Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time for a Break

Well, this is exactly the 400th post in 3 years of Siebel Essentials.

Time to thank all dear readers, co-authors and commenters for the incredible ride so far. I don't want to bore you with stats but you might be as flabbergasted as I am by the fact that this humble blog has roughly 50.000 page hits per month. So not counting the spam bots, it is well up to 1 or 2 readers per day ;-)

As usual at this time of the year, it is time to recharge batteries and stay away from the keyboard for a while. Please expect the next post to appear in mid-July.



If you are blessed with plenty of vacation time, I wish you a refreshing time. If you have to stay at work, keep it up and - if you are so inclined - read up on some of the recent content listed below.

Siebel CRM Patch 8.1.1.5 Released
Fusion Applications 11g Lift-Off
BI Publisher List of Values with multiple columns
Escape Route

Have a nice vacation

@lex

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fusion Summer Series - Part 3: Oracle Fusion Procurement

Today we will have a look at Oracle's Fusion Procurement application offering.

In the publicly available information set, Oracle emphasizes the integration of Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA) and role-based dashboards (not OBI EE dashboards btw) which enable procurement professionals to identify items which need their attention.

End users can use the self service shopping portal to make purchases.


Fusion Procurement allows companies to establish compliance and spend policies thus restricting unwanted behavior. This comes along with a centralized approval process. The loop is closed by incorporating a supplier portal and invoicing.

A universal contract repository combined with Oracle's Secure Enterprise Search completes the product offering. Last but not least Oracle Fusion Procurement includes adapters to PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite.

Have a nice day

@lex

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fusion Summer Series - Part 2: Oracle Fusion Financials and GRC

The attentive reader might have noticed that there is certain movement in the Oracle Fusion Applications realm. Oracle's next generation application suite is of course of great interest for all "apps guys (and gals)" and sometimes you can physically feel the gravitational pull towards the future of Oracle enterprise applications.

In today's second part of our little series, we will inspect some details on the Financials module of Oracle Fusion Applications. The information in this series of posts is a digest from publicly available material on Oracle's Fusion Applications website.

One thing that strikes me most about the official solution brief is that it starts with the header "The New Standard for Reporting". There is a great emphasis on the important role of Oracle Business Intelligence within the Fusion Applications suite. But let's see what Fusion Financials has to offer apart from strong BI integration.

An example screenshot demonstrating deep BI integration in Oracle Fusion Applications
(screenshot from Oracle Fusion Applications flickr set)
Oracle Fusion Financials is designed to work with other Oracle Fusion Applications as well as classic Oracle applications such as Oracle E-Business Suite or PeopleSoft. To ease the daily work of financial professionals, spreadsheet and imaging (scanning and text recognition) solutions can be easily leveraged.

The main feature list of Fusion Financial reads as follows:
  • Global tax engine
  • Shared data across legal entities
  • Centralized payments engine
  • Unified bank account model
  • Multi-language support
  • Country-specific legislative support
The BI part mentioned above is implemented with Oracle BI EE and Hyperion Financial Management (EPM) which is especially used in the closing processes.

Governance, Risk and Compliance

The Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) module is often mentioned along with Financials but it can be used as a stand-alone pillar. It serves as a single repository of GRC initiatives and policies, featuring a business rules engine for fraud prevention and (again) strong integration with OBI EE.

Fusion  GRC comes pre-integrated with Oracle applications such as the E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Hyperion, and JD Edwards but can also be deployed in heterogeneous enterprise environments, including SAP and other non-Oracle environments.

Fusion Accounting Hub

Fusion Accounting Hub is a sub-module of Fusion Financials and is pre-integrated with both PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite General Ledger. It provides real-time reporting and analytics across local and central ledgers.

Have a nice day

@lex

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fusion Summer Series - Part 1: Oracle Fusion Applications Facts

Recently, Oracle has taken one more step towards the public availability of its next generation suite of enterprise applications by making the software available - in a 'controlled manner' - on its E-Delivery website.

I thought it would be worthwhile to ease the waiting time for more official information with a few posts on Oracle Fusion Applications. Today, we'll start with some facts I collected from public sources (mainly Oracle's Fusion Application website) on the internet. I will use some statements from Oracle and work on them a bit.

