The Elaborate Pie Analogy (for creating a Hyperion Planning application)


A Piece of Pie

Financial planning and budgeting is the act of forecasting future financial performance and is a vital process for every company, big and small.  Oracle provides a mechanism to improve the financial planning process using the Oracle Hyperion Planning tool set. Through Hyperion Planning, a company can create applications and processes that consolidate data, run business logic, and generate forecasts based on historical reference data and future assumptions.

There are two methods for building a Hyperion Planning application – referred to as “Classic” and “EPMA”.

A Classic build is the process of building a single, standalone application in the cloud or in a locally installed version of Hyperion.   The alternate method of building an application is through the use of EPMA (Enterprise Performance Management Architect) – a mechanism to share metadata across a suite of Hyperion applications.  EPMA is a tool that centrally manages Hyperion application structures and related settings.  For example, EPMA can be used for creating centralized account structures that are shared across forecasting and consolidation applications.

The sweet thing about building in EPMA is that it makes things easy – as easy as pie.

In what can only be described as a happy coincidence, building a Planning app is a lot like a building a pie, a pie where the tin is made of EPMA, with a flaky Essbase crust and a filling consisting entirely of data.


Seating the Data: Artisanal Pie Tin

As Planning pie makers, we want to make sure that our app comes out structured in a way that’s valuable to the user. This why, like any artisanal shop, we handcraft everything – even the pie tin.

We create the perfect pie tin to structure our app using EPMA.

EPMA is where we define the application’s structure, either by creating it manually or importing a hierarchy into the shared library. There are staple hierarchies that we’ll see again and again, like an account dimension, which holds a company’s chart of accounts, or an entity dimension, that might represent a company’s reporting structure. Additional dimensions will appear based on the needs of the business.

Once we’re happy with our structure, we can create and deploy our application. At this point, the tin is popped out of its mold and is ready for duty. If we want to make changes to the structure of the Planning app, we would make the changes in EPMA and then re-deploy the application. This will replace our old pie tin with a new pie tin, comprised of our new structure.

In this case we are going to move forward using our tin (EPMA structure) to make a Planning pie (application).

Rolling Out the Crust: The Move to Planning

Empty pie tins are significantly inferior to full pie tins. This is a universally accepted truth.

When an application is deployed, EPMA ships the application’s hierarchical structure over to Planning. Planning is the shell of the planning application and acts as the pie crust – everything else will be built on top of it. Naturally, the pie crust will conform to the shape of the pie tin and the structure of the planning app will reflect the hierarchical structures created in EPMA.

With our move to Planning, our pie tin is no longer empty.


Filling the Pie: Loading to Essbase

In addition to pushing to Planning, EPMA also pushes the structures to the Planning application database(s) in Essbase. Essbase is a multi-relational database that houses the data which we’ll use to plan with. When it comes to the next step, Essbase allows us to load our filling or our data into our app.


Now, if it was a real pie, there’d really only be one way to put the filling in: by plopping it in.

However, in Planning, we can do one better.  We’ll discuss two options to get data into Planning.

The first method is familiar. Directly inputting data (either via user input in a web form or through an direct load) plops the data directly into the application. However, if we want to modify our data before we load it in, we can use a second, common method that leverages FDMEE. Financial Data Management (Enterprise Edition), or FDMEE, is a Hyperion tool that lets us use mapping and scripts to get our data exactly where we want it before we wrap it in our Planning application and toss it in the oven.


Baking the Pie: Processing Raw Data

When a pie goes into an oven, all sorts of processes happen, such as convection currents and caramelization, to take our filling from raw to delicious.

A Planning app has similar processes to take the raw data we’ve loaded and transform it into something meaningful. These processes are called business rules and calculation scripts. Both of these processes take raw data (drivers and input) and calculate results.

Time to Eat: Presentation
It’s not enough to make a delicious pie. We eat with our eyes and when our users go take a slice of data, we want it to be eye catching and accessible. With an EPMA Planning app, there are three major points of user access:

  • Forms, housed in the Planning app, is a pre-sliced pie. Forms are structured web or excel based templates which allow the user to view and input data. The planner sets the data view of the form in order to create a specific functionality.
  • Smartview lets you cut the pie any way they want. You can perform ad hoc analysis or open Planning forms in excel where you connect to the Planning app. You can set your preferred view of the data, and submit data back to Essbase.
  • Reports, featuring graphs and charts, are generated in a separate Hyperion tool called Financial Reporting Studio (FRS). These standardized reports are like little display pies. Pretty to look at but no touching allowed.

There you have it! A newly made Planning app ready to be put to work!


PIE TIP: When serving the first slice of pie, make three cuts so the slice in the middle comes out perfectly

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