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Jim Bahr faced a challenge – re-implement a new Oracle Hyperion Planning system in three weeks, before the start of a new financial quarter.
Bahr is the director of corporate systems at Neustar, a provider of clearinghouse and directory services to the global communications industry. Neustar’s CFO knew that his organization’s Financial Planning and Accounting (FP&A) team spent lots of time dealing with Microsoft Excel and scalability issues, so it was time for a change to the Oracle Hyperion system.
But how to do it?
First, they brought in MorganFranklin, a consultancy in McLean, Va. that specializes in performance improvement. Next, the team met with CFO who explained his vision for a self-service, driver-based planning application. The trick was that they had three weeks to implement the new system -- a fraction of the amount of time it usually takes to implement Hyperion.
In those three weeks, their team had to make their existing forms driver-based, build five new revenue forms to support the driver-based revenue models, and modify existing Web forms. The main goal was a more streamlined, error-free process flow.
Fast lane to Oracle Hyperion smooth -- mostly
The only real speed-bump came a week in, when they realized they had found a gap between the executive vision and what the design team was creating. Neustar's execs wanted to essentially transform the Oracle Hyperion system into Excel, with each and every business driver plainly marked along with its associated revenue and cost. The design team then accepted that they would require a more driver-based solution. They reengineered existing forms to make them more user-friendly and improved the usability of reports and analytics, including revenue forms designed in a more classic manner for ease of use and efficiency.
When it came time to implement the new system, both Neustar and MorganFranklin recognized that while the executives were already happy with the integration, they would have to make sure to get the end-users onboard, too. They organized two kinds of trainings. First there was a series of eight-minute-long recorded mini-trainings about various Hyperion topics. Second, they organized longer training classes, offering them at multiple times so employees could select a session that was convenient for them. The first half of the class focused on the employees themselves, to make sure they were comfortable with the new software. The trainers explained to each audience why the change was happening, how it would affect them personally, and help everyone understand that they were all in this together. The second half focused on training the end users to effectively use Hyperion. They also made sure to send out communication emails about the transition regularly.
All of the above, miraculously, took exactly three weeks—although the developers did have to work weekends.
After the Oracle Hyperion Planning system implementation, Neustar’s FP&A department was able to take on more tasks, as their new Hyperion system was much more efficient than using Excel. End-users were better able to manage their time and tasks, and found they had increased visibility. Neustar also developed a more formal change management process as a result of this experience. When asked about upcoming plans for their Hyperion shop, Bahr says he sees them next developing a more formalized governance process around Hyperion and the automation of uploading files into the system.