Screenshot from Oracle Fusion Applications flickr set

"Designed from ground up"

Six years ago, Oracle embarked on the Fusion Applications project. The goal was to create a new generation of enterprise applications. Some myths have to be busted here: For example, it was not a project to rewrite or migrate code of existing Oracle applications like E-Business Suite, Peoplesoft or Siebel CRM and run it on a J2EE server.

Instead the engineers literally started creating the applications from scratch using native Oracle Fusion Middleware components like Application Development Framework (ADF). It must be noted that before they started to write the first code lines, extensive field research at customer sites was conducted.

In addition, they chose from Oracle's growing software portfolio and created integration touch points with - for example - Hyperion Financial Planning, Essbase or Primavera (just to name a few).

The result is a suite of applications which share the same data model and architecture and is pre-integrated with existing Oracle software products.

"Built on an open standards-based platform"

When you read Oracle's white papers and listen to the announcements carefully, you get a who's who list of Oracle middleware products such as Oracle WebCenter, OBIEE 11g, Universal Content Management, SOA Suite, WebLogic Server, JDeveloper, Java, Enterprise Manager (just to name a few).

In an effort to combine the best of all worlds (isn't that what the term "Fusion" is all about?), engineers leveraged the existing middleware technology in the Oracle stack.

"Based on best practices business processes"

It must be quite challenging to develop applications in an environment where strategic acquisitions constantly change the spin of the project. Over the past 5 years, Oracle acquired over 60 companies including PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel.

Fusion engineers carefully analyzed the acquired functionality and - in a "best of all worlds" approach - included the best design ideas, practices, data model and business processes from applications like PeopleSoft, Siebel CRM, JD Edwards, CRM OnDemand and the home-grown E-Business Suite. The classic enterprise applications obviously served as a giant pool of inspiration for the Fusion development team.

"Customer driven, intuitive (UI) design"

Fusion Apps evangelists never grow tired of praising the user experience (UX) of the new applications. And in fact, the UI provides unparalleled usability while addressing most complex enterprise business processes. Being a Siebel guy, I am happy to see for example the role-based approach implemented. The UI is highly configurable by the end user and business process guidance is a main theme across all application modules.

There is a strong focus on the integration of Oracle Business Intelligence EE 11g, not only as an add-on but a vital part of the daily operational tasks.

The Fusion development team has made great efforts to provide contextual help and some Web 2.0 (forgive the uncool term) techniques like collaboration, tagging and social networking really enhance the productivity.

"Choice of deployment options"

With the first product offering (Fusion HCM) being live as a Service, Oracle demonstrates that they really mean it with "cloud computing". Customers can choose to use Fusion Applications in the public cloud (aka on demand aka SaaS), in a private cloud, on premise or in a hybrid fashion (combining the former choices).

Modules

Last but not least for today, it's a quick list of the seven Fusion Applications product modules or "pillars" which are part of the first release. I will cover some details on them in future posts. For now, you may want to follow the links to Oracle's product brief on the modules.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Financials
Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC)
Human Capital Management (HCM)
Procurement
Product Portfolio Management (PPM)
Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Distributed Order Orchestration (DOO)

have a nice day

@lex

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oracle Learning Library: New Siebel Tutorials for FREE!

Among the things that make me proud to be an Oracle employee is the Oracle Learning Library (http://www.oracle.com/oll).

I have already introduced the learning library in an earlier post. Some recent additions in the Siebel realm make it necessary to highlight this important (and free) source of information again.

You can do an advanced search for the Siebel product family and simply follow the links to the various titles (an oracle.com account is required to log in).


The list includes several short titles on Siebel basics as well as longer tutorials for Siebel 8.2 Universal Customer Master and SSSE (Server Side Synch for Exchange).

It's up to you to make use of the free Oracle Learning Library.

Have a nice day

@lex

Monday, June 13, 2011

OBIEE 11g: Multiple Values in Presentation Variables

Another nice little feature of Oracle BI 11g is that presentation variables can now hold multiple values.
To evaluate this enhancement, we can create a dashboard prompt as follows:


Note that I selected Check Boxes - allowing the selection of multiple values - for the user input and set the ABC_YEARS presentation variable.

