Hyperion tips, tricks and trips (to avoid)

Additional custom dimensionality is the highlight of Hyperion, but there are other features and tricks to learn as well.

Hyperion, the new release of Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), includes some key new features and functionality worthy of a closer look.

The most important new addition with Hyperion is the additional dimensionality. This benefits companies bottlenecked by the limitations of four custom dimensions. The additional dimensionality allows for more flexibility in HFM. Also worth mentioning are the new data forms and data grids. Both are nice features that offer flexibility and time savings. The new release does come with some challenges, all of which are noted below with workarounds where applicable.

Hyperion custom dimensions

A big change in HFM is that custom dimensions are now handled in what's called the Profile Manager. It allows you to make additions, and you can add more dimensions at any time. If you're upgrading, you can change the name of the four dimensions. If you'redoing a migration, you can bring over existing naming conventions; you can't change the names of existing dimensions once they're defined in the application. If you're building from scratch, you can modify the naming conventions. It all depends on how you go about it. If you have a lot of existing data, you want a migration. If you don't have a lot of data migration (history, categories, scenarios), you should consider a rebuild.

Be aware of naming conventions. You can continue to name custom dimensions as custom 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. But whatever you name them is going to affect different areas. For example, Custom 3 is named "Product." The rules won't change with this, but member lists, data forms and data grids would all need updating with any new names within the application's Points of View (POVs), which in this case is "Product."

If you add new dimensions, you'll run into a lot of trickle down. You need to update rules for any variables. If you're going to make additional member lists, data grids and data forms and if you're integrating with Financial Data Quality Management (FDM), you must add new dimensions. The bottom line is that you need to plan for the trickle down to avoid any surprises.

If you're modifying an existing application with new custom dimensions, here's what you need to do:

  • Plan for impact on data grids, forms, FDM, rules (variables) and potentially member lists.
  • Enable new dimensions in FDM.
  • Determine the size of the custom dimensions -- large, medium or small.
  • Update account associations with new custom dimensions and enable aggregation -- otherwise it will not consolidate.

Note that when adding custom dimensions, one can identify the size of these (small, medium, large). However, make sure to follow suggestions in the admin guide. If you don't, you can find yourself in trouble. Here's a quick recap of the two key guidelines:

  1. There are certain tasks that need to be stopped and cleared when you add dimensions. Follow these steps. Just in case you don't, Oracle provides a nice warning feature in the form of an error message that states explicitly that you need to do this first.
  2. There is a gotcha that comes with modifying an existing application in which you are adding custom dimensions. If you're trying to clear the audit table from the Web, it will fail if the table is too large. The workaround is to clear the table in the SQL Server database. Have your database administrator participate in the upgrade or migration.

Case study snapshot on HFM custom dimensions

We worked with a client that had to concatenate fields into custom dimensions. In previous releases you only had four custom dimensions to work with, and because the client wanted to use five custom dimensions, they had to concatenate fields. This workaround also led to a lot of alternate hierarchies, more maintenance and required more navigation within a Point of View (POV). With the additional dimensionality in Hyperion, this client's business is more aligned and they have faster drilling and more informative reporting.

Hyperion Calculation Manager

In, HFM rules editor no longer exists. Instead you have Calculation Manager. The HFM community has been rules-centric, but things are becoming more and more geared toward Calc Manager. You should try to migrate to Calculation Manager instead of scripted rules, especially since there is no longer an HFM Rules Editor. You can use Notepad++, but that doesn't connect to the application to extract, load or select dimension members, and it doesn't have a wizard. Calc Manager does have a wizard. Also, if you're doing things from Notepad++, you'll have to hand-script from scratch.

When migrating to Calc Manager, bear in mind that if you use the standard rules file, the conversion utility will dump everything into one long graphic rule. Therefore, it's good practice to prep rules files for Calc Manager: Prior to conversion, update HFM rules to a format that includes "call" subroutines. Subroutines define the rules during the conversion. The migration tool will recognize them and break them out into different rules in Calc Manager, making the file a lot easier to visualize in Calc Manger when it's upgraded. Absent subroutines, all calculations are placed in a single rule.

Other notes on Hyperion

HFM Objects. Objects are created using a very standardized naming convention. You'll want to rename these to something meaningful. You'll be happy you did later on.

HFM client-side versus Web-based. You'll want to take a look at how you're deploying. Oracle is pushing users to the Web-based version of the application, which means the HFM client is now extremely limited. For long-time users, this is a change and potentially a challenge. From an administrative standpoint, it's easier to take things offline in the HFM client. A massive build is harder to take offline on the Web. You can still take the application offline, but you have to use more third-party tools like Notepad++ or other text editors to do so.

Administrative roles. Some administrative roles are no longer a part of HFM security. Oracle separated some of the admin tasks, taking them out of HFM and putting them into Enterprise Performance Management (EPM). When doing security, it's not within HFM roles anymore; it's with EPM role/workspace roles. The functionality hasn't changed, but where things are has. Think of it as rearranging roles.

In conclusion, make sure you read the Readme before you do anything. Changes are not necessarily noted therein, but hints are definitely there. The Readme will point you to reference documents so you'll have to jump around, but it's still useful and will prevent future headaches.

About the author:
Patrick Kiernan is a solutions architect at TopDown Consulting Inc., a Hyperion implementation provider and Oracle partner based in San Francisco. He is an HFM and Hyperion Enterprise certified consultant with more than 20 years of experience with financial applications.

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