over the weekend and share my findings.

To give a quick overview of what this feature is…Notes allows users to enter text commentary on Management Reporting reports. This is not to be confused with narration that’s already allowed within the EPRCS Narrative Reporting tool. Notes commentary is saved with a specific POV on the report, editable, viewable, and printable. End users are able to enter this commentary directly onto the run report, which is very different in concept to Narrative Reporting which is added by report package developer users. Notes is similar to FR’s annotation feature.

First, let’s take a look at the EPRCS online documentation for this, as there are some important notes about Notes (<– see what I did there?):

  • Notes must be set up by the report designer/developer
  • A note template is created first by the report designer/developer on report and then users enter their commentary into that template directly onto the report
  • The note templates are managed centrally within the new Notes card on the EPRCS home page
  • The same note template can be used on multiple reports
  • The report designer/developer can also clear all notes entered into a single note template
  • Note templates are not associated with a chart or grid – they are independent objects, like grids, charts, images, and text boxes
  • Note template access can be locked down
  • Once you create a note template, name it, and save it, you cannot rename it. This is mentioned all over the Oracle documentation.

Security segue: what is a report designer? This is someone assigned within EPRCS with the Reports Administrator role. So this is not your average user, but someone with very specific administrator rights. They can create, edit, and manage reports in Management Reporting.

Next, what is the process for configuring and then using notes? According to the documentation, the process is summarized as follows:

  1. The Report Designer inserts a new Note Template into a report. Set POV, initial formatting, and text.
  2. The note repository saves the note template to a repository.
  3. The report viewer selects the POV, runs the report in HTML, enters formatted Note text to create a note.
  4. Once created, Note template can be inserted into other reports for viewing or additional entry context.

Let’s take this for a spin, shall we?

Step One: Insert a New Note Template

I first make a copy of an Oracle sample report that goes directly against OAC Essbase to do this testing.

While in edit mode, I use the right-click button to add a new object to the body of the report (I was not able to do this in the header or footer, just the report body FYI) and I do see a new “Note” option:

It put the note directly under my grid, and there does seem to be a minimum size to the note box, although you can edit this using the size grid lines:

Now I’ll need to set up this note template by selecting the “Setup Note” hyperlink. You can alternatively use the “edit” icon.

I’m asked to select a data source for this note:

This is interesting to me. What if you select a data source that doesn’t match the report grid’s data source? More on that later…

I select the same OAC Essbase data source and then am taken to a configuration screen. Here I can save the note template name, default text, POV members that would apply, character limit, and more:

POV/dimension layout segue: there is a lot more to the functionality and best practices here about the dimension layout, POV members, etc. But I did not have enough time to dig into it. I suggest reading the Oracle documentation regarding this for more information, as I find it to be a bit confusing at first glance.

Note that the “editable” setting is important. It locks down the note from being edited by users. Remember this during the reporting cycle, as you may need to shut off the ability for users to enter additional notes after a certain time frame.

Step Two: Save the Note Template

Before you do this, ensure that you’ve name the note template correctly because you can’t change the name afterwards (although you can change most of the note template settings).

Once I press Save, I receive several confirmation messages. My new note template is saved.

Step Three: User Selects Applicable POV and Edits Note

I have selected an applicable POV. I am able to see and edit the note:

So I select the edit icon and am taken to a screen where I can enter my commentary. I see that the note tracks how many characters I have used out of the limit set by the report designer:

When I’m done, I press OK (and wait a few seconds for it to save back). Then I can see the commentary in the run report:

Remember that this note is tied to a very specific POV. If I change the account to a different one, I notice that the note template has reset to blank since there are no notes entered at that intersection:

Step Four: Reuse Note Template in Other Reports

So now that this seems to be working properly, I’d like to reuse this note template in another report. I open a completely different report sample that uses the same data source to see what my options are.

Remember when the data source option showed “Existing Notes” as an option? This is how reuse occurs:

Other Observations

While playing with this feature, I noticed a few things:

  • A note template is a separate object within a report, like a chart or grid object. Therefore, it will be limited in this initial release on how it can be formatted with the other report objects. What this means is that users will not be able to type notes directly inline with grid rows. Keep this in mind when designing with these.
  • As mentioned before, note templates are saved and managed centrally. Once you edit a note template used in multiple reports, the changes save to all reports using that same note template.
  • The note template location on the report cannot be changed by the end user, only the report designer/developer
  • You can add multiple note templates into a single report
  • The end user’s note can be visible within the PDF report mode:

  • The end user’s note is also visible within a saved snapshot of the report:

  • Since the note is not saved with the grid and chart objects, it cannot be downloaded in Smart View ad hoc
  • You can delete a note template through the Notes Manager
  • You can mix data sources on a single report – meaning your chart/grid can be of one data source and the note can be of another data source. The POV’s get mixed together, and it’s…confusing. As mentioned before, read the documentation and play with both dimension layout and POV to get the right configuration for your end users so they aren’t confused.

The Notes Manager

Within the May 2019 EPRCS interface, there is a new card called Notes:

Within this manager is where you can:

  • Edit each note template
  • Clear all text out of a single note template
  • Delete note templates
  • Secure note templates. Administer (all access as well as assigning access to note templates), write (can create, delete, update, and view), and read access can be assigned to specific users and groups:

  • Change the note template’s data source
  • Refresh them
  • See all the reports currently using that notes template
  • If I delete a note template within the manager, it is deleted out of all of the corresponding reports. You will receive this error message upon opening a report that was previously using that note template:

The note is set back to a new state, so you’ll have to reconfigure it.

Resources

Best practices for using the new Notes feature can be found here in Oracle’s documentation: https://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/saas/enterprise-performance-reporting-cloud/dmepr/best_practices.html

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