To proof that the variable is populated with multiple values, we place the dashboard prompt on a dashboard along with a simple analysis. What about a nice map which displays revenue data for each country? The title should dynamically display the years selected by the user.



The title view of the above analysis uses the following title string (following the general syntax to use presentation variables all over the place).

Revenue for @{ABC_YEARS}{all years}

After selecting two or more years from the prompt and clicking Apply, the analysis title includes the years separated by commas. This proves that presentation variables - when populated with more than one value - hold these values as a comma-separated list.

We can also use multi-value presentation variables in filter definitions as shown below. The "is in" functionality will take care of all values that the variable holds and the filter will work as expected.

have a nice day

@lex

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Oracle Fusion Applications 11g Lift-Off (Updated)

Earlier this year, Oracle has - in a somewhat quiet manner - released Fusion Applications Human Capital Management in the SaaS (aka cloud) version to the greater public. Fellow blogger Floyd Teter has been watching the evolution of Oracle's next generation enterprise software suite from the very start. He deserves the kudos for first noticing the general availability of Oracle Fusion Applications 11g (11.1.1.5.0) on Oracle's E-Delivery website.

The installers are currently only available for Linux x86 64 bit versions. The 11 files consume a whopping 40 GB of the disk (not counting the middleware installers).


Of course I am very interested in this and can't wait to get my hands on this version of Oracle's Fusion Applications.

Stay tuned for more. As Floyd says: "Houston, we have ignition!".

Update: According to Debra Lilley of UKOUG, the release is still somewhat controlled by Oracle in a sense that interested customers should seek contact with Oracle before they deploy Fusion applications.

Have a nice day

@lex

Monday, June 06, 2011

Siebel Business Service Library - Part 18: Universal Inbox

Time to continue our series on Siebel standard business services. Today it's the Universal Inbox business service which - as the name discloses - is used to control the content of an end user's Inbox. If you want to read up on the concept of Siebel Universal Inbox here are two bookshelf links:

Administering and Using the Inbox
Configuring the Inbox

The Inbox's content is controlled solely by the methods of the Universal Inbox business service which are described in the Application Administration Guide as well.

There are plenty of out-of-the-box usage examples for the Inbox. One very prominent usage is to store incomplete tasks for Siebel Task UI.

The other usage scenario is found in the Siebel Marketing application, where the Inbox serves as the notification mechanism for approval workflows. Also Siebel Pharma is making extended use of the Inbox.

The My Approval Inbox list applet is displayed by default on  the Siebel Marketing home page.
Please feel encouraged to read up on the concepts of Siebel Universal Inbox in the Siebel bookshelf and explore standard workflow processes in the Siebel Repository such as LS Pharma Inventory Audit Approval to learn more about this useful feature.

have a nice day

@lex

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Siebel CRM Patch 8.1.1.5 Released

Recently, Oracle has released patch 8.1.1.5 for Siebel CRM. The patch is available on My Oracle Support and Oracle E-Delivery has number 12545956.

Some highlights taken from the readme.html file in the smallest zip file of the package:

Maintenance release information is now in a single file per version. Unlike in previous versions, the accompanying document now focuses on the current patch version only and does not accumulate information.


A vintage Robotron PC (doesn't run Siebel 8.1.1.5 BTW)

ACR 464 provides support for Siebel CRM Desktop for Outlook 2010.

ACR 484 provides an integration between Siebel Field Service and Oracle Real Time Scheduler.

The patch also contains several enhancements regarding functionality of Siebel Hospitality and Siebel Automotive.

ACR 633 brings the following enhancements in the BI Publisher integration realm:

  • Users can schedule BIP Reports for a time frame of a month or more.
  • Default Daily/Weekly/Monthly reports that are assigned to the Calendar view.
  • The Report Sharing feature has been extended to support multi-org. 
  • A confirmation dialog box when Sample XML Data is successfully generated.

 Furthermore (maybe not new, but the first time I noticed), the readme.html file also lists the contents of all other zip files which eases the download.

As with any other patch release, the Siebel Bookshelf documents have been revised, so ensure that you have the latest version and check the "What's New" chapters.

have a nice day

@